I am really certain that the Hobbits's live in the Shire. I am not really sure if the Shire is a real place or not, but I know that Hobbits's are real. I know, trust me, I know. Of course I have not been to all of the places that Hobbits have been, but I am pretty certain that even though we all know that Mordor exists - clearly Rivendell is made up. I mean come on, isn't it unlikely that elves would live in a place that is so easily found by Hobbits?
I mean seriously, what is a hobbit? With those feet, they cannot possibly fight off Orcs. Of course, that is not really expected of them, just carrying things on chains.
But, I think I have found what is probaby the place that the Shire resides. I have not found it yet, perse - but I know it is there. The actual Shire is somewhere in Yorkshire, in the north of England. You know, the place of weird English and really good pints of ale. The place of driving on the wrong side of the road (which is of course the left side, as right is right and left is wrong. It has to do with the whole lefthanded thing.) Oh, and those pints are glorious by the way. It is all a bit Dr. Suess you know - Oh, the places you will go.
Yorkshire is an incredible place. Beautiful, green, full of charm, historic etc... The tour was an amazing experience there. Every single village came out to see the tour. Every single village was decorated to the 9's, and manicured to look amazing. If you have not seen all the photos, take a look here.
Every village had yellow banners up, and bicycles painted yellow everywhere, and hand knit jerseys on a string draped across the road, and "Welcome Tour de France" hand painted signs, and names of roads changed to French etc... Yorkshire loves the Tour de France. It was really inspiring.
And wow did the people come out. As my friend in London says, "English people just love a day out". That may be so, but they do not come out for a bike race like this anywhere else in the world. It is estimated that about 9 million people saw the Tour de France from the side of the road in those 3 days in Yorkshire. Think about that - 9 million people! Cycling is alive and well, that's for sure.
It was exciting to be there on that first day and see the old man take the Polka dot. He really burned every match he had that day to try to get that jersey. Jens took the Polka Dot jersey in his first tour, and then again in his last tour.
After the Tour de France stages left the UK, Liz and I moved on to the REAL reason we were there. On the 8th of July, we went to the Pearl Jam concert in Leeds. Oh, it was pretty good. Ha. You know if you read this occasionally, that I kinda like Pearl Jam. I mean, I guess they are pretty good. If you have not seen them live, you owe yourself that. I have made it a habit the past years of trying to see them somewhere in the world. This year, I am kinda going overboard with 3 different shows. But, that is just my view as some people say there is no such thing - you cannot see them too many times.
The band (as they are known now at my house), puts on the most amazing show you have ever seen. They never play less than 3 hours. This night they played for 3 hours and 40 minutes. I think I read somewhere afterward that they played 39 songs. Towards the end, Eddie's voice was nearly gone. At one point the band conferred and Eddie said they had been asked to stop, but they were having too much fun and "f..k it", we are going to play a few more songs. Brilliant.
They played some epic versions of songs that I had not heard before. Sirens was beyond good, the version of Evenflow was incredible, Porch rocked as it always does. Stone sang don't give me no lip. Lightning Bolt was stupendous (I cannot believe I did not care for that song originally). At one point, Liz said "OMG, they are just killing it tonight." They were. But, unfortunately they did not play Yellow Ledbetter. It felt like it was going to come at the end, but instead I think that was when they broke out Alive (I am not sure, it is such a blur - 3.4hours you know). Wow.
Oh well, here is to hoping The Band sees this blog entry and plays Yellow Ledbetter at either Milwaukee or Minneapolis. I mean, come on guys it has been a couple of years since I have been able to hear it live - wtf?
Next up was 2 days of mountain biking in the Yorkshire Dales.
Riding in the Dales of Yorkshire is pretty cool. I had done it once before, about 10 years ago - it was Liz's first time. You are riding on ancient Roman roads/paths, lined by hand built stone walls that were built hundreds of years ago by who knows who. You stop in a pub along the way and have lunch (along with another handcrafted ale). You climb walls and ride across fields on bridal paths. You link up bits of singletrack along the river or up on the Moors (beware the Moors, just like American Werewolf in London). And then do it all again the next day. There is something really cool about it all.
In the USA, mountain biking is all about finding killer singletrack. Doesn't really matter what kind, scenic - technical - flowy - steep - flat. But, it is all about singletrack. The trail is what is important. In Europe, I have now found that it can be really more about the destination. There is a huge vista, or a pub or a castle or... You do need to give it a try though. Good fun.
I am not sure you are paying attention though, as they are called chips here. Chips in America are what come in a bag and are fried and crisp. Frites or Fries are what is a fried potato. In the UK, they are eaten with just about everything. They are not the same as Belgian Frites, but do not even get me started on that. Frites are just about the perfect food, afterall - (They actually cannot rival a Burrito, but you really cannot get those in Europe... Seriously).
Then I moved on to the sales meeting in the UK, not much to report there so we will move on to getting back to the 1st rest day at the TDF with Luca and the TFR team. (at this point it is starting to feel like I have been there forever).
The highlight of that was that I got to go for the rest day ride with the team. Just a simple little 40k affair, that was done at a similar pace to the lunch ride at Trek. Yep, even easy days for a world tour team are harder than I sometimes want to go. It was great fun to ride with a follow car though. I told Liz that from now on I want a follow car on my rides. I think she is planning that.
This is what I am waiting for. Watch it and weep.