31 July 2009
30 July 2009
Thanks for calling guys. Great to catch up -- even if it's only been a couple weeks since the end of term. Hope to see you around back 'home.'
We want to 'explore' a city or two for a weekend. Where should we go?Here are some parameters:
- We are now in Strasbourg, France.
- Our limit is probably 6 hours by car (any more may result in physical harm to parents and/or kids).
So that puts the following cities into play: Amsterdam to the North; Prague to the East; most of Switzerland to the Southeast; Berlin to the Northeast (perhaps a stretch). And everything in between.
Suggestions please -- keeping in mind that if you give a recommendation and we end up not enjoying ourselves, you will be outed! And remember, literally dozens of people read this blog.
29 July 2009
The stork is the one of the main features and symbols of the Alsace region and nowwhere is that more on display that in the village of Hunawihr, where there is a 5.5 hectar habitat that is home to nearly 200 storks. Nestled among hectar after hectar of vinyards, the habitat allows the storks to fly freely and nest where they wish -- some choosing chimneys or church steeples in one of the many neighboring villages.
Among the storks
But yesterday we got another surprise when another set of good friends (also from DC -- by way of France and Denmark) stopped by for a quick visit. Soren and Sandrine, along with their boys Marc and Thomas, live in Copenhagen and were travelling home from Sandrine's parent's house near Marseilles. Strasbourg turned out to be a good place to stop and, shall we say, catch their breath. This was a particularly exciting surprise for Patrick and Julia because, once again, Marc is a former classmate from the school in Silver Spring.
It is amazing, really, that three families who all had children in the same class, and who all moved from DC to Europe within 6 months of each other, still have a chance to see each other from time to time, but on another continent.
Soren and Sandrine
Patrick and Marc look like two adults in deep conversation.
Great look! That's waht ice cream does to you I guess.
27 July 2009
“You can see that the French riders are lazy because they make too much money,” said Hinault, whose nickname as a rider was the Badger. “It’s true that you would have to put a knife to their throat to get results. It’s embarrassing for our country.”
I've got my issues with Hinault, but still, Ouch!
26 July 2009
Just above the village of Kintzheim you will find the Montagne des Singes, a natural habitat with hundreds of monkeys that roam free and eat popcorn out of your hand. The park was created to help preserve a particular species of monkeys that come from north Africa (Magot, I think?) It was truely an amazing site to see, particularly when you consider we were in the Vosges mountains, not some some north african forest.
24 July 2009
21 July 2009
20 July 2009
Patrick and Julia had slightly different reactions to the book. Patrick was so excited to see his grandpa's face on a book he began jumping up and down with excitement. Julia, not so much. She took one look at it and offered, 'it's going to be boring because it's adult stuff. Adult stuff is boring.'
18 July 2009
Standing in front of the (very popular) ASTANA team before the start.
Just kind of stuck my camera in the air and pushed the button. Anyone who thinks Tour fans don't like Lance doesn't know anything. Trust me, it's only the French press that are rooting against him.
Stopped at this cafe for a quick coffee. Beautiful part of the Colmar.
But this time we added a little twist: we didn't even let them know that their grandparents were coming at all; not even a clue. So when Kerri's parents happened to stroll in front of our spot at the beach at a nearby lake last Thursday, there was a second or two of complete confusion on the faces of our eldest kids. The confusion quickly morphed into exhilaration when they realized PopPop and GiGi we coming for a visit.
It's a silly game that they will probably have to explain to their therapists in 20 years, but we have fun with it.
I was the one put in charge of disposing the body.
15 July 2009
One question I have about corn on the cob is this: if there is so much being grown around here, why is it not less expensive in the stores. One theory we have is that much of the corn grown in this part of France is feed corn for livestock. We know the French don't eat corn on the cob like us Amrrrricans; in fact they don't much corn in general. So why do they grow so much -- we are completely surrounded by cornfields, much like we were last summer in the Southwest. Is the livestock theory correct? Perhaps it's an exported product? Ethonol?
14 July 2009
It's spectacular, visually (hard to beat a sunny morning in Paris); it just seems a bit Cold War-esque.
Although the jets just flew over the city with red, white, and blue smoke behind them. That was impressive.
Bonne fête nationale du 14 juillet.
12 July 2009
And now he's being sponsored by Columbia Sportswear and is raising money for charity at the same time.
Vic and his wife Gay were our neighbors last summer in Puivert, France.
10 July 2009
The French have a great cycling tradition. It is no accident that the Tour de France is the most important bike race in the world and it isn't just a coincidence that there have been more French winners of the Tour (36) than any other country (Belgium is second with 18). But these numbers hide a reality that isn't talked about much in France: French cyclists don't win much anymore.
I began to look into the numbers and found they were more startling than I thought. Since great cyclists are usually measured by their performance in the so-called Grand Tours (France, Italy, and Spain -- Spain being a distant third in terms of prestige), I checked how long it has been since a Frenchman won one of these hallowed events. Here are the last indidividual French winners of the three Grand Tours:
- Tour de France: Bernard Hinault (1985)
- Giro d'Italia: Laurent Fignon (1989)
- Vuelta a Espana: Laurent Jalabert (1995)
But that list only reflects individual winners. French teams haven't done much better. In the last 25 years French cycling teams have produced:
- 1 Tour de France winner (Hinault in 1985 for La Vie Claire)
- 3 Giro winners (Italian Gianni Bugno for Chateau d'Ax, Laurent Fignon for Super U-Raleigh-Fiat, and Hinault for La Vie Claire);
- 0 Vuelta a Espana winners.
That's 4 winners in a combined 75 Grand Tours. Add Laurent Jalabert's win in Spain in 1995(riding for Spanish team ONCE) and the total number of wins by Frenchmen or French teams equals 5. By way of comparison, in the last 75 Grand Tours, Spanish riders have won 22 times, Italian riders 15 times, and American riders 11 times. [Note: the French team Cofidis did win the team classification in the Tour de France in 1998 -- let by American Bobby Julich in 3rd place overall].
While the Grand Tours are the biggies in cycling, there are many other important races throughout the year, the most well known being the Spring Classics and the one-week Tours that dot the calendar between March and June of each year. Have French cyclists fared any better in these races? Since there isn't time to examine every race, I'll pick a few of the biggest: Milan-Sanremo, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Nice, and the Dauphiné Libéré. Here are the number of French winners of these races since since 1985:
- Milan-San Remo - 3 winners (none since 1995)
- Liège-Bastogne-Liège - 0 winners
- Paris-Roubaix - 4 winners (none since 1994)
- Paris-Nice - 4 winners (all riding for Spanish teams)
- Dauphiné Libéré - 5 winners
So you could say the results are better, but the point of this entire post is to examine how French cycling has fallen in the past couple of decades. I purposely chose 1985 as my point of reference because that seems to be the year when French cycling began to decline rapidly. To illustrate the point, consider the following statistic: in the 25 years before 1985, a French cyclist won the Tour de France 14 times. The numbers are similar for other major Classics and one-week Tours.
Can French cycling rebound and produce winners again on a consistant basis? I hope so, but I'm not putting any money on it yet. There has been a lot of hope pinned on the shoulders of the likes of Chrisophe Moreau, Sandy Casar, and Sylvain Chavenel in recent years but none of them appear to be real GC contenders in the big races.
A new French champion will come someday and I hope that day comes soon. When I'm not rooting for American riders I'm pulling for the French. Allez les Bleus!
Oh, and for at least today, a French cycling team will hold the yellow jersey (AG2R).
09 July 2009
We'll be spending 14 Juillet watching the fireworks in Strasbourg. I've heard it's a good show. We'll see.
08 July 2009
- 10-11 = no mark next to name (but passing)
- 12-13 = AB (assez bien)
- 14-15 = B (bien)
- 16+ = TB (tres bien)
All scores are, of course, out of a possible 20. I'm still checking on my students' marks...so far so good.
As another point of reference, imagine if US papers published all SAT results in the local paper. Can you say lawsuit?
Late Update: just received word from our section head that all students in the Section Americaine passed the bac this year. We had one close call, but he passed earlier today after something called a rattrapage (kind of a partial do-over).
04 July 2009
No idea who this is, but how sweet is the gear and the bike?
Another strong Astana rider: Levi Leipheimer
At one point we walked up a little path to get this view.
Again, no idea, but we spent most of the time about 50 meters above this hairpin turn.
Not a bad way to spend the 4th of July!
Tomorrow's second stage will come through our village of Le Rouret. On the profile map below, Le Rouret is just after the category 4 climb (Cote de Roquefort-les-Pins) near the peak of the climb. I ride from Nice up to our house from time to time and you can't imagine how devestating it was to find out that the climb up to our house that nearly kills me every time I do it is only rated a category 4 -- the lowest climbing category in cycling. Ouch.
03 July 2009
We'll be there. Not sure how we're going to get there yet, but we'll be there. (Suggestions? Train, I suppose).
Click on the Monaco route map for larger image.
Update: we've had a very nice offer from a friend to use one of their underground parking space at their apartment in Monaco, but I just don't see how driving will work. They are saying it could be worse than Grand Prix weekend. We're taking the train!