Saturday, 29 August 2015

Haute Route Alps 7 - every dog has his day

10k rollout this morning before a lower grade climb.  I started with Tom in second group. I pulled off to side to faff around with my power meter again as its uptime has been minimal this trip, then chased back on. I felt great on the climb and by the top caught Shawn and crossed the intermediate time mat right after him. I asked Shawn if it felt hot out, he said yeah, why?  Cause I'm on fire ; ) We had a couple k descent then 3 more k climb to the stop time. I rode forward there.  

I waited for Shawn for the first time in my life at the timer then we rode the descent together, with the two top women. Good descenders. Their brakes and tires are same as mine but they're asked to manage like at least 50% less mass. 

We grouped up at the start timer with the lead women's group. From there it was rolling and like a road race. I skipped the last feed and hoped my water would make it close to finish. Shawn said he had a half bottle extra but by time I could have used it we weren't together. I got dropped on a climb by the lightweights including Emma Pouly but then started trying to go forward solo and catch the stragglers. Nobody followed me.  I pushed hard to the finish. I was 49th. 

Every dog has his day. My statement at the start was I'd be fitter by the end. It feels good, I don't ride enough at home to get fit. 

From there we descended 23k to town, cleaned up in a fountain, had lunch. Hour or two later it was ride to Geneva, then faff around at finish area. Then we ride to train which was awesome and had a full bike car just for the SpeedGoats, got off at airport, ride to hotel, collected bags. All that feels like an extra stage already.

Our finish photo!

Friday, 28 August 2015

Haute Route Alps 6 - hotter!

Today's long neutral opening descent was a work out for our brakes. It generated enough heat for Tom's wheel to delaminate. 

Chaussy was nice and cool.  I paced the bottom and felt mostly good at the top. Nice long descent. Tom caught me at the aid station so we did the descent together. 

Over to the Col de la Madeleine which was steep and quite a workout. I was cracked at the top holding Tom's wheel the whole way until the last 100m. Shoved as much food in my face as I could then tried to chase him down on the descent as we were timed today all the way to finish. Only at the finish did we learn from Dennis and Paul that at one hairpin there was a bike piled into the stone wall and two riders leaning over and looking down the cliff for the rider. That can't be good. It was easy overall, not sure if a tire blew or a momentary lapse. 

Caught Tom near the bottom and we double teamed the flats then eventually got into a group of 6. Good way to pass the time. 

The first two climbs were just pacing exercise and 4 hours of softening up for the Col des Saisies. 31k but low grade. Hot. I held Tom for a third, then it really heated up and I got low on water and slowed down. One buddy flew past me then took two bottles from their support car right in front of me, which is against the rules. I'd get it if it were life or death, but the free bottles in the heat is a direct cheat on the day as the rest of us whom are rationing, heating up, and watching our watts go down don't have that. Might as well grab the car Nibali style. 

I grinded it out slowly to the top and tried to regroup for the last 25k which were about half down and half "flat". Got enough in me on the descent that the watts came back. Fun finish. Just cracked the 100 mark again.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Haute Route Alps 5 - beauty

Aside from results, I'm winning. We all are. We're in a country of liberty that loves bikes and lays down silky smooth pavement regularly on insanely small high mountain roads, including a new one to me that I'm so glad I learned.  On a blue sky day that's warm but not hot. Riding bikes with friends. 

My legs and fitness are coming around. I could climb with Tom Ebbern all day today.  Even the steeps. We rode 90% of the day together.  When it flattened out he held my wheel and when it was steep I held his. Just great overall. We have to find one of those tourist pic download sites as a guy got a good one of both of us near top of Croix de Fer. 

We are at La Toussuire. This is the view from our beautiful chalet. We were back over those mountains at one point, I suspect someone knowledgeable might be able to identify peaks that are near Alp d'Huez. 

We are winning. This is what winning looks like.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Haute Route Alps 4 - they don't call them the high alps for nothing

Today was big. I shut off my Garmin before I found my hotel, but just over 170k and 4,338m of climbing. I loved every minute of it.

They don't call these the high Alps for nothing. The scenery is just breathtaking. We are so lucky to have bodies that can do this, planes that bring us here, and a freedom loving country like France that paves all over its mega mountains with velvety roads. 

We started at 7 and although my legs were sore, I knew I had gas in the tank for the day.  I love that feeling. The grades were lower and I think the "placebo" of lusting withy soul for all of what this stage has to offer vs cursing it had me feeling good. 

I chased up to the lead 75 then rode my pace up the Galibier in the early morning sun. That's the way to start a day I tell you. I feel it's at the junction of earth and he heavens. I put on a jacket for the descent and pushed off. It was neutral down to the Telegraphe.  But you don't starve yourself at a buffet right?  There wasn't a spec of sand or gravel on the whole thing, and it turns out coincidentally there weren't any riders wh wanted to pass on the way down ; )

Valoire again had 4x4's galore, maybe I should have used the neutral timing to stop in and chat. We caught the bulk of the front group in a town square in the sun trying to warm themselves up. I was ok to roll on. That was my 2 mins of riding with Bunnin.  

I hadn't filled bottles at the top, so did on the Telegraphe.  I then did my best to chase back on to Tom and his group which took a the whole descent and a few km of TT on the valley floor. The descent was easiest during my time spent behind some guy in a Porsche 911 as his cornering and brake lights led the way. 

Our group of 5 broke up at the base of the Col de la Croix de Fer. I did my own pace and enjoyed the journey. From town past the big Opinel knife monument to the forested section to scaling the cliffs then the rolling sub alpine up to the ski hill, there's a lot you see when you climb for 31km.  That plateau is just magnificent and I love the last few switchbacks at reasonable grades. 

This descent was timed all the way down. I didn't pedal, I just didn't use the brakes excessively. On the steep 3 switchback climb 2/3 of way down I paired up with a British guy.  He stood and hammered it and I just sat and pedalled. Over the top he said he knew the road and to follow him "there's no sharp corners, even the blind ones are basically straight. Follow me". And like a dollar bill, In God We Trust. At the end I thanked him for the roller coaster. That was awesome, and no sane person would ride it that way first time.  Topped out at just below 80k/h, which feels pretty quick when you're trusting the corners are navigable at that speed.

We two man tt'd the flats to the timing stop then soft pedalled to Bourg d'Oisans. I pulled out a ham and cheese sandwich I made at breakfast and washed it down with my bottle refilled from the floral tap in the center of Bourg. Salty ham and cheese is French recovery food. 

We did the ~15k to the Les Deux Alps turn pretty slow, I rode a lot with Jutta the Swiss female racer who's opening up as we ride together.  Guys were blowing buy us with apparently little regard for energy on the last climb. 

The last timed section was up to Les Deux Alps. 9k climb I think. The last refreshment point before the timing was like a bone yard of people lying around. I felt great as I knew the way up there and timed eating well ahead. Guy at aid gave me some coke, and I saved some water to spray on myself. It's a low grade climb and relatively speaking I had power and could hold my head up; some were well crushed by then. 

I found a place next to our hotel that did takeout. The chef salad featured Comte cheese so I had to get that, the French have this knack with fries, and these ones were the saison du maison, and the  shawarma looked too good to pass up.  Probably actually worth their weight in gold at this point. 

Early reports are Trev put in a day of badassery again, that left him "wanting to cry" by the Bourg valley neutral - he made it there in group Pouly. 

I never saw Tom Ebbern after the base of the Croix so I think he powered out a solid day. 

I didn't feel empty all day, and grades were such that I could climb at a pace that worked for me. The Croix de Fer and the Galibier are just so majestic and we had clear skies and sun all day without baking heat.

Strava link:

Random images I poached since I am not carrying camera.


Col de la Croix de Fer

Haute Route Alps 3 - Col du Granon TT

Beauty day. Nice climb, about an hour. Sun is shining but it's not too hot. No moving hotels today. Life is good.

I had a good enough day without killing myself and the entire day to hang out was priceless.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Haute Route Alps 2 - Ménage a trois of HTFU

Today was a big day. First 2 hours were a thousand meter climb, Col de la Bonnette. In theory that could be a solid day right there. Cold descent. Beauty views. 

Crossed valley floor and did it all over again up the Col du Var. Steep bugger. I peter out above 8%, the power to weight to remaining energy doesn't compute well. Really enjoyed that down, I may regret it one day I suppose, but haven't been passed yet, feel like I'm not stressing myself out, but enjoying the roller coaster. 

Flat valley to next climb I noticed my mistake. My full two bottles were left on the top of Col du Var feed station. Tom Ebbern bailed me out with one of his. 

Col d' Izoard was last. Spent a while at aid, asked them to phone buddies at other one to make sure my bottles made it back. Looked up the Izoard and decided to pace. Weather and incline looked like a beat down waiting to happen. It's a steep one, it's a crusher. We had horizontal driving sheets of rain for last 5k. 5k is not fast at those grades with legs tired like that. I've heard thunder before, but I've never been "in" thunder. It rages that high up, and reverberates and echoes in the mountains. The whole thing lasts like 30 seconds from first rip to fade out and you feel it all. It was epic, like Thor was laying some beat downs. Something I'll never forgot. 

The top was sideways downpour. We huddled under the time finish tent and grabbed a few snacks. I had the magic 3 today - lots of people just had gilets. I had gore gloves, shower cap, and plastic bags under my shoe covers. The downhill was insane. The road was sheets of water, and with the thunder, lightening and rain it was just crazy. We had 25km to the finish. I wasn't in the mood to faff around and let it rip. Let's just say we can add downhill descending in the rain at break neck speeds to my repertoire of useless life skills.  Some guys were walking, some were outriggering, some were going 10kph. I get a rush from it and had a grin going. Live life, taste death. 

I was out for about 7.5 hours in conditions that I'd condense as La Ruta climbing meet cold shit Calgary rain. Whatever suffer score Strava calcs is an absolute under statement.  But I felt high on life. I love that stuff, it's raw, it's guttural, and it's not wasting away at a desk and turning to mush.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Haute Route Alps Stage 1

Glad to have day one going and the gadding around is done. 

Nice day - cool and a bit of rain. But not enough to make it hard. 

First climbs I felt good on. Slowed down through the day as my stomach was balking at me. Not really stressed about it though, every day will have high and low points as will the whole week. 

Today all the descents were untimed. I don't know if that's insurance liability or condition of road permission. It's funny though, how a guy like got to a full on climbing race with neutral descents. Jokes on me!

I think I was like 5:45 door to door and have no idea where that places me, but I also don't care.  It'd be nice to ride with a bit more power in second half of the day if my innards cooperate, not sure if it's just cuisine change or time change or just fluke. 

Trev and Shawn had good days. 

Shawn and I are enjoying the daily comedy of mini French hotel rooms and other things to giggle about.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

SpeedGoats ride to Antibes

Almost zero elevation change, just sea level paths. 

Friday, 21 August 2015

SpeedGoats ride to Monaco

Climb leaving Nice. 

The pain train. 

Monaco harbour. 

Looking more to east. 

Cafe stop. 

Dinner in Nice. 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Nice, France

This guy had a thorough screening at the airport.

I'm rooming with Shawn all week, and Lufthansa had it figured out. 

Found dad right away. 

Cruise along la plage. 


Ahhh, we got the coffee order mildly wrong, but it's hard to get upset when in these surroundings and the beautiful brunette French girls didn't mean to not understand English perfectly.