This years L’Etape du Tour was run on the classic Pyrenean stage route from Pau to the ski station of Hautacam, a total distance of 145km.
Before the half-way point, the route starts to ascend the fearsome Col du Tormalet, crossing the 2,115m summit with 50km of the stage remaining. A 35km descent into Ayros Arbouix leaves just the 15km climb back up to 1,520m.
In the ‘amateur’ race, Frenchman Loic Herbreteau crossed the line four minutes ahead of second place, with a time of 4 hours 47 minutes and 29 seconds. Vincenzo Nibali won Stage 18 of the Tour in 4 hours 4 minutes and 17 seconds, almost three-quarters of an hour faster.
The Tour organisers, gave todays stage a coefficient of 5 as a ‘very difficult short stage’, which, given Nibali’s average speed allows riders an additional 17% of the winners time to avoid elimination. So for todays stage, the elimination time was 4 hours 43 minutes and 29 seconds – this year, none of the Etape riders would have survived the ‘broom wagon’.
Lampre-Merida rider Davide Cimolai was the last TdF rider to cross the line, safely inside the elimination time by around 9 minutes.
You can see how the riders got on in 2012 here and last year here.
In recent years, there has been a move within cycling away from plain pasta and energy gels towards ‘real food’. I’m not sure if it started with, but has certainly brought to the fore, by Biju Thomas and Allen Lim of SkratchLabs and the FeedZone book series. While watching coverage of this years Criterium Du Dauphine, commentator Anthony McCrossan mentioned some of the team chefs were on Twitter, so I went searching and found a few. Incase you want to follow any of them, my list of Sports Chefs can be found here.
Hannah Grant (@dailystews)
Hannah is Chef for the Tinkoff Saxo team and has been making delicious looking food for the riders, including this roasted chicken.
Roasted chicken with thyme and celeriac
Chicken is always popular as its high-protein and low in fat. It also tastes great and lends itself to a multitude of variations – perfect when you’re needing upwards of 6,000 calories per day in a Grand Tour.
She is also the author of the Grand Tour Cookbook, which looks absolutely amazing, but is sadly only available in Danish at the moment, so hopefully the translated version will be available soon. However, given I have been watching original language versions of The Killing and The Bridge recently I guess I could give it a go1.
Søren Kristiansen (@teamskychef)
Cheffing for Sky Pro Cycling, Søren creates food for some of the top Grand Tour riders such as Richie Porte, Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins (though not all at this years TdF). As well as great looking main courses, he seems to have a particular thing for deserts and his plating style rivals that of Hiroyuki Sakai (Iron Chef French).
“Beetroot” cake with almond/cardamom rhubarb compote and mousse
For his main dishes, he again uses a lot of fish and turkey/chicken to give the riders good quality and high protein meals. I think I’ll take a shot at a version of his roasted turkey breast and oyster mushroom/small leeks/champagne cream and tortellini with ricotta in the not to distant future.
Kim Rokkjær (@kimrokk)
Team Chef for Trek Factory Racing, Kim is responsible for ensuring Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt and the Schlecks get their racing calories. He doesn’t post food-pics as frequently as some of the other chefs but what he does show looks pretty good!
Tomato with buffalo mozzarella and basil
Jesper Boom (@jesper_boom)
The brother of Stage 5′s race across the cobbles winner Lars, Jesper is the Tour Chef for the Dutch Team Belkin. No wonder LarsÂ did well in the wet and cold with food like this to keep him warm!
Pork? with mixed roast veg
Tom Caubergs (@TCaubergs)
Tom is the Team Chef at the Belgian team Omega Pharma Quickstep. He doesn’t tweet many pictures of the team meals, but he does do a nice presentation.
Beef Carpaccio with parmesan, rocket and balsamic
Nicki Strobel (@Nicki_Strobel)
Providing the daily meals for Simon Gerrans and the rest of the Orica-Greenedge Team, Nicki has been serving up some fantastic looking meals, with salmon and pork appearing frequently in his dishes. His deserts don’t look half-bad either.
Pan seared salmon with a creme of green peas
Apparently, he’s such a good chef that Simon Gerrans re-signed for 3 more years just to enjoy more of it.
Sean Fowler (@Larryvich)
Sean and his wife Olga are the cooks for riders of the Garmin Sharp Team. Evidently there are some special dietary requirements to cater for in the team as gluten-free meals make regular appearances, but hey are not averse to getting fancy either with dishes like this though.
Roasted quail served over saffron paella and steamed hake
Henrik Orre (@ChefOrre)
Henrik works as a freelance chef for Team Sky, but during the Grand Tours he can be found on Norway’s TV2 channel doing a daily cooking show following the route of Tour de France using locally sourced ingredients.
Henrick on TV2
All these chefs are pretty active on twitter, often chatting amongst themselves and sharing loads of food and behind-the-scenes photographs. I really hope that with the extra interest they are garnering this year, that some new cookbooks will be forthcoming.
After all, I do own a book on cooking with Matcha, completely in Japanese.?
The Belkin team car gives an insight into their training regime to get ready for this years Tour de France. I’m not sure this would work so well in less cycling-fanatic countries where the teams are less famous.
A few weeks before crashing out of the Tour, Chris Froome became the first person to ride from the UK to France. I think this would make an interesting TT stage, although there might be some challenges to overcome regarding live broadcasting.
More than half a century before Bradley Wiggins secured the first overall Tour de France win for Britain, Yorkshireman Brian Robinson was pioneering the way on the Continent to become Great Britain’s first Tour de France rider and also the first British stage winner.
In 1958, Brian was second across the line on Stage 7 into Brest. However, following relegation of Arigo Pavan for an incident at an earlier intermediate sprint, he became the first British stage winner. The following year on Stage 20, Brian attacked and took line honours by some 20 minutes; although he’d pay a heavy price the day after and narrowly avoid elimination1.
Brian Robinson in the 1959 Tour de France.
Today, at the age of 83, Brian still rides a couple of times a week, and was planning on riding some of the route of Stage 2 between York and Sheffield.
1st British National Hill Climb Championships
Stage win, Tour d’Europe
1st Tour of Pennines
1st Grand Prix de Nice, La Forteresse
Winner stage 7 Tour de France Stage win Tour du Sud-Est 1st pursuit and omnium, de Guecho, with Jacques Anquetil
Winner stage 20 Tour de France
Stage wins Tour de l’Aude and Midi Libre
1st Criterium du Dauphine Libere Stage win Circuit d’Auvergne
There was a rule that prevented elimination of the top 10 riders, Robinson was in 9th↑
I picked these guys up on San Francisco last year, but never posted a picture. Designed by Huck Gee, who’s stuff is awesome, but unfortunately mostly out of my price range (and I have no space!). These ones are Feral Girl, Copter Boy and Robot Geisha.
About a year ago, the See.Sense bike light popped up on my radar and I decided to back it on KickStarter. Last week, some four months later than originally advertised, it finally arrived at my door.
What’s in the box
Inside my DHL- delivered parcel is a rather nicely designed (recycled cardboard) box with the light visible through a little cut-out window. Not quite from the Apple design school, but aesthetically pleasing and gives all the information you might want if you were shopping for a new light.
After you undo the little sticker keeping the box closed and inside you’ll find the light along with two bungee-fasteners, instruction sheet and the worlds shortest USB cable. My light has green bits as it was one of the options for KickStarter backers.
The front of the light features clear plastic with fresnel lens built in for focusing, which is joined to the black back section and sealed with the green rubber strip. Under one side of the sealing strip is the USB port which will help keep it away from the direct water spray from the rear tyre.
See.Sense is essentially an ‘augmented’ light with a few sensors built in to adjust intensity and flash patterns depending on what data they receive. I’ve been using a 1W SuperFlash for a couple of years but thought that this looked (a) brighter and (b) more waterproof.
One thing of note is that there is no switch to turn the light on or off. Instead, you rotate the light left and right four times, at which point it will display the battery level before starting to flash.
To mount the light, you just grab one of the rubber bungees and strap it around your seat post. There aren’t any alternative fittings for seat stays or aero-posts, so if you don’t have enough space beneath your saddle or ride something with an aggressively aero design, you might have some issues.
Its rather hard to evaluate the lights response to conditions as when you are on the bike it is underneath and behind you! From the testing I’ve managed to do, I’ve found the following:
Daylight running – slow flash every second
Low light – faster flash
Stopping/turning/car headlights – fast flash for 10 seconds.
Car Headlights – full on disco flash.
It was hard to assess the light in true darkness – doing laps of the unlit Centennial Park, it would settle down to a slow flash but would sometimes kick up to full disco. I’m not entirely sure why, but it might have been from stray light in the area.
I figured it would be tricky to get representative video of the flash pattern (due to too much light flooding out the camera), I decided to try and illustrate the brightness using a timed exposure instead, where the f-stop and ISO were also controlled.
The animation below shows the control condition (10 seconds, f3.5), a PlanetBike 1W SuperFlash, and finally the See.Sense. It should be fairly apparent as to which is which!
This animation probably down-plays the brightness of the SuperFlash – it is pretty bright from behind, it just doesn’t throw a huge amount of light downwards.
One aspect that I hadn’t really appreciated to start of with is how much light is thrown downwards, letting you ride in a pool of light, helping make you extra visible.
The See.Sense lets you adjust some of the settings (sensor use, brightness and flash on/off) to fit your preferences – It’s possible that if you ride in a bunch then full brightness might be a bit much for your riding partners. Again, since there are no buttons, a series of gestures are used. I found it a bit awkward at first but made more sense after a while and it seemed to work better once I started holding it upside-down for customising. It’s similar to changing the settings on a GoPro – lots of doing the same thing to step through menus. Maybe the See.Sense2 will include a BTLE chip and allow configuration through an app.
In the words of a famous tech-reviewing sporting blog writer, the average crowd funded project ‘will be late and under-deliver’, so is this true in case of See.Sense?
Late? – Yes. Shipping slipped around five months but at least the developers kept backers up to date with regular notifications and reasons for the delays.
Under-deliver? – Kinda. It wasn’t till recently I discovered that is no physical on-off switch as you turn it on with a series of gestures. The big upside of this is no switch to get wet and go wrong, however the downside is you have to physically remove the unit turn it on and then refit it – No reaching down behind you while riding if you feel you need some lighting as you go down a woody descent. The second feature that didn’t make it is the ‘time-out’ function were the light would work out you’d stopped for coffee or hung your bike up at the end of the ride. This is very disappointing – I guess I’ll just get used to fitting the light before every ride to turn it on. I’d really hoped to be able to grab it down from the wall and not have to faff.
Very bright (120 lumen model) – approaching the levels of a Dinotte 300R
Good flash patterns
Rechargeable with 12 hour+ battery life
Have to remove to turn on and off
Limited fitting options
Not especially group-ride friendly
Website could really do with a ‘how it works and how it responds’ section.
From what I’ve seen so far, the See.Sense is a really great light. I feel that the lack of on/off switch and the time-out functions are annoying but not major drawbacks (the original Ay-Up lights lacked any means of turning them off as well). I really hope a later version introduces these functions and includes smartphone connectivity for changing the settings.
Making money as long as possible at the moment meant that the last chain suffered through some 10,000km of abuse. The wear-gauge showed it was between 0.75% and 1.0% stretched, so a new cassette was in order as well.