Where am I going with this? As per my usual loose dissertation on these pages, I am not very sure. What I know, and some might disagree, it's my patriotic duty to write something on the premier Australian cycling event, the Tour Down Under.
I am not going to write any race reports because I am not there this year and there are many of those out. Some in blog-format and some in a journalistcly structured form. Most, by people who are possibly (and should be) enjoying a drop of a Barossa Chardonnay or a schooner of Coopers Ale right now. I will mention two names though, Andre Greipel and Will Clarke.
The German sprinter is dominating the flat finishes. Too strong for any other fast man at this time of the year, he won last Sunday's Classic in Adelaide and two stages of the Tour. What else to say, his powerful finishes and a bit more can be viewed on YouTube.com.
Only one man, in my view and so far, had the determination and spirit (plus a bit of luck) to have a go at spoiling Greipel's attempt of a hat-trick. Will Clarke was it. The twenty-six years old Tasmanian got away with a group in the first two kilometers of stage two, left everyone behind and rode alone for a gruelling stage win in Stirling. AWESOME! Stage highlights here.
Back here, in ordinary men and women's land, and as I have mentioned before, there are some preparations going on. OK, it is going on like Days of our Lives, slowly. But I can't help that, there are lots to do. The simple fact of getting equipment sorted for the Paris-Roubaix Challenge, in April, is a slow process and a contest in itself.
First, I tryed to find out what the best wheels for the cobbles were. After a lot of research and numerous pages in a local cycling forum, I decided Ambrosio Nemesys with Vittoria 25mm tubular tyres were the best choice. Easy to get and relatively inexpensive, I found. One problem: I can't justify buying a pair of wheels for one (or two races) when I need to have something else to ride when the roads turn skyward. And they will!
Next, there is the question of what bike to take for the Challenge. Another drama, like Sons and Daughters this time. Something strong but not too harsh is needed. Again, it calls for something inexpensive because it is unlikely I will be using it for the roads I mentioned before. Yes, those going up for several kilometers, averaging 7% (with 20% ramps).
Did I hear "Give the man a sponsorship!"?
Because that might not happen (and I am working on it), I decided to buy one non-cobble-new-bike (surprise!) equipped with a Campag group, something I have been considering for a while now. And (with a big perhaps here) look into buying an used cyclocross bike to ride on the cobbles. Good idea? I am sure a bike of this kind will be also useful for the rest of the trip.
The rest of the trip?
Now that the cat's out of the sack on Competitive Cycling and out on the blogosphere, I can tell we are off to Europe for a whole seven months and that Tracking the Peloton is coming alive. Can you believe that?
It will be seven months of touring around Europe, riding our bikes everywhere and up every climb we can think of and of course, making it the best enriching experience when can possibly have. Let's not forget the Peloton because we are planning to watch a few of the Northern Classics and stages of the 3 Grand Tours.
This trip can be called the ultimate cycling holiday but, perhaps, it will be more than that because the possibilities will be endless.