Monday, July 16, 2012

Time and Distance

Unfortunately, the Father Son Tour Blog has taken a bit of a back seat on the Tour this year.  A few days before the start of the Tour de France, Liam had a head on collision with another cyclist on a bike path near Annecy, France.  The collision happened in a tunnel at the end of a 70 mile ride.  Neither Liam nor the guy he ran into saw each other, and they hit at pretty much full speed.  It was an awful thing to witness for a father or, for that matter, anyone.  Liam was immediately knocked out and didn't fully regain consciousness until we were in the hospital.  Liam was wearing a helmet which took the brunt of the impact, and luckily there were no broken bones.  In six years of cycling this was the first real accident that Liam has ever had.  Liam's speed has increased so much this year.  Our rides lengths have also increased.  It is almost like a child who has a growth spurt and ends up bumping their head on a counter ledge that they could fit under just a month before.  Things come at you a lot quicker when you are moving at 40k an hour than when you are moving at 30k an hour.

When Liam was discharged from the hospital he wanted to continue on to Liege, Belgium for the start of the Tour de France.  He was still a bit groggy and clearly shaken so it became apparent that we needed to head back home for at least a week and see how things went.  We headed back to Provence and watched the first week of the Tour from our home on the couch.  It was hard for Liam to know that the Tour was going on, and that he couldn't be there to see it in person.  The race is definitely easier to watch on television, however, over the years (this is our fourth Tour in a row) being at the Tour, in person, has really been one of the highlights of our year. 

Heading to catch up with the Tour - Take 2
After a few days on the couch, Liam slowly started to get back on the bike on a roller (stationary trainer).  On his first attempt, he managed 15 minutes. The second, he was on the roller for 30 minutes and studying the Tour de France map to see where we could meet back up with the the race.  After 5 days, his soreness started to go away and he had to make a decision.  He could either call it a season and pick the bike back up again in the fall, or he could commit and rebuild for the Youth Tour in Assen which is at the end of July.  I don't think there was ever a question as to which course of action he would choose.  We decided to catch back up with the race on the Swiss/French border.  We threw our bags (which were never really unpacked), the bikes, the tent, and the sleeping bags into the van and off we went -- Father Son Tour 2012 - Take 2.

Healing ride in Switzerland in the rain
Getting ready to hit La Planche des Belles Filles
We headed to Switzerland and stayed there with some of our very good friends.  It is a place that is familiar to Liam.  It is also a country where the roads, and the drivers on them, are extremely courteous to cyclists.  It does rain there a lot though, and our first ride was around Lake Thun in a light rain.  It was a 35 mile healing ride.  I have to say that it was pretty difficult to be back on the bike.  I found myself hyper-aware of any passing or oncoming cars and cyclists.  It took awhile to get back in the groove.  But, by the end of this ride, I felt like I could breathe again.  It was the first time in about 2 weeks that I had felt this way.
The next day we headed to the Jura region of Switzerland with our friend Thomas to ride the Cote de Saulcy loop from Glovelier.  Unfortunately, when we arrived in Glovelier, Thomas realized he had forgotten his bike shoes.  A local biker happened to be coming by at that exact time who also happened to have the same size feet as Thomas.  To show you what kind of place this region of Switzerland is - this guy not only lent Thomas a pair of biking shoes, but also a spare bike because he used a different type of pedal system.  We ended up riding some very tough hills which would be included in the next day's Tour stage and then headed off to France for the finish of stage 7 on the Planche de Belles Filles.  It was on the Planche - on a section that was about 17% grade - that Liam started getting his power back.  We had also finally caught up with the Tour de France.  We were suddenly in the thick of things again - on a mountain with thousands of cycling fans eating baguettes and waiting for the race to come by!

With Thomas - Nothing like riding in the Swiss Alps
We ended up riding a few more days in the Swiss Alps.  Switzerland is incredibly beautiful at this time of year and it was tough to leave, but the Tour was moving on and so were we.

The Rhone River and Lake Bourget from the Grand Columbier
Next, we spent a few days on a very special mountain in France.  The Col du Grand Columbier is an hors category (most difficult climb) in the Jura mountain range in France just across from the Alps.  The climb itself is 18k long and tops out at 1500 meters. All along the climb are sweeping views of Lake Bourget and the Rhone River running along the valley down below.  This year was the first time for the mountain to be included in the Tour de France.  We had two spectacular days on the mountain (which you can see in the video).  It was really inspiring to meet the ladies from the Reve Tour who were riding the entire Tour de France one day ahead of the pros.  Wow!  This is very, very difficult.  These ladies were not just slow pedaling up the mountain - they were flying!  The Reve Tour is raising money for an organization called Bikes Belong which promotes cycling by building bike paths and trails.  Good luck to these awesome athletes.  We look forward to seeing them again celebrating on the Champs in Paris.

New friends up on the Columbier

Ran into Lucas and his dad taking in the Tour
 Well, it took awhile (to get some time and distance from the accident) but we are back in step with the Tour.  Tomorrow, we head to the Pyrenees for another awesome few days in the mountains and then it is up towards Paris for the final time trial, and, of course, our annual ride along the Seine and the finale on the Champs-Elysees.

Tejay looking good in White - even better in Yellow next year!
By the way, our Friend Tejay Vangarderen is having a really great Tour.  You will probably remember him from our blog post from Lucca, Italy last February.  If you didn't see it check it out on the blog.  He is in the Best Young Rider - wearing the white jersey - and currently in 7th place in the general classification of the race.  It has been fun to cheer him on as he rides by.  Go Tejay!

Live Strong, Train Safe, and Live Well!!!

This is Bill and Liam signing out.


  1. Way to come back guys ! Safe travels.

  2. I am so happy to hear that Liam is ok. I just watched the video with my son and he was so excited to see a "kid" climbing! He wants to do that too. :) One day we will make it over there to climb with the big boys.

  3. WoW ! just caught up on your blog . Glad your still in one piece Liam. Crikey mate!, What did you do to the other fella? :0 . Happy alls well again and your back in the mix soaking up the TDF.:) warmest Alohas to you all from Auburn, heading to Tahoe to run in the mtns this weekends TRT100 . Be thinking of you all,have fun , be safe .