July 28, 2010 18 Comments
Most of you have probably surmised by now that I’ve been away for the past two weeks. More specifically, I’ve been in Europe following the Tour de France and testing my own mettle as a cyclist in the French Pyrénées and the streets of Paris. In the past two weeks, I’ve logged 710 km (I’m too tired to figure out what that is in miles) – most of it in the mountains over the same Cols and descents as this year’s Tour de France. I’ve climbed (and descended) 10 mountain passes totaling well over 10,000 m of vertical ascent, reached speeds of 75 kph, rubbed elbows with more than 10,000 other cyclists in the 181-km Etape du Tour (finishing in the top 10%), seen six stages of the Tour de France, sought autographs from the world’s top pro cyclists, and sprinted against some seriously fast guys in Paris. Add gorgeous 200-year old hotels, sumptuous French cuisine, and the comradery of 17 other like-minded individuals (including my lovely wife), and you have the makings of a trip that will not soon be forgotten.
My sincerest thanks to Anne McCormack, Alex Wild, James Trager, and Rich Thoma for filling in for me during my absence with their guest posts here at Beetles in the Bush. I hope you enjoyed their contributions as much as I did (a safe bet, judging from the many comments their posts generated). I’m a little bleary-eyed from the trip back home today, but life should return to normal quickly. My trip was light on natural history – sometimes one has to make choices, and for this trip I decided to maintain cycling as the focus. The big camera stayed home, and the point-and-shoot was used mostly for capturing race action. Still, scenes like the one above – taken from the ascent of the Col du Soulor – captivated the natural historian in me and left me wanting to learn more about the unique flora and fauna that must exist in these gorgeous mountains. Perhaps next time…
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010