HELP ME TO SUPPORT THE PARALYMPIC ATHLETES

PARRABUDDY.BLOGSPOT was started to help find a way for “Adaptive / Physically Challenged / Paralympic Cyclists ” to enjoy riding their bikes on the Daily Route of the famous Pro Tour Race Routes such as the “ Giro d’Italia " and the " Tour de France " !


Through lack of support i have been unable to achieve that goal and unless people decide to assist there is little chance that my 19th season will be any more successful !


London 2012 Paralympics was amazing for ALL , not just those participating but those who followed via the Media !


Since 2009 several other Blogs have been created to cover various other subjects !

Below is a guide to their separate purposes :

In the main Parrabuddy is about “Adaptive / Physically Challenged Sport” and Health Issues.


Skippi-cyclist is about personal issues and Road Safety Issues.


SkippyAus is about matters relating to Oz and some personal memories from my life there.


Tourdafarce & Tourdafrance are about matters relating to the Pro Tour , Racers and some personal experiences during my various visits to ride the Pro Tour routes .


Skippy (blogging) is about a variety of issues on the Internet .


NOT ALL postings arrive in their correct area but I will generally try to separate my views on Doping and Sporting Fraud from Road Safety Issues .



Comments ARE WELCOMED since this shows that those reading are interested in the subject matter ! Enjoy comments made to other blogs so wonder why only " anonymous " posts here !

Over the period of these "Blogs" I have had visibility on Twitter as “Skippydetour” and on Facebook as “Skippy Mc Carthy” where Google usually advise postings on the Blogs as they occur .

When any of you visit these Blogs I hope I am able to add value to your day and provide a source of information if not inspiration . Please consider asking your friends and contacts to add their support as many of the Para Athletes are struggling to find the resources to compete in Events at regional Levels let alone National Levels .


You the reader have the possibility to help these Amazing Athletes in your own way and contacting your National Paralympic Internet Site for relevant info is a good start !

Dec 28, 2009

TWITTERING



It amazes me the numbers of followers and following that some ordinary people have on their Twitter account.I know there are search engines that are used to drive up their numbers and others are personalities that people enjoy the hobby of looking over their shoulder and experiencing second hand their activities and plans. Each time I connect to twitter there is some link to an article or picture worth visiting. I also enjoy going to Eurosport.com , cycling news.com , times online , smh.com.au , and nyt.com where there are variety of subjects of interest to me.

Today I was able to download from @Willie nelson and @sherylcrow1 as a result of Tweets.
Sheryl I met when she visited the “2005 Dauphine Libere”. She was out riding around Morzine whilst waiting for the race to arrive. I had already finished that day’s course when I came up behind this petite blonde wearing “George Hincapie cycle gear”. Having seen and spoken to her at the warm up for the Time trial on the previous Sunday we had plenty to talk about. When we arrived back at the team mechanic’s truck I kissed her “French style” which caused “Dirk the mechanic” to call out for her to go wash up before she caught something from me. Next morning I cycled down to the start with Lance who remarked on that meeting. It was a great team effort that year as George took the Time Trial and the Sunday Etappe.

Gov. Schwarzenegger I met at the Tour Depart in Perpignan when he was there promoting his latest film, Predator. The same day I also found the ancient Premier of France, Laurent Fabrice visiting the Village Depart. The first occasion I met him was in 1999 when I visited the “National Assembly “ . It was hosting an Exposition on the Internet .I was in Paris for the start of the “Paris-Nice Cycle Race”. that weekend was bitterly cold and the Monday found me riding in sleet and snow and by midday when I tried to drink a brandy in the bar I was shaking so hard it was slopping all over me . The bar owner treated me as I was in cycling shorts and he had seen me on TV. About 14.30 I came across the Etappe lunch picnic and was invited in just before the racers arrived. Seeing me a large bunch of racers rode off the road and cleaned up whatever food was left on the table. That evening I was lucky enough to be invited to stay with a French family who provided me with a taste of family life in their cozy home.

London hosted the Grand Depart in 2007 and I met Ken Livingstone in Hyde Park on the Friday evening. He was interested in the “Relay cycle team idea” and like any politician referred me to his Transport Czar who was also there. But there was no follow up to this day . Boris Johnson follows his example by not answering tweets or emails, nor does he wear a helmet when with his bike. Who would fail to recognise his face even with a helmet. Pays lip service in Promoting Paralympic 2012 , but action costs money. Chris Boardman was there that day as well and I have met him many times since the 1998 tour both when he is working there as a racer or as a race expert/commentator. Always willing to autograph items for charity.

David Harmon I met at the Tour, he kindly helped me out when I was stuck for a bed one night before a Saturday Time Trial . The Novotel charged a premium for his helping me out. Sean Kelly I last saw at the worlds in Mendrisio when he let me take him for a glass of wine at the Orvieto wine stand. Stephan Roche I meet frequently on his visits to various cycle events to see his son Nicolas race but David Duffield I rarely see these days as he commentates from the studio.






Today my memory was returned to the past as I watched “World Sport” on CNN. This years Sydney Hobart Yacht Race began a few hours ago . Last week I watched Shirley present “Mainsail” and as clips of the “America’s Cup” from 1983 were shown I recalled that day that “Bob Hawke” virtually proclaimed a National holiday with his comment “any employer sacking workers for failing to turn up for work is a mongrell”. mainsail showed Alan and John in the cockpit celebrating. Over 26yrs have passed since that event and one wonders what the principle protagonists think about the upcoming “Multi hulled challenge “.

When living in Sydney I had a small yacht, a Swanson 7m , to cruise the harbour and came to know the harbour's secrets quite well. In 2000 whilst visiting for the Olympic & Paralympic period I lived on my mate’s yacht “Big Foot” this like “Australia II” was designed by Ben Lexen .Each morning I woke with views across Rose Bay to the Opera House and the Olympic Rings on the Coathanger. It was really disappointing to see them taken down and not replaced with the Paralympic Emblem .

In earlier years I lived in the Sutherland Shire and paddled a kayak around the Port Hacking system this was harder work but great exercise. Carrying the kayak several kilometres to the water every weekend was a real chore even if good for the muscles. Each weekend I would spend the daylight hours paddling around in all weathers in the summer. Really was an interesting area with little trouble with speedboats. Sailing in the area was to be found but it was not as plentiful as in the harbour.

In the mountains north of where I live there is “Achensee” and as I cycle past in the summer I wonder about acquiring either a dingy or kayak once again. Day dreaming about riding the bike 40+ kms there spending the day on the water and then cycling home is as far as the idea has reached.

Between times I have also tried Windsurfing but the most memorable day was on Narrabeen Lake when I went in wearing Sunnies and came out without them and moved away from the spot unaware that they were gone. During the same period I would spend a few hours riding a bike in Lane Cove National Park at the weekend. Less hassle than riding Parramatta road . One memorable occasion was during the Sydney Olympics when I was escorting an Olympic Athletes contingent back to the village and we were told by a traffic motorcycle cop to ride single file back to the village at Homebush. Great welcome to Sydney traffic for the racers .

Most of the others I follow are media personalities who advise program content and come up with some interesting links. Time limits how many I can watch at any one time but whenever I have a spare hour or so I go into the “find people” and read the tweets both of my followers and those of others. Recently I am unable to “save as” whether it is twitter or my computer limiting this facility is disappointing.

Time spent on the “Net” costs Mb’s and in the area I live in the reception is appalling, at times there is no input/output signal. “BOB” is a subsidiary of A1 the network involved in Alpine Ski Racing. Not recommended to the visitor who is used to service. Trying to get an answer or usage statement is nigh on impossible. Preprinted letters are posted to answer enquiries.

New Year is fast approaching and like all I am trying to practice new habits so that 1st Jan will feel like a normal day. Told that a habit takes 30 days to change so got a lot of work to do to succeed.

BEST WISHES TO YOU ALL AND I HOPE YOU ARE ABLE TO INTRODUCE THIS BLOG TO YOUR FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES.


Dec 24, 2009

CHRISTMASES PAST






With it being the festive season I have been giving Skype a bit of a thrashing. Amazing to be talking at a computer and making a connection with people unseen for years. Raking over memories brings to mind old friends not thought of in years and with that visual flashbacks to where you were in those days and the weather experienced; social occasions and participants; food eaten at home, restaurants, other peoples homes whilst visiting to enjoy their hospitality . Also visitors staying through the holiday period and how they were entertained and the experiences they enjoyed particularly their youngsters. Time marches on and one wonders what life changes are coming next and what preparations need to be made to meet the challenges posed.

Each day I continue to maintain fitness levels that could be higher, by either outside walking or inside with the row machine , weights, and skipping rope. Another day passes without snow which last year was on the doorstep in late November. Not really interested in driving to the forest to find forestry roads for ski touring which are a bit isolated when there is a piste nearby. Also it is necessary to get in a few days on the farm paddock practising technique before going to steeper climbs, regardless of fitness there will always be muscles that are overlooked as you exercise. You only have to change saddles to know how the body reacts to change. As mentioned before the rear end does not like to experience long periods when introduced to a new shape.





One Christmas comes to mind,1995, I dressed in my tuxedo and skied Kitzsteinhorn on Christmas day, the ski patroller that I met at the top of the first ski T bar was amazed. Lawrence had worked down under as a ski patroller so was happy to practice his English whenever I showed up at their lunch room. Each visit was accompanied with a sample of Schnaps donated for services rendered by him and the team. Other lift workers plied me with coffee and other refreshments in their huts or control rooms at the chairlifts on a daily basis so it was an opportunity to brighten their day. Lunch that day was in the restaurant and I joined some ski instructors who regularly ate there. Well the staff were used to seeing me in the self serve so it was an occasion to be in this area. Anyway whoever picked up the bill, thank you once again . Photos of the day are in my collection but how I upload them to the computer is beyond my current expertise.

Christmases in Sydney have been at a variety of locations with on one occasion my brother visiting from Melbourne with his family . A bit of a squeeze with the two youngsters camping in the lounge. They were thrilled as youngsters are to be on the road and after leaving Sydney they were going to Queensland to visit and thrill more people with their enthusiasm. A very hot day took the party onto the balcony for the sitdown smorgesboard , another new experience for them.

Another Christmas comes to mind when I was living in a house in Sydney at Artarmon,1979, last of the single days . The morning was a run with the “Hash House Harriers” which started cloudy but warmed up with a run through the Rocks and Downtown Sydney‘s deserted streets back to the rocks before travelling back over the coat hanger (bridge ) to share Christmas with friends.

Tragedy for others interrupted one Christmas with friends as we learned of the devastation brought to Darwin by Cyclone Tracy. My friends had connections there so the news was worrisome.

I was fortunate to be at a complete family gathering in 1993 when my parents had their last Christmas as a couple. The house was crowded as six offspring and their partners and children were on hand. It was a full sitdown table laden with the best on offer in the way of food and drink. A day to be cherished.

How different each occasion can be. Each of us will have different experiences this Christmas. There are people out there who will have had a good year and others that have packed their life with service to others and will be in rotten circumstances as partners, family or friends are no longer there to share the experience .






VOLUNTEERING their services, there is a class of citizen in every community that deserves recognition and praise. These unselfish , caring , unstoppable ,supporting and empowering individuals are heroes rarely recognised for leaving their families and friends to help others. There is rarely recognition for their contribution to society though a few are on the Queens list or on CNN/heroes to you all my thanks and heartfelt wishes for the festive season. Premier Mike Rann of Sth Australia tweeted his thanks today Christmas day , which prompts this late addition.

Reading the Timesonline yesterday I was amazed to read that the British government awarded itself £130m in bonuses but also saved £20m by cancelling troop training exercises. The minister/s and civil servicem personnel involved need to live and work in Wootton Bassett so that they can stand bareheaded in all weathers with the locals who honour the constant passing of returning service personnel. Whilst working in the comfort of whitehall these mongrels are neglecting the basics of human necessities , the right to survive unscathed the visit to harms way. This is not the 19th century when the British troops were in Afganistan or in the 1st WW trenches in France where they were treated as “cannon fodder”. These people are Professionals and in every other business are provided the tools and training to do their job.

Ask “Help 4 Heroes” how many in their care would have been saved had there been the basic training they seem to have been continually denied. Every service person in harm’s way works 24/7/365 to protect their colleagues and themselves. Recently I tweeted @thejointstaff to remind him not to tell people where he is going next as the recent story of “the hacked drones” emphasies the savvy of the opposition. Mr Gordon Brown whilst your recent visit to the troops was commendable, it was selfish as you are a high value target (each & every service person also) which means if there had been an incident others would have suffered also.

Each day I train on the rowing machine and I have to constantly remind myself of technique, service personnel are in that constant awareness zone 24/7/365.

Wishing them all whether Anzac , US or Nato members a Safe and festive period and a Safe return to their family , friends and civilization. To the family of the fallen the “RSL/Australia has a special saying “AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN , WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

God bless you all for your loss and sacrifice lets hope it was not in vain.


PEACE AND GOOD FELLOWSHIP TO ALL AS WE CELEBRATE THESE NEXT DAYS.


Dec 22, 2009

2010 PROJECT HANDBIKE/TRICYCLE TOUR DE FRANCE RELAY RACE




.....MY 2010 PROJECT:

PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED RELAY CYCLE TEAM AT TOUR DE FRANCE

Each day we would start near or at the “official etappe depart” with a tricycle or/and hand bike(see banner for picture) for the maximum publicity and after 5-10kms pass the baton to a tandem/road bike for the next kilometres where the baton would pass to the next riders. Before the feed station we change back to the start team of hand bike/tricycle, again ,for maximum visibility through the feed station then for 5-10km as conditions allow. With a flat arrival back to the starters or all the team on their bikes. Mountain arrivals would require the strongest riders as the support by vehicle would not be there due to road closures. At these finishes it may be possible to use a scooter or motorbike as support vehicle.

Apart from the disabled/physically challenged riders it would require able bodied volunteers to ride and assist in the organising of all logistical activities . The press would be all over the story so there would be need for a laison team there as well as people for camp organisation and buying in of supplies.

It is apparent that the numbers would quickly make for an unworkable unit unless all involved work together. The benefits to all would be enormous as I am sure that they would become personalities in their own sphere of influence. This is why personalities would have to be taken off and left at the door so to speak so as to interface with each other successfully.

WHATEVER THE MIND CAN CONCEIVE AND BELIEVE THE BODY WILL ACHIEVE

WHO OF YOU OUT THERE ARE UP FOR THIS CHALLENGE??


contact skippy at email "skippi@ausi.com

on twitter.com/skippydetour

on tel SMS ONLY 00436764061232 (courtesy, use as last resort)

GIRO 2009 part 1 of 3




As mentioned before the Big C touches all our lives, family and friends. Recently I was at my doctor for a checkup and whilst waiting for blood sampling in walked an Hawaiian mate who has settled in the Zillertal and works with “Lebenshilfe" (supervised homes) to collect a prescription. His news to me was that his mother had been taken ill and the supposedly light stroke was a very imminent terminal brain cancer In a few hours he was on the way to Munich and thence to Los Angeles, then to the family home. HE was hoping to arrive in time to farewell his mother who had decided to return home from hospital.

The photo is from @8WristBandman, Ken is currently undergoing intensive hospital care for cancer but still enjoys emailing and has been kind enough to forward photos and video relating to my adventures. Wish all were like him as there have been so many places visited and seen, and people met that deserve a permanent record. The photo was taken in Jesolo at the start of this past years Giro. I had not known the photo was taken until Ken forwarded it.

Over the years I have lost cousin JJ and his wife as well as my mother to cancer. Too many others such as “Apples “ the car dealer from Nth Sydney who I met up with again at Sydney 2000 have told me of their cancer concerns. Some I recommend Lance’s book to read as it helps validate a positive attitude. “she’ll be right mate “ does not cut the fear but a good read relieves the anxiety for a while at least. If anyone knows Apples and he hasn’t fallen off the perch have him make contact. My Sydney Olympic 2000 experiences will make an appearance at a later date as it was rich in detail.

Giro d’italia 2009 was a new experience for me as in past years there was no car nearby. It would continually cause me pain as I would abandon it to do etappes and then come back to relocate it time and again when I had no driver to help out. Of course in Rome it sat on the entry road to the team parking so that the racers all saw me sitting cooking the mid day meal. if they were allowed I am sure some would have enjoyed the fry up and they would have been welcome, as it was I collected a few caps and bidons handed to me amongst the joshing dished out.

Lance, Johann and many others drove past at that time and noted my arrangements but fortunately I was left in peace by the authorities. When I arrived it was a hot,sunny day but turned cloudy and at the end to rain. As I drove north that night I felt like I was driving in Sydney in a torrential storm .

Jesolo was a nice four day start to the Giro , after parking the car I took a loosening up ride scouting the hotels and then riding back into town found team Astana riding out, a quick U turn and I was up with them greeting and chatting for a few minutes before leaving them to up their tempo for the team time trial training. As I left them a mixed group of racers came along heading back into town and again pleasantries were exchanged but I did hear the occasional groan of “skippy, what did we do to deserve him today”!




In town I discovered that a “pink blowup rubber duck” was the local mascot so I collected a couple and over the next days I had several teams add their autographs and then gave it up for display at the tourist office and they were then to pass it to a local “Disabli group” for auction. I told a couple of wheelchair athletes of this so I hope they followed through and people were generous.

Sunday found me on the road after I introduced Angelo Z to my bike “Il Giro” at the depart ,greeted a lot of dignatories and VIPs from previous Giros and tours and then set out on a nice sunny day as some of the teams were driving or riding into the sign on. The day to Trieste passed well enough but the return trip turned into a disaster as the newly installed chain snapped open on the hill heading back. I was riding in a strong group at the time and we were going full bore, these were diletante standard riders and were “chain ganging superbly“. we were passing others without problem but it meant standing on the pedals to gain maximum traction uphill. Well the chain went and so did they, a couple of spectators before a helpful guy with the link tool but a kilo further and it was out again. As I was near the top I reconnected ran the few metres and rode the rest of the way with the loose connection, never exerting the power that I usually exert.

Next morning before the start I found a bike shop who changed the chain and guaranteed me that this was the end of the problem. Too right the bike has done giro, Suisse and tour since without a repeat. Typical of a profi he would take nothing from me but thanks wished me “Bouna Fortuna” and hoped to see me on Tv some more. The next days passed with early starts to position the car ride to the start hobnob with the media and personalities then ride the route and find a way back to the car without expending too much energy. A logistical nightmare but as hard as each day finished I was up the next morning ready to repeat.

Parking the car on Alpi di Suisi I set off and caught up with the Moser/Fondriest group but that was soon splintered and Moser and a few went away and I stayed with Maurizio and waited for some of his guests to reappear. After the finish I headed down the hill collected the car and drove back to the Zillertal over the Brenner. The reason was that the next stage went through the tunnel after Linz into Mittersell, a tunnel closed to bikes as I had been that way before and found hitching did not work this time I was not prepared the risk of a repeat.

Part 2 follows

GIRO 2009 part 2 of 3



Living in the Zillertal area off and on these past few years I have had to be creative with my cycling options. Strass to Hintertux is a gentle climb to south of Mayrhofen where it then heads up to Finke berg and eases off all the way to Tux. The whole valley is littered with side climbs with many to more than 1800m as well exits into other options.favorits are over the gerlos to Mittersil and Kitzbuhel or Zell am Zee and Worgl before back to Strass and the then base at 900m on Gattererberg. Other times I have gone to Innsbruck, over the Brennero to Bressanno, Linz and Mittersil and Gerlos for home, this longer run has had a stop in Linz. The first time I came through the tunnel with a van and out at Mittersil I rode Kaprun ,Lothar and Worgl and home. The second occasion the hitching option became a nightmare as it was over 2hrs before I was sqeezed into a tunnel worker’s car to the other side. The ride over the gerlos to home was a relief and thoughts of a repeat disappeared long before the Giro route was published.

Coming into the Zillertal since 2000 for skiing I have come to know all the options and rate this as a safer riding area than the UK as well as an ideal area for Climbing training. Georg Toschnig lives nearby so i would often have a ride with him when he was warming up but as soon as the gradient picked up off he would go. His brother Harold would also be worth riding with when training in the area. Other riders come into this area for training but having caught up to them I would find few willing to speak in English so I would pick up the pace on the lookout for quicker and more talkative company.

On the day of the etappe to Mayrhofen I set out through Worgl & Kitzbuhel and joined the route at Mittersil to ride the Gerlos Pass through to Mayrhofen arriving sometime before the racers. In the months leading up to the Giro a large blue sign went up with “Welcome Lance”, nice thought but amusing as two weeke later it had to be replaced as Lance had crashed in Spain. When I went to the tourist office they were preparing a new sign “Get Well Soon (in german)” which was again replaced on his start in Jesolo. It did not dawn on these people that their uniform would get exposure by me at a variety of media events, better to waste the money on signs than on an aussie seen daily at the Giro and Tour by countless interested spectators.

Innsbruck start led out through another area I had cycled in past years and one occasion in 1999 I had cycled on a Saturday from Stubaital to Galtur for the “Masters International Ski Criterium Competition” . I did not compete although I was loaned all the gear needed on that Sunday to ski around meeting up with some of the competitors.
Having cycled back to Zillertal I drove through to Chievenna area to rejoin the route with a mate doing the driving through the next days. In cuneo I stayed in his apartment ,visiting the teams with him.





Anyone disappointed with the racing in Milano needs their head examined. This was undoubtedly one of the alltime stupidest ask of “professional racers”.I cycled the course several times during the day and can tell you that I could see where I was going as I was not surrounded by bodies and could see the tram tracks. Dropping into a track at speed produces catastrophic results for the rider but likely brings down others as well. Falling on cobbles produces at the least scratches and where you skid on tarmac you come to an abrupt painful halt on cobbles. Broken bones are the most likely result of a group falling together. Neutralizing the day was the sensible decision and the leader is to be congratulated on using common sense , something that was lacking in the organisers after race vitriol.

The petulance of the various race organisers at times is amazing.in 1999 I came from the “giro d’italia” to the “Rundfahrt Ostereicht” and was greeted with accreditation. During the day I was interviewed by the national tv covering the event. That night ORF TV did a sport report including a short segment on this race. A large segment covered my exploits including riding around the town for atmosphere. Early in the day the organiser greeted me and even told me how he had ridden the “Crocodile Trophy” when in Australia. After the TV report he forbade me to use any facilities of the tour. Well I continued any way. One evening in St Johann they had a formal get together and I sat outside so as to be invited . He on arriving told me I was unwelcome.

Next day in appalling weather I rode the etappe and arrived at Hofbadgastein feeling like a drowned rat. One of the organising team came to me and asked me to go to the piodium, when I arrived there I was told Hermann Maier was looking for me. The organiser then came and told me to hurry as they had to get things going on schedule, I refused and went and stood with some of his staff to watch. After I explained to Hermann the reasons since “OESV” had arranged for Hermann to be there since I was making the ride to support “NACHBAR IM NOT” an Austrian charity.

The next etappe went to Kaltenbach where I greeted Stephan Eberharter again there on behalf of “OESV” but also as he lived in the next village.

The next year at the start he again told me that I was unwelcome but I was there to see a new aussie talent develop now well known. I was on the Kitzbuhler Horn when Cadel Evans demonstrated his talent. The Rundfahrt has deteriorated as a tour and now is run at the same time as the Tour de France. It always clashed with the Dauphinee Libere which I enjoyed more and is more important as preparation for the Tour.

Side tracking again, so back to the Giro, next part coming up

Dec 19, 2009

GIRO 2009 part 3 of 3






this is the link to a radio program featuring "Fatty's ride with Lance after raising $136k in a little over 48 hrs. i hope you enjoy the exploits of this very couragious guy.
http://ijpr.org/SectionIndex.asp?SectionID=1013



Cuneo started as a warm sunny Tuesday and after riding out 70km on the course I picked up the car and bolted down to the Cinque Terra area. Parking in Sestre levante. I rode the area checking the hotels as well as the access points to the Time Trial route. Nothing would work without a lot of climbing so finished up parking on the second climb at a junction that allowed an early escape when the race was over. Two nights of relaxed free camping and with the cycling each day when I left the area it was with the windows open looking for a shower.

Wednesday was a series of rides, to the finish then to the start, riding the whole course and then back to the car for lunch. Having done a lot of riding on Tuesday I was sure this was the place to see the race with a nice ocean view thrown in. During the Wednesday afternoon I watched a series of cycle tour group riders pass through on the course. Many had come out with only one bidon so I was standing there refreshing many who said they had not prepared for this ride and some said they made the trip from their country with little fitness preparation so were unused to the heat and long steady climbs. What were they going to do in the mountains when they were in trouble in the foothills? One woman arrived in a bad way, even with a tour guide in support. I took charge and as I had a vacuum flask was able to rehydrate her with hot drinks, I had sent the guide looking for the van to carry her home. Tour companies try to do their best and some clients mislead them but this was an apparent case of lack of preparation, overweight , lacking water bottles and condition.

When these people spend as much as $10000 for a cycling holiday they should prepare if only so as to avoid giving fellow guests a difficult time. Being on time , being prepared and cooperating makes for a better holiday for all otherwise they should do as I do and go it alone. Even though most knew of twitter, I have yet to hear from any of them.

Thursday I was out and about checking out who and what was happening and on the second climb I pulled up with an Italian family group I had met on other occasions. Their view down the road was quite good so when I spotted the person I was looking for I was ready to go. And go we did as Lance was scouting the route, but riding a quick tempo nevertheless. When we passed the car I only went part of the last flat section before returning to get lunch under way. Of course there were others on the go but my money was on Lance that day.

Lido the next day was an early start as I wanted to catch up with Moser, Motta and Fondriest to ride with their group of clients. Nice young lady riding in the group learned her English whilst racing for the Italian team but missed joining the Sydney Olympic team, no wonder I did not recognise her. I had showed the Italian ladies team the race route when they were preparing in Sydney. Jeannie Longo, Ann Marie and Leontin were amongst the racers that I escorted at that time, the story of Sydney 2000 will come out in a later posting.


Look at that beautiful, it was ru choosing a place to live ..... on Twitpic src="http://twitpic.com/show/thumb/niz39.jpg" width=150 height=150>


this is the link to a radio program featuring "Fatty's ride with Lance after raising $136k in a little over 48 hrs. i hope you enjoy the exploits of this very couragious guy.
http://ijpr.org/SectionIndex.asp?SectionID=1013



.


Along the seafront there was a cycle lane so I rode that for some kilometres singing out “ausi, ausi, ausi,” as I rode much to the amusement of the racers, fans and carabinerie. Drove through to Bologna caught the finish and carried on to Faenza since this was where the bulk of the teams were staying and I wanted to wander the Teams before they set out. After their depart I went back down the reverse of the course to the final climb as I wanted to be there to pass out water on the summit to those in need since it was fiercely hot again.

After they passed I rode into Faenza and joined “Team ORF and Bettini who bought me a beer. Cassani borrowed my bike for his RAI TV programme where he seemed to concentrate on the seat position which suits me just fine but he had issues with. Carbon is too hard for him even though San Marco claim 3mm of flex. Each to their own and I am comfortable in all weathers and distance.

Staying in the hills near Chieti I was well positioned for the next days and rode up Blockhaus wondering why the etappe was so short when there was so many other great climbs in the area that could have been added in to lengthen the day. Having arrived on Blockhaus I made several descents and rode back up with a variety of people who also had come from Chieti and found the climb relevantly easy. Variety is good but fresh riders can compete with climbers on short climbs so I suppose that was their hope for this etappe.

Sulmona weather was cloudy and cool and I spent the morning riding the climb before arriving back at the pulmans parking area where I rode into sign on with Sastre, Lance and others the two kilos or so before turning looking for the next. Lance as usual was one of the last to the sign in so I went to look for a vantage spot to see the racers start. As I was passing through the crowd I was stopped by an American who had me to stay in a house owned by his family last year in this area. It was good to see him and we had little chance to catch up before the racers set off and lost each other in the crowd.

On Saturday I parked south of Casino and rode down the route towards Napoli after about an hour and half of the route I decided to return as there was few around so when I saw a group coming through I tacked on to this group of Italians and drafted back to the car. Driving north I spotted a savings and loan uniform and finding an Aussie I drove ahead dumped the car and was just in time to ride with Steve Cunningham and some clients. I ran across him again at St Johann in Tyrol during august but that story comes later. He was setting quite a strong pace and as I got out of the car and jumped in without warming up again I was quite pleased when they stopped at a café to catch up with the slower group. I then went onto the Pullman parking area to say some goodbyes as the next day would be too hectic to see all those that had helped me this year.

In Rome i made two circuits, the first through the traffic and the second dodging the controls. The photographer that took photos posted on twitter the least useful of the batch he had taken. When he gets around to sending some others then I will post the better ones here.

Another Giro done and dusted, you can see why I hate the car. Unless there is a driver it restricts my options, adds kilos some days and reduces kilos on route on other days

Dec 18, 2009

IT’S ABOUT THE BIKE


Another thing to be thankful for is the support of the Fondriest brothers. Francesco treated me like family whilst he had the factory near Padua, I regretfully rarely see him these days as he only puts in an appearance in the VIP area of the Giro.

The final Saturday of Simoni’s first Giro win I was with the team at the hotel.Auro B. the commentator from RAI TV was there with David Casani the ex/cyclist/commentator also from RAI TV. Francesco had just presented Gibo with the pink “Fondriest bike” that he was going to ride in triumph into milano the next day. Auro turned to Francesco and said “now you should give skippy a bike, think of all the publicity”, of course I was standing there looking like a drowned rat wearing the RAI TV cycle suit which helped sway the story.

Some time later Francesco presented me with a black alloy frame which had been used that year by “Lampre team” and returned to the factory .this is the frame now painted “pink” by the English company who said they would do it free and after doing the job would not release it to the guy who made the arrangement with them until he gave them £155, I saw the invoice and he was embarrassed about the way they had done him down. Had he told me before paying I would have told them to “shove it”. they advertise in the comics “from £60”, also the mongrels did not provide any touch up paint. Start at the beginning of the alphabet and you know who they are! Stay clear do not learn the hard way that shaking hands does not cut it these days!

Notice the saddle, this is from my friend Luigi who runs “Selle San Marco”.At the 1999 Giro d’italia in Agrigento I was given the “Concor saddle by Johnny(I think he is Ivan’s bro, acts like it) when I was preparing for the start there. This was a nice guesture which I would suffer for as during the next week my derriere was on fire. I spent a lot of the second day and after standing on the pedals. During the next years I had no trouble changing one to another as they came to me. It was easy to realise why this was the saddle that Lance chose to use. About 5 years ago I started to use the bare “Magna” and whilst people shook their heads I found it the most practical seat for my purposes. This season I moved on to the carbon saddle and enjoy that one also. Luigi’s team has always made be happy to be using their products and I wish them the best for the festive season.

Shimano Italia also in the guise of Max at the beginning of the century saw that I was well looked after for replacement equipment and when I had defects I used to go by the factory if practical and get the troubles sorted, Max I gather spends more time flying helicopters these days. Maybe he goes to the Giro with Gianni Bugno who is a regular RAI commentator being their eye in the sky. Gianni has been a good mate as has his friends and mine Gianni Motta and Francesco Moser. Maurizio Fondriest also has helped me and I enjoy the rides with these three as they escort clients of their sponsor at the Giro. Francesco is not someone you try out nor Mauritzio but being older and generally going the full ettappe whilst they are only on a short circuit so I let the sprinters go and catch them when I get there.

So many people get on their bike at the bottom of the hill then ride up to you, recognise , drop back and then accelerate past and look back over their shoulder disappointed that you don’t take the bait. Who cares I am looking out for me and a safe arrival at the end of the etappe knowing that I have the rest of the tour to get through rather than give them a bar story.

When people ask if they can take photos I say “yes but give $10 to your national para . org. . I wonder how many honour that request, nothing is for nothing these days and even if some do the right thing it is another win.

In future blogs I will try to show why the team workers are my heroes but to all of the above and those that I have not got to yet I wish the compliments of the season. Safe holidays and keep well until we meet again.

Pay no attention to the dates on my blogs as I have the habit of remembering something and going back in and adjusting the names,language and spelling.

SKIPPYS LEGACY


“$US1 million for an autographed cycle shirt”

WHY NOT

Rudy project is a real man and Rudy has been a friend, sponsor and supplier of apparel, helmets and glasses to me since 1999 when Ivan ,his cycle tour rep gave me their “Jan Ulrich glasses” at the “tGiro Trentino”. Although I had met Jan at Tdf 1998 this was the first tour I had cycled alongside him. It was the ride from Arco back to the team hotel in Riva, a bright sunny afternoon, and I was amongst the “team ”during the ride. By this time it was known that “Marco” had dragged me aside to his soigneir, Leoni to continue the facilities he had kindly arranged the previous year at the Tdf.

Lance over the years has refused to sign the “Maillot Jeune “ for “tourists”, he reserved that “privelege” to those “donating to “LIVESTRONG” which is fair enough as I have heard of sums of $50000 being donated. Many people and organisations with not so deep pockets have taken advantage of this arrangement.

Knowing that I would see Lance on the tour I packed the “Rudy Project Shirt” with the hope he would oblige. On the Wednesday I arrived at the hotel in Monaco and bumped into Ken (@8Wristbandman, hope you are getting better mate) in the foyer area.Ken was expecting Lance so I visited the facilities and returned in time to greet Lance as he stepped out of the car. Video of this went international as did photos. Later ken was kind enough to forward copies of the video that he or his family had recorded of him, thanks pal enjoyed watching it, perhaps in another blog I will bore the readers with a link.

On the Thursday I rode the route of the time trial several times but the standout circuit was with “Jaffa (aka as Juan Antonio Flecha,Freira and other rabobank guys) who is a,funny, friendly guy, asked them to be kind to me so they accelerated and waited outside the casino before taking off again and waiting again, and so it continued. During the Tdf the previous year he promised me a Rabobank suit but seeing him on the last day at his hotel he promised next day and I set a date for the time trial thinking it was easier contact, regrettably he retired the next day so when I arrived at the TT the opportunity was lost. During this Tdf the subject came up and the commitment was renewed. I saw him at the time trial and suggested the time trial suit since it was available, said he would be back and so now I will see what happens with the new team. Will he go to the Tdu with Skye?

On Wednesday I was in the onlookers as the ribbon was cut to “Officially open the Tour HQ” I had hoped to speak with Prince Albert since I had met him in his “brainchild the “Veteran Olympic Club whilst there as a guest. The galaxy of celebrities had more on their minds besides greeting the “old aussie”, perhaps the champs. A few acknowledgements and then the media arrived so lost the opportunity to speak to those who were lighting up.

Friday there was a celebrity race and I was able to collect the autographs of Olympic skiers, cyclists, entertainment stars and others involved in the fundraising before Prince Albert came out dressed to join the race. I received a Monaco Cycle Suit for use at the Tour .On his way to the start we had a few words and as the shirt was to be signed I waited for his return. On retiring from the race he had a few minutes to spare so chatted about Sestriere,Torino and Paralympic sport, also discussed his various fund raising charities. Doubt he would pick me out of the crowd on another occasion. He was as always as you see him on Tv , a friendly articulate gentleman.

After the teams presentation I rode back to the hotel with the Astana team although most of the way Johann had me cycle behind his car but it didn’t matter as the riders would drop back for a variety of reasons so I chatted with them then. Later I arrived in the Foyer and as the team arrived they signed either the front or the back of the shirt. Lance was a late arrival and in a good mood for a quick chat as he signed. Alberto also signed and I reminded him of the time on the Tonale when I introduced him to 4 aussies who were cycling around the Giro route. He was gracious enough to allow me after asking his permission to bring them into his lunch hotel and do photos and autographs. Later I saw these guys at the bottom of the descent before I went for a ride with the team. One of the guys gave me an “Australian Bicycling mag shirt”, not heard from them since but the shirt went onto be autographed by a wealth of giro talent and is with the “British Wheelchair Assoc.” who as yet have not told me of their plans for it.

Before I have mentioned Grand Bornand arrival which was in sunshine but the climb of the Col from Cluses was another story. The initial part was so steep most were walking, pushing their bikes and as the road was closed the peds were just as unhelpful so it was a weaving ascent at a slower pace than I would have liked because it was cold and raining. After passing Didi(el Diablo) the road became very windy, almost hurricane force in the face. The final slope started to show signs of improvement as I persevered to the summit. After the summit the descent was much nicer and I started to dry out as I ran through the various controls.

Att the final corner there was a barricade so it was off the bike ibto the crowd. The same Turnip has this attitude to disabled sport that no matter how early I am he will try to stop me. Pulling people from their bikes is something he has mastered and surprisingly the Gendarmerie allow him to continue. I have seen others bleeding through his behavior, one lady was later hospitalised. She was not wearing a helmet and so made a mess and had a spoiled holiday, legal action would have been considered no doubt but there is no recourse. You folks would do well to remember this when visiting and riding the Tour, even with a Tour company your colleagues can protest at length to no avail. For the Gendarmes in this cordon , this is a day off with benefits.

BE VERY AWARE!

When I arrived in the Back area I greeted a General of the Gendarmerie who was on his way to a gathering(drinks for the VIPs) explained where I would be standing should I be needed and then got myself invited to a locally organised event to sit eat, drink and watch a sTV screen. As the arrival drew closer I moved across to the barriers to be on hand for the arrival and as “Prudhomme’s car” drew up hoisted the “Shirt” Sarkozy got out the other side and was straight into greetings including the General.

Realizing that the moment was passed I moved down to where his car was stationed saw the Lt Col asigned to the tour and briefed him also as to where I was standing. He gave me that look(who do you think you are you turnip) and returned to his discussions. When Pres. Sarkozy came through to his car he got in, I had still the shirt in the air, then whether he had looked up or had the whim he got out, came directly across and took my hand. We exchanged pleasantries as he autographed the shirt and I told him that I had also tried to see him on a previous visit to the Tour in Briancon, I said I knew that Captain Eric had pointed me out to him on that occasion. I also reminded him about the need for better funding for “Handisport”.

Later in the village I came across the Lt Col who gave me a salute and said “domage” I didn’t tell him that I had tried to set it up by email as I had done when talking to the presidential security detail agent who buttonholed me after the event. Like to know what went in his little black book. I have since sent an email of thanks to both Prince Albert and President Sarkozy detailing that the shirt was being offered on Ebay at $US1million start price to fund a Foundation for “Disabled Athletes”No reply as yet, to be expected as I move in the wrong circles. Thought I would give them a chance to get in ahead of the rush.

Remember the Frenchman who took the “Olympic shirt” from my bumbag and substituted the toilet roll well he had better keep clear when I have the shirt known as “SKIPPYS LEGACY” with me!

“SKIPPYS LEGACY IS AVAILABLE FOR DISPLAY AT MAJOR EVENTS WHERE THERE IS STRONG SECURITY AND GOOD PUBLICITY OPPORTUNIES . Anything that can be done to establish a foundation to help “Disabled athletes” will be considered!

thank you for the visit hope you are able to help! Contact by email skippi@ausi.com

Dec 17, 2009

ISRAELI INTEREST


Today was so cold that the ice on the stream beside the farmhouse where I live was still mostly frozen as I returned from my 4 hr ramble this afternoon. Decided at mid day not to train in house though I would freeze as I walked around the area . As I live at 570m there is no snow on the ground at this time. Last year I had been ski touring for at least a month. Plenty of paths to walk so I have many choices. On the way back I passed the Kaltenbach ski lift station and met up with some Israelies.

Each year tour companies come into the Zillertal for skiing from Israel, nothing new there. This party was 240 strong but the reason I am talking about them is that unlike too many other tour parties this group had a contingent of Paralympians with them. The Ski Instructors acted as if this was normal. Well I am able to tell you this is exceptional, most times the para skiers travel with family or in training groups or with special arrangements. Isn’t it great to hear that some people consider “Disabled Athletes” part of their way of life and integrate them rather than shunning them.

On this year’s tdf I rode through Cluses on the route to the Grand Bornand finish seeing a party outside the Carrefours supermarket I rode in and as luck had it there was free food and drinks available. After asking permission I got stuck in and as I had been introduced to the “responsible(host)” I observed that the children riding their bikes around a laid out course contained no “disabled children I raised the subject. I was told that they would not be interested so no point in inviting them. Anyway they ran a winter ski training course for them. What an attitude, train them in the winter and leave them out, at home in the summer! Able bodied children left at home in the winter? No chance ! This was typical of what I have seen in Europe these past 12 years, thoughtless!

I was asked what concern it was of mine , and I explained who I was and some people then said they had seen me on the tv and in the papers the past several years . As I was leaving a local arrived and reminded me that I had stayed in his home some years before at the start of the “Dauphine Libere”. it was good to see Bruno once again and have several photos taken for the local media. Doubt the story included the attitude to the children.

The next day at the Time Trial in Annecy I was talking to the Director of the region for Carrefours and brought the story to his attention. He told me that he had already heard the story since he arrived there as a guest after I had left. He also asked how I came to be introduced to Nicolas Sarkozy, having seen that on the TV. Love to have told him that he was a mate and it was by design rather than good fortune. “Nicko signed the $US1m maillot at that meeting.

Back to Kaltenbach, the Israeli ski instructors I talked to were keen on the “Relay idea” for the Tdf and asked many pertinent questions. The standout was “Training, each group would train in their own location as best they would under normal circumstances. Perhaps there may be opportunities for people from various regions to get together, but as they probably participate in other events such as Cancer fund raisers then they would practice there if they choose.

I would love to take some team leaders to the “Giro Trentino” in April and have a “Dress Rehersal” if we can get a “Relay team “ to the “Giro d’italia”. Of course for the “Tour de France” a Dress Rehersal would be of great benefit. The guys I was talking with will no doubt return to Israel and decide to form their own Nucleos to prepare a competitive team as there were para cyclists in this group. Perhaps there will be a team to take on others and provide a competitive spirit in the years to come. Anything is possible in the future but getting this year going will take “An all hands to the pump” attitude. Bring it on !!

Before closing I would like to revisit the Athens2004 Paralympics . As mentioned before I was a guest on many occasions at “Deutscher Haus” and so during the Olympic and Paralympic was introduced to many other guests as that aussie from the tdf, etc. one time I sat with the parents of a german swim medal winner watching the scowl on the face of a well known aussie swimmer also on the podium, a little embarrassing!

The Saturday before the Paralympic ended I went back to the Athletes Village with Fabrice Macchi who had failed to medal in that day’s cycling event and as luck would have it at the entrance to the village I came across Klaus Lungerhausen. Klaus also had had a bad day as he was the defending silver road race medal from Sydney2000. He had expected this result as the four years since Sydney he had little support/sponsors for a variety of reasons. He told me that he had 3 weeks off work for intense training before arriving and it cost $5000 to bring his family , so was regarding it as a holiday albeit with intense training sessions.

Later that evening I arrived at “Deutscher Haus to find a cocktail party underway, as I was dressed in my cycling gear I could not go in so I hung back for about 30 mins. Sure enough my chance came, out came Gerhard Schroeder, the very man I wanted to have a piece of . I was there in an instant with my hand held out. Picture the moment, the Chancellor of Germany asking the “German Para Team” why Germany were not winning medals and me the “old fart aussie” telling him in front of the cameras the reason why the likes of Klaus were going home empty handed.

People from all over emailed me asking what I said as the sound track was turned off. TV stations obviously thought an aussie asking for more support for “behinderten sport” was not newsworthy. why show me, perhaps it’s my ugly mug, who cares, well the paralympians could use more cash!

Before closing, just watched CNN/Mainsail, last time they showed a “disabled sailor who sailed around the UK. She is in a wheelchair with a host of problems, incredible the human spirit! What caught my attention was the images of Dennis Connor and Alan Bond from 1983 but that is a story for later.

Heard this motto?

WHATEVER THE MIND CAN CONCEIVE AND BELIEVE THE BODY WILL ACHIEVE.

CHALLENGE


Over the next few entries I will try to cover meetings with key people in the cycling circus. I have had contact with many of the European tour organisers, some of the world tour organisers as they appear at the “Giro or Tour, Heads of State and Ministers of State.

Cycling people like Miguel Induran, Charlie Gaul, Marco Pantani, Giovanni Pinerello, Pedro Delgado and Jimenez in cycling circles, Cricketers like Shane Warne,the Waugh brothers and Alan Border. Runners like Haile Gabrielle Sellasee and Rosa Motta. Rowers like Steve Redgrave,Matthew Pinsent, James Cracknell & Tim Foster , Peter Haining & World Rowers at the 1998 world champs at Leverkusen , Olympians like Rosa Motta, Prince Albert of Monaco & Roger Bannister.Film stars like Clint Eastwood, Richard Burton and together with Elizabeth Taylor in Oxford, Curt Jurgens, Arnie the Terminator at TDF & the Sheens whilst living in Sydney,and Tennis stars the like of Tim Henman and Boris Becker.

Paralympians such as Michael Milton, Alex Zanardi, Pierangelo Vignati, Fabrice Macchi, Klaus Lungerhausen & Laurent Thiorenet. All amazing characters in their own way. i was a guest of the "French Paralympic Committee" at Sestriere 2006 at a dinner in honour of Sir Phillip and Lady Joycelen Craven.

At Atlanta, Sydney, Athens & Torino i have been a guest at "Club France, Casa Italia, Deutsch Haus amongst other venues.

Most of these events came about by sheer chance others I contrived to be in the area that allowed to me to meet them again.

Enough of the ravings of this old fart, back to the purpose of the blog.

The whole purpose of these blogs is to help build a bridge between “Paralympian Athletes and Sponsors". I have met and cycled withthe Oachoa brothers whilst they were with Team Kelme on several occasions. These days through road rage/mayhem there is only Javier who has returned from the tragedy to ride at the highest Paralympics level.He represents and wins medals and championships for Spain. Having come from a team he was well placed to receive the necessary support to get started once again.

But what of the Troops that return from active duty in war torn hot spots. Some of these people at a young age have to live in a new life and learn new skills that once they took for granted. These people in past years were pensioned off as quickly as possible to obscurity by a seemingly ungrateful government. We all hear of stories of these people living off the streets after the Korean and Vietnam
Wars. These days there is a better way and I know of “Help for Heroes" as a result of reading of "Major Peter Parker” and in the USA there is "@wwpinc/twitter.com" amongst other care organisations. At the moment apart from "Legacy" I have not been advised of an Aussi connection but would appreciate an update .

Sport is a great way to build "Self Esteem" and as mentioned in an earlier episode i have come to know "Daniel Coulthard”.In May 1998 I was in Sestriere at the Pragelato Nat. park on a camping holiday and went to Briancon for a ride. I finished up bringing back a new bike that looked like a BiancHi but was a near copy. The price was ridiculously cheap so walking past was not an option. Somehow I managed to get both bikes back to the UK. But whilst there I started out on the Saturday morning to ride the Col Montcenisio and Col d’iserain into Tignes to stay with friends. On Sunday I cycled to Albertville , Grenoble, Briancon and Sestriere back to Pragelato.T wo heavy days and it was a relief to arrive back as the light was failing as had my energy. Bear in mind I had made 300km trips in the UK on previous weekends so I knew I was good for flat road endurance but this was a baptism of fire in the real world of the mountains I was seeking to join.

During my preparations for TDF 1998 I cycled Richmond Park and I came across this Barbadian who was training for his own events. On learning of my plans he begged me to let him join in but I was intent on my own solitary plans. i was not sure of my own ability and as i was joining others i was unable to help. Another day I was riding with Peter Haining when we joined Daniel and rode as a group for a time. After a while Peter urged we pick up the pace again,so I asked him to take a look at Daniel and then a second time to note the pedal action. It was only at this point that Peter realised that Daniel had no legs below the knees. The first time I saw Daniel training I had the same difficulty and so was not surprised that this disability was so easily overlooked.

Daniel was at Paris as I mentioned and the following week we rode again and I explained to him that the only way for him to tackle a tour was to have a backup driver with all the equipment and to make the whole trip work he would have to have build his endurance so as to ride more of the etappe each day .At Athens Para road race he did not finish the race so it was as well that he did not try to ride the Tour unassisted.

My plan for the tour would be to have a relay team in action!
Each day we would start with a tricycle or/and hand bike for the maximum publicity and after 5-10kms pass the baton to a tandem/road bike for the next kms where the baton would pass to the next riders. Before the feed station back to the start team through for 5-10km as conditions allow and then on a flat arrival back to the starters or all on the bike. Mountain arrivals would require the strongest riders as the support by vehicle would not be there due to road closures.

Apart from the disabled/physically challenged riders it would require able bodied volunteers to ride and assist in the organising of all logistical activities . The press would be all over the story so there would be need for laison there as well as camp organisation and buying supplies.

It is apparent that the numbers would quickly make for unworkable unit unless all involved work together. The benefits to all would be enormous as I am sure that they would become personalities in the own sphere of influence. This is why personalities would be have to be taken off and left at the door so to speak.

WHO OF YOU OUT THERE ARE UP FOR THIS CHALLENGE??

N.B. the photo was taken by Ken Hardacre @8WristBandman(twitter) currently hospitalised by the big C. the bike was in the front of the monaco hotel the day Lance greeted me on Eurosport etal. Send ken a tweet for the full story.

Dec 16, 2009

FATCYCLIST and BLOGGING

THE CYCLIST ON THE ROAD ALONGSIDE LANCE IS KNOWN AS FATTY!

he has raised $136000 for two charities in a little over two days.




THE $US1million "SKIPPYS LEGACY " still available to establish the "PARRABUDDY FOUNDATION".

In the past months I have been looking at a variety of Cycling Blogs to gain an insight as to what people are saying and enjoying.

People return to interesting and action packed blogs. I hope what I am offering will prove entertaining and worth visiting regularly. During 12 seasons of riding the routes of the various cycle tours that I have chosen I have met interesting and entertaining individuals throughout Europe. My primary objective has always been to motivate others to help “Disabled /Paralympic sport” in their own way. Each individual has their own perspective on how they can contribute to their community.

Returning to the blogs I am following, the outstanding example is “Fat Cyclist”. this guy has had a rough time these past couple of years with personal tragedy in his family. He has risen above the grief and continued to work at helping others.

Two weeks ago he sent a humorous letter to Johan Bruyneel which I picked up on Twitter and then went to @fat cyclist and to his Blog/fatcyclist.com. I will let you read and enjoy at your leisure as repeating here will not do the story justice. I watched the thrilling action with amazement! Fatty as he is known by his followers met the challenge thrust on him with an adroit skill few possess. It is an envious situation that “Fatty” found himself in as a result of the help of his team. “Fatty” motivated an instant result by his generosity and the lives of his followers, the beneficuaries of his fundraisings and the onlookers such as myself have been enriched as a result! Johan Bruyneel has risen to the occasion also in the way he received Fatty and arranging a range of “goodies” in addition to what Fatty had anticipated.

I have met many members of the “ Radio Shack Team” in their previous teams and his first report of the Saturday evening bears out my good opinion of them all. Nevertheless I envy the opportunity he had to go one on one in their space.When on the tours I have met the cyclists and their support staff in a variety of locations and generally they have been preparing for the upcoming days work.

Occasions have arisen when I have been able to have a reasonably relaxed chat. Chris horner at the “tour de Suisse invited me into the team Pullman he was curious about what I was about ,how I got around and where I stayed. As I was leaving I said “remember when you are standing on the podium tonight say “aider handisport” as this is the French speaking area of Switzerland, he laughed. Later that evening at the hostel I saw the last 25kms on tv and was able to see the TV interview after. Chris was not good with his French and certainly forgot what I predicted he should say! When I saw him the next day he was laughing as I congratulated him and asked if I thought he had enough on his plate trying to remember to mention his sponsors let alone speak in French!

Being on hand at the finish of an etappe can be a real thrill particularly when an aussie is on the podium, lots of people take the time to offer congratulations and ask what the particular rider is like up close and personable. Knowing my way around the back area I am generally able to get into a position to voice my approval of their success on the same day. A particular case was Dave Mc kenzie in the Girod’italia some years ago. I had finished the etappe and arrived in the finish area near the large TV screen. When it became apparent that dave was out front I got out the aussie flag as he went through the finish area for the first circuit. Some locals saw this and invited me up to their balcony to join their party. Plenty of time for food,drink and sign language, of course the flag was on the railings and then the cameras were focused on the party . Before leaving the finish area Dave acknowledged the group much to their pleasure.

I then excused myself and went looking for the “doping control” shook hands with dave , collected a team cap which he autographed and went back to the hosts of the party, who were thrilled with the souvenir. Later that evening in another town that was the next days start I found that I was staying in the same hotel as the Giro motorcycle route checkers. They were very complimentary about the result buying wine to celebrate the occasion.

I try to put something back into cycling as I get around. At this years Giro d’italia I was passing out “Livestrong wristbands to people I came across in wheelchairs, some I handed out, some I whizzed out as I raced past with a call of “Aiuto Disabili”.Livestrong had a party of volunteers giving out the wristbands at the start and finish areas but even though I asked them to pay attention to the “disabled “ as they drove the route it was not always easy for them to be prepared to slow down and hand out an item. A couple of times people have come up to me and told me of seeing me doing this on previous days, goes to show how many people follow the tours in their own way.

The Caravan vehicles at the “Giro d’italia “ are not as numerous as the “Tour de France” but they are more friendly and more approachable both at the start and at the finish. There is also the sponsors villages at both ends which are accessable for the general public.In past years particularly on the flat I have found as they pass me they passed out food and water to keep me going. In the towns they slow so it is not as easy to make my way through, particularly when they are stationary. Many of the workers are ski instructors in the winter as I am so this helps the connection particularly those who work with “disabled sport”.a lot of the workers return year after year so it is a pleasure to see them as it helps make a favourable connection.

When I was at Torino 2006 Winter Olympic I was waiting the passing of the “Olympic torch” a car came to a screeching halt and I found myself in a bear hug with one of the “Giro staff”. He arranged for me to run with the “torchbearers” for a period, which did my feet no good as I was wearing steel cap boots and my “Dryasabone coat” with the aussie flag hanging off my shoulders. About 10km later after their rest stop I hobbled off back to my friends appartment. Through these guys I was invited into “Casa Italia” once again.

On the first Sunday evening at “Casa Italia” I was introduced to “Sergio “ the Major of Torino. On arriving back at the appartment Ricardo, my host mentioned that Sergio’s office had been in the front of his building for a number of years. When I mentioned on another occasion this story to Sergio he immediately named Ricardo and arranged for him and Giovanna his wife to be guests on the final evening. Before leaving Torino I was introduced to the “Mayor of Vancouver, Sam Sullivan”, he was in his motorised wheelchair entertaining the public on the handover of the “Paralympic flag”.

In 2005 I was cycling into Torino and saw an Aussie team cycle jersey ahead in the traffic so I chased him down through the traffic. When we got talking it was Ricardo who had been given the shirt, as the story progressed I finished up with an invitation to overnight in his apartment. He fed me and took me to a party where I met some of his mates in a typical Italian party.

Next morning he rode with me towards Navarro on my way to Milano and the conclusion of that “Giro”. As we parted he extended the invitation to stay during the “Olympic period”. between times I had him visit in Kaprun where I was skiing and wintering that year.Last year he was on the Petit St Bernard pass but we missed each other in the crowds and I was pushing to get to Bourg St Maurice before road closures. That day I had to be in Bourg to try and catch up with Alain a Paralympics cross country skier whom I had not seen since the previous year when he handbiked up the major climb on the route to Cuneo. Again no luck with the crowds so I had to cycle to Albertville, chamonix and Martiney to collect the car which had been abandoned by the driver.

In the years of riding these tours I have found that transport is more of a hassle than value. Rarely have I been able to rely on a driver for more than a few days since noone is prepared to commit to the full 4 w/ends. 10 tdf transport free were really so much easier to enjoy. The first tdf in 1998 I was supported to some extent by an Englishman who wanted me to return to Pau when the repair job to the bearings that he half did on the cheap failed. I continued through to Albertville before I saw him again, subsequently I saw him in Pontalier.

He later dumped some of my gear in the campsite there, the valuables I am still awaiting as the problem happened in France the Sheffield police were not interested. Each time I have seen him since he decamps before the police arrive. During the 2004 Vuelta I had my Athens Olympic shirt lifted by the Frenchman with the megaphone. Whilst in the shower he substituted the shirt with a toilet roll, he also does a bunk whenever he sees me after I had the polizei to the Verona youth hostel during the world champs.

Over the years I have been invited into so many homes to eat or to sleep and as said before I do try to email, write or keep in touch. Sometimes it is frustrating to get close to their home and find that time has run out due to not riding at strong enough pace but on other occasions a landmark flashes past that gives you deja vue. To all those kind people out there once again my heart felt thanks.

Another ramble down memory lane closing for the moment!

EARLY DAYS IN MY TOURING ADVENTURES


During December 1995 I was skiing on Kitzsteinhorn Glacier,Austria when I met up with members of the Austrian Europa ski team. These guys were involved in training ski instructors for the Salzburgerland Bundessportsheim. At that time they were preparing for a variety of ski competitions so every afternoon they would set a slalom or reisen slalom race course to train on. I got involved in setting up the gates for the race courses and had several timed runs also. On one occasion I recall Hermann making a 27.8sec run whilst I took 33.4sec, the Herminator could have taken a coffee break and still beat my time!

Several of the guys suggested I should try racing in the masters program which I did during several seasons without a great deal of success, but at 50+ I had not expected to beat guys racing all their lives. I was happy with the experience and opportunity to visit different countries and different resorts each weekend during the race programme.

In 1997 I was in Courmeyer and was due to race at Lenzerheide the next weekend so decided to visit Sestriere during the break. Imagine my surprise to find that I had arrived at the start of the world ski championships. I visited with the resort sales team and dr. sam set me up with invitations and accreditation so that I was able to train and visit with some of the racers. I even trained with the Austrians again as they were now in the world cup team and remembered their amusement from our previous meetings. During the course of the weeks they commented on my performances and then recommended that I take up cycling for better muscle and power development. Well I went to lenzerheide and returned after some creditable performances to Sestriere to see the final races of the world championships.

I did try to train with a number of other teams but the aussies & brits thought that I was getting a better deal with the Austrians (perhaps they were a little jealous) so I trained with the Italians and Germans also, as I had met some of their trainers before. I asked Alberto Tomba if I could join him on his training track but got the impression that he did not encourage visiting firemen. I have met him on many occasions since and found him friendly and articulate. At Bormio 2007 he brought 4 members of the Italian Paraski team to the world season closing weekend.

On returning to Kitzsteinhorn I arranged with craig walker an English ski instructor to do a cycle tour later in the season. We eventually drove out to Straubing in august 1997 where we visited the Voelkl factory who had kindly helped me with equipment over several years. Camping there overnight in a rainstorm was no fun. On the Saturday we drove/cycled the route through to Kaprun where we stayed in a pension owned by craig‘s mate. Craig drove the flat and rode most climbs, I had the easier deal since it was my car and my road bike. We carried mountain bikes also. Sunday we took the mountain bikes for a couple of off track mtn climbs and around the lake at Zell am Zee.

Monday we headed over the Gerlos Pass to Innsbruck and Stubaital then to Seefeld for a free camping night. Tuesday was Pitztal and Otztal before climbing over the Timmelsjock pPass to Merano and the Gardazee, where we camped in a lakeside campsite at Malcesine. Wednesday was running and cycling around the lake shores. Thursday we drove/rode through to Sestriere where we free camped in the Pragelato national park(scene of the 2006 winter Olympic cross country events).Friday was another mtn bike day in the park. Saturday was Sestriere, Briancon, Lauteret, Des alpes, Alpd’huez and Chambery. Here we visited a wine outlet that I knew to stock up for the return trip to the UK. That night was spent in a campsite overlooking Aix les Bains cooking and sampling the wine.

During the cooking Craig said “next year we ride the tour de france” well we paid no great attention to that pronouncement. Craig went to teach tennis on the Vortersee and the first he knew of my exploits was seeing me on Austrian TV, of course when I arrived there in august i heard that I had featured outside France.

Sunday the car carried on creating drama until after lunch when the gearbox finally gave up and we were transported back to Basle before rail travel back to the UK.

In 1998 when I started out of Morlaix at the start of the Bastille etappe to Lorient I got kicked off the race route once again, I was running late and the cols were nightmares so the gendarmerie barricaded the road, so back I went to the first southerly exit. During the subsequent ride I got truly lost,crashed the bike lost the computer and arrived in Nantes after the race was finished. I asked a guy standing near what I didn’t realise at the time was the France TV compound for some directions to Cholet. His enquiring the reason why, led to me being introduced to what turned out to be a photo journo who arranged to meet me the following day at the start area. timing was early for him but after I had given up waiting for him, he caught up with me on his motorbike and then after several later visits to see me riding the route arranged that I arrive at the France TV compound that night for a discussion.

That evening he arranged his program to have a team follow me on the Friday, I was reluctant as I wanted to get the Pyrenees under my belt before this distraction. As it was France TV decided that this was their only option so I went along with their request. Whilst there I had the chance to congratulate Stuey O’grady for going into the “Maillot Jeune”., a sheepish smile from Stuey as he was there to do the interview not meet an old fart in cycle clothes.

Friday arrived with the usual delay of the team’s arrival. A journo, sound tech, cameraman and driver made up the TV team. I still see all but the journo at a variety of events since and they have helped credibility on many occasions such as an invite into “club france”at Athens Olympic in 2004 . Ted still arranges lunch invites at time trials whether with official or unofficial parties food and drink are always welcome. During the days’ filming we met Canadian cyclists on the route, some wheelchair spectators, a variety of personnel working with the tour and celebrities including Raymond Poulidor who now treats me like family when we meet at a variety of events. Lunch was at the official “Etappe Village” where a variety of sponsors, media and guests meet and greet. Eventually I arrived at the France TV compound where they had me hang about once more. During this time I had the chance to congratulate Stuey for the 3rd day running.

Imagine Stuey’s surprise to find he had been dragged into the compound for the express purpose of filming us together for the day’s story. Bemusement was written all over his face, but he was up for the task even if he thought it a bit odd. Next day was the Correize time trial, I was fortunate to get around the course with the camera crew in attendance so had little difficulty with the gendarmerie unlike some others who were swept up at control points. When we arrived back at the compound things were a little awry, I was told to hang about for a while and asked several people to get me thru the security as I thought my journo had forgotton me. Even “Duffers” had no success with the control that day. Eventually France TV came thru took me into their compound and forbade me to leave their area. Eventually the reason was apparent with the arrival of M. & Mme Chirac. The whole thing was over in minutes but that is the way of these situations.

Next days i became aware that the story had gone to air as so many people were telling me they had seen the story about the aussie riding for “Handisport”. suffice to say I did not see the program nor the newspaper articles throughout the rest of the tour. Media people from a number of outlets chased me up to do their version during any quiet moment they had. You would find me being interviewed as I rode the route with microphone or camera hanging out of their car, standing alongside personalities that they wished to introduce to me, at team hotels or even wherever I was sleeping.

It came to me that this was a good way to promote “disabled/para/adaptive/physically challenged sport. Later I would decide to ride a full season of cycle events to publicize Paralympic sports as I became aware of the number of athletes such as “daniel coulthard” who had they the support structure would be up for the challenge. On arriving back in the UK he told me he had stood at the top of the “champs elysee” with his friends and said “there goes my friend skippy” as I rode with the Australian and French flags through the caravan on the final day of the 1998 tdf. I had borrowed the French flag from the Hotel Trianon where lance stays in paris. As I started to ride through the finish line for the 3rd time the police decided that the tv had seen enough of me and was put into the tv compound where I was once again able to greet marco on his return from the podium .

During the tour I was grabbed by Marco and towed over to leoni his sougnier who was instructed to give me the hotel list and organise the cleaning of the bike , food and drinks whenever I arrived there. The personnel at Saeco also were doing this for me in the final week so I got to meet Cippo and Comezzo amongst others. The Mechanics and Sougniers with all the teams were amongst the friendliest people I have had the pleasure to meet then and since. My continuing to ride these tours is essentially due to these people because no matter how busy they were, they would get around to helping me sort out the problems I encountered. Language never was a problem because of their genuine desire to assist my quest for the disabled. Freddy the then chauffeur of Saeco is still on tour, still helping out with a ready smile, Giovanni the Saeco mechanic also is still there as is Leoni who still comes out with water and sustenance. Heroes all for this old fart. As recently as this giro , tour and world championship I was enjoying their very kind support! There are many others, too many to name with other teams, such is the nature of the industry that some have moved teams, retired from the peleton, moved to other countries so as they only rarely pop out of the woodwork. Victor hugo Pena is an example , he greeted me with Lance outside the hotel Trianon one year and several years later stops me in the flow of people at the world champs in Stuttgart.

Back to 1998, the day after the tour finished in Paris , I was walking with the bike and an aussie from Melbourne when street cleaners and gendarmes were pulling me up for a chat and autograph. At the Notre Dame and Eiffel tower I got luke shuffled to the front of the queues whilst I had a chat and did the autographs.

Much more went on during the tour but as I didn’t have nor have since carried a diary it has become disjointed but whenever I have had an address I have tried to write thank yous and in some cases send souveniers. Some people I was able to visit several times and like the family in Albertville was able to introduce them to some of the stars. Pascal at 2200hrs in Albertville called out to me “where do you sleep” I was on the lookout for a hostel at the time. Well the bike was parked a drink put in front of me as we waited for Annie his wife to arrive, we then arrived at the appartment about 2300hrs had a steak meal and chat before the son ,Charlie found his bed was appropriated for the night.Charlie bunked in the lounge .In the morning we arrived at a café where we bumped into a team masseur who took my sack and carried it to Neuchâtel. At the team hotel that night I asked Magnus when he was going to take an etappe. He tapped his nose and said it was coming. The next day was his and it took two seasons to catch him to congratulate him.

That Friday evening I met “JM” though his staff and even then he told me there was no place for “disabled sport” at the tour, and at the same time claimed Andre Auberge as a grand friend. Funny world, Chris Prudhomme was then working for France TV and in later years would tell me that things would be different when he took over. Well in 2008 on the rest day in Pau he told me he had succeeded in getting a paralympian to ride the time trial course as part of the program. One rider with no competition, ignored by the media is not an event. I spoke with Laurent Thiorenet as he was preparing(at Athens he had made an announcement naming me as responsible for assisting Parasport) to make his run. Prudhomme could have invited the country champions from all of Europe to come at their own expense to compete, and he would have had his event and a page in history rather than a footnote in this blog. The local tourist office had no idea there was a paralympian racing, no media person I spoke to had any idea that this was happening nor was Laurent’s time available to the public. You can bet that he a one legged guy had done better than many of the racers albeit they had been racing for 3wks at that time. As I was riding away across country towards the “arrival area” I was passed by Valverde who called me to join him and quite quickly we were doing an impressive pace. Out was 7kms and on the way back I lost the draft after 3kms, by that time I was blown, he reminded me of this at the Lugano Hotel where part of the Espana team stayed when he together with sanchez and the “Espana Team”were preparing to ride to mendrisio, I declined to ride with them as i was under doctors orders not to ride above 110 hbm and I knew how quick these guys could go.

I warned at the outset that this blog would be a ramble, so forgive my jumping back and forth through the years.

More disjointed memories will surface, persevere and enjoy the ride.

The story on the photo will come, don't worry!

Enough for this occasion!

Dec 14, 2009

WELCOME TO PARRABUDDY


............NO RESPONSIBILITY TAKEN FOR THE CONTENTS!!

I AM TRYING TO CREATE THE FORUM FOR THE DISCUSSION ON SETTING UP A PROJECT TO TAKE "DISABLED/PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED CYCLISTS " TO THE MAJOR CYCLE TOURS,ie GIRO'ITALIA,TOUR OF CALIFORNIA, TOUR DE SUISSE, VUELTA ESPANA & TOUR DE FRANCE.

IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT ALL CYCLISTS WISH TO BE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN A FASHION IN THESE CYCLE TOURS! ABLE BODIED, FULLY FIT CYCLISTS FIND THE DAILY ETAPPE A CHALLENGE, EVEN AFTER 12 SEASONS THERE ARE DAYS I FIND THAT THE FINISH LINE CANNOT COME QUICKLY ENOUGH.

IF A TEAM OF CYCLISTS WERE ABLE TO PASS THE BATON FROM ONE TO THE OTHER IN A TIMELY FASHION THEN WITH THE CORRECT SUPPORT TEAM THEY WILL ACHIEVE THE OBJECTIVE. TIMING IS OF THE ESSENCE AS "HANDBIKERS & TRICYCLES WILL NOT TRAVEL AS QUICKLY AS TANDEMS AND ADAPTED CYCLES. SOME VARIETY IN STYLE AND FITNESS WILL ALSO ENTER INTO THE EQUATION.

MY EXPERIENCE AS A SINGLE RIDER AT 12 TOUR DE FRANCE, 11 GIRO D'ITALIA ,10 TOUR DE SUISSE AND A VARIETY OF OTHER TOURS DOES NOT EQUIP ME TO PROVIDE ALL THE ANSWERS SO I WILL DEFER TO THE SUPERIOR EXPERIENCE OF OTHERS. EACH DAY BROUGHT IT'S OWN CHALLENGES BE IT WEATHER, MAINTAINANCE DEFECTS, ACCESSIBILITY TO THE TOUR ROUTE OR THE CHALLENGES POSED BY THE RELEVANT AUTHORITIES.

WHAT I THINK IS NEEDED ARE VOLUNTEERS WHO OFFER THEIR SERVICES AND ARE CONTENT TO RIDE SECTIONS OF THE ROUTE AS THE OPORTUNITIES ARISE,HELP WITH THE DRIVING OF SUPPORT VEHICLES, MUCK IN AS CAMP WARDENS AT ARRIVAL AREAS AND/OR BE INVOLVED IN BREAKING CAMP IN THE MORNING. OF COURSE HAVING A TEAM TO DISTRIBUTE LITERATURE OR GOODIES IF THEY ARE AVAILABLE ADDS TO THE PUBLICITY, AS DOES HAVING VIDEO,PHOTOS TO GO TO MEDIA,BLOG, WEBSITES DURING THE EVENT.

STARTING TO SEE WHY I ALONE AM ABLE TO COME AND GO AS I PLEASE, BROKEN BIKE OUT GOES THE THUMB IF I DON'T FIX IT ON THE SPOT. IMAGINE A BROKEN "HANDBIKE", NO CHANCE OF IT GOING IN A CAR! SO ALL THE YEARS I WANTED TO TAKE A HANDBIKE WENT OUT AT THE FIRST HURDLE!

......FIND ME ON TWITTER.COM/SKIPPYDETOUR

EMAIL SKIPPI@AUSI.COM

SMS 00436764061232 (I CHANGE THE NO IN EACH TOUR COUNTRY)

.... I WELCOME INPUT OF VALUE.