Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Paris-Nice: Day 2 - Stage 3

The pros really can inspire. Ya know as a little kid, like many little kids, I use to watch my favorite team and if the sporting gods were kind my team would make a miracle comeback and seal victory for me. After the game I would head to the nearest court or field and celebrate with friends an exuberant re-enactment would follow. I know darn well we played harder in those adrenaline spiked moments than normal. It was hallucinations of pro stardom that did it.

Growing up in the Seattle area it was the Seattle Super Sonics (until the Larry Stern highjacked the franchise for one of his crony friends and moved it to Oklahoma) and the Green Bay Packers (at least some teams pay homage to decades of childhood memories.) Today lads in lycra on machines of carbon fibre inspire my workouts (read exuberant re-enactments) to a heart rate beyond good sense.

So today was my Day 2 of getting into race shape and Stage 3 of Paris-Nice. Every year I get more enthusiastic about this race. If you have never taken the time, waiting until the "big show" in July, you are missing much more than a pre-season warmup event. Paris-Nice is much more than a week sliced out of the Tour. The race has a long, rich and colorful history peppered with all of the great names traditionally associated with the Grand Boucle - Poulidor, Merckx, Anquetil, Kelly, Jalabert. Watch it! (yes, live on Eurosport each morning)
Albert Lejune, owner of two newspapers Le Petit Journal based in Paris, and Le Petit Niçois based in Nice, created Les Six Jours de la Route in 1933 to establish a link between the two newspapers. For him it was about showing the charm of La Cote d’Azur to his readers with the help of a cycling race on an innovative route. For six days at the end of the winter season, the event went through the Valley of the Rhone; avoiding carefully the Alps and its difficulties, sparingly using the hilly hinterland of Nice, to be finally used as a favourable training ground for the spring Classics. The jersey of the leader was azure and gold in colour, evoking the blue of the Mediterranee and the golden sun in Nice. - from the ASO website.
And as a workout motivator there is something sufferingly real about it. Everyday you see big names, the boys of July, suffering to find there race shape - like I feel slogging up and down Portland's west hills. It's consolation when you finish that 50 miles training ride that across the 'pond' the likes of Jens Voigt, Frank Schleck, Sammy Sanchez, Bradley Wiggins, Tony Martin, and others are also hurting.

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