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Victoria cyclist gets pro-tour experience (video)

By Melissa Crowe
Sept. 26, 2013 at 4:26 a.m.

John Klemczyk, 47, of Victoria, rides his bike through Riverside Park in Victoria. Klemczyk has packed his year with the Houston Marathon, half  Ironman, climbing Mount Rainier and riding the route of the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France.

TOUR DE FRANCE ITINERARY

• DAY 1: Start with the descent from Deux Alpes to Les Clapiers, take the back-road up to Venosc then back to Les Deux Alpes. Total miles: 20

• DAY 2: From Les Deux Alpes ride the descent to Bourg d'Oisans where the climb to Alpe d'Huez starts. In Bourg d'Oisans, the road soon points upward, marking the start of the famous climb - just 21 switchbacks to the top. Total miles: 25

• DAY 3: TDF officials will meet the riders "en route" to the finish of Stage 19 in Le Grand Bornand with an official race car escort to the finish line. Total miles: 30

• DAY 4: The penultimate stage of the 100th Tour de France: Total miles: 25

• DAY 5: Witness the traditional final race around the Champs-Elysees

• DAY 6: End of trip

Source: Thomson Bike Tours

Peddling down narrow, barricaded streets and past screaming crowds, crossing the finish line at Le Grand-Bornand felt all too real.

At the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France, the world's most prestigious cycling event, John Klemczyk, a 47-year-old quality coordinator for Dow Chemical in Seadrift, took out his iPhone and hit record, if for no other reason than to look back on his week in France and remember that it was.

"You actually felt like a pro rider in the tour - even though we were only riding about 10 mph," he said.

Klemczyk considered it a vacation, despite the tour company he signed up with taking him through some of the most grueling stages of the race, including the 21 switchbacks of Alpe d'Huez.

He calls this his "adventure year."

"If something catches your eye and you might like to do it and you have the opportunity to do it - go do it," he said.

Kelly Sadler, owner of Skymaster Travel in Victoria, said these types of vacations aren't necessarily common but are becoming more popular.

"We do a lot of active travel, biking and hiking," she said.

The travel agency also sets up vacations for boats and catamarans for couples and singles who come in.

Klemczyk kicked off his year of adventures with the Houston Marathon, where he qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon, but he found out Wednesday he was not granted one of the limited number of spaces available in the race.

This spring, he completed his first half Ironman triathlon in Galveston, and upon returning from the French Alps, he attempted to summit Mount Rainier in Washington State.

"Regardless of what other people think, even if you're the only one who enjoys the activity, go do it," Klemczyk said.

For a vacation alongside the Tour de France, Fran Yeary, co-owner of Bill's Bikes in Victoria, said the level of cycling turns into a high-tech venture.

"Just the magnitude of it, it'd be the most expensive, lightest equipment," she said. "It would be endless."

While cycling in Victoria may not be as popular as cities like Austin, she said there is "a pocket of ultra-serious riders" who keep it going.

Aside from the physical activity, she said cyclists can enjoy the sport for the fun factor and emotional lift.

Klemczyk, who celebrated his 25th year at Dow this summer, starts his days at 5 a.m., and he's at the plant by 6:30 a.m.

Because of his schedule, he gets all his workouts in the evenings and teaches an indoor cycling class Tuesday evenings at DeTar Health Center.

On average, he rides between 60 and 100 miles a week.

With the view from 100 miles of French countryside, Klemczyk said the highlight of his trip was meeting Phil Liggett, one of the famous cycling commentators for NBC Sports.

Although the year isn't over, Klemczyk already knows how to sum it up: epic.

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