The Central Texas heat wave hasn't appeared to stem the number of cyclists seen pedaling around on any given weekend. The surge in cycling most likely can be attributed to the Tour de France, which is being held from Saturday July 4 to Sunday July 26, consisting of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,500 kilometres or 2174 miles. One of Austin's own, Lance Armstrong is vying for an eighth win at the age of 37. Cycling for hours on a thin seat, averaging over 100 miles per day may not be your cup of tea but for others, they want to feel what Lance and teammates, Alberto Contador, & Levi Leipheimer feel. They want to see what the pros see. Before and after the Tour de France, travel agencies book trips for cyclists wanting to cover the exact route the pros take. With today's technological advances you don't have to go to France in order to experience the Tour.
In the last few years GPS technology, combined with advances in heart rate monitoring equipment and sports equipment, paired with audio and video advances have come together to create an environment where the recreational athlete can share in the experience like never before. Instead of buying the next plane ticket to France, all you may have to do is turn on your flat screen TV and climb aboard a stationary bike. Videos of famous triathlon and bike courses are filmed in High Definition and are then combined with interactive, GPS mapped software to make you feel like youre on the real course. The CompuTrainer and Velotron bike systems offer actual video footage of many courses around the world. The amount of information feedback provided with one of these systems is immense. Besides heart rate, wattage output, average miles per hour, peak miles per hour, RPM, grade, and calories burned is all factored in and visible at one time.
If you're interested in training like the pros, there are a number of training DVDs available. Chris Carmichael, Lance Armstrong's coach, not only provides training DVDs to teach you how to climb hills, time trial and sprint, he also provides training camps where you can get the training first hand. You insert the DVD into your player, climb aboard your bike attached to a stationary trainer and ride.
To compete with the Tour de France professional riders mano-a-mano and mile-for-mile here locally you'll need to check the TdF schedule and then plan for a similar course in the Central Texas area. While we have hills, we have nothing like the Mount Baldy, with it's 1800 meter variance in elevation. So you can get close but it will still be just close. By checking out the finishing times of the riders you can get a better idea how fast you'll need to go the day on your own ride. Be sure to go early though before the above-100 temperatures blast you off the asphalt. Be sure to take enough fluids with you for the ride and plan for stops along the way. Pack a few extra dollars in case you need to buy something at a convenience store if you run out of your own provisions.
Just For The Fun
If you like the camaraderie of a group ride but dislike the competitive nature of a professional, organized race then take a look at the Austin Cycling Association rides. You can select the perfect ride that meets your social and fitness levels of comfort. Austin Cycling Association serves a paid membership of over 1,500 central Texas recreational, sport, and transportation cyclists and provides scheduled bicycle rides almost every weekend. These rides are open to everyone, including non-members.
Mozart's Coffee Shop to Mansfield Dam, 51 miles
(almost exactly half of the average 103 miles the Tour riders
ride each day for 21 days)
When: 15 Sat (Aug) 07:30AM
Rating: B-4 (Advanced and Difficult. These are racers on their rest days or very experienced recreational riders.)
Depart from: Mozart's Coffee Roasters, Lake Austin Blvd
The Dam Loop, starting at Mozart's. NOTE 7:30 START TIME BECAUSE OF THE HEAT. An Austin classic, with lots of HARD hills. This is a serious challenge; we'll ride at a B effort, but if we average better than 16, we earn bragging rights. This is NOT recommended for novices.
Contact: Stanton Truxillo 512-478-5221, email@example.com; cell 512-450-8118
Brushy Creek Granite Tour, Distance: 5.5 miles
When: 25 Sat (Jul) 08:00AM
Rating: E-1 (Novice and Family Friendly. New riders, kids, and sight seers.)
When: 25 Sat (Jul) 08:00AM
Depart from: Brushy Creek Lake Park. It is located off of Brushy Creek Road just east of Parmer Lane in Cedar Park. Park at the back of the parking lot near the restrooms and water feature. This is a kids and family friendly ride. It will begin at the Brushy Creek Lake Park and go out the hike and bike trail to the YMCA at Hwy 183 and back. Stop by the train trestle to check out the granite that fell off the train on the way to build the capitol. The park has a cool water feature that the kids can play in after the ride.
Contact: Laura King firstname.lastname@example.org cell at ride 512-923-9700
You're the Coaching Type
If you're more of the coaching type like Johan Bruyneel and still want to participate in the sport, you may want to check out the Xbox Live Arcade game Le Tour de France 2009. You can choose from 15 official teams and coach your team through 21 stages of the Tour. Just as in the Tour there are breakaways, sprints and climbs. But don't look at the sunflowers too long. In order to win the yellow jersey you'll need to provide a better strategy than the other teams.