Thursday, April 29, 2010


Inspired by Paris-Roubaix, I've been taking my old road bike out on dirt roads and rail trails. However, I forgot to decrease the tire pressure and yesterday, just after dropping Boonen and Cancellara on the Boulevard Trail (in my mind, that is), I hit a bump that sent my flying over the handlebars and sorta cleaved my clavicle in twain. (See above.) Everything is put on hold for now.  

In other news, click here for a vdeo I put together of me running the streets and sites of Paris.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Well, we're back in the U.S. of A. and in fact I've already been on a 40-mile road ride with the boys--Scott TC (which now stands for Titanium Cancellara) Young and Mellow Johnny Boy Clark. I was jetlagged as hell but it was fun as heck nonetheless. I loved Paris to death but it's great to be back. Here's quite possibly the last batch of Paris pix. (Fer now.)
A golden girl at sunrise on the Jardin du Trocadero just across the River Seine from Tour Eiffel. (Am I impressing you by using the French names for landmarks?)
 The top pic was taken during an early morning run; moments later, I came across this photo shoot taking place using the Tour Eiffel as a backdrop.
View south from atop the Arc de Triomphe.
For a small guy, Napoleon sure was buried in a big box. 
  Painter painting a painting of Napoleon at Musee de l'Armee.   
Coolest guy in the world. Came across this jazz combo in Monmartre and the seated guitarist in the black jacket had serious major crazy chops. His fingers flew like a butterfly or hummingbird or something all over the neck of his guitar. I was awestruck and mesmerized and I--I must confess--am in no way, shape or form, a jazzer. Thus, I dubbed him the coolest guy in the world. (Looks a bit like Fabian Cancellara too.)
Sculpted detail at Notre Dame.
Uh, ... ick.
The Wall for Peace at Parc du Champ de Mars. Ironically, the domed building in the reflection is Ecole Militaire, an elite military academy that Napoleon once attended.  
  Bake and I attach our family love lock on a pedestrian bridge over the Seine.

Rue du Champs de Mars, the street where we lived.
The family at Jardin du Luxembourg, Bake's favorite place in Paris. (Because of the cool playground.) 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


In La Trouée d'Arenberg (the Arenberg Forest), when the breakaway passed by, nobody paid much attention. It was more a moment for us fanatics by the side of the race course to check our positions, to lock in our sightlines for the next minute or so when the big boys, the guys who really mattered, would be passing by—Cancellara, Boonen, Hushovd, Fleche, and so on. They were preceded by a thunderous roar, the crowd erupting as big Tom Boonen—and he does look big; Cancellara appears to be getting smaller and smaller, albeit faster and faster, in comparison—led the peloton through the cobbled road in the woods. At 2.4 km, it’s the longest, but apparently not the hardest section of pave; still, the bikes rattled and thrummed, bounced and jostled like they were riding down the middle of a railroad track.
Boonen, the hometown favorite (“Tornado Tom Frits” read the homemade banner held aloft just down the way), was having fun. His hands on the top of the bars, he appeared to be pulling everyone through, like some beast of burden pulling a plow. Just in front of us he turned around to inspect the damage he’d done just as I remember him doing at the same spot in last year’s race. (Though then of course, I was watching the Versus telecast.) This year though there was a difference: Fabian Cancellara, just two spots behind him, watching Boonen like a hawk, letting Tom do all the work, and waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Which of course he would do in historic fashion riding away from everyone with some 30 miles to go.
Arenberg was the second spot we stopped. The first was Inchy, the first section of pave, and we stopped at a spot about a half hour past Arenberg which seemed almost a repeat of what we saw in the forest—Boonen at the front of the peloton doing all the work, Cancellara wisely tucked not far behind waiting for his moment. One wonders if Boonen got carried away in his quest for a fourth P-R or by the hometown cooking of the French-Belgian-Flanderian faithful.
The roar that erupted each time he pulled the peloton past us was deafening. We attended a few stages of the 2009 Tour of California which was certainly exciting, but the depth of feeling-devotion-history here in Northern France was unlike anything there; you felt it in your very soul. Or at least I did.
Still jetlagged, for we'd arrived in Paris just two days earlier, we awoke early that race Sunday morning and rode a cab to Gare du Nord where we caught a train to the start of Paris-Roubaix about an hour north of Paree in Compiegne. Narrow streets choked with fat chunky cobbles got us excited for the start as did the arrival of the Team buses—Saxo Bank, Quick-Step, BMC and all the rest.

We saw Cancellara’s bike but no Cancellara; he, along with most of the big names, must’ve waited ‘til the final minutes to sign in for we saw no one of note save for George Hincapie. As we watched and waited, listening to one overwrought rock ballad after another blasting from the PA (“Too much love will kill you, everytime …”—where did they get these songs?), we heard someone say “Hey, you’re from Bellingham, aren’t you?” It was Chris (whose last name I don’t recall), a real nice tall dude I met while racing some of the Indie Series races last summer. (Small world, or what?) Turns out Chris was doing the same thing we were—meeting up with a British group, Sports Tours International, who would be transporting us to several spots along the Paris-Roubaix route to watch the race. Truth be told, the bus—and more specifically, the hilarious, cycle-crazed guys in the back of the bus—from Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Columbia and the U.S.—were probably what made Paris-Roubaix such a memorable experience for us. Most of the bus passengers were in it for a few days—they’d come over from London a couple days earlier, many even riding 112K of the race course the day before. (Oh, how I envied them.) Jen, Bake and I were among the handful or so who were in it for just a day trip.
They immediately welcomed us into their fold, sharing photos, drink, food, as well as hilarious tales of their misfortunes in attempting to ride the cobbles. A couple of them had hands that were absolutely chewed up with blisters from trying to hold on to their handlebars while battling the pave. Perhaps our favorites were the two young British boys—13 and 14—who had brilliant senses of humor.

One had a charming lisp and at one spot while we were waiting for the riders to come through, he noticed a fan across the roadway who’d obviously ridden out to watch, then put a pair of pants on over his shorts. He must’ve removed the white straps of his bib cycling shorts from his shoulders too because they just sort of hung down behind him.

“It lookth like thumone gave him a mathive wedgie,” he said to me.

It did too. And the phrase ‘mathive wedgie’ will now forever be in my lexicon.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


About 10 days ago, after a long fun day in Northern France hanging out with rabid cycling fans and witnessing Paris-Roubaix up close and personal at four different spots (including the Arenburg Forest), we took a high-speed train from Lille back to Paris. Shortly before our arrival in Paree, Jen notices a lanky guy behind me futzing around with his luggage. He wore a Francaise des Jeux jacket and when we saw a pair of cycling shoes, we just had to ask him: “You didn’t just race Paris-Roubaix, did you, and are now taking the same train we are, are you?” (Earlier, at the Lille train station, we’d seen four or five guys wearing BBox shirts, including one carrying a bike frame but quickly dismissed them as mere cycling fans, albeit rabid ones.)

Turns out yes, and yes—he’d just raced P-R and was now heading home. Yoann Offredo is his name (he gave us his cycling card), a very nice guy who, though he told us he finished 25th or 26th, actually finished 64th out of 71 official finishers. But he’d finished! And appeared as whooped and wiped out as if he’d just ridden down to the corner Starbucks and back. Crikey! We talked for a few minutes—I asked him which was tougher: Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix; he said P-R—and when the train arrived in Paris, he said “Ciao!” grabbed his bag and rushed off without the slightest limp, sign of soreness or anything. Seven hours on a bike across 160 miles of the Hell of the North and not at all the worse for wear. Incroyable!


Sunday, April 18, 2010


Well, looks like we might be in Paris for a while. We were supposed to fly out Tuesday morning but because of the Iceland ash cloud, the airports have been closed for a couple days and won't open before 3 p.m. Monday if then. In the meantime, I seem to have caught a cold. (That's the real pain in the ash, if you ask me.) At any rate, please enjoy more photos from our life in Paris.
Jen and her mellifluous tones performing at the Paris Opera House.
Tour Eiffel and the Pont d'lena Bridge over the River Seine.
Sacre-Coeur, which offers one of the most expansive views of Paris. Certainly breathtaking but personally I preferred Notre Dame.
Baker and Jen in front of Tour Eiffel which, after the sun goes down, is all aglow with sparkling lights for the fiirst five minutes of each hour.
"Young Girl with Roses on Her Hat" at the Musee Rodin.
Musee du Louvre.
Parisian roses for Jen on her birthday.
Grape-eating gargoyle at Notre Dame.
Turns out the only thing holding the Eiffel Tower together is this sling, rope and single carabiner. Who knew?
Baker and Jen (in spiffy new birthday coat purchased at Galeries Lafayette) in front of the Tour Eiffel.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Jen 'n' I shortly after the nine-and-a-half hour flight from Seattle to Paris.

The Seine from high on Notre Dame.
View from this morning's 40-minute run.
Jen and Bake at Notre Dame.
Me goofing around on one of the vending machine rental bikes. 
'Nother view from this morning's run.
Our remodeled living room. I mean, the Paris Opera House.
Mona Lisa ... whatever.
Jen and Bake avec baguettes en Rue Cler.
Dude in a gorilla suit who scared us half to death outside the Paris Opera House then wanted money for doing so.
The street where we live: Rue du Champs de Mars.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Gather 'round kids, here're some phots from the 2010 Hell of the North! And shout-out, props and all that to Baker McQuaide (age 11) who came up with much better pics than I did!
Race poster in Roubaix.
Second-place finisher Thor Hushovd survives the Arenburg Forest. (Bake McQ, photo)
Big Tom Boonen on the streets of Roubaix just before entering the Velodrome. (Bake McQ, photo)
Close-up of the pave at Compiegne, about an hour northeast of Paris and where Paris-Roubaix actually starts. (Bake McQ, photo)
Fabian Cancellara's winning bike is the front one on the left.
George Hincapie at the Compiegne sign-in.
Baker McQ at work.
After Paris-Roubaix, an exhausted Baker McQuaide and mum Jen on the train from Lille back to Paris.