Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tour de France - Coors Classic Flashback

Watching France 2's coverage of the 2010 Tour the France recently — on a much better level than what's been available from Eurosport and Versus here in the states — made me think of a moment I had in San Francisco during the 1986 Coors Classic.

At the time, I was racing as an amateur category 4 and doing club rides with the Berkeley Bicycle Club. I was also riding a 1964 BMW R60/2 motorcycle then. The day of the '86 Coors prologue that ran to Coit Tower in SF, I'd ridden my BMW over to watch and maybe make a few photos.

Riding around the Northbeach area before the race start, I recognized a BBC rider who I'd ridden with, riding a current K BMW and helping as an official motorcycle with the event. I said hello and asked if they needed any help. I mentioned "I'm insured!" He got an ok and I was allowed to participate in this race as a follow motorcycle.

During the event, I distinctly remember following Andy Hampsten and few other riders on the prologue up to Coit tower. A racers's team member rode on the back passenger seat of my BMW carrying a spare bike. The R60 BMW, with it's great handling and powerful low-end torque, rode perfectly up the hill even at slower speeds towards the top. With literally a front row seat, I'll never forget the experience of following these racers as support on my vintage BMW, the same motorcycle used by press and gendarmerie for many editions of the Tour de France.

The dynamic moto-cam and other excellent video footage of the TDF on France 2 made me think of this experience again. I regret that I never made any photos that day at the Coors Prologue, but being able to participate in a bicycle race like this was a rare experience that still resonates.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Under Pressure

From VeloTouriste
I took it easy this last 4th of July weekend, the pressure to get out town, be somewhere with just about everyone else on the road simply wasn't that appealing. Instead I took a couple of local 25 mile rides. It has warmed up more, but it was still breezy monday and...local roads weren't all that crowded. I usually tend to inflate my tires up past the recommended pressure. I don't know what it is, maybe that competitive urge that seems to get beat into our heads everytime you pick-up a bicycle magazine that covers racing.

This weekend I rode with my tires at around 100psi instead. I'm running Panaracer Pasela TG tires with gum walls, meant for touring, but they are especially good for sometimes rough pavement in the hills and out to the coast. Something about running these tires at slightly lower pressure seemed to make the bike a little more responsive — just that little bit of give, making the bike ride better and overall more comfortable. I would not want to run tires much lower on paved roads, but I will definitely try this more in the future, even with no cobblestones in sight.