At Dan’s behest I am adding my thoughts on the 2006 Tour de Madeira. I won’t pretend to write with the same eloquence as Dan, but I shall certainly do my best!
As one of the co-riders in what was originally a bi-bike event I have to confess that I was primarily just “tagging along.” I don’t know
Our original date for the TdM was to be Saturday 10/28/2006 and we had each planned on biking training routes each weekend previous in order to be ready physically for what the streets of
[I would be remiss here if I didn’t add a quick positive note about my wife, if only because I know she’ll eventually read this and I’ll be in trouble if I don’t come clean: she was absolutely one hundred percent behind me doing the TdM. It wasn’t so much, “You should totally bike fifty miles at once! Think of the accomplishment! Think of the glory!” as, “Do whatever you want. It’s your body…” but she was incredibly supportive from the very beginning. I couldn’t have asked for a better support network.]
The first ten miles were difficult, if only because that’s where I had to come to terms with the fact that we were going to be on the bikes for a long time. This is also when we had the incident of trying to repeat
You’re probably thinking right now, “A cul-de-sac in Madeira? What a novel idea!” I personally wouldn’t use the word “novel” since about 123% of the community is made of cul-de-sacs! This I now know from personal experience…
The second 20 miles were the hardest for me, because that’s when I got to carry the pack. We had one between the two of us with provisions supplied through the generous donations of our primary sponsor, the Miller General Store. This was early enough that we still had plenty of liquid for the entire route and it proved to be heavier than I expected. Mile 11 gave me an instant appreciation for the work that Dan had been doing during the first 10 miles while I rode in absolute oblivion. After mile 20, though, the pack became significantly lighter as we went.
The miles after that kind of blurred together into one increasingly sharp pain in the rear end, no metaphor intended (although the pun, of course, is). With each subsequent break as Dan would check his notes I would wait, anxiously dreading: “Uhhhh, I forgot this one street back about 15 miles ago…” But just like when you’re playing basketball and you sometimes have the convenience of “the guy” who always remembers the score no matter how long you’ve been playing (which definitely comes in handy and prevents a lot of, “Let’s just say it’s tied…”), Dan consistently kept us on track with very few exceptions, and those being so minor as to be almost negligible. (Coincidentally, Dan is also “that guy” for us while we’re playing basketball…) The hardest thing of the entire experience for me was just being on the bike that long.
One quick note about the equipment we used: it may seem superfluous that I had over twice as many gears on my bike as Dan, but in my defense I ended up using every single one of them—there’s nothing like click-click-clicking your way to the very summit of a hill at mile 47, even if you are only going 0.5 miles per hour!
In review I have to say the TdM06 was a lot of fun, and definitely worth doing. I would encourage sponsors and riders worldwide to capitalize on this once-a-year opportunity and sign up now before it becomes so mainstream as to mean little or nothing. Plus the extra fame and accolades that accompany being involved in the critical formative years definitely merit the initial investment. It’s too late to have been there for the original tour, but there is still currently room for TdM07!