Just completed the Rêve 2012 photo annual. The large format (15" x 11.5") 100-page book tells the story of this summer's women's tour. Thanks again to all the supporters, sponsors, friends and family who helped make this happen. Books can be ordered from VeloDramatic for $125 plus shipping (payment via Paypal) until the 17th of December. A second run of books will be available in the new year when another production run can be organized. If you comment on this thread, we'll get back to you for additional details and a follow on Paypal invoice.
thanks... Michael Robertson / VeloDramatic
The ever narrowing tunnel that is the Tour finds us in our second rest day in Lourdes surrounded by a surreal mix of history and religious commercialism. The cure, if it's here, has a price tag. The brief pause is almost over. Laundry done, group fed, emails sent, bikes cleaned, images backed up, uploaded and finally push the button on this post. Paris is just over some very big hills. I have no doubts the team and our Dutch friends will make the Champs Elysees on Saturday.
Stage 15 wound through rolling fields of sunflowers, corn and wheat.
Kristen and Kym carve their way through the sunflowers early on Stage 15
Heidi eating a sandwich scans the bin of food for the next victim
No place for false modesty... the women have to pull off kit in all kinds of semi-public places for their nature breaks
A downhill section gives the team a chance to get into the drops
Nice smile from Kristen close to the end of the stage
The red accents of SRAM and GIRO
Heidi enjoying another moment of sandwich bliss
The photo car looks so official it stops pedestrians in their tracks
A town fountain provides a stream of water to cool off Kristen
Kate and Heidi circle their 1027th roundabout
Kristen stretching out in the parking lot in Pau
Table and Chairs
Rounding the Corner
Maria Vazquez takes on another HC in the Alps
After the two HC climbs of Stage 11, tired legs had to take on two Category 1 climbs followed by a very long slog through open country and crosswinds to a final Category 3 climb just before the Stage 12 finish. The team mood continues to improve buoyed by extra treats, today it was baguette sandwiches, chocolate pudding and humus for Kate. After a two hour transfer we rolled straight into our Asian restaurant dinner... where I finally had my first frog's legs and convinced Maria to give them a try.
Kristen feigns frustration after getting pipped at the line by Heidi in their Stage 11 sprint
Riding towards another perfect French village
The women sit down at the top of the Col de la Madeleine with Kym's Axl providing entertainment
Matthias, our lead sports therapist, takes a moment away from dancing on a fence post to salute the camera fly by
Heidi flexes her hands as zooms down another alpine descent
Time to wash the Osmo bottles
Looking down several switch backs on the encroyable Col de la Madeleine
The Cyclist and the Camper Van in the rain
Kate staying cool on the way up
Bart and Axl: a big thanks to Bart for all his help during the time he could stay with us
Dave Christenson can and will drop you on any climb. He's dusted everyone between filming
Thanks Capo Cycling
Super Maria about to take flight
Heidi locked into climbing mode
The team at the jumping off point in the gardens of Liege
Apologies for that intermission. The unrelenting transfers, poor connectivity and the shear overhead of this adventure have been daunting so far. Dave Christenson and I have been pitching in with bike cleaning, tuning and laundry to keep the team spinning on the road and Jennifer, our photo assistant, has been improving her high-speed euro driving.
It was a week ago when my fill up with gasoline (instead of GAZ/Diesel) put the photo car out of commission for most of the day. It was really miraculous that we found a service that would pump out the tank and fuel lines on a Belgian Sunday when everything is closed. A pat on the back from the mechanic and a walk to the rear of the garage confirmed the service does a brisk business in this common mistake.
The team roaring along with the big Dutch peloton
Our rest day finds us monopolizing our little hotel... the parking lot is strewn with bikes in various states of cleaning and reassembly. Kym's husband Glenn Fant is hard at work switching out our ZIPP 101s for ZIPP's latest carbon wheelset. Having Levi Leipheimer's mechanic working on our team bikes is a special attraction that has one or two Dutch riders perpetually mesmerized at his speed and efficiency. He stops periodically to answer questions or look at their bikes when they have problems.
The EVO cockpit, SRAM RED, FSA bars and stem, Quarq mount for the Garmin 500s
Laundry hangs from the balconies and everyone tries to find a little shade from the afternoon sun. We had a brief team meeting after lunch to talk about the big mountains ahead and team strategy. They'll wait for each other at the top if the weather is warm. You can't ride the big cols like the Tourmalet and not capture a team photo at the summit unless the weather is bad in which case they'll descend to a better spot and regroup. The photo car will descend a few minutes ahead of the group and set up for our one shot at them descending. When they pass we'll bring up the rear to make sure they all get down safely.
Kym Fant's Hair isn't just for beauty... as Maria demonstrates
There were a few days out in the wind where the team enjoyed the shelter of the bigger Dutch group, but now it's just the team against the mountains and whatever inner questions remain about climbing or descending in the heads of each rider. All of the Cannondale Women's SuperSix EVO's are now running SRAM WiFLi giving the women a lowest gear of 34/32. Our CAPO clothing is working well... the team are so comfortable in their custom team kit that they are wearing it every second day. All of the work done by Giro to give them perfect shoes seems to have paid off, I've not heard any complaints of sore feet.
Bananas, melons, apricots, nectarines, baguettes, quiches, biscuits, bars, all consumed each day.
The team car has worked out well and is now sporting a big Osmo on the hood to reflect the major role that Osmo hydration plays each day. Our Belgian-made custom roof rack holds seven bikes (three fork clamped and four seatpost clamped with both wheels) and it makes for quick bike loading and unloading. They even anticipated us having to shoot out the back with the rear hatch open so the rear bike channels kick outwards to clear the hatch. Very cool.
Osmo Nutrition front and center on the team car
We have some promising early footage from our camera bike which Dave rides with a full DSLR rig. We nearly tested our safety cable when vibrations backed out the baseplate screw but we just need some locktite to ensure that doesn't happen again and we should get some spectacular descending footage.
Cars have been our nemesis (what's new for cycling photography on open roads) but some of our footage shows just how fast they close on the riders and swing by. Not for the faint of heart.
Cars and Trucks approach at high speed
Waiting for teammates at the top is a Rêve tradition. Kristen earned the day's team award for dropping back down to see if Maria's flat was fixed
That's it, having broken the connectivity shutout I'm hoping I'll be able to post each night, but there's no guarantee with our crazy schedule. Tomorrow we leave the hotel at 6:30 am for a one hour transfer to a tough stage. We plan to get riding 20 minutes before the Dutch group to ensure we get to lunch on time.
Kym reunited with her two-year-old son Axl last Friday
Dutch Tour leader Pascal (sans helmet always) always at the head of the fast group out front
Heidi enjoying her Osmo Recovery
The 110% Dance team
Jennifer's big scrape
This is not our official team photo but here are Kym, Heidi, Jennifer, Kate, Maria and Kristen wearing the new Rêve team kit courtesy of Capo Cycling before they left for a lunch time spin around the area. The almost pure cyan blue really pops surrounded by black and the pattern provides a little texture without being distracting or busy. Between the team kit and the team car it's a nice little reminder that VeloDramatic still has design to fall back on if this photography thing doesn't work out.
Sportique Left to Right, Back Row Cooling Cream; Get Going Cream; Moisturizing Body Balm; Left to Right, Front Row; Shaving Oil; Century Riding Cream; Road Rash Remedy; Joint and Muscle Gel; Massage Oil for the Soigneurs; Massage Shea Butter; Sunscreen Lip Balm and Lip Gloss.
Team members had a chance to test these products at our Santa Rosa team camp but now we have them in quantity for the three weeks ahead. Our massage therapists Matthias, Eva and Bart will appreciate the Massage Oil and ultra smooth Massage Shea Butter almost as much at the team when working tired muscles. Thank you Sportique.
I don't know how familiar Bayer is with the term "Aspirin Money" but in my experience it has always referred to the safety margin in any budget, project or funding. Three weeks ago Rêve was confidently tracking along towards departure with a not-insignificant deficit that Wilfred and I were resigned to work off personally through pizza delivery and pet photography for the next six months. In actual fact we always believed the budget would balance itself because from the moment we decided to make 2012 a women's tour we've had unprecedented support and the wind at our backs.
Little did we know that our Aspirin money would come from Bayer Healthcare itself. With its generous support for Rêve team member and Bayer employee Kym Fant, the original pain-reliever maker has taken our headache away and given the project a tremendous boost... picking up all transportation expenses for our 9-person team van, team car and luggage truck. Their eleventh-hour arrival not only balanced the transportation account but it allowed us to present a very polished image as our team car with a custom 9-bicycle roof rack represents their brand on the roads of Belgium, France and Switzerland.
We are all very excited to see the final product wrapped in a base of satin-black overlaid with custom vinyl. It should roll out of the Prowrap facility in Eindhoven Netherlands Tuesday... one day before we arrive. We want to thank all of Kym's friends and supporters at BAYER for getting behind this adventure.
Now there's no denying that our team has been treated to some spectacular cycling equipment and kit, but these Westone ES3x in-ear monitors fall into the icing-on-the-cake-it-must-be-Christmas-morning category. Custom made in Colorado Springs these 3-driver earphones set the standard for musicians and audiophiles. The team had the unusual experience of having our ear canals molded by Tina and Lisa at Audiology Associates in Santa Rosa to achieve the impressive -25 DB isolation these amazing earphones offer.
From the one-off translucent blue acrylic bodies formulated to match our team kit to the ImageLock faceplate with RêveTour graphics, these beauties are going to relax and motivate our team whatever we're listening to. You can follow WestoneMusic on facebook and @westonemusic on twitter. OK team, you have three days to download as much music as possible into your smartphones, iPads and laptops to create your soundtrack for France. Tip: include an old Michel Legrand film score.
Of course we were very happy with the way the graphics turned out on the new Capo custom team kit, but of equal importance Kym raved about how comfortable it was. We'll wear the team kit on special days, alternating it with the full-range of stock clothing we've received from our friends in Emeryville California. For those of you interested the kit is based on the Bacio jersey and Cipressa bib shorts.
It's always interesting to see how designs translate to fabric and Capo's factory in Italy did a perfect job of matching color and pattern opacity. All-in-all a totally enjoyable and painless production process. I can't wait to photograph the whole team in the new kit.