Friday, September 11, 2009


Seeing how every hotel in Montpelier was booked the evening of the TTT I had no other choice than to drive west toward Perpignan. My original plan was to try to catch the finish of stage 5 at the line but after arriving and not having the energy, or more importantly, patience to drive around Perpignan in cirles looking for a hotel room, I decided to backtrack a bit to a roadside motel I saw on my way in to town. While looking at the map of the next days course that night I saw that my motel room wasn't far from the two Cat. 4 climbs a bit before the end of the stage and decided it would be more fun to watch from there and ride the climbs before the race came through. I was also in the Languedoc-Roussillon area which produces a lot of wine so driving through the hills didn't seem like that bad of a decision.

However, as you'll see throughout this post, this post is one of detours. On my way to the spot where I was going to watch for the day the main road from a small town that ran straight to the spot was closed for construction (perfect timing for some road work) and thanks to my velonews guide I was able to find this road which was too small to be put on the map of France which got me there just fine.

After parking on the other side of that hill right near some people that were playing cards and drinking scotch at 11 in the morning to pass the time until the race came through I rode both the climbs and decided this would be the best place to watch from. You can see about 4-5kms of the course from this spot. Let the waiting begin.

Then the publicity caravan showed up. I've already stated how I feel about these things, but sometimes it's a welcomed distraction. It also means that the race is about an hour away, good way to time things.


It's funny, when this float came by I thought to myself, "the only way bouygues-telecom can get a rider to the front of the race is on a float," then Thomas Voeckler went and won the stage, fucker.

Rotterdam anyone?


Self portrait/beard check #3. The hair looks awesome. It was super windy that day which made riding back to the car into a headwind extra fun.

Le Peleton trying to chase down little Tommy Voeckler. That's what Johny Green calls him, not me. If you haven't, you should read his book, Push Yourself Just a Little Bit More.

Cycling tan and pringles.

After the stage I decided to head down into Spain but skip Barcelona and go straight in to Andorra but, because I'm a super awesome driver I ended up heading towards Barca anyway. After not really having any luck finding a hotel I decided to try to find a campground I saw on my map about a half hour up the coast. Got there, checked in and set up the tent. Not bad for first try in the dark. After freaking out about mice running around outside the tent for about a half hour I finally passed out.

These two things were responsible for housing me for about 80 percent of the trip.

After packing up I decided since I was so close I might as well stop through Barca and see what it's like these days. On the way into the city just up the coast is the squat I stayed in for a month and a half, 5 years ago. I had heard that it had been demolished but figured it was worth a shot to check on it to see if it was still around. Sure enough there it was.


5 years ago.

The first time that I traveled through Europe was 5 years ago with some buddies that I've known since I was about 15. I don't think we had any objective other than to paint, party and see as many new things as possible. One of the people I was traveling with had a friend from Oklahoma City that was staying in a squated orphanage right on the Mediterranean about 15 minutes north of Barcelona. He said it was cool that we come through and stay for a while as long as we helped out with the day to day shit around the house. This place was absolutely amazing. I'll never forget walking up to its huge gate for the first time having no idea what to expect. This house totally blew me away. The experiences it provided and help facilitate will never be forgotten and have forever changed me. Going back was pretty bittersweet. It's crazy to see something that was once so vibrant and full of vitality totally sanitized and empty. Above is a picture of the living room. This place was massive.

This is the view from the balcony where I would have my morning cigarette everyday.

X, Meri and Xavi.

Some paintings by my buddy Sasquatch 23 in one of the hallways.

Another in the huge central stairway.

Xavi's a pretty rad dude.

More in the dining room.

Franz cooking up some pasta. How do I know it was pasta? Because that's pretty much all we cooked there.

The den.

Barcelona is where I learned to roll really really well. There's a ton of hash in Barca and so everyone smokes spliffs all the time. Seeing how I was the one with the most rolling experience I became designated spliff and cigarette roller. By the end of this trip I could roll a cigarette in pitch black, into a 30 mph headwind, blindfolded while doing cartwheels.

Seeing how there was no running water in the house we showered down at the beach. Not so much fun when it's the middle of November and 50 degrees outside.



This is what graffiti looks like when it doesn't get buffed and is exposed to the sun for 5 years.


Entonces. Mongat Nord, Renfe station.

The easiest graffiti has ever been.

Miss Van had Barcelona on lock.

It was absolutely everywhere.

Os who?

What up lady?

Good folk.

Smokin smokin smokin.

On one of my last nights in Barca we found a 1 euro store that had a ton of champagne. Seeing how we were pretty fancy dudes we took our paint pens and wrote cristal on the label so everybody knew. I don't really remember too much of that night, weird.

This is "model" Glenn. Long story.

That's pretty much it for the trip down memory lane. Those were some of the best times of my life. Barcelona and this house will forever have a very very special place in my heart.

Once I left Mongat I decided to go around Barca on my way to Andorra because I just wouldn't feel right about spending so little time there. As fate, and my excellent driving and navigational skills would have it, I ended up there anyway and right at Gaudi's sagrada familia no less. I walked around it, got completely soaked, bought sunscreen and got the fuck out of town. I had my first mountain top finish to get to.

Spain is an extremely beautiful place.

After driving for hours and stocking up on groceries in a near by town I finally made it to Arcalis. Time to set up the tent, get the kit on and ride up a fucking mountain!

However, when you've basically spent an entire year living and riding at sea level riding at this elevation is pretty damn rough. I was a little discouraged when I got to the top but I made it. 5k has never been tougher.

It was gonna be a very cold night.

I thought I had it rough, then I saw this guy during my descent. Doing an HC climb on a bike is tough enough, but in a fucking wheelchair?! Awesome.

The campsite.

Woke up the next day and was so pumped. The weather was perfect and the spot I was going to watch from was just up the road. I packed my backpack full of food, got my camera together and got ready to start walking.


Probably my favorite picture from the trip. Well, besides the ones of me. Little dude gettin down.

Go ahead, tell me there's a better place to watch from.


Self portrait/beard check #4

My cliff buddies. Some of us were out here for 5 hours. 200 foot drop right over the edge. First comes the sound of the helicopters, then you see them, then the riders inch their way up the mountain until they're right on you. Amazing.

Lance and Alberto right at the front.
We all know what happened after this. I can say this though, experiencing the excitement of so many spanish fans as one of their own broke away from the group letting everyone know what's up was pretty compelling. Hearing an entire mountainside of people going apeshit over a bike race is awesome. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't like Alberto Contador but the dude can ride a bike.

After they all passed I ran up to the finish to check out what was going on and ran into someone I greatly respect and admire. Preeminent cycling photographer, Graham Watson.

Johan had quite a few questions to answer after this stage.

Apparently the way to direct a team to 9 TdF victories is to just tape the course profile to your fucking steering wheel.

My old bro from my Tour of California days, Christian Vande Velde with buddies David Millar, Bradley Wiggins and Dave Z in the background picking his nose. He said he liked my cubs hat. I was pumped.

Laurent Fignon. Dude knows a thing or two about the tour.

Rolf Aldag. According to Erik Zabel, the best climber in the world.

After lurking around for a while I decided it was time to head back down to camp and get some food and rest. A while ago a buddy of mine gave me a bunch of stickers for his blog, aloha fixed, so I decided to take them with me to put up wherever I went.

That's it for this installment. Next up is my vacation from my vacation and Switzerland, I think.