Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The last of the mountains, and then into Paris!

Well...sadly I'm back.

JD, you said it...climbing on that plane in Hawaii, knowing it's taking me back to WORK is quite depressing. I sure hope it's in my cards to go back to Hawaii and live (again) someday....where EVERY-DAY is a vacation (especially if I can retire there....get a boat and just have FUN every single day). It was a long journey home, even just from Hawaii to Calif...problems with my bus getting from LAX to San Fernando Valley (where my car was parked) I didn't finally get home until the wee hours of the morning. But the babies were all quite excited to see me even in the middle of the night, and being as they don't look at a clock it didn't matter what time it was. It's safe to say I had LOTS of company snoozing last night (even though Jeannie is still in Hawaii, she won't be home until Friday). I had planned on working a half day today, but with my late homecoming I've nixed that plan, and instead have a cup of hot steamy joe in my hand as I watch the QUEEN STAGE! Tour for over a week now...I was in withdrawl! That and the fur-babies are the only good things about coming home from Hawaii.


Susie, I'm afraid there will be no Quint in this tour....Nibbles looks pretty much untouchable unless disaster in some form strikes. It wouldn't bother me to see some shark-hunter put a few barrels in him though...but I don't know who that would be. But the rest of the podium, and especially the top 5 slots are NOT EVEN CLOSE to being set in stone. Valverde really needs to watch his back if he hopes to hold onto 2nd. I'm totally rooting for the French guys! As to TJ...well, he cracked yesterday much like I suspected he would all along, and has fallen far away from the podium...and that just doesn't bother me in the slightest. I'm STILL not a fan. Right now it's Purito fighting his way into the Polka Dot jersey that is the drama in progress, and he has his work cut out for him to hold it thru tomorrow.

OK...back to the live coverage (that I've DVR'd so it's no longer 'live', but I'm watching it with no knowledge of how it comes out, so it's live to me). Susie, you're my Hero taking TWO days off to simply watch le Tour! I just don't have that kind of vacation (if I did, I'd have stayed in Hawaii with Jeannie for 2 more days). I need to scrimp my time if I hope to do any backpacking this fall with my brother Greg as we always try to do.

Aloha, and GAME STILL ON!


  1. Welcome home, Matt! Glad you're back all safe & sound (if sleepy)!

    STAGE 17 - WED (spoiler alert!)

    Today’s stage was what many call this year’s “Queen’s stage”. I mostly agree but think the Q.S. could be tomorrow’s stage, it all depends on what the riders do. In today’s stage, Tinkoff-Saxo won yet another stage (their 3rd after Contador crashed out & not only is quite the surprise but shouts ‘nanananannananah!’ to all those who questioned the strength of AC's team when the race began). And, the Shark AGAIN demonstrated his insatiable & inherent appetite for… humans!

    Actually, that Nibbles attacked not once but twice in the final 5K is mystifying or just outright stupid bike tactics. Normally, at this point in the Tour, the yellow jersey guy just sits back (so to speak) & lets his rivals all kill themselves to get past him & try to put time into him. Especially when he is “isolated”. Rule#1 for the YJ at this point is not to take risks when you don’t have to & Rule#2 is to CONSERVE energy as you WILL need it eventually. Before the stage, Nibbles was 4.5 minutes (BIG gap in cycling) ahead of #2 – Valverde, who had already started struggling & dropping back before Nibali decided to attack. Also, NONE of the other top 6 guys were ahead of him. If this was within 1K of the finish & he was feeling frisky, then sure, go ahead, but this was just odd/risky/wasteful. It also makes even MORE people question why HE & he ALONE seems to be cruising along every damn day barely breaking a sweat while the rest of the top guys look like gasping fishees out of water. Hmmmmm, I’m “curious”.

    America’s Hope (Tejay) rode much better today but I strongly disagree with NBC’s Bob & CVV that he had a “great day”. While it was good that he did not crack & lose more than 3.5 minutes (like yesterday), he stayed WITH his main rivals for the podium! That is NOT great! Those are the very guys he needed to put time into! I’m assuming he just couldn’t get away from them as supposedly he did try in the last 1K or so (although French TV did not show).

  2. Hopefully, all of you record the morning stage live as we found out that tonight's PRIMETIME show will not air until 1:00 AM! Since when is ONE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING CONSIDERED PRIME TIME?!! I am furious! So, you may ask - what earthshaking show will be broadcast instead? A Euro team soccer EXHIBITION game followed by a MLS soccer game!

    Oh yeah, USADA just did WONDERS for cycling in this country! For the past 5 years I've worried that NBC will stop or severely curtail their Tour coverage & over the past 2 years, they have drastically cut back all non-Tour races & now this! The destruction of Lance Armstrong did NOTHING to "help cycling". It has set it back 20 years in this country.

    About my "vacation" - at least you GO somewhere, Matt! And Hawaii! This is all I've been able to do the past 5 years. Next week, I have a tooth extraction for another dental implant, so will miss another day & a half (yuck!). I have to come in this Saturday after the TT stage to make up some of the work. I had planned to come in last Saturday but Friday afternoon they sent out a company email that all the parking lots were being resurfaced & we couldn't have access to the buildings.

    Anyway, I'll be here Friday, so will chat about tomorrow's stage then. Am HOPING for some great action! Unlike LAST year's final mountain stage!

  3. Hey Susie...didn't figure we'd 'see' you until Friday...thought you had today and tomorrow off?? Yes, I did record the live stage, and it was pretty nice to sit w/ coffee and watch it. However...not all is happy happy here at the house. While we were in Hawaii living it up, Sydney took a pretty steep down-turn (she's the one who was paralyzed about 4 years ago from a burst neck-disc). She's been spiraling down in coordination the last few months, and we started her on Steroids about 2 weeks before Hawaii, which helped some (before the steroids she'd trip over a blade of grass, or just fall over if there was a hint of a breeze). Well...she had problems while we were gone, and our baby-sitter did great changing out the bedspreads, as poor Syd can barely walk, and apparently just laid in bed and did what she needed to do mostly. I'm pretty sure at this point I will take tomorrow as another vacation day and just stay with her love and affection. I can't tell any of this to Jeannie, as she is still in Hawaii. She will be home Friday around noon...I'm quite afraid we both need to say our goodbyes very soon. I gave her a bath this morning and it breaks my heart as I hold her in a sort-of standing position (she had been lying in her piddle off and on apparently while we've been gone). So I have HUGE HUGE HUGE guilt going on right now...I'm really hoping that just being here and getting her moving around some will bring her back from the edge that I'm so afraid she's on. Going to go sit with her for a tears in my eyes just typing right now...

  4. Oh Matt! I'm so, so sorry. Wish there was ANYthing I could do, but all I can is send you thoughts, wishes, & prayers. And share your tears. You never know, she could bounce back yet again. And do NOT feel guilty - you & Jeannie take such good care of your sweeties. If it's Sydney's time, then just remember, she had the BEST possible life with you, Jeannie, & her "sisters". Give her a kiss for me.


    What a stage today! Loved it that Valverde got pushed off the podium by TWO Frenchmen!!! I'd love to see them hold onto that into Paris!! Just NOT a Valverde fan...however he's in 4th by only 2 there might just be some fight left...and not sure how the Frenchmen will be in the TT on Saturday...but for now I LOVE it! Can't take anything away from the Shark today for it when Horner attacked...but wow...the Shark was just eating up anybody in his way.

    I'm going to do a half-day at work today...Syd is hanging in there...I guess we'll just take it day by day. Jeannie is traveling home from Hawaii today, but will spend the night down at LAX (in a hotel) and be home tomorrow around noon via a shuttle service (it's about a 3 to 4 hour drive from LAX to here).

    OK...gonna go take a NAP, then go do my half day and see how Syd is tonight. For the moment she's cheerful and hanging in there. Later gaters....I'll be rooting for the Frenchmen to hold their podium spots into Paris...that would be WONDERFUL!!!

    Game ON!

  6. Matt, just stopping in to say I'm so sorry to hear the news about Sydney..

    Loved the stage today - Nibali looked effortless, Horner put some fun into the climb! My LEAST favorite thing this year is Carolyn, who seems to have gotten the role of clueless chick interviewer. "what was going through your mind when you bonked?" and "How did you feel?"

    Looking forward to the time trial!

  7. Oh, Matt, I have tears in my own eyes reading about Syd and what you're going through. Anyone who has loved an animal and has had to make end of life decisions knows the heartbreak that you're feeling. I wish that I could take your guilt away - you have gone above and beyond (truly) for all of your much-loved and very lucky pups. I wish you peace and send hugs.

    Great stage today! You're right. Nibali made it look simply effortless. Wow. No one else in the race was even in the same league. I found myself wishing today that AC and Froome were still there today so that I could see what they would've done today.

    I was really impressed with Tejay the last couple of days. He didn't give up and he is doing what he can after losing the time. I like that he seems to be maturing - he is still pretty young. But.....I certainly do wish that we hadn't lost Talansky. Best part of the day for me was seeing them pull away from Valverde finally. He is one of my least favorite riders and doesn't seem to have a lot of friends in the peloton either.

    OH, I didn't make it here the day that Mick Rogers won, but I was really cheering for him that day. I'll never forget the Tour that he crashed out of while in the virtual lead. The image of him in that TMobile jersey crying on the side of the road has really stuck with me. Not sure what year that was?

    And how about Majka??? Not sure if that's spelled right. He has been incredible on the climbs. WOW. I don't really remember hearing about him before. I was definitely willing him on at the finish to get some mtn. points though.

    I'd really like to see Sagan win tomorrow. Or even better.....Jens from the break!!! What are we going to do without Jensie in the peloton? sigh

  8. Sorry, I guess I disagree with most of you about Nibbles performance yesterday.

    TOUR UPDATE – Yesterday (Thursday 7/24) was the final mountain stage in this year’s Tour de France. Alas, the only FIN (Sharknado hero) observed was on the back of the Shark as he 1st chomped thru the Usual Suspects & then zoomed up the mountain by himself to win the stage. Ironically, although Nibbles was determined to win yet another stage (his 4th) in this Tour to “SHOW” all the critics that he is the deserved champion despite the crashed-out absences of both Contador & Froome, we TV viewers barely saw any of his final 7K as the French TV cameras chose to mostly NOT SHOW the Yellow Jersey but instead the more exciting action below as 5 fellows were desperately battling for a chance to share the Paris podium with him. For once, I agreed with French TV (who obstinately & irritatingly still refuse to do a split screen or picture-in-picture when mountain stages cry out for such! But I digress).

    Stages like yesterday’s always get me thinking about the Declaration. As in – “we hold these truths to be self-evident” : Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As is evidence of doping. To be a fan of pro-cycling the past 5 years or so, one either believes that almost everyone is now “clean”, unless/until they actually test positive OR believes that doping still continues throughout the sport but is more sophisticated (micro-dosing, better timing of PEDs, use of new drugs not yet on banned list, etc). I believe both. However, when presented with such total dominance, I no longer am just curious. I am convinced. Nibali is a very good stage racer, but he basically won this Tour with one hand behind his back. He could have won on a unicycle yesterday. Yeah, you betcha he’s “clean”.

    Let's think back - In 2012, Nibbles was 3rd in the Tour. In 2013, he skipped the Tour & decided to ride the Giro & the Vuelta instead. The goal was to win both in the same year. He won the Giro. He was the overwhelming favorite at the Vuelta where he ended up losing to 41 year old American Chris Horner (1st time Grand Tour winner & 1st time on any Grand Tour podium, and oldest man EVER to win a Grand Tour). Nibbles was 28. Nibbles was not sick or injured. This outcome did no go over so well with his team or Italian cycling fans.

    I confess I really, REALLY hate the combination of arrogance and stupidity, whose poster children are now Nibali & his team Astana. Nibbles had already shown his absolute dominance of this race since Stage 2. He then almost won the cobble stage, not only putting MAJOR time into every other GC guy, but beating the cobble specialists (comparable to a Div 3 college player beating LeBron James). Unlike almost every other (clean) Grand Tour cyclist, he suffered NO “bad day” in the mountains. He was more than 5 & half minutes ahead of his closest competitors at the beginning of yesterday’s stage. To put that into NBA terms : he was up 25 half-way thru the 4th quarter. Instead of “sitting” the last 3-6 minutes, he not only plays till the final buzzer, he takes every shot, makes every rebound, calls the plays, does full-court man-man defense. The entire time. Suspicious yet?

    Anyway, at least the battle for the 2 other podium steps has been awesome. Usually, by a final Time Trial, the podium places are fairly set, except maybe for #3. This year, #3 AND #2 are up for whomever has the best day tomorrow among those currently placed 2-6. Actually, I doubt Tejay (#6) can beat all the guys ahead of him by more than 4 minutes, but he could move up to #4 if he rides his usual great TT & the other guys do poorly. After 3 weeks, especially in this tough Tour, you never know what will happen in the “Race of Truth”.

  9. More Tour Talk! STAGE 19 (Friday - SPOILER ALERT!)

    Happy for Garmin that they salvaged their Tour today with a win! BMC of course is the having the most success of the 'American' teams with Tejay possibly getting up to 4th overall after the TT tomorrow. Trek looks to have 2 guys in the Top 16 or so (unless Frank does an even worse-than-usual TT), which is hardly fantastic but not a total failure like Garmin's Tour had been until today. When you put all your Tour eggs in 1 basket & that basket has to leave the race, the rest of the eggs are left adrift. MESS-Y! So, good for Garmin.

    Anyway, I agree with Janann that Tejay rode just fantastic yesterday! I think it was his best stage in any Tour. Up until yesterday's stage, I had thought Tejay was not only NOT capable of winning the Tour, but was not even good enough for a podium. I was WRONG! I don't know if I totally believe that he didn't eat properly on the 2nd Rest Day & that is why he cracked in the Pyrenees the next day, but at least he kept going! I think a lot of guys would have been CRUSHED to realize their definite shot at the podium was GONE because of something he caused himself. I don't think he can defeat the likes of Contador & Froome when they are at their best, but he's a definite podium possibility. Now, if he can work on his interview & PR skills, even Matt come around to liking him! :) :)

    I say this EVERY year, but CAN'T BELIEVE the TOUR IS ALMOST OVER! It truly was the best of times (Yorkshire crowds!) & the worst of times (losing Cav, Contador, & even Froome, whom I do NOT like but admit his loss wrecked what could have possibly been the MOST competitive Tour for the win among 3 cyclists since I can't even remember).

    Give Sydney some more susie-kisses! I'll be in to work tomorrow & hope to chat a bit then too.

    Fingers crossed for a DRY & AWESOME TT tomorrow!

  10. And because I just can't help myself - today's stage saw the peloton speeding thru Condom. Er, 'insert' joke here.

    :) :) :) :)

  11. Well, it appears that Nibs has this sewn up -- excepting a disaster in the TT. I couldn't see Wednesday's stage since I was at work and they didn't show the evening replay! But I saw yesterday's stage, cheering Horner on until WOW he was passed by a jet with the afterburners on! Like he said, wisest move after that was pack it in and save it for the Vuelta!

    I am admiring Tejay's determination and persistence, for sure. And it seems that he has thought of some things to say! Yippee! (really, I believe him, he just couldn't think of things to say previously)

    Those young Frenchmen are making a real battle out of the white jersey -- have you ever seen that before? I am glad that the French are getting real contenders to cheer for too.

    So today was supposed to be another one for the sprinters -- and probably Sagan's last chance -- I truly was hoping he would get it, but I'm MORE than satisfied to see the Garmin win!

    And after watching EVERYONE work so hard yesterday -- if Nibs is using PEDs I really, really hope he gets popped.

    Matt, so sorry to hear about Sydney. It really is hard to say goodbye. I lost my cat of nearly 20 years and still miss her. My other cat is getting visibly frail so I know it won't be that long before she departs too.


  12. Hey everybody....well...I have to say that I agree w/ you Susie about Nib's and his stellar performance. It's sad that we've been shown that it's wise to suspect such a performance, but that's exactly what the dark period taught us. If it's too good to be true, well...there is no fairy godmother bestowing 21 days of crushing and peleton dominating performance on anybody. I can't believe he's not juiced. Just can't. He's not even wrecked when he destroys all comers as he solo's to victory on mountaintops. At least with Voeckler you can totally see when he gives an all out performance (his tongue is hanging out all the time and he's riding his bike like it's a rodeo bull about to buck him off)... and nobody can pull that off day after day. Nibbles cruised to victory after victory looking like he's ready for a photo shoot afterwards.

    BUT...the fight for 2nd thru 5th has been AWESOME!


    LOVE LOVE LOVE that Valverde did NOT have a crushing performance and make the podium...and that instead we (will) have TWO Frenchmen up there with Nibbles. Can't take anything away from TJ today...he did good. I just WISH somebody would put him thru public speaking class! (when I was in Instructor Training in the Navy long ago we were video-taped giving lectures in front of the class...each time you said "Uhm" you were docked points (and then you had to watch yourself afterwards while the entire class critiques you). If he could just LOSE that horrible non-word, he'd be a full 50% better in interviews just with that one little change! (note: Tony Martin says Uhm a lot too, however English isn't his 1st language, so he's excused as he needs to translate from German to English in his mind. TJ doesn't have that excuse). I guess due to my training I'm more sensitive to the UHM thing than drives me CRAZY!!!

    ANYWAY. Good stage today (the TT). Enjoyed it, and as Susie said, can't BELIEVE it's over tomorrow. The final day is always bitter-sweet. Not only does it mean le Tour is over, but JULY is almost over too...which is about 2/3rds of summer! THAT is a depressing thought! Especially here, where we see so little actual summer.

    Hawaii was nice tho...(understatement of the year?) Except for the babies I'd not come back, if I could pull that off. LOVED living there (10 years over 3 diff periods of time). Even when you get off work, you're still IN HAWAII! EVERY DAY is a VACATION! (if you want it to be).

    OK. ONE MORE DAY! However, for a change, we possibly have a REAL Vuelta coming up...with Froome, Contador AND Horner! (and Talansky?) Wouldn't THAT be something! The Tour we didn't get! I can dream!

    See you all (virtually) in Paris!

  13. Oh, I don't think I made myself clear in that last post. Nibali's performance was indeed impressive, so much so that there is no way I can NOT be very suspicious. I wish that this wasn't so......but there you have it.

    I LOVED seeing RN from Garmin take that stage the other day! They are at their best when they are aggressive and shaking things up in the race and they executed that plan to perfection. They've had a rough run of it since losing Talansky and I was very pleased for them.

    I just finished watching the TT and, holy cats, that was a really exciting stage for a TT. I was very proud of TJ again. He really has fought hard after finding himself in trouble that day in the mountains and has soldiered on. He should be proud of his 5th place and secure in the knowledge that he is constantly learning things that will help him in future tours. SO happy for JCP moving into 2nd place. I had tears in my eyes last year when he crashed and then crashed again in the TT with his family there. This was sweet redemption for him. I've gotta say that I was secretly hoping that Valverde would have a mechanical, or crash into a fan, or just completely stop pedaling (I know, I'm terrible), but was satisfied that he at least wasn't on the podium. I am not sure why P&P like him so much....
    Haven't even talked about the winner. Tony Martin just killed it today! He really had the zombie face, complete with drool trailing several inches behind him. Whatever gets the job done - and he REALLY did ;)

    I would love to see all of those guys in the Vuelta, Matt, except for the fact that we get NO TV coverage. That just infuriates me! I know that people find internet feeds, but that just doesn't work for people with kids, or jobs, or any kind of life - haha. I wish so badly that it would get TV coverage!

    I am in complete and total denial that it could possibly be the beginning of August next week. NO. Just no. I feel like the Tour just began. Must ward off end-of-Tour depression.

    But.....ONE stage left. I loved the interview with Jens today. I am almost certain that he'll be allowed to lead everyone into Paris. Who doesn't like and admire that guy?? Gosh, I'm gonna miss him terribly from the sport. So does everyone think that Kittel will win on the Champs? While I would like to see Sagan win the stage, I think that is unlikely.

    Had another house showing yesterday. They have been here before. LOVE the house but aren't sure about the yard. I'm hoping that they come around :)

    Later taters

  14. Wishing you luck for your house sale, Janann! My brother had a couple come back 4 times before they made an offer!

    I didn't try to watch the TT yesterday, couldn't at work and way too tired after I got home -- early to bed. Now I am sorry that I missed another Jens! interview -- maybe I can find it on the website. I am waiting for the replay of today's stage. I am sure I will be crying at the thought of his retirement.

    I always go through Tour withdrawal as well as "summer is half gone" depression! But I am lucky that I will be able to watch stages of the Vuelta, since I only work 3 days a week and on my days off rarely have any morning commitments. I am really looking forward to it! So much hoping that Horner can repeat, at the very least make a real battle of it -- but it will be a big task against Sky and Saxo, I am not sure that his team will be as strong or that he has ever had the form to match Froome, Wiggins and Contador (not sure Wiggo will be riding now, seems he is saying he is done with the road?)

    I've got to mow before the next line of storms arrives and the replay starts. Happy Sunday all!


  15. Pre-start today (Sunday) they had another Steve Perrino interview w/ Jens (and Chris)....Jens said unequivocally that this is it. Oh, I'm SO SAD. Like everybody else, was holding out hope that he has another year in his legs. It will be a tearful moment for sure when he leads the peleton out onto the doubt that will happen. And Horner...he is WIDE OPEN to keep going...he was talking about any moment could be your last at his age...but he is looking for work....pray that some team finds room for him....and that he will be at the Tour next year! As Rae said...the Vuelta will be an awesome race bu we won't get to see it...(unless due to the unexpected top riders now probably attending they do air some of it...we can hope!)

    OK! ON with Stage 21!

  16. oh...a final thought pre-finish. As much as I am suspicious of Nibbles dominating performance this year, I've pulled my rose-colored-glasses off the road, put them back together (they were totally crushed) and put them back on. I'm going to celebrate Nibbles win, loving the moment they just showed w/ him and the team toasting w/ champagne on the road. Barring a lightning strike or a hatch falling off an airline hitting him, he will win this years tour by a huge margin. AND, he's one of only 6 men to win all 3 grand there is that. Just know Nibbles that there are cracks in my I had to tape them together. I will not speak of my distrust of your performance any more. I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't disappoint me!

  17. OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! The broadcast was showing a tiny smidgen of the ladies Champs race this morning, and they were sprinting for the line and we had a freaking power outage! My DVR stopped of course mid-sprint, and when power came back on and it started recording again, they were in the Andrew Talansky interview! So who won the ladies race? Mary Ann Voss??

  18. OMG! Susie, they HEARD YOU! (by They, I mean the ASO). The panel (Todd, Bobke and CVV) were interviewing one of the ladies from their race (Shelly Olds) and they had PICTURE IN PICTURE (in picture)...THREE screens up! One was a background, then the current stage, and then her interview! Maybe it's something they will do more of! (AND, they re-played the sprint finish I missed due to the power outage). LOVE all these rider interviews w/ the panel they did this year!

  19. They just showed an interview with Chris Froome (from a mere 75 miles away from me in Santa Barbara CA!). I have to admit my position on him (general dislike) is softening some....I truly hope he races the Vuelta, AND that we get SOME coverage!

  20. How UTTERLY disappointing for Astana NOT to call Jens up to the front to lead the peleton onto the Champs...HUGE loss of respect for that team for that! BAD ASTANA! BAD BAD BAD!!!

  21. OH MY! Jens attacks off the front for lap 2, being chased by Chris Horner! That Jens is out front attacking (a true attack, not a gift) brings tears to my eyes! GO JENS!!

  22. Very emotional watching Jens attack and get the sprint bonus on the Champs! I could not BELIEVE they didn't have him lead out of the tunnel and onto the Champs, but he took it into his own hands... LOVED IT! (and of course Horner too!)

    D'ja hear the panel talking about doping? Yes, they actually uttered the name Lance Armstrong. I was glad they finally addressed it, even though it was a short (rehearsed) discussion. But they talked about it as if it's ALL OVER and everyone is CLEAN now. I agree, IAers, it's hard to believe that Nibbles could somehow be the only one in the peloton with no mishaps - and the whole Astana team too. And look who their DS is - Vino (have to say he looked very cute).

    Glad they interviewed all the crashed-out favorites. Watching the evening show now - LOVE those shots of the whole peloton speeding around the Arc d'Triomphe!

    can't believe it's OVER - once again, time for Tour withdrawal!


  23. So this is weird - the captcha didn't come up (I got that little red x and it just said "captcha" and so I typed in some gobbledygook and it published my comment.

    Your inane robot, Barbara