This week we meet Kirk. He’s a great example of a rider who really enjoys riding his bike, but for whom taking on multiple stages of the Tour de France is a significant step up. But, sensibly, he didn’t dive right in for the big Alpine or Pyrenean mountains – he started with the classic ‘Middle Mountain’ stages. Here’s how he got on:
NAME: Kirk Tashjian
LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY USA
EXPERIENCE: I took up cycling about 10 years ago as a means of getting back in shape after ignoring my health during a long career in investment banking. Since then, I have obsessively watched the Tour de France every year, dreaming of a chance to one day ride a stage of the historic race. I had competed in numerous single-day endurance events, including IRONMAN triathlons, marathons, and century rides, but never anything of the level of a Tour stage (neither in elevation nor length, and certainly not multiple days of it!). My wife, thrilled to have found a sure-to-please gift as she says that I am incredibly hard to buy for, researched options for me to ride stages of the Tour de France as a Christmas gift. Riding with Le Loop, especially given the charitable aspects of the organization, was an easy decision. I chose the Middle Mountains stages as I wanted a challenge, but wasn’t sure if I could handle those gigantic climbs in the Alps and Pyrenées that I had seen watching the Tour every year.
HE SAYS: Do your best to train in as close to Tour conditions as you can (and trust the training advice of the everyone involved with Le Loop!). During my second day, I learned what “mur” translates to in English: wall. I both climbed one on the bike and, figuratively speaking, hit one physically. I thought I was done…mid-way through the stage I pulled over to a café ready to call it quits. One of the Le Loop medics who rides with the group found me, figured out what was going on immediately (too many electrolytes!) and motivated me to get back on the bike. Not only did I finish the stage, but she provided the necessary advice to get me through my final stage the next day. I had never ridden in a multi-day event like this and hadn’t adequately put my body through anything similar during my training.
WHERE ARE YOU NOW?: I am currently training for my 5th marathon (NYC!) and figuring out my next big cycling adventure for next year. Riding with Le Loop was an amazing experience in every way and I hope to challenge myself yet again next summer, possibly even take on those climbs that have terrified me for so long.
Ed: Good luck in that Marathon Kirk!