je ne sais quoi

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Tres Bientot, Aubenas, See Ya

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The New(ish) Air Album

She's a daisy. "Pocket Symphony" is what it's's the perfect "last night alone in a big giant house in France" music. Coincidentally, that's exactly where i'm at right now. It's my last night alone. Gonna be going to dinner with a couple of friends tomorrow night. Then I think they need me to be out of here by saturday, though I'm going to ask if I can stay 'till monday. I have my reasons.

One thing that i've been constantly thinking about, as it is the time of year to do so....Next Year. I have the green light to come back to France. For that, I'm stoked. If you read the blog, you know what type of racer I am. Average (at best) climber, but with little effort I can sprint with anyone anywhere if the motivation is right. In an interview a few days ago I mentioned (in my crude french) that in the US, 90% of races are great for sprinters. In France, the inverse is true. 10%, which is about the number of races I did allright in. So, this has left me on the fence regarding whether to return to France or not. If I do return, it'll be with the same team, doing the same races in the same places. I dunno. I miss the success of criterium racing...and narcissistic as this may sound...I look down at my legs sometimes and think that "'re too friggin huge for this game." So that's where I'm at.

Another thing. I'm not sending out resumes to teams this year. Why? It's a degrading and annoying process with a .0001% probability of success and about a 50% probability of frustration. Just going to get the word out that i'm looking for a team, and see where that goes. Season starts and i'm unattached? No worries. I know i'll be coming around lots of wheels when the season starts...and that's my preferred method over the ridiculous process of blindly emailing resumes to random places in hopes of an unlikely job. A bit of bitterness here, I apologize, but that's how it goes. To anyone delving in this dreadful game this year, good luck, brace yourself, and don't be phased by whatever or whoever you might run into. Remember who they are, and definitely remember to click it into the 11 and pass them at the line with 10 bike lengths. That kind of motivation is unparalleled, and ironically, some type of ill-treatment is the only way to get it...maybe I should send some out? heh...

So yes. I'm looking for a team. I didn't want to post it on the blog, but why not? It's a networking tool. Again, I can't commit to anything this early, but want to see what options are out there and hope to decide whether I'm going across the pond next year by the end of October. Still, I'd love to see what opportunities are available in the 'states. Please email me at: if an opportunity for '08 comes up.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sailing the South of France

Today is the first day of the new NFL season. This, for me, has been the ceremonial end to the cycling season. I had a late dinner, a couple glasses of wine, and got to watch my Broncos win a nerve-wrecking ridiculously nail biting wild game in the closing seconds. Thank you internet-streaming! Suffice to say, what follows will [thankfully] have a more festive tone to it. It's a pretty big one-man party in my room right now. A swell time, all around, and I've just realized that this is my last Sunday night in this glorious place. Gonna miss it so much.

I rode my bike last week. Lots. The South of France. Like I mentioned, there wasn't a set itinerary. Only one thing: head south. It was really just a big bike ride, shooting the shite with France, with the bike, with myself. The whole cyclo-tourism thing, it's great. There's eco-tourism, that's supposed to minimize the effect of the tourist on the environment, but that doesn't hold a candle to a guy on a bike with lots of time and no itinerary. I was cognizant of this. I was also aware of how cool it is to use "bike-racer form" for purposes other than bike racing. Really, think about that. All of you that race bikes real fast, you need to try this late season cleanse session. I even used my tubulars for this trip, and it was a smooth trip at 105psi throughout the land. You actually have a chance to see why it is that good wheels are good. and so comfy. I was particularly amazed on the final day, where chamois-time ended up being more than 8 hours. I didn't go hard, mind you, but if I wanted, I had a couple of big efforts still in the legs. Such a rad feeling, and I didn't care that there wasn't a finish line or anything in which to gauge my efforts. So, let me just summarize where I went, for anyone who cares about the non-racing pulp...

I care!

Day 1: Aubenas-Ales-Nimes-Uzes-Avignon

This was a good one. Had my espresso and was out the door at around 1pm. I've ridden to Ales already a couple times. In fact, one of the first rides I ever did in France were to this place, and I distinctly remember stopping at a little market without a clue as to how to communicate with the clerk. I've come a long way...hehh. The market is pictured in photo #4. It was a nice ride, and had a bit of a crosswind the whole way. Wasn't hammering, just sustaining a nice endurance pace. Ales is a neat little town, a bit bigger than Aubenas, and with the cool downtown area that's a mainstay of all southern cities. After Ales, I actually rode on a highway for the next 40k with a good tailwind. Blasted through it, and ended up in Nimes. Cruised around Nimes (pronounced NEEM) for a while, and it was pretty neat. A giant roman Colosseum was the main attraction. That, and the tailwind that brought me there. After Nimes, I got lost (which is very much a part of this game), and ended up in a Military test zone with funky lookin military vehicles blasting by and a headwind that I'd rather not remember. I figured I was well west of Avignon, so I just started heading east, and Avignon came up! Beat the sunset. Barely.

Day 2: Avignon-Arles-Saintes Maries de la Mer-Avignon

This ride. Geez. The trouble began on the way South. On the way down, I was spinning out my 53x11 on the spite of this speed....ZERO wind was touching my face. Scary, but who among you stops while sailing on a nice tailwind section of an out and back ride and says "hmm...but what about the way back? when i'm against the wind?". I was aware of it, but didn't care. Drunk on tailwind. The way back. I don't want to write too much about it. It was hard. Lots of time was spent in the 39x23 cranking 40rpm. I'm serious. Ipod was off. I didn't want to associate any of my music with such drastic and forgettable weather. I cursed the wind on numerous occasions, and laughed at how feeble the whole thing was...and also at the birds who were sharing my plight -but still trying! Eventually, I just took it a kilometer at a time, and got through it. The legs were fantastic. The mind was the limiting factor here.

The cities? Arles: Awesome. I really dug the town's style. Unlike the other towns i'd visited, this one was largely empty. Totally desolate and without any sort of commotion. Tourist season is over, and you realize just how huge the tourism industry is in this place...without it, there's nothing. Shortly after Arles, I entered the Camargue region. Whoa. What happened? No cars, no people, no open shops. "Empty" is an understatement. Weirded me out, but after reading about the region, I really came to appreciate the thing's I'd seen...despite the destructive winds. Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer was the town I visited to check out the Mediterranean. Had a great lunch there (pizza, baugette, coke) on a bench overlooking the ocean. A swell time.

Day 3: Avignon, Carpentras, Orange, Nyons, Montellimar, Aubenas.

Ok, I'm fading here, and need to get this out before I sleep. Day 3 was my favorite. The wind persisted, but I really enjoyed myself in it. Learned a great deal about different positions for the wind, and the deep-wheels really shine in cross-wind situations. I always thought that was their primary weakness. Anyhow. Nyons was my favorite, and i'll never forget the fig tree that came up out of nowhere to help stave off a bonk. I got home at 9:30, an hour after the sun set. Cutting it close! I was particularly amazed with energy levels, as I mentioned up above. That's gonna do it......have tons of photos, check them out:

Monday, September 03, 2007

An Unemphatikistical End

The season's over. Not officially, however: there remains a possibility of a race next weekend, but the [race] mind checked out sometime last week when I was told that we'd done our last race. It's a welcome end, and yeah, I'm a bit bummed that I won't be toeing the start line anytime soon knowing it's the last race of the season. Perhaps it's better this way. The body's just shred, man. I don't feel it, but i'm certain if we zoomed in and analyzed the intricacies of my cells and blood and mind, we'd find a bunch of tired guys who've been gunning since mid f-in January.

I still have another month in this country. That's a long time, and I've set an obligation on myself to make the most of it. I'll still have the bike 'till the 15th, and while I love sitting home and cooking and spending far too much time on the 'net, I'm going to switch it up. I am now officially Aram Dellalian-Super Cyclo Touriste. The only twist is that the cyclo-tourisme has to be done on the cheap. I pray that i'll get paid once more before I leave, but I can't bank on that. I've saved up a bunch of crap junk food in a drawer just for this occasion. Instead of throwin it out, it's going to fuel my tour Tour de France. The tour starts tomorrow afternoon. I'm going to ride from here to Ales (80k), have a little lunch and set off for Nimes (40k), followed by Avignon, where I'm very thankful to have a place to hang out for the night.

After that it's pretty much up in the air. I have distant relatives in Marseilles that i'm keen on seeing, and with that i'd also [finally] see the Mediterranean. Also, Ventoux is on the preliminary list of places to go. I want to do it in better weather at least once, and want to descend it as well! There's lots to still explore in Avignon and Orange as well. Total tourist stuff, except the really broke version. After the 15th, i'll be packed up here and ready to head to Paris, where i'll spend the rest of my days in France. Gonna give that city another chance. More out of necessity, really, but yeah, the last trip was pretty short...besides, I'll no longer have the lingering cloud of bike racing on me, so it'll be a bit more relaxed. Possibly fewer tourists as well! I really want to get on the Velibre bikes too. I didn't do that last time. So there we have it. The season ended pretty quietly, but that doesn't mean my time in France will in the same manner....