Swiss Solstice

Americans who fly regularly are familiar with the United Scarelines rubric called Three Perfect Days in (fill in the blank, usually a place that has touristic industry well in place).

These  “Three Perfect Days” are  a Disneyesque (to me this is pejorative) amble through places that business travelers find themselves assigned to do business in. I. e.: stuck in, usually for three days.

I suppose it might be comforting to be able to gripe about the same hotel, the same restaurant, etc, with other frequent fliers, but the prospect of agreeing to be manipulated like an SKU on an assembly line repels me.

Not so with the little sloping conveyor belts in airports. Remember guys, the time I rode the baggage carousel back into the bowels of the airport, in search of my bicycle box?

Thanks to Velocodger, a Sacramento-Bourgogne biker who found my blog years ago,I was steered to the tiny town of St. Julien en Vercors, about 16 km downhill from Villard-de-Lans.

But I haven’t said a peep about the reunion of the first ever World Championship of Mountain Biking in the latter town.

A quarter century ago, 1987, I was in the depths of a heavy depression borne of overtraining and having been Voted off the Island on the team I won so many races for (hint: initials stand for Worse Than Bad).  But a prize that me and Ned Overend had won two years previously (“free trip to France) fianally got given to us… go to this so-called Championnat Mondiale.
We did.
Lots happened. Wait for the book.

Now, there are lots of folks who were not there: Gary Fisher,  Hans Jorg Ray, Joe Breeze (with family), and to my extreme delight, Mary Lee Atkins Stiehr, the winner along with Ned. M-L had barely raced, just sort of came along with then’husband Jeff Norman, and then fell onto the top of the podium at Villard. And never raced another inch.

Went back to carpentry, and I never heard from her again. Like Ramona D’Viola and Susan DeMattei, ML was a joy to compete with, and always had a great sense of the hilarity of getting paid (ok, given stuff), just for riding fast….Speaking of which, I finally shook hands with my personal hero Anne-Caroline Chausson, the winningest fat tire racer ever, sorry Ned… I didnt get to blab much but I humbly offered her my “so many trails, so little time” badge.

It was perfect weather for a re-do of the trail we raced ….the Sentier Gobert, a rocky cliff side scramble that had netting back 25yrs ago, now they let us simply take care of our own safety. I seemed to remain in sight of Scot Nicol and Chausson most of the way….our initial start tried to be a race, but within a couple of blocks and then later, a coupleof kms later everyone halted and pointed twelve ways, and we all relaxed to enjoy the tour.
Well, John Loomis had a point to prove, so he and a few French guys shredded the thing in a couple of hours but most folks rode it in about 3 or 4, and were happy to be outthere in the Vercors, only 80 km from Grenoble.

Later, I had an interview with Noel somebody from the Dauphine Libere, the daily in that region (also sponsor of big race).Tried to find you a link…it is probably in todays paper, but I cant get the frickn subscription-password-tell-them-everything-about-yourself  thingie to work. No linkie poo . Sorry.

The journalist and the director of the resort tried to get me to translate for Gary, but he glared at me and said that he didnt need help, adding “I stayed out of your interview”, which made no sense. He woudnt have understood more than two words…I had done my interview in French, and for the twentieth time in my life, majoring in French literature has saved my skin and made me sound like a whirl citizen, which is my highest objective.

Hell, there is a sunny day out there. I am at Claude Marthaler‘s empty apt.
I hve a whole day to ride, or hang out and attend a dozen concerts at the Fete de Musique (already caught half a dozen last night, after a thrilling 120 km through the countryside from Bourget du Lac).

Or I could blog.
Oh, god…
The towns I passed through  yesterday and the day before were tiny villages on roads with one car per hour.

My definition of heaven.

With luggage.
Ok now I am out of control with kezboard who cares. italic went on fuck that. i wanted t saz that the Europeans have long rows of books on the shelf called recits de voyage. There are hundreds of people who perambulate the world on their loaded bike. Often, like Claude, for years. The n they write books. Claude has four out, in three languages, but none yet in English.His one stab at paying a translator didnt work out, and cost him too much of his own meager funds. but I do hope that some American or English publisher will spring for the expense,and have a good, literary, poetic translator because his books are very well written.
We both admire the great Dervla Murphy, queen of bicycle literature, with her 24 books,always in print thanks to a devoted publisher, Eland, whose mission is to keep the great works in print, regardless of the commercial, or “bankability.
I AM gnna have a helluva time deciding whether to try to ride the loop CLaude is doing today, or just chill….

~ by jacquiephelan on June 22, 2012.

5 Responses to “Swiss Solstice”

  1. Yeah that was fun in the Vercors…JM’s Gites are the Bomb!
    And don’t forget you have a landing pad in Bourgogne, everybody loves our guest room, and the riding is super, we’re ‘way out in the sticks…3HR road ride=5 cars, 3 tractors.

  2. Doug and FrancY et Luc hello….what a nice time we shared. Still smiling about our fun blether over lunch at your Usual Place (did you say “mon compot”? and I do hope to return to France some day. it all feels like a dream

  3. What an amazing trail that must be, Jacquie! Thanks for that dog walk through it too!

  4. O wow ….. trip to memory lane. In 1987 we (a friend of mine and I) met up with Jacquie Phelan at the Championnat Mondiale in Villard de Lans. For a while we sat in a shovel to find some shadow and we chatted. AFAIK the other American guy present there was Joe Murray. We watched Ned Overend win this first World Title in Mountainbiking – unique event, unique people!

  5. O wow ….. trip down memory lane! A friend of mine and me met Jacquie Phelan and (as I recall) Joe Murray at Villard de Lans inside a shovel trying to find some shadow. We also watched Ned Overend become the first (?) World Champion in mountainbiking. Unique event, unique people …..

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