L’Etape California by Le Tour de France

I recently participated in the Le Tour De France L’Etape California in Folsom, California.

L’Etape California by Le Tour de France challenges cyclists on a course comparable to an Alps Mountain Stage.

There were two route distances: riders chose 90 miles 7,500 feet of climbing, or the short ride 60 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing in the Sierra Foothills.

I was motivated to participate because of my enjoyment of watching the Tour on TV each summer or attending four different Tour de France races. This summer I am attending four stages the 2019 Tour de France in the Pyrenees and plan to pre ride Tourmalet before Stage 14.

Also, Folsom is a bike friendly community and I wanted to experience riding and training in this cycling friendly community.

My cycling goal was to win two KOM Stages in the 60 mile course. I knew from SBC weekday rides, I could increase my training routines, train with a stronger rider and win two KOM stages for my age category, 60-64.

The two KOM segments were KOM 1, Salmon Falls Road, a 3.5 mile climb, 5% average gradient, 960 ft elevation gain, and KOM 2, Foresthill Road, 3 mile climb, 5% average gradient, 850 ft elevation gain.

(The KOM segments timed results for 500 plus cyclists, ages 17-76, ranged from 14 minutes to 60 minutes.)

My KOM times; KOM 1, 20.57 and KOM 2, 19.06. I won first place by 8 seconds over the second place winner. There were twenty-five men in my age group who raced in the 60 mile route.

I trained for eight weeks with SBC BikePals, Walt Ebbett, Keith Smith and one special ride with SBC Member Frank Oligaray. My training rides included weekday SBC rides, several Sonora Big Hill rides, and Coach Keith dragging me around Folsom and El Dorado County at “his speed and pace”. We didn’t stop much to eat bagels or drink coffee! On my first 50 mile, 4000 feet of elevation ride with Keith I told him I was feeling a bit overwhelmed! I was tired and my legs screaming to stop.

While riding in Folsom, I learned the value of bike advocacy and how one person can make a difference in promoting cycling as a healthy and safe activity. The cycling lanes and share the road signs make cycling safer. I heard repeatedly that the former City Manager of Folsom created the Johnny Cash Bike Trail system and was responsible for creating cycling lanes and posting Share the Road signs.

My time at Folsom Bikes Coffee Shop, the Grinder with other cyclists was pure bliss. The City of Folsom is a bike friendly city and has a strong bike advocacy community. It is no wonder the Amgen Tour and Tour de France Organizers sponsor bike events in Folsom.

The 90 minute drive to Folsom to ride bikes is clearly worth the time commuting!

Participating in the E’Tape California reminded me that I’m not too old to have fitness goals and my role as Co-Founder of the Motherlode Bike Coalition.

I learned how important bike advocacy is and how I’ve failed to be more active as Co-Founder of the Motherlode Bike Coalition. During the last two years I spent more time writing a blog rather than organizing bike rides in the Motherlode. And, thinking ahead to 2020-2025 I realize there is an opportunity to make the Motherlode a Cycling Destination like Folsom. Most cyclists are not aware, Cal Trans awarded Calaveras, Toulumne, Alpine, Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties Cycling Tourism Grants. These grants are to identify popular cycling roads, needs and determine how to promote cycling in Cal Trans District 10.

And, my cycling experience in Folsom has motivated me to take action and sponsor Tuesday bike rides starting and ending in Valley Springs to promote cycling tourism in Calaveras and surrounding Foothills Counties.

The MBC Ride Series Is to Ride Locally, Ride Local Bike Events, and Set a Challenging Ride to Accomplish. This series officially begins Tuesday, January 8, 2019.

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