FINI DE TOUR

The 2020 Tour de France turned out to be an epic event. As we entered the Saturday individual uphill time trial it looked like the long time leader, Primoz Roglic, would be able to hold off his fellow countryman, Tadej Pogacar, who was just under a minute behind.

Well that was not to be the case as Pogacar surged up the climb  to convincingly win the the Time Trial and in the process also won the King of the Mountains jersey along with the White jersey for the youngest rider and he turns 22 today on Monday 9/21. A pretty good haul for a young man in his first Tour de France !

To the Victor his spoils

Gracious in defeat , can’t say I’d be that pleased after 3 weeks

PARIS, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 20: Podium / Primoz Roglic of Slovenia and Team Jumbo – Visma / Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia and UAE Team Emirates Yellow Leader Jersey / Richie Porte of Australia and Team Trek – Segafredo / Celebration / Trophy / during the 107th Tour de France 2020, Stage 21 a 122km stage from Mantes-La-Jolie to Paris Champs-Élysées / #TDF2020 / @LeTour / on September 20, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

The top 3 all well deserved

Local lad, Seth Cuss, from Durango 

Watching the event tired me out and I was only able to hit 27.57 on my uphill headwind ride to the lakes and back.  Never mind, adding this year’s current total of 3653.42 to the hard fought previous numbers, I’m currently at 15,044.35 miles completed out of the 24,902 target that I set myself. Is another 1000 miles on the cards for this year before the snow shuts me down?

September has been a very strange weather month and with ultra cold weather in a nasty snap that went from the 90’s down to the low 40’s and I’ve had SIX “enforced rest days”. 9 days left but I’ll lose one of those for medical scans over in Durango. Might crack another 200 miles  if there are no problems.

Looking at today’s weather its cooler, overcast and after a quick look it’s forecast for thunderstorms! Hmmmm, we will wait and see if it warms up but its not too nice right now!

Coming soon will be the annual “go through” on the Trials Bikes with a view to selling a few and maybe the faithful Beemer. Apparently my “No Excuses Cub”, although a genuine Pre 65 is not one of the oldest Triumphs around    …… read on

Dazzling !      Nice one Moses

Will he ride it again ?

Right now I’m obsessed with this cycling thing and it certainly passes a lot of time during the pandemic. Keeps me fit ? clearly keeps me away from people, and passes quite a few hours climbing hills and fighting headwinds.

Yesterday was definitely Fall or Autumn, whatever you choose to call it, and as I go up the hill towards Telluride the changing colors of the foliage are quite beautiful. The day started cool, no very cool, and with the Easterly wind which I don’t really like. Many thoughts on what to wear, and went thermal for the late morning mini ride which took me through the 3700 kite but then the day changed and it became pleasantly warm so back to shirts and shorts. Second ride racked up a few bonus miles and finished on 25.15 for the day.

Recently bought some new inexpensive sunglasses in the “Tour” style wrap around look and early trials say they are pretty good!

Comfy and good for keeping the wind out

Also waiting for another pair of “Von Zipper Rockfords” from France which should arrive in the next week.

Always loved the Rockford Aviator style both for flying and Trials

Before the Pandemic arrived I was doing a lot of research on a car for me to drive, assuming I could beat this cancer thing. A sort of prize, or something to look forward to. The choices were vast but eventually my selection was narrowed down to a chosen few. One of my favorites was this gorgeous 2010 RR Turbo.

Private sale down in Phoenix, only 89K on the clock.

Just different enough to appeal to me!

I can’t say that I was surprised it hadn’t sold as I thought the asking price was a little high and with all the uncertainty of the Pandemic who would be car shopping?   Well I looked again and the price had DROPPED by 6K !!!!  ……. reading on, sadly there was a “rider” that there was a timing chain issue ?    Again more research from yours truly shows that the engine that was fitted to the “2010” was subject to this problem and the fix is likely to cost around $6000 or even a replacement engine at around $22,000 !!!!

Well if that one is not for me there are still a couple of Jags out there that I quite like, are at the right price and mileage, so maybe just maybe?

Good looker, and no, NOT a soft top but the roof covering that was all the rage back then

Tons of wood of these beautiful dashes

The S-Type

Another S-Type at a dealership

Bigger engine on this one, “The R Model!!” They say Green?

Better refurbish some stuff and get it all sold, so anyone looking for a TY125, maybe the No Excuses Tiger Cub (64), or my very personal TY 250A Superglitz and even the BMW 2005 K1200LT with only 12,000 miles and recently serviced with new tires and seats …. send me an e-mail

Recently found this old brochure of Mick dating back to 1973 when it first came out

From the 1973 Brochure but not for sale until mid 74

Many hours looking at same after years on Montesa and Bultaco before writing directly to Yamaha Japan to ask if I could have one ? Bit of a nerve but as they say “Don’t ask, don’t get!”   and I GOT MINE!!

1974 at the Cattle Market ready for the SSDT

Hardly used TY125 I built for Brenda

Friday 9/25 and hospital time again over in Durango for a different type of scan to see what’s happening. Not sure how long all this will take but maybe more news on the knowledge front.

Scan and bloodwork all done and now wait to see Julie, the Nurse Physician. Scan pictures and findings she will pass on when they are available later this afternoon. All the blood work looks good, but the tumor index, which had come down from about 97 to just over 3 during the 12 chemo sessions had been increasing since moving over to the pills and was still rising at 27 so time to address this issue and the scan which can track the radio active stuff that they injected me which shows where the cancer is actively working and eating the protein that the blood produces ……. very clever! No surprise then that the cancer tumors in the liver and another in the colon are not being fully held in check with these pills so its back to another dose of the full chemo drip, but with a change of some of the poisons and perhaps some reduction in the side effects. This could start as early as next week!

Following this we both went for some Flu shots in Cortez and I’ll need another pneumonia shot to stay one jump ahead.

Back to the chair!

Ah yes, I remember it well

Of course this sudden change could upset my cycling plans but I think I can get through the 3800 marker by this weekend

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER RIDING

No bus driving, so press on around the Equator! Next target on the horizon will be the 3602.09 marker where I finished 2017 at around Thanksgiving. Yesterday I was down on energy and after getting back from the hospital blood session it was blowing like hell and my enthusiasm  said NO so I settled for some weeding.

A bit more get up and go today and all is going well until I stop for an apple at a friend’s tree ……. CRAAACK! and another one of my remaining teeth, front center, breaks……. not sure how to deal with this, seems the only thing holding it in is my upper gum. It moves a bit if my tongue touches it and I fully expect it will be on the plate come dinner time.

Little early to see how the local school will fare with cases but we have the holiday weekend to get through and then 2 weeks from there we will see if there are any spikes. I see Sturgis didn’t do too well and the first death has been recorded. Locally up 3 cases and another 2 over in Durango.

Just as I expected ….. all over the seats and floor!

Well even though I’m not currently driving I did go and get my DOT physical to maintain my CDL for driving said bus. At the same time I got yet ANOTHER jury summons! This one I have got out of thanks to my Doctor  writing a nice letter saying I’m undergoing chemo. Meanwhile without thinking I bit into an apple, which was clearly TOO hard and one of my last teeth cracked … its loose and wobbly but won’t fall out but it was one of my 2 front upper crown teeth and most either side have fallen out thanks to the chemo poison. Not sure how I will be able to eat in the future……. there certainly won’t be any smiling that’s for sure! but as everyone is wearing a mask who will know?

The last couple of days I have been unbelievably tired and completely washed out by 1800 hours and last night went to bed for a full 12 hours ….. still felt tired when I got up but seems OK for the time being. Time to get out there and knock up a few more miles.

Right side Crown tooth!  … no more smiles from me!

Still feeling tired, broken tooth refuses to fall out, not sure if I need a couple of rest days? Another 50+ went in the books for the last 2 days so I’m up to 3331.32 but not feeling much like riding.

Forced myself out and managed just enough to stay on track at 3350.58, but today is another day. Tooth gets looser but still in there and won’t let go so another day on liquids and soft food and still feeling unbelievable tired. The symptoms are discouraging as they say they are signs of life coming to its end!……. and I quote from the Cancer Journals. I have certainly not had this degree of tiredness in my lifetime or lack of energy. Perhaps my planned rest day is a good thing and just maybe tomorrow I’ll be back to banging in some more miles.

Can’t quit yet

Sudden change in the weather for this week, much cooler and showers and thunderstorms ….. so could end up as a REST WEEK! and of course the tooth still hangs on which is becoming a real nuisance and I would like to eat something other than baby food !

Labor Day gone, tooth still there working like a “cat flap”, can’t take any more of this so go find a dentist. He takes x-rays, yes it has cracked all the way through and the gum is all that’s holding it in. Several injections and the broken section is popped free ….. still numb, we will see what works later. Now cold! down from the 90’s into the low 50’s and a winter storm warning! Unreal!!! Even SNOW in the forecast!!! So this day 3 of the REST cycle and subject to weather, might be back to thermals, maybe I can start again. Still waiting for the numbness to wear off and have a coffee without dribbling it all over what’s left of me.

A bit better on the mouth front, looks awful, don’t smile, but at least I managed some solid food. Miserable day NO riding!

Wednesday, very, very, cold! Only 37F when I got up and now my personal world has gone “Mercury retrograde” …. computer won’t start after an update and the Tour de France decided not to record the 0500 first showing but is set to record the 1300 re-run! Well its a flat stage so watch it live as the computer won’t start!

Into town to the computer rescue …… 2 week backlog!! No choice so home we go with temps just cresting 44F …. it was 90F last week!!!! …… so yet another rest day as its raining and bloody cold.

Brenda drags out her old computer and at least I have something to play with and look at while the rain keeps coming down and the temps are frigid.

Thursday, computer good, TV not so much. Back in there and change all the recording options. Weather still very cold, 40F and raining with more to come and thunderstorms this afternoon.

Another rest day! but today, Friday 9/11, and a bit warmer, thermals not required, a bit of sunshine, no excuses and winds currently within my limits. TV recorded Tour de France for an epic stage.

No thermals but I needed a jacket

After 5 days off a much more determined effort and another 58 miles joins the total and, finally I’m through the 3400 barrier and can now set about the next target of 3602.09 which was the 2017 total.

Sunday 9/13 and those pedal crank round again and by Wednesday 9/16 I’ve forced the numbers up another good chunk and I’m through 3500 and then on Thu/Fri I really give it the hammer with  another 85.10 in two days  ….. I think a personal record here!

Saturday 9/19 and my daughter Sally’s birthday, so although wild and windy the first morning ride nets 13.55 which surpasses the 2017 total of 3602.09 with an easy 3605.95 and still an afternoon ride if the wind abates.

OK, through the 3602.09 (2017 Total) Is the 2018 total going to be beaten ? …….. 4644.30 I think I can!

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

NO! I COULDN’T DO IT

Well of course anyone following this blog would immediately know who I am referring to ………

…..And somebody that understands what it means to be the most powerful man and deserve the title “Commander in Chief”

But first, a little about me, as a young man my mind on career had already been decided by the age of 12 when I joined 312 Squadron Air Training Corps in my home town of Canterbury UK.

Yes, I was going to join the Royal Air Force, no matter what, but of course I wanted to fly, and that meant being an Officer in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. 5 years in the ATC confirmed my opinion that this was right for me.

Just before my 17th birthday, and having taken all the necessary educational exams (GCE’s), I arrived at RAF Biggin Hill, the Officer and Aircrew Selection Center. I was one of 120 candidates to go through all the rigors, of the aircrew medical, interviews, aptitude, and leadership evaluation.

This was a 4 day selection and after initial arrival I was given a 4 man room for the duration of my stay. I wandered over to the Officer’s Mess Bar, which of course I shouldn’t have been in as the legal age was 18 back then, although if you look big enough nobody bothered you and we didn’t have ID cards back then either! Didn’t spend too long in there with the loud mouthed Rodney’s and Charles’s as I felt a little self conscious among these  23+ year olds.

Day 1 and the medical begins with X-rays, eyesight tests and of course the full physical. A very full day, with interviews, and a whole lot of aptitude tests…… back to the Mess with lots of stories and tales of what people had been asked to do. Come bedtime two of the 4 beds in my room are already vacant following eyesight and x-rays, so a rapid visit and exit for Rodney and Charles!

Day two, more of the same, with lots of aptitude tests, high g test centrifuges, and periodic interviews. After dinner back to the room to find I’m now the single occupant!

Day 3 and we are reduced down to about 20 souls remaining and now its a mixture of leadership exercises, interviews and more aptitude tasks. We are all given vests to wear and no surprise I’m number A1 as I’m the youngest. A lot of climbing through trees with poles and ropes telling other people what to do when you are the designated leader.

Day 4  a few more exercises then final interviews and on my way.

Within 2 weeks a very official letter arrives …… and feverish fingers nervously open same ……… I have been accepted for Officer and Aircrew Training starting March 2nd 1964……… YIPEEEE!

Still only 17 and a Commissioned Officer in the Royal Air Force …duty picture for Mother

Next phase, Flying Training, and by July 1966 I’m out in Cyprus at RAF Akrotiri on 32 Squadron Canberra bombers. Now promoted to Flying Officer the Pilot Officer pulled thread rank braid is removed and people actually salute you!

1969 and home from Cyprus and now on a special trials unit to develop and fire the Martel TV guided missile at Boscombe Down just outside Salisbury and not far from Stone Henge.

XJ 481 our primary training aircraft with the glass nose and CCTV

Primary firing aircraft, XJ 476

From here off to be an Instructor in 1972 including a 4 month task in Saudi Arabia to replace a British Aerospace Instructor who was killed when his horse kicked him in the head after he fell riding in the desert.

1976 and on to the mighty F4 Phantom which is now the RAF’s prime air defence fighter at RAF Coningsby where I would stay for an amazing 14 years!

8 air to air missiles and a gatlin gun

Armed and ready QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) 29 Sqn

Following my tour on 29 Squadron it was across the road to 64 Squadron or 228 Operational Conversion Unit. Various roles as an Instructor, Deputy Flight Commander and Deputy Squadron Leader Training.

4 months in London at the Ministry of Defence and then as the Falklands Conflict was still raging a sudden promotion to Acting Squadron Leader and off to the Falklands as Squadron Leader Operations. On return take over the post of Squadron Leader Training on 228 OCU . At the same time I had joined the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight on the last remaining Lancaster Bomber where I spent 8 years on the display circuit before ending up in Saudi Arabia.

Lancaster PA 474 of the ROYAL AIR FORCE BATTLE OF BRITAIN MEMORIAL FLIGHT

A true honor to fly on BBMF for 8 years

In the interim the OCU moves into the hardened (HAS) aircraft shelters and bosses and other personnel come and go. My new boss wants me to be the “XO” or deputy boss which I happily accept. Shortly thereafter he gets the Falklands call …… so I’m now the Squadron Commander of 64 Squadron and 228 OCU with 50+ instructors, 400 men, a Simulator squadron, and 32 F4 Phantom fighters! The powers that be decide not to give me acting rank as Wing Commander, but to give me substitution pay and allowances instead. Well in this case the pay grades for my “new” position are based on years commissioned service so in this case I get a lot more than my predecessor as he was a university entrant, ……. And I get the maximum for a Wing Commander with 6 years seniority!!! It was indeed a HUGE raise!

Being presented with my “2000” hours F4 Badge by RAF Coningsby Station Commander, Gp Capt Chris Coville. Chris was my Boss in the Falklands when he was Wg Cdr Ops, and prior to that he was also my Boss when he was Officer Commanding 228 OCU   …… small world!     I finished my time on the mighty Phantom with 2850 hours on the beast

The Phantom is coming to the end of its service life and the Tornado F3 will shortly be taking over. In my situation, having done my “Executive Tour” (you only get one in each senior rank) it would seem unlikely that I would get another bite of the cherry and having enjoyed my Squadron Commander position, perhaps unlikely, they would promote me so quickly and give me another Squadron. Sitting behind bigger and bigger office desks in HQ jobs had little appeal or take option Two ? Option Two is to elect to go “Specialist Aircrew” where they will keep you flying for the rest of your career but you will not be given Executive Roles or promotion. ….. which became my preferred choice, a sort of “Club Pro”.

The Tornado F3 OCU fires up in the old 228 OCU buildings on the other side of the airfield and I’m on the second squadron to form which will be 5 Squadron.

QRA with the F3 in the same shelters

The British Government sells Saudi Arabia the new F3 fighter and that creates new Instructor posts to teach the Royal Saudi Air Force which, as I know, is a tax free salary! I apply and I’m accepted and due to start there in September 1989.

My plans leading up to my departure are to go out to Cyprus for one last time and enjoy the Island and some air to air gunnery before coming back to the UK and taking the Lanc out to the Channel Islands one last time for Battle of Britain Week.

We  depart UK at some ungodly hour on my birthday morning and join up with our tankers to take us to Cyprus and some nice warm weather.

Our tankers will night stop and then take our sister squadron, 29 Squadron, home the following day. Usual first night party until two very glum faced bosses arrive in the bar to tell us we are ALL going to Saudi Arabia on Saturday! We will be the first two fighter squadrons in theater for the start of Operation Desert Shield !

During my career in the Royal Air Force I only had one Commander in Chief

THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF

HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II

Moving to the USA in 1995 and eventually taking Citizenship I really had no political leanings but eventually “read myself in”. Democrat or Republican ? It really didn’t matter much to me and the world trundled along with, as far as I could see, sensible policies at home and abroad ……… however this changed quite dramatically when the “Prince of Clowns” gets elected in 2016.

It seemed from the “gitgo” that he just couldn’t be quiet or follow any advice and when it came to the military he was quite offensive when talking about Senator John McCain with snide comments about not liking P.O.W.s

Well he served honorably and endured being a POW

Apart from this definitely “non presidential” statement the rest of his increasing nonsense became more of a comedy sketch which I was hoping his advisors would take him to task on … but NO!

Remember ? Insulting NATO members?Blaming the Democrats for a rundown Military? Non believer in Global warming? Wanting to buy Greenland? Stirring up trouble in the Middle East and China ? etc, etc,…… and generally disgracing America on the World Stage with his lack of fundamental knowledge of history and geography? let alone manners, and of course zero grace!

On the Military front, which he clearly knows nothing about, it became offensive to me when he consistently takes the WRONG side of penny and champions the wrongdoer when all the evidence would point the other way.

The first two cases here are the Master Chief Navy Seal and the Captain of a major Aircraft Carrier

He was forced to act as a TRUE Captain …. well done Sir

More Trump incompetence!

Either a total lack of knowledge or yet more inept vocabulary, the word you needed is “Sink”

But it doesn’t stop

What a disgrace this Loon is!

Then this comes to light ….. and here we are MONTHS later and still NOTHING ???

What can I say ?

By now the Pentagon Top Brass has had enough and retired Generals and Admirals are stepping up to the plate

Well of course it doesn’t end there! More news on his truly awful and disgraceful comments on America’s Fallen calling them “Suckers” and “Losers” who the FUCK does he think he is?

….and this of course drew more comments from previous military men who were equally unimpressed by this outrageous halfwit’s stupidity and lack of feelings for all involved

Another with a distinguished career on the F4 Phantom

Let us be VERY clear, there is no apology, or retraction that could ever make this situation right, or begin to appease those whose memories have been shattered by his thoughtless and unwarranted behavior.

BONE SPURS ? my arse!

Views from more knowledgeable Commanders

Of course the Queen would NEVER demean herself with such direct language, even though she may have thought it!

How nicely and accurately put

With this buffoon in a position of so much power it is sad that I have ZERO respect for him, and I’m amazed that his antics are tolerated …. if I were in the Military (which thankfully I’m no longer part of, other than Retired) I could NOT and would NOT salute this pompous, ignorant and arrogant HALFWIT

NEVER IN A THOUSAND YEARS!

I live in hope that this is how it ends

GOODBYE

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QUELLE SURPRIZE ! LE TOUR ??

What a surprise ! The Tour de France is on! It certainly was a big shock to me as I thought all cycling competitions were off  due to the pandemic. Anyway I’m pleased to see it taking place despite Froome and Thomas missing due to lack of form.

My never ending “Tour de Dolores” continues even with the current strongish easterly winds we have had over the last couple of weeks.

Having watched Stage 1 in its entirety with multiple nervous crashes and rain causing some very treacherous downhills with disaster on some of the corners. It just reaffirms my opinion that cycle racing was not for me! However now its my time to get out there and add some more miles to the global total.

3200 in the global bag on 8/29/covid

Today’s effort was to complete my monthly target which I set at 3200 miles even with 9 gardening days which had to be done to allow me to ride without feeling guilty. The day finished on 3205.32 so my next target must be to equal the 2017 numbers of 3602.09 and then see if the weather will let me surpass the current all time high of 2018’s (monster by my standards) 4644.30    ….. well there is still September and October and maybe a few good days in Nov ?

8/30/covid and after a fairly exciting Stage 2 which was on for 5 hours I was fairly late getting out for my session. Out to the Bridge at the 6 mile point, turn round and back into town with a 2 mile double back to give me 15 miles passing the house. The last 2 miles were in stormy, very windy conditions, forcing me to whip my feet out of the cleats, as the wind was very strong and unpredictable!

Short break to let the storm pass and out for a few more to finish on 23.63 for the day.

….. and a few more

School bus just went by the house, running late, first day of school, but as I have said before I’m not in agreement with the safety rules and fully expect to see major problems within the next few weeks.

Last day of the month and a good run up to the lakes and back for a total of 25.62 to give the yearly a boost up to 3254.57 …..next step the 3602.09 sometime in September!

TONY DOWN