That Other Race in July



The 200 not on 100. Or #200NotOn100 if you’re into Twitter vernacular. Remember it, follow it, and mark it on your calendars – July 28.

Oh, that image has a canny resemblance to the Colorado flag, you say? Yes, indeed it does. Stay tuned…

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Staying with the present, I’m now about to start stage 4 of the Tour of Poland. We came into this race without a distinct team leader as Timmy, Eros Cappechi, and Moreno Moser all can climb well and seem to be hitting some excellent form entering the forever undulating ToP. Turns out that is the case as Moreno won a very impressive circuit race on stage one thereby dressing himself in yellow.

The Tour of Poland is a WorldTour race of the highest caliber and is basically a who’s who of who’s not racing that three-week dealie in France right now. There are 200 very motivated dudes all racing with a chip on their shoulder feeling slighted that they’re not in France. Or maybe 187 guys with such sentiments since surely a dozen or so knew they didn’t stand a shot at France.

Anyway, with the yellow jersey comes a boatload of work for yours truly. Stage two saw 237km from start to finish, but that was preceded by a 10km neutral (including one excellent moment when we cyclists are following two lead cars driving side by side. We came upon a roundabout and now you will picture a clock. We are arriving from 6 o’clock and the car to the left went left towards 9, the car to the right went right towards 3, but then when they met at 12 o’clock, the car to the left tried to drive towards 3 o’clock and the right car aimed towards 9 o’clock. Hilarity yet no fender benders ensued and after some reversing and squealing of rubber we continued to the start). So now we’re up to 247km, but then when I’m leading the peloton and forced to zigzag across the less than placid Polish roads, I think my total ride distance increased significantly.

Meanwhile stages one and three can be found there and there.

So Poland is Poland. This is my second time around having raced it once in 2010 and there are some characterizing characteristics that help make this race memorable. For example balloons. If you see any photos of the race, you’ll see what could either be called miniature hot air balloons on the ground, or else ginormous normal balloons. Emblazoned with sponsor names, they’re funny to race by and surely entertaining to see from television. Additionally the podium stage, overhead banners, and seemingly anything that has a sponsor logo on it also is somehow inflated with air.

As I mentioned the roads are generally, umm, how do you say politely, in need of improvement. Sure there are plenty of nice sections, but yesterday I had the distinct feeling that I was riding along a washboard. Or maybe a bit like riding cobbles when you’re riding pavement. It’s tough to find any rhythm in this scenario.

Hotels are very nice and distinctly American! The beds are large, the TVs are flatscreen and large, and the bathrooms are spacious and well decorated. Yup, the bathrooms.

There are tons of billboards along the side of the road which is just cementing in my mind that I have no idea how to speak Polish. Nor do I really wish to learn. The letters C, J, Z, are very popular as is the letter L with a line through it. Adding to the difficultly of the language, consonants arrive in a 9:1 ratio with vowels.

Meals are interesting. I alluded to this on Twitter that the defining characteristic of food early on is greasy since the first hotel featured dozens of salads – vegetable, chopped meat, fish, or gelatin salads – heavily incumbered with grease. Either mayonnaise or oil or seemingly fried. I’m pleased to report that the meals have gotten better, or I should say less greasy, and one nice thing is that so far if the dinners are the hotel are bad, then the breakfast the following morning is outstanding. In that regard we’re 2-for-2.

Lastly, late starts. We are graced with very leisurely mornings since stages are starting in early or even mid-afternoon. Which is mildly fascinating to me because Poland is way over in eastern Europe yet is still on the Central European Time zone, so when we finish up at 7pm, it’s practically night time. Or it should be night time, but instead it’s hop-on-the-bus time and drive-100+km-to-the-next-hotel time.

Don’t forget: #200NotOn100.



Comments

  1. debby(m)

    Dzien dobry!

    That’s about the extent of my Polish – unless you were a woman (which you’re not), in which case I would add Pani [Name] (which I won’t).

    I’m just dropping by to tell how much I enjoy your blog now I’ve found it (thanks to those weird women on Ravelry who knit you mustachio-decorated stuff) – so much more entertaining than the German TV coverage of Polonia, unfortunately now relegated to a 20-minute recap once the other Tour has finished for the day. The commentator makes me wonder how he ever got the job, because I believe my cat could do it better. Oh, I don’t have a cat…

    Anyway, enough of my boring everyone on here: I’ll make way for people to write knowledgeable comments on the world of pro-cycling. I DO like your blog, though (did I mention that I like your blog?)

    Reply
  2. Steve M

    Poland is underrated.

    Reply
  3. Becky B

    I just remembered that I know one Polish word, and it may come in handy if you pass another ginormous poo-factory: śmierdzący = stinky
    AND I even know how to pronounce it: Smār gee You’re welcome

    Reply

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