Four-Country Ride


Our last day, and our biggest day. The preparation for this ride started on Wednesday at our team meeting. go site cheap best essay proofreading for hire for phd levitra generika probe click here source site my parents are my role models essay 1000 word essay on military accountability form purpose of literature review for dissertation kamini sildenafil oral jelly doxycycline cost without insurance go audio direct digital essay varsarutu essay in gujarati sports injury research papers go to site hero essay introduction analysis essay thesis generator free a copy of a resume letter see bio graph nexium for infants go site enter go acls dissertation writing fellowship cialis lastrup Fränk Schleck stated that he was going to offer two rides: The planned 155 km four-country ride and a shorter (100 km) ride that would only be able to take in three countries.

Sign of the roosters


To do a second ride, he would offer a guide, probably Glen Leven who is a mechanic for Trek-Segafredo, but no other support, i.e., no motorbikes. But he would need at least three volunteers.

Barry and Jens

Fränk asked us to think about what we were ready for after a week of riding. Two riders were consistently sagged throughout the week when we had time limits. I think Fränk was looking at those two as “volunteers.”


Glen Leven (and Martine Schleck in the shadows)

Even after the rest day, I wasn’t feeling much better. I was better but I wasn’t much better. The decision time was last night at the team meeting. I would love to go long and say I did a four-country ride but my body was telling me to volunteer for the shorter group. And I came to terms with that.


Jens Voigt

But then…


Fränk Schleck, Stephanie Voigt, Jens Voigt

In walked Jens Voigt to our team meeting. “Shut up legs.” And Jens is going to ride with the long group. That conflicted me as I wanted to ride with Jens but wasn’t sure I could keep with the group. But that option was quickly off the table. Fränk announced there would only be one ride. Everyone would start but if he felt someone was holding back the team he would tell them to get in the van, no arguing, no discussion. Having that decision out of my hand, I had to go long.


Jens Voigt – surprise guest at our Thursday meeting

We rolled out of Mondorf-les-Bains and a gap quickly developed back to the two riders. After 20 km (12 miles) just outside of Peppange we stopped as Fränk had gone back to help pace them. When they reached our group they stopped and got in the van.

My goal today was to finish. My strategy was simple. I thought I could stay with Jambo as we had ridden together quite a bit this week. We could form a grupetto of two if we had to as Fränk would not force Jambo, one of the organizers, off the course. But I didn’t have to resort to such a strategy.

Our first border was Belgium. We stopped at a non-descript border next to a farmhouse. The occupants were not thrilled we were there. They opened the door and their house smelled like a thousand ashtrays.


Belgium border

We rolled through a very scenic wooded section in Belgium, but only for 6.5 km (4 miles) and crossed back into Luxembourg. On another wooded scenic road, Fränk had us go from riding side by side (in twos) to one long paceline. And I was on Jens Voigt’s wheel. The speed ramped up as we kept this going for 10 km or more.


Luxembourg-Belgium border

We stayed in Luxembourg and crossed the country, west to east, traveling 64 km (40 miles). We crossed the Moselle River at Wormeldange to enter Germany and pulled over just inside the border. Next to the river in Germany was a bike trail with lost of users on this Friday afternoon. As I was taking a photo a German man (or maybe a Luxembourger on the wrong side of the river) started speaking to me in German. I think. When he saw I didn’t comprehend he asked, “what language?” He switched to English.

“But why no German?”, he asked. “You’re wearing the Luxembourg colors. I told him we were riding with Fränk Schleck. And Jens Voigt.


Source: Dan McDonough (Facebook, 22 Jun 2019)
Sitting: Barry Sherry – Keeling: Jambo (Jim Ray)
Crouched: Paul Lewandowsky
L-R: Carl, Frank, xxx, Dac Mcd, Scott Ireland, Gusty, Bryan Huneycutt, Will Swetnam, Jens Voigt, Margaret O’Rourke, Svetlana Martynova, Julie Trimble, Bob Pane, Scott Hesford

“Jens Vote?”, he exclaimed. I told him to come over and meet them. He said no and kept riding.


Moselle River from German side

We got on the bike path and hammered it for 19 km (12 miles). As we reached France, we stopped and one of our sagged riders joined us for the final push to home. Fränk made sure we rode at the pace of the slowest rider and we would finish the week riding together.


Newly AUTOGRAPHED phone case (by Jens Voigt)

As for me, I pushed through and maybe I shouldn’t have. But I had to, no? I was fearful all day that Fränk would say “you’re holding us back,” and secretly wished he did, but he never came my way. Jens only passed me going up one climb because he was ahead of me on all the others. As crappy as I felt, I never was last on a climb or even second to last.


Frank’s bike

It was a challenging day. I was just hanging on at times. I was breaking the ride into five-mile segments, just trying to get to the next one. There were times I wanted to cry out “I’m done.” But I kept going. And ultimately, I ended the day with the satisfaction of completing the day, and the week, that I set out to do. At the team meeting, I was recognized for powering through and never quitting.


We must be in France

What a week it was. Riding with the Brothers Schleck and Jens Voigt. Separate days in Holland, Luxembourg, France, and Germany and a four-country ride that included Belgium.

Roosters in France


I love France. In five times of coming here in nine years, I never experienced any road rage. Until today. Early in our ride a car did not like being behind these cyclists and went by with its horn blaring. Damnit France, you went and screwed up.


We rolled out of Luxembourg and only went two kilometers before we were in France. We began a climb up a gradual hill for perhaps one km. Some of our group got dropped, a harbinger of things to come. We waited at the top of the climb which allowed me to talk to some teammates and guests that were with us.

Entering France – The border is not guarded although the guardhouse remains


Joining us was a young (20) rider from Canada. Or the States. Couldn’t quite figure it out. Although Alex Lambert told me he was a Canadian citizen so we go with that. His dad, Alain, joined us also. Alex is a Cat 2 racer from Tuscon but is spending the summer in Luxembourg racing in Europe. Fränk is not coaching him but brought him over to expose him to European racing.

Donny with the moto


We had two motorbikes with us who helped us navigate intersections safely. Gusty’s wife, Donny (I hope that’s right), also rode.

Barry, Alaine, Alex


We went through some small villages and on some farm roads. As we came to a turnoff from a busier road (think rest area only little), Fränk said we could pull in there for a nature break. I saw what I thought were port-a-johns but they were recycling bins. Still, some of the guys and one woman found enough privacy for a nature break. I did not.

Rodemack, France


As we came into Haute-Kontz we turned to ride alongside the Moselle river. It was pretty here and I wanted a picture but we were riding in a group. We turned off the river road and went up a back road that got a little lumpy. I was halfway up when I started to lose contact with my group. Behind me was the second half and I was content to drop back to them.

Moselle River at Contz-les-Bains. I went back later for this photo.


Fränk Schleck started yelling “bigger gear, Barry, get a bigger gear.” Well, a bigger gear hurt. I wanted to spin easily and drop back with the second group. “Bigger gear, Barry!” Reluctantly, I put it in a bigger gear and I pulled myself back up to the lead group. But it hurt. I could also feel “pre-cramps” coming on, knowing that if I went over the limit I would be in a world of hurt.

Although we were on a different approach coming back, we were on the same ridge opposite the one we had started on. It was Mile 40. I was sitting fourth wheel on a 500-meter climb and got about 150 meters from the top and popped. I was on the right and waved my teammates past me. I just needed to spin slowly and finish the climb, and maybe rejoin them on the descent.



But I couldn’t quit. I couldn’t quite because young Alex came in beside me, put his hand in the small of my back, and was pushing me while pedaling. Here I was, wanting to quit, and Alex wouldn’t let me. With me giving it my all and Alex’s help, I made it over the top where I could keep pace the rest of the way.

Alex Lambert – gave me a helping hand


I teased Alex about not letting me quit but his helping hand was just enough. Another day riding in France but the image is now gone. And oh, a dog barked at us too. This is not the France I love.

Jackie, Margaret, Scott I., Scott H., Danny


Dinner that night was a bar-b-que at the table. Pork and chicken were served and we grilled the meat at our grills on the table (one grill for 4-5 people). Scott Hesford stood up and held out his finger. Danny pulled it. Scott unleashed the loudest and longest fart which would have been pretty funny. But he looked behind him and a couple was sitting at a table right behind his butt. That made it hilarious. He brought embarrassment to the Roosters but it would not be the last time. What a group.

Three Country Ride Part Deux


Three years ago Ben Z. and I went for a three-country ride. I asked him to come up with one again. He did.

Train station, Laufen, Switzerland

We took a train to Laufen for the start. My train ticket was 13 CHF. My bike ticket was 20 CHF. For a country that is cycle-centric, or maybe it isn’t, I think their train bike passes cost at least twice what they should be.

Welcome to France. I think. I think I can also read this sign. Speed limits in towns is 50 kph (31 mph); in the country it’s 90 kph (56 mph), and on super highways it’s 130 kph (81mph).

Laufen is near the French border of the Alsace-Lorraine region. We rode about 15 km before coming to a French sign. Ben pointed out another sign which noted that Swiss soldiers were not allowed to be on this road in uniform.

Ferrett, France

The road turned up and Ben rode ahead. We quickly established that on this day I would be first down the mountains and he would be first up. We went through some French villages although we were in the outskirts of a much bigger town, St. Louis, when I suggested we stop at a bakery.

Ferrett, France

We both got a chocolate-strawberry croissant then rode to a shade location to eat. We ended up next to a school where students were practicing a dance routine. Never quite figured out what kind of school that was.

Bakery in St. Louis, France

We found our way to the Three Country Bridge that connects France and Germany but looks at Switzerland. Close enough.


Ben led us through Basel, looking for a road back to the town and the climb we did three years ago. We made some sketchy moves in traffic, i.e., probably not riding where we should have.

Three-Country Ridge

But we got through Basel and back into Germany until crossing back over at a dam on the River Rhine.

Hello Germany

It was hot, with temperatures in the low 90s. I carried two bottles and was going through those fast while Ben had just one.

Three Country Bridge that connects France and Germany

We looked for water – easier in Switzerland than France or Germany. I didn’t feel I was getting enough and I know Ben couldn’t have been.

It wasn’t all pavement today

We began the last climb which would take us over the “hill” to Sissach. It was quite a formidable climb. Ben took off and 2-3 times pulled over until I dragged my butt up to him. I was in a granny gear and wasn’t going to work any harder. Or couldn’t work any harder.

Kaiseraugst, Switzerland

But at the top Ben was lightheaded. His wife had biked up from Sissach (quite impressive actually) and he had planned lunch at a restaurant up the hill from the summit. A second summit.

Rheinfelden, Switzerland

Ben said he was so light-headed couldn’t control his bike. He rested and gathered himself and then we descended, with me being the fastest. Weight wins.


On the descent, I hit 75 kph which is 47.5 mph. Had I known I would have pushed it to 50 mph. But it was my fastest speed of the time I was in Switzerland.

Switzerland. France. Germany. It was a most excellent trip. Thanks Ben!

Me. Ben. The last day I wore those ripped shorts.

Three Country Ride


I had never been to Germany and a few months ago I told Ben Z. that we should ride (or that he should design) a ride that takes us from Switzerland to Germany. And he designed a good one.

I took the train from Zürich to Sissach, met Ben, and went over to Stonebite bike shop, right down the street from the train station. Met a very nice guy working there. I grabbed a Trek Madone with Di2 (electronic) shifting and he fit me to the bike. One problem though. When I tried to shift I discovered the battery was missing and he couldn’t find it. But a couple of phone calls and 45 minutes later we were off and riding – the train.

(Actually there was a second problem. The bike was too large for me and a seat I could not lower. I would be uncomfortable for a day. Oh well.)

Ben, giving a Turkish Couple directions

We took the train to Basel to begin our tour. Winding our way via bike paths, we found our way across and then beside the Rhine River. It was navigating by feel. Within six kilometers we were crossing into Germany.

And almost immediately once we were in Germany, we were leaving Germany. We crossed the Three Countries Bridge into France. I was in Germany for 600 meters. But it counts.

Three Countries Bridge

Once in France we were on pancake flat roads, parallel to the Rhine River and the Grand Canal of Alsace but never quite seeing it. The road was a chip and tar road and a bit difficult to pedal. After 12 kilometers we turned towards the river and followed a road back to a hydro-electric power plant on the river at Krembs.

Hyrdoelectric Plant at Krembs on the Rhine River

No cars but we could cross the damn on bikes. We stopped to watch a ship come through the lock.

Ship coming through the lock at Krembs

Once we crossed the dam we followed the canal south until crossing into Germany. We jumped on a bike bath which was paved but turned to dirt and gravel. Germany has many bike paths next to roads, most are paved but this one wasn’t. We rode it for a few kilometers before finding another path/road which was paved.

Bike path in Germany ran out of pavement

Ben had printed out directions but we seemed to be off cue as much as on and it sure was fun. We followed open roads to wherever they led – which was not to lunch.

Closed on Mondays

Hungry, my breakfast was a Snickers bar in the train station, we found a restaurant/tavern which was closed on Mondays. Then another. And another. Finally we found a place in Kandern in the Black Forest which may have been Pizzeria Sanlorenzo, but I can’t say for sure. After a cyclists’ lunch of pizza, we headed out and up – up a beautiful road through the Black Forest.

Black Forest

Occasionally at a town or intersection Ben would check GPS but just as often we would say – “let’s go that way” as long as it was headed south or west – back towards his home in Sissach.

Ben and a Bike Path in Germany

We were on country roads, for the most part not heavily traveled, but just as often we jumped on the paved bike paths which followed the roads.

Reaching Rheinfelden, Germany, Ben mostly knew the way except that a landmark old building was missing. A quick question to a tourist and we were headed across the bridge crossing the Rhine back into Switzerland, to Rheinfelden, Switzerland. Two questions really. Which way to Switzerland and is that water (in the fountain) potable? (It wasn’t)

Rheinfelden, Switzerland

Ben said from Rheinfelden it would be 15 km more – all uphill. Before leaving, we found a water fountain with potable water and filled our bottles.

Ben, filling his water bottle

Once we left Rheinfelden we were on a somewhat traveled road until going through Magden. And there the climb began. In earnest.

Bridge over River Rhine at Rheinfelden Germany and Switzerland

In the morning we had been riding on dead flat roads along the Rhine in Basel and in France. But in Germany we picked up some hills in the Black Forest and now we had a small mountain to get over. My Garmin was showing it was mostly 11-12%. This was a mini Mt. Washington – 12% but for only two kilometers and not 12 kilometers.

Ben at the summit before Sissach

And it was raining. Cloudy in the morning and sunny in Germany, the rain was coming down in Switzerland. But it felt good on the climb. Once over the top we had 3k back to town. I was able to drop the bike, change, and catch my train, all in a matter of a few minutes.

Meanwhile, back at the bike shop

Three countries on a bike. What a great ride!

Barry and Ben
Barry and Ben

A big SHOUT OUT to Ben and [Friend}, my hosts on this day. They were both exchange students in the 90s who I have kept in close contact with. And on this day they were both texting each other as to my whereabouts. I was staying with [Friend] and she seemed very worried I would miss my train connections to Ben. And when I left Ben texted her with my EPA. Love you both!

I Love France (and You Too Switzerland)


Once upon a time, I thought I’d use this day to circumvent Lake Geneva, a distance of about 110 miles. However, I realized the bike rental location I was going to use wanted a two-day rental at 40 CHF per day. Plus the weather forecast called for a 90% chance of thunderstorms. The ride was off.

Geneva Train Station

Well, the big ride was off. Staying one block from the train station, I found a bike rental location called Geneva Roule which was on the other side of the train station. For 25 CHF I rented a BMC road bike for the day. I thought that was a good deal. Actually, it was a great deal.

Geneva Roule

I did not know where I was going. I was negotiating 100% by “feel” and just a little knowledge. This can be dangerous. Or fun. I knew the train station was north and west of the Rhône river so I looked at the sun and headed south. And east.


There are many bike lanes in Geneva. Some are marked along with bus and taxi lanes and many run the same direction as the trolley tracks. Be very careful my friends.


I crossed a bridge and then started my ride following Lake Geneva. I reasoned if I stayed close to the lake I could not get lost. My original ride plan which would take me around the lake was simply using the roads that were hugging the lake.

Geneva – Rhône River

I was on city streets and saw there was a bike path next to the lake so I jumped on it. At Vesanaz the road peeled away from the lake. I went through a construction area and dropped most of the traffic as I continued on the back road.

Geneva – Bike Lane painted leaving traffic with 1 1/2 lanes instead of two lanes

On the road out of Geneva the bike lane is a bit higher than the regular lane and a bit lower than the walking lane. Each separated by an angled “curb.” Or sometimes the pedestrian lane was simply divided by paint.

Geneva – Bike and Pedestrian lanes using angled curbs

And then it happened. I was going through Hermance, Switzerland and was going up the road, a slight climb, with some gravel on the road and a park with a soccer field to the left. Maybe it was Chens le Pont or Sous le Cret. Or maybe even Lagraie. Those are small towns within two kilometers (one mile) of one another.

I think the Province/Region sign is behind this construction sign
Welcome to France

It just seemed French and no longer Swiss. And I noticed a road sign, D 20.


French Road Signs
I am in France!

I think I was expecting a welcome sign. A Bienvenue sign. I doubted there would be passport control. But I was riding and had this moment — I am riding in France. And it was great. I was smiling.

I liked Italy. I like Switzerland. But there is just something about France. I love riding here. From my first time with Trek Travel in 2010 and then again three years ago when I did a solo trip. I love it here.

Commune de Nernier, France
(Is this private property?)

I had angst yesterday traveling from Tirano, Italy to Geneva. It was a long, but beautiful, day on multiple (four) trains. I worried about being stuck in a smoking room in Geneva (I wasn’t). When I arrived I didn’t know where the hotel was. But getting on the bike and riding in France, that just made everything better.

Commune de Nernier, France

In Chens-Sur-Leman I passed a bakery and cursed myself for not bringing those couple of 2€ coins I still had left. They were in my pants I left in the bike shop and would be so better used stopping and enjoying a chocolate croissant.

Always use SPF 1000 on your feet

As I was riding on a beautiful country road I saw an old church and diverted to it. There I discovered a community called Commune de Nernier. What a neat old village right on Lake Geneva. It was gated and I don’t know if I was allowed to bike in it but I did.

Commune de Nernier, France

I was just so happy riding for part of a day in France. If I had any doubts about how much I love riding in France the smile on my face said it all today.

Commune de Nernier, France

I returned to Geneva and used some time to explore parts of the town. It is a great city and I don’t want to diminish how much I like it here too by raving about riding in France.

Geneva – Rhône River

Looking back, I had a week of climbing some classic cols. That brings a satisfaction, especially Stelvio, unlike anything else. But riding in France today — pure joy!

Geneva – Rhône River

A Flat Run to Bordeaux


Lourdes – Budos (motorcoach)
Budos – Bordeaux (bike)

Our bus was one hour late this morning so we had time to check out Lourdes. I don’t think I will be coming back here soon. (And am not posting any pictures either…)

We had an uneventful ride to the village of Budos were we ate a picnic lunch before our ride through the vineyards to Bordeaux. We had 15 guys trying their best to organize a pace line — that’s what I get for starting it.

Barry in Budos, France

While we all are “avid” cyclists for signing up for this event, we had different abilities and experience and it took 15 miles to sort it out. One inexperienced but strong rider would move to the front and then pick up the pace which would blow the line.

King of the Mountain – La Brede, France

Another rider would alternately pedal furiously then coast, near the back, which would send the end of the line yo-yo-ing. It was very tough to follow that wheel.

James Hartzberg, Rich McCrea

I moved to the front as we reached the town of La Brede and saw the last King of the Mountain opportunity for our group. I picked up the pace then attacked while announcing “KOM Points!” It so happened that our guide, Dave Edwards, was at the top of the hill and I was caught way off the front and blew the peloton to pieces. It was great! (Credit Dave with these photos.)

Dave Thackrey, Paul Sommer

It wasn’t until we left La Brede that we had four of us in a nice relaxing line each taking 20 second pulls. Dennis McDonald, Tom Michaud, Peter Pellicano and I formed a nice team.

We had a fifth rider join us, Paul Sommer, who immediately went to the front and tried to do all the work himself. He apparently was oblivious that while he was working up front, we continued our 20 second pulls, sometimes letting him get 20-30 meters out in front while other times we passed him effortlessly. And we laughed the entire way to Bordeaux. (Sorry Paul)

We rode into Bordeaux, checked into the hotel, then went out on the course to watch the finish. The actual finish line was impossible to get near to be able to see (4-5 people deep) but we could stand there and watch the big screen. Instead, Peter and I chose to go to the end of the finishing chute to see riders come by after the race and go to their team buses. Mark Cavendish won the stage. And I got some good pictures including what will be probably my last photo of Lance Armstrong.

Lance Armstrong handing his water bottle to a young fan

Dinner was at the L’Orleans restaurant. I had duck. It was very good and will probably be the last time I ever eat duck. Our evening was a group meal but one of our riders, Susan Alexander, missed it. Instead she ended up meeting up with Robbie Ventura and Frankie Andreau and eating with them. I think she won the night.

Duck, duck, goose. (Kidding – just duck)

Tomorrow will be the Individual Time Trial and our last day of riding. I am sad to see that end but also just finished chatting with Ashley, who will be flying out tomorrow to Paris where she will join me in the City of Lights on Sunday. One exciting week is drawing to a close while another is still ahead.

EPILOGUE: Actually, it would not be the last photograph I took of Lance nor the last time I would have duck on this trip. And nor would it be the last time I would visit Lourdes.

Pla d’Adet


Our Trek Travel group met at the Novotel in Toulouse at 10:00 a.m. and rode a bus to St. Lary-Sloulan in the Pyrenees. My first introduction was to Derek and Aimee Cutright from Redding, California. When I told them they probably knew a friend of mine I could see them scoffing. But they did know Tamy Quigley.

The Trek Travel bus


Then I met Ed and Nancy Karrels. Nancy was studying museum science and told me about a person she wanted to meet, Nina Simon. I told her I was good friends with Nina. (True). It’s truly a small world – even on our bus.

Burt and Dean sampling the food

We drove out to the Pyrenees in the motorcoach. We had a great picnic lunch in a park/square/open green area with lots of dog poop around in the village of Arreau.


We got fitted to the bikes followed by a too-brief intro of the group. I could never remember all the names.

Guide Marquette Kelly speaking to the Group

We rolled out of Arreau and stayed together for eight miles as the road followed the valley. I looked over to the mountainside and saw a wonderful road cutting through the mountainside and said I hoped we would ride up that hill. We did.

Rolling through the valley

In St. Lary we turned to find the base to the climb up Pla d’Adet. It was a steep one. It averaged 8-10% most of the way with sections of 12%. It was 6.1 miles (10km) to the summit.


And it was HOT. It was 95° (or 35° C). This was the most I ever sweated on a bike. I was drenched when I reached the summit. BTW, this is where George Hincapie won Stage 15 in 2005. Lance Armstrong also won here, in 2001.

The road starts gradually at first before cutting back and going straight up the mountain

I hadn’t read up on the climb and thought I was near the summit (I wasn’t looking up — that’s an old climber trick) when I saw the sign to the summit — 7km (4 miles) to go. Average grade 9%. Well. it was in French but I knew what it said – “you’re going to die.”*

At the summit – the guy wearing the Brooklyn jersey was actually from Madrid

That was enough to make you want to stop and drink the mountain water coming out of the side of the hills (it’s OK unless it’s marked NON). But I kept going and dragged my butt up the hill.

Summit of the Pla d’Adet seeing the last sunshine of the day

After 30-45 minutes on the summit, we got to ride down the mountain. I gained a great appreciation for the professional cyclists. I always admired how fast they could climb but going down these roads — wow! — they descend almost twice as fast as me. The ride down was scary. Very technical (lots of hairpins curves that one had to slow down for) and very dangerous. My average speed down was only 20 mph. That was a lot of slowing in sharp curves.


Barry at the summit of the Pla d’Adet

After a shower we went to La Grange, a pretty neat restaurant which took the rest of the evening. And it was non-smoking although I wonder if it was that way just for us. Doesn’t matter. Thank you France!


La Grange Restaurant in St. Lary

Actually, I would discover later that all of France is non-smoking in restaurants. However, many restaurants have expansive open areas in the front, sidewalk cafes, and the smoke will find its way back in the restaurant.

James Hartberg showing off his tan line

Tomorrow: Col d’Aspin (twice) and the Col du Tourmalet. Our private viewing will be in LaMongie, a ski village just before the summit of the Tourmalet. Trek Travel has a private restaurant reserved and may be out on the roof (so I’ve been told) to see them come by. And to yell bad things at Alberto Contador.


*In the Pyrenees the signs are marked for the next kilometer. So the sign I saw that was indicating 9% average gradient was for the next kilometer and not to the summit.

Itinerary for the Trek Travel Tour de France Trip

I always wanted to see a stage of the Tour de France. And I always thought I would like to tackle an epic climb such as the Alpe d’Huez, the Col du Tourmalet, or the Mont Ventoux. I was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2009. As I sorted through the many treatment options available for me I was also presented with the opportunity to take a Trek Travel tour sponsored by my local bike shop, The Bike Lane, in Burke and Reston, Virginia. Life is too short to wish “I should have while I was still healthy enough…”

I signed up. Not sure of what lies ahead in life and I wanted to take this trip when I could. And since it involves a lot of riding and climbing, I also wanted to do it when I was young enough to ride the high mountains. Maybe more importantly, it became my recovery goal that I started looking forward to on November 9. Or it was Goal #1a along with the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb race on August 21.

So I am leaving Friday. Friday, July 16 — Leave Washington-Dulles at 9:00 p.m. and fly overnight to Madrid.

Iberia – Dulles to Madrid

Since I will arrive on Saturday and have to do an extra day somewhere, I decided to do it in Madrid and not France. Saturday will be a day spent sightseeing in the capital of Spain.


Sunday July 18 — Fly from Madrid to Toulouse, France

Toulouse, France

Monday, July 19 — In the morning we are transported to St. Lary-Soulon and then are fit to our Trek Madone bikes. There are riding options each day and I will be choosing to ride the longest route each day. Our warm-up ride Monday will take us up the Pla d’ Adet. 35 kilometers and 1,000 meters of climbing. That’s a lot of climbing over a short distance.

Desert at our picnic lunch and bike fitting

Tuesday, July 20 — A 100 km ride, 1,500 meters of climbing, from St. Lary – Col d’ Aspin – Col du Tourmalet and return. We then have mountain climb viewing of the Tour at La Mongie which is a ski village on the Tourmalet about 4km from the summit. I’ll be the one with the cowbell.

Adrian Register and Barry Sherry on the Col d’Aspin

Wednesday, July 21 — The pros have a rest day and we will ride 100 km, 3,000 meters of climbing including the Col d’ Azet, Port de Beles and the Col de Perysourde.

Barry at Col de Azet

Thursday, July 22 — A short 50 km in the mountains including a ride to the summit of the Col du Tourmalet and then watching the Tour tackle it twice as fast as we dreamed. Maybe three times as fast. And we’ll be at the mountain top finish.*

In a thunderstorm climbing the lower slopes of the Tourmalet

Friday, July 23 — Easy spin in Bordeaux in wine country and watching at the finish line of the Tour. 50 km, flat as a pancake. Somehow I think we’ll appreciate this. Maybe we’ll see Tyler Farrar win his first stage at the Tour.

On the way to Bordeaux – it wasn’t completely flat

Saturday, July 24 — We get to ride the time trial course and then watch the time trial where the Tour will probably be decided. 50 km.

Levi Leipheimer flying by

Sunday, July 25 — A train ride to Paris. We will be at the Automobile Club of France on the Champs Élysées watching the Tour go by us — eight times. As for the riding portion, people ask me how many miles we will ride. Only 250 which doesn’t sound like a lot. A few weekends ago I did 207 in one weekend. While it’s not that much it that will include almost 30,000′ of climbing. On Sunday, Ashley will fly into Paris and join me.

Ashley and Barry at the Automobile Club of France

On Monday and Tuesday we will be sightseeing in Paris.

Our own Parisian Tour Guide – Gwennaëlle Guillas. with Ashley

On Wednesday we will leave for Switzerland where we will do a whirlwind tour of the country, seeing Interlaken before ending in Zurich. In Zurich we will meet up with Ben Z, a student we were area reps for a number of years ago when he was an exchange student to the U.S. We (Ben and I) will go bike riding in the mountains.

Ben and son – Lucerne, Switzerland

Sunday, August 1 — Leave Zurich for Madrid then fly Madrid to Washington-Dulles. Life is short. Enjoy the simple pleasures. Life is Good!_

*EDIT/EPILOGUE – Photos added after the fact. The viewing for the Tour was along the route about 10 km from the summit. Wishful thinking had me read that we would be at the finish line. On neither day were we able to get closer than 4km from the summit due to crowd restrictions of the Tour de France.

I did not get to ride with Ben in Switzerland, instead we had a great boat ride in Lucerne.