Sunday, July 31, 2011
Greetings from a Proud Australian !
“ Le Tour de France “ has created a New “Sporting Idol “ for the world and particularly Australia ! I use “ IDOL “ not “HERO ” since I reserve that title for members of Your Armed Forces who you send into “Harms Way ” in the service of Humanity ! Of Course there are “ Heroes ” in the various Policing Organisations in your country also , who have performed in an Exemplanary manner in risking their life to save others !
“Le Tour ” is a credit to France in that it draws attention to the Touristic qualities that your country offers the visitor thus I am sure it can be credited with the high numbers that choose to vacation in France each year . Reports of upwards of 15 million lining the routes each year may be true but who is counting ? Regardless of where people come from or how they travel whilst in France there is a benefit to the French Economy . Not only “ ASO ” but other organisations benefit from this spending spree and it would be hard to imagine a France in July without “ Le Tour ” !
Making this Event successful requires the use of resources from ALL parts of the Community and coordination must be a logistical nightmare that requires INPUT from ALL sections of the Communities either on the various routes or in the neighbouring “ Departments ”.
“ ASO ” puts out each year a “ Guidebook ” which helps the media to understand what is about to take place and it is a source of reference that can be utilised by ALL to plan their Visit to the “ Le Tour ” whether to sit at the side of the road or visit the “Depart ” or “ Arrivee ” ! Presently it contains information of the “ Caravan ” and Racers timings BUT it should ALSO state the times that the route will be CLOSED to movement other than those with “ Properly Authorised Vehicles ” !
Fact is Millions of Euros are spent on erecting “ Signs ” warning of Road Closure Times but then a Gendarme will come along and decide “ HE IS THE AUTHORITY ” and the road will close upwards of an hour before the “ Advertised Time ” regardless of the information published on the internet or these expensive signs ! Oh yes , it happens , I have seen it so many times over the years inconvenience the locals as well as the passing public . This year I was riding uphill and a “Major Rank Gendarme “ pulled alongside and told me to stop riding as the road was closed . No Gendarmes yet in place but he had decided I had gone as far as HE wanted me to go ! Of course I continued uphill and arrived about 35 minutes before the advertised time to find several other cyclists stopped BUT the cars that had passed during the period I continued riding were nowhere to be seen !
“ M. Le Major ” came over and told me he had warned me not to arrive so I picked up my bike and walked off the route ! What was he thinking about ? Good Public relations ? How many years more must he suffer “ Le Tour ” before retirement ? Fact is The Gendarmerie is NOT A PRIVATE ARMY in the service of “ ASO ” , it is in the service of the FRENCH GOVERNMENT ! Who pays for the LONG HOURS that the Gendarme has to stand “ IDLE ” at the point allocated by their superiors ? Can it be that “ The Public Purse ” picks up the TAB whilst “ ASO ” pockets the profits from savings made by utilising Public Resources ?
“ Tour de Suisse ” is not much smaller than the “ Le Tour ” BUT they have “ Rolling Stoppages ” for most of the routes each day utilising “ Private Security ” using Motorcyclists and Reservists from the Swiss Army which closes the road for about 10 to 30 minutes before the arrival of the racers ! What do they do right when the Gendarmerie are REQUIRED by “ ASO ” to close the road up to 6 hrs before the racers arrive ? Can you imagine how many hours those Junior ranks of the Gendarmerie are required to stand at their allocated post ? Even before being posted they endure the meeting at the “ Assembly Point ” , transport to the location and then the aftermath requiring them to endure upwards of 10 to 12 hour days ! Who pays their wages ? How much time off duty do they get in lieu of this extraordinary duty ?
M.Le President as you pass in 2012 you will no doubt see a difference BECAUSE you are going to ACT and Streamline this USE OF RESOURCES ! Can the French Public stand by any longer and Allow “ ASO ” to impose these harsh conditions on their Gendarmerie ? No doubt your Gendarmerie can tell you that there is an increasing “ Crime Wave ” during the “ Le Tour ” since “ Organised Crime Bosses ” enjoy a window of opportunity whilst people are out of their homes and then you also have “ Spivs ” selling their “ Plastic Drapues and Nougat ” by blockading the junctions and suitable corners in villages AND Cities , but they also invade Shops and Offices forcing their “ Trashy products ” on those unwitting citizens some of whom they convince to BUY by flashing their “ phoney credentials ” !
Several of my Blog Posts raise these issues from this years’ “ Le Tour ” but I have seen this behaviour since 1998 and heard Police National Officers take an indifferent point of view to that of the Gendarmerie Officers . Already raised this matter in my email to the “ Elysee Palace ” during this years’ Tour ! Yet to receive a reply though !
M. Le President by canvassing the Opinion of YOUR Citizens you will see that many of these issues can be Addressed AND Solved ! Can you imagine that the day is not far off when the French Public will prefer to stay in their home and enjoy the “ Le Tour ” by watching it on the TV ? I can !
Pulmonary Embolisms’ once again in February saw me ride slower this year but at 65 yo I can still ride with the Racers , 14 visits to the “ Le Tour ” has opened my eyes to both the Good and the Bad that surrounds this Event . Can’t imagine having to watch it on TV but then I am not transported in by the “Authorised Tour Companies ” together with a bike and then FORCED to sit at the side of the road because a Junior Rank imposed his new found authority for fear he will upset his superior . The OLDER , Wiser Ranks choose to use the “ Nelson Touch ” !
“ ASO ” cream the profits but take no responsibility for the actions that cause the “ Visitor ” or the “ Gendarme ” to suffer long periods of idleness on the roadside . ONLY you have the Authority or Ability to DEMAND action that will Streamline the Time that Gendarmerie and the Visitor will be forced into Idleness !
Friday, July 29, 2011
Certainly Cadel's triumph rates highly as an event worthy of a "Top 10 or Top 20 performance " BUT wasn't the " Poll " a little biased and did it not ignore other " worthier " candidates ? One or two other sports were mentioned as the source of other candidates but even then some worthy people were not even considered . Two of the candidates for the " Poll " were team events and of course Cathy Freeman was an individual but not only that she had the whole weight of Australia on her shoulders as the "Favourite " for her event ! Whereas "Australia 2 2 was considered an outsider and Cadel was only one of many considered as likely to win through . I had given him the likelihood of a podium position as i thought the team not strong enough and unlikely to be able to stay with him in the high mountains , and how often were they there to protect him in those circumstances ?
Yvonne Gooloogong comes to mind as one "Sporting Hero " that has slipped out of the public perview and yet she was at the top of her sport for many years . But what i would like to remind people of is OUR PARALYMPIANS ! What of Louise Sauvage the Australian of the Year and Micheal Milton the man who won 4 Paralympic Gold Ski Medals at the 2004 Salt Lake Paralympic Games . Four events and four Gold medals , does not this count for recognition of some sort ? Certainly he was the " World Personality of the Year " standing above Micheal Schumacker and Lance Armstrong that year !
Commentary has closed in the items that i read otherwise i would happily add my comment to those already made .
None of this detracts from Cadel's efforts and the depth of perseverance needed to achieve this result . No doubt he will now reset his goals and it is conceivable that he will finally achieve an Olympic Medal , something that has eluded him so far .
Thursday, July 28, 2011
CENSORSHIP of abuse is warranted but judge for yourself IF the following is " unworthy " or off the subject !
My Comment :
" Wonder if "M outh F irst "saw an Op to promote her book and self ? Look at ALL the Pollies hopping on the "bandwagon " as mentioned in my blog earlier in the week ( jumping on too ! ) about Cadel !
Long overdue that Cycling Pros' were recognised on the Front Pages of the National Press since they ENDURE hardship AWAY from home and family to PROMOTE Australia and their sport .
As we build to the London Olympics there will be a need for "role models" who have endured disapointment BUT continue!"
There was more to this comment but for some reason there was a "Word/character limit" on the comment content !
My comment :
"Gerry Ryan" may think he is another "Alan Bond" but this is a NEW Century and things are done differently these days ! GreenEdge has a long hard road to plough before it has ANY sort of license so it has to be a TEAM EFFORT to get to the STARTING POST ! Met Mike Mc Kay briefly at the Giro and talked to him about "Disabled Sport" ! He was kind enough to listen even though he may not have known who i was or why i was talking to him . Shows that he was an open minded person and willing to hear out people . More in my blogs about that and the team . "Pro Tour Status" is not a " DONE DEAL " , huge amounts of work will be needed to get the team proposition to the starting post AND THEN more work will be needed to convince the UCI that the team deserves the "Highest Grade " in the team structures ! Shane Bannon has several assistants that will help him do the grunt work but be under no illusions that " GreenEdge " will sail through the preliminaries’ . If there are not several "Fall Back " plans then there will be a repeat of last years debacle !
"Gerry Ryan" may think he is another "Alan Bond" but this is a NEW Century and things are done differently these days !
GreenEdge has a long hard road to plough before it has ANY sort of license so it has to be a TEAM EFFORT to get to the STARTING POST !
Met Mike Mc Kay briefly at the Giro and talked to him about "Disabled Sport" ! He was kind enough to listen even though he may not have known who i was or why i was talking to him . Shows that he was an open minded person and willing to hear out people . More in my blogs about that and the team .
"Pro Tour Status" is not a " DONE DEAL " , huge amounts of work will be needed to get the team proposition to the starting post AND THEN more work will be needed to convince the UCI that the team deserves the "Highest Grade " in the team structures !
Shane Bannon has several assistants that will help him do the grunt work but be under no illusions that " GreenEdge " will sail through the preliminaries’ . If there are not several "Fall Back " plans then there will be a repeat of last years debacle !
Would hope that the presentation when it is made is successful BUT don't count on that happening ."
STILL TRYING TO FIND OUT WHAT THE PROBLEM IS WITH " BLOGGER" AS I CANNOT EVEN "EDIT " THESE DAYS LET ALONE POST
ANYONE HAD THE SAME PROBLEM PLEASE ADVISE !
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Cadel flavour of the month or will it be the year or the decade ? Politicians of ALL persuasions are jumping aboard the " band wagon " ! This time there was warning that there would be " sound bite Ops "! Didn't he come second twice ? Wasn't that an ACHIEVEMENT in and of it's self ? Not for the Polies , that is for certain !
After Cadel soloed to the World Champion win i posted on "parrabuddy " and to a variety of other outlets my view that Australia could by setting up a variety of additional " Cycling Events " become a MAJOR destination for those connected with cycling during the European Winter Cycling Season . Of course Europe has other cycling events during the winter in which the Cycle Road Racers enjoy participating !
Can anyone show me ONE event that was added to the Oz Cycling Calender since Cadel became World Champion ? Of course to put on events requires "Sponsors " but there are many out there with "cash " burning holes in their pockets IF ONLY the event organisers would have looked ! I realise that my suggestions in October 2009 would have been too early for that " European Winter series " but IS there anything additional planned for this the 2011 European Winter Season ?
ALL are going to want to see Cadel perform on the Bike when he returns to Oz this year , no doubt he will be selective of the events he will participate in OR visit to acknowledge the Cycling Public BUT had Event Organisers put their thinking caps on there would be Additional Incentives for European Road Racers to have Wintered in Oz and bring their family and friends with them !
John Morris when head of Tourism in 2000 headquartered in the Westfield Tower was kind enough to hear me out , about some proposals i offered about "Sponsoring Cycling Events " ! Did he pass on to his colleagues any of the ideas to research ? Doubtful , as i was a "lightweight , outside the " IN circle " and it would have cost money . Wonder if i would get time now to propose some of the ideas i have espoused here and elsewhere ? NO CHANCE JOSE !
ALL the media are scrambling for ANY story about Cadel since this will sell newspapers , journals , DVDs and grab attention for the advertisers on TV and Radio . Wonder if any of the Cycling Event Organisers are able to INTEREST Cadel's Management team in "Personal Appearances " at some yet to be arranged Cycle Events ?
At Pinerollo i was able to grab a photo with Matt White and speak briefly with Stevo who were there talking to those racing at the TDF .
WE LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES for cycling .
Monday, July 25, 2011
This is a pleasure that i had not anticipated at the beginning of the 2011 Tour de France ! Frankly having seen Cadel looking so tired before the ITT of the Dauphine Libere in Grenoble i commented to the team Doctor that i felt he was not at the top of his game ! Certainly that day he did less than was expected of him and thus was second to Wiggins at the end of that Tour !
During the period of the 2000 Sydney Olympics i first heard of Cadel and was able to meet him at the "Rundfahrt Ossterreich " in 2001 whilst he rode for SAECO and i was on the Kitzbuehler Horn when he took the win the next day . Cadel has always been hard to get alongside during the various tours that i would meet him at but was always gracious enough to autograph the various items that i would pass to " Disabled / Behinderten / Physically Challenged Sport " over the years . In London at the Grand Depart there he warned that he had little time for talking to " fans " and the team "distanced " the media during that event so that he could get the personal space that was needed for recovery each night .
NOT being involved in Cycling before the World Ski Championships in 2007 at Sestriere i had no idea of the Downhill scene let alone the Mountain Bike Stars . In fact i went to a Downhill event in 1998 and was delighted to see an Aussie out of Perth take 3rd place and whilst chatting to him after he passed me his goggles which are in my possession to this day . Who knows where they are in my luggage but i recall using them when ski touring on several occasions .
So often over the years i have been asked if i am a fan of particular Cycle Racers but always answer "I am a fan of Fair Play " , for me the important thing is not the nationality but the attitude to the sport .
Being in Mendrisio was a rare pleasure as i was a VIP guest of the locals and meeting and greeting the "Ancients " of the sport was a day to remember . Where i was entertained was close to the finish line so seeing the action on TV , cycling around the area and then seeing Cadel physically cross the line was a memory i will treasure . During the day i greeted Sean Kelly , Carmine Castilana and many others as well as sampling the local wines and cuisine .
There will be people who will dispute my opinion BUT " Waltzing Matilda " would have been more appropriate for the Ceremony on the Champs Elysee on Sunday ! Cadel has always been for me the epitome of the " LITTLE AUSSIE BLEEDER " and i think that all " DIGGERS " will agree with me !
Having been at Grenoble for the ITT of the Dauphine Libere i was quite content to miss the Hoopla on Saturday and follow the action on the TV and enjoyed watching Cadel " Bunny hop " after the 3rd time check as he headed downhill !
IN 1998 i rode the Champs Elysee through the caravan with the French Flag from the Hotel Carillon and an Aussie Flag from Georges of the bar near Brussels Airport so having that experience it has been some years since i have visited the Champs Elysee on the Sunday as trawling around the back of the barriers farewelling people until next year tends to be " Hit or Miss " !
Every year i meet people who arrive at the Tour de France for the first time and i enjoy watching their reactions to the " Circus " that the TDF has become during the 14 occasions i have ridden the routes .
One night several of us camped in a field and i got asked once again why i don't write a book , fact is the blogs are not well enough attended to justify the expense in time and monies to rave on about the places i have been and the people i have met .
Some of the experiences i have enjoyed have been right off the scale in that i find myself the guest of so many generous people both in their homes and as a guest at the side of the road . It is impossible to relate the generosity of so many people even if i could find the correct words since in many cases these people have put aside their own commitments to help me ! The spread of nationalities and countries is mind boggling as not only Europeans but Asians have treated me so kindly !
Currently i don't seem to be able to post direct to the Blogs and so am using " Posterous " as the Portal so the stories/blogs are repeated in several blogs and for that i apologise . Hopefully i will discover the problem and solve it quickly !
TODAY i am copying an email into the blog written by Vincent who has ridden the "Routes of the TDF " these past 3 years .
"" Skippy appeared riding from behind me on my first trip to the Tour de France in Monaco 2009 on the TT course . I had camped for 5 days in my first foreign country and the sound of a friendly Australian accent was welcome and after the usual exchange of details , he proceeded on along the course and shortly after i met another Tour devotee George the cyclist , who informed me of Skippy’s long running involvement with all the grand tours .The power of the event and the challenge to view it while riding the course as much as you can handle got into my head with some power so i returned to the 2010 edition which started in Rotterdam to meet up with George . It was world cup soccer time and Skippy , George , and a new find of George’s , David the German and i took part in the excitement of a game watching the screen at the IYH where I was staying . The dutch won ,the locals where more than pleased it was a happy time to be amongst the revellers.
Over the coming days as gGorge and i rode the course Skippy would appear always loaded up with Skippy’s Legacy which was a special cycling jersey autographed by all the riders of note in the Pro Peloton. Skippy had plans to auction the shirt with proceeds going to his primary interest “ disabled sports people “. Regularly our paths would cross as the tour stages went by.2011 came around and again i could not resist the Tour of France atmosphere , after riding to the rider presentation and discovering that it was invitation only i settled back in the car park to watch the Team buses roll up with all the tour Champs and Personalities passing by and i felt my 500 km ride was well worth it.
Then a gentle whack from a passing cyclist revelled Skippy once again , after greetings where done Skippy arranged for me to shake the hands of some tour stars Erik Zabel , Cadel Evans , Danilo Hondo ,Chris Horner , Mark Renshaw and others . Even though i am of a mature age , 54 , just to meet these guys was a great thrill and i doubt I’ll forget it ever, this was all down to Skippy , as he is one of the personalities which add to the whole tour experience .
What i should like to do is INVITE others to contribute their stories relating how we have met up , over the years .
People like my friends in Crest , Brussels , Redom , Montigenevre , Torino and so many more places occasionally visit the blog so i would encourage them to contribute their piece to the Blog .
Now that Vincent has set the ball rolling , who will be next ?
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Once again Australia celebrates persistence of a Sportsman who has finally achieved his ambitions ! Some will remember Bob Hawke declaring that " Only a Bum will sack workers for taking the day off to celebrate "! This was after Alan Bond Achieved the " impossible " with winning the " America's Cup "!
WILL Julie Gilliard take the same attitude , of course Kevin Rudd would ! Wouldn 't he ?
Apologies to Cadel for my lack of belief in his ability to achieve this triumph , so many europeans asked me if i favoured his chances during the past years and i always answered that the " first 2nd place was as close as he would ever get "! Even on Thursday night i was certain that the effort expended to pull back Andy Schleck would have diminished his chances . When he got angry with Voeckler & Co i thought it was because he felt the need of their help but it was more ! I feel certain now that he was trying to help Thoma fight back , and had Voeckler made more of an effort he could today be standing on the podium instead of a Schleck !
Cadel has always been more of a sportsman than he appears at first glance and i am sure that carrying the team on his back once again has caused him to dig deep and suffer greatly to achieve the impossible task that we Australians expected of him !
Sadly today is marred by the tragedy in Oslo but there will be an abundance of Aussie flags on the Champs Elysee ! For my part i will be watching Eurosport as i had my run on that Parcours in 1998 during the caravan procession . Since then cycling around the back of the spectators has lost it's appeal .
Raising my glass i salute another fine Australian realising his ambition and hope that he will be chosen to carry the Australian Flag at London 2012 and will inspire another Australian Medalfest and perhaps bring home the Olympic Road Race Gold medal !
14 years riding the routes of the Pro Tours and finally i have seen THE AUSTRALIAN take the top step at the TOUR de FRANCE !
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Take today in Lavour , there is a round point overseen by a Gendarme whilst the " ASO designated assistant " filters through " accreditated vehicles but about 100m away there is another road block created by the " vermin ". Just out of sight of the Gendarme they are enjoying fruitful pickings on the unsuspecting . Seeing this i wandered back to the Gendarme and asked him to use " his " phone to call his control . He refused since it was not his job to report about these people so i called out to a Police National Adjuntant on a motor velo who when i explained the matter went to stop the "vermin operating ". Leaving them he came back towards the round point but meanwhile a mas scramble took place to exit the scene . As they drove up the road a Gendarmerie vehicle arrived with klaxon & blue lights looking to apprehend the culprits . Several minutes were lost as they spoke to all and then took off in pursuit .
Later as i ate lunch near the SNCF gare i saw and spoke to a "Commandant rank Gendarme and explained the problem of the phone and he told me the original Gendarme should have used his initiative since there was valuable time wasted chasing the miscreants !
My opinion is of course , IF a Gendarme carries a "mobile phone " then he should use it to seek advice from his superiors . I did not ask him to leave his post but seek assistance too often in the past i have seen this situation .
Officers make decisions , the ranks seek approval , but it is frustrating to see once again the escape of a vehicle which looks similar to the one i reported yesterday . I also reported the vehicle from the streets of Carmaux was likely to be in the area !
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
M.Le President N.Sarkozy you can use your "power" to stop the miscreants dishonouring France as they fleece the "public" with their "plastic drapeau" and "nougat" ! An open letter to you that the Gendarmerie and Police National should read and ACT UPON TODAY !
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Whjlst the weather was bad on Super Besse i was in the warm in Issoire awaiting the Sunday start ! Georgethecyclist and his team rode out this morning into lousy wzather whilst i drifted down the parcours in the car thinking to ride the final 50 km but even 5 hours before the racers arrive the Gendarmerie were lining the route and there was continual drizzle even dampening " El Diablo's enthusiasm .
Several posts in place to amuse those that qre interested .
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Seems like "ASO" needs to put ALL tour drivers through a safety course with an exam to see that they have READ and UNDERSTOOD the rules of the French Roads and thus are able to set an example to those sitting or standing beside the roadside whilst awaiting the arrival of the racers .
Tour decal "3606" overtaking on a blind corner with 4 of his colleagues following could have created a horrible scenario had there been a vehicle coming the other way as the road was open to traffic . Of course the Gendarmerie has been used to seeing this behaviour in the past so are disinclined to act , could be they also have to play catchup before there are casulties .
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Trying to upload photos taken over the past days has been frustrating since it is taking 3 attempts in some cases ! Find photos on Tourdafarce , tourdafrance and skippi-cyclist .
Enjoy as i am going to watch some of those wearing their dog collars parading like preening turkeys !
Saturday, July 2, 2011
WRONG ! Tried it on me and got the wag of a finger and then tried to side swipe me off the road . 1O minutes later after getting stuck in the traffic jam that i rode through he tried to side swipe me into some pedestrians who jumped clear as he drove at them ! Reported the details to the President of the "Village Depart Tourist Office" who hosted me to coffee and excellent pastries which the locals have perfected !
The TDF Guidebook is given to ALL Those who seek to work at the Tour and wish to be treated as "accredited personnel" ! Fact is i choose not to use this facility as even though there are only 5% who abuse their priveleges i consider that unacceptable ! Over the years i have had to endure bad behaviour from a selection of "bullies" who because i am a visitor travelling alone am treated as an outsider by those ganging up to support their mates/colleagues !
Over the years i have seen totally unacceptable driving that had it been "normal road rules " elsewhere the cops would act ! Today was the first time in 14 Years i have seen a Radar Camera Gun being used by Gendarmes hiding in the bushes on a "Tour de France Route" ! Hopefully they got a good result AND the authorities collect the fines that result from this action !
Riding from Les Essarts to the "depart " was taxing and then to be treated as a nuisance to one of those who has to wear identification was a step too far . 10 am i was off with an " Aussie, Aussie , Aussie " over the bridge to be told the " passage" was closed and had to do a return to the "parcours" south of the village . Several hours of "in the face" breeze did not help pass the day in an agreable manner . Raided 3 " Private Fetes" for an assortment of food and pastis during the ride and spent one occasion letting the caravan pass . Once again i saw the pitiful offerings that the "sponsors " choose to foist on an unsuspecting public . Later the RMC vehicle passed with a toot but since there were Gendarmes about decided to behave .
Later i was sideswiped from the road by an official vehicle without number and broke spokes . When a Gendarme wearing 4bars asked me to stop , i had little choice and then he gave me incorrect directions to Les Essarts causing me to visit La Roche adding to the 250 KM for the day !
Friday, July 1, 2011
Alberto fitting his helmet before taking the bike for a spin around the car park .
Richie Porte was kind enough to allow a photo without the helmet .
Bjarne Riis giving instructions in Danish so would have privacy .
Some photos from my riding tag .
Found Vince and Georgethecyclist in Les Herbiers yesterday and at the Team presentation enjoyed chatting with some of the big guns including Cadel whose photo amongst others will be added later .
AT 10 am my only thoughts are who i will find today rather than sitting here in the tourist office talking to you all !
Looks like you like to read BUT NO ONE HAS advised the name of a "PARA ATHLETE they would like to receive a "Conti Tyre " . Guess i get to save the postage monies !