Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tête et Jambes - A Win in Marseille

There is saying in French :"Tête et jambes" ... "Pour gagner une course de vélo il faut avoir la tête et les jambes, mais surtout la tête." In English it means: "Head and legs. In order to win a bike race one needs both to think with your mind and have good legs, but most important is the mind." There is a lot of insight in this simple statement. It was one of the first things that was said to the boys when they joined their cycle club here in Provence. Coming from America, we are generally power riders. Lots of heart, great legs and the desire to get out there and just "get 'er done." That is a great spirit and attitude, but it doesn't always win bike races. In a bike race one has to know when to lay it down and when to conserve one's energy. You have to also be able to read the guys or gals you are racing against. It is almost like a game of Texas hold'em, but you pretty much know that everyone is holding good cards; it is more a question of when and where to play them. Last Sunday in Marseille, at the first race of 2012, Liam played his cards perfectly.

Arrivée of the first Pro race of the 2012 season

The Gran Prix de La Marseillaise is the first professional bike race of the year here in Europe - it is the season opener. The pro race is 150 kilometers long and finishes in downtown Marseille in front of the football (soccer) stadium. Before the arrival of the pros, there is a youth criterium-style race that takes place. The youth race is part of the Gran Prix and takes place all around the stadium on streets closed to traffic. It is well organized, and is timed so that, 30 minutes after the youth race and awards, the kids are all able to watch the arrivée of the pros from a great location right on the line. The youth competition is part of the budget of the race, a way for the organizers to give back to the community in their support of youth programs.

Le métier - warming up for the race
Because it was the first race of the year, the date was marked on the calender and all the boys were very excited about it. When we arrived to start the warm-up and get oriented with the course layout, Liam had some doubts. Because of construction around the stadium, the circuits of the criterium were shortened and there were many tight, technical turns. It was also raining most of the morning so the course was wet and slippery. Liam rides best on hills and where there are sections were he can open it up and power. This course was very different and he would have to adapt. We talked about the course and decided that Liam would ride the course like a cyclocross race, but with the only difference being that it was taking place on pavement. He wanted to get into the first group, make sure the tempo was high enough so that it thinned out the field, and then he wanted to be patient and wait. He was feeling that he had pretty good legs so he wanted to make a move early but not too early. He thought that he would make this move with either three or four laps to go to the finish.

The start

The plan went very well, and Liam pulled off a win in the first bike race of the 2012 season! He is now 2 for 2 here in France on the new Trek Livestrong bike. He is indeed an inspired rider.

Happy Liam

I was able to get most of the major parts of the race on film. What you don't see in the video is that, on the last part of the first circuit, Liam had a slight crash, he put a foot down, but got back up and going quickly, and was able to catch back up to the lead group. This is where the experience of racing cyclocross and mountain biking throughout the fall and winter has really paid off.

FatherSonTour Cycling project ready to roll

Aidan and Roan (Liam's younger brothers) also had very good races. They are all maturing and improving as riders on the bike. It is fun to be a part of it all as "Directeur Sportif" of the FatherSonTour cycling project!

Live Strong, Train Safe, and Live Well,

This is Bill and Liam signing out


  1. Wow, that is pretty amazing. That sure was a twisty curvy race course...and wet on top of that! Great job.

    So, are you now living in France for the long haul? I originally thought it was only for one year...and its now been a few years.

    Our 2+ years in Italy are over and we have been back in Oregon since July. Its a mixed bag of feelings....happy to be home, but we really miss Europe.

    Patrick, Katrina and Brandon

  2. Great job Liam! That is just awesome. Bill you have got to be one proud papa.

  3. Nice script coach ,well acted out Liam,and to the victor go the spoils!.Great to see you overcame a spill and fought back to win Liam, That's one for the memory bank.When in future events you have small problems ,stay calm, and get your tete and jambes back into the race and success can still follow, the reward feeling even better. Aiden and Roanie well done too! your all Winners , keep it up ! . Aloha's ULtrapablo.