Success!

•July 7, 2008 • 1 Comment

Yes, amazing but I managed it! Through the finish in 9 hours 30 minutes and 24 seconds of riding. I was 5901st through the finish, but actually 5882nd on actual riding. Another 277 riders came through after I did and of the approx. 7500 who started, about 1300 must have dropped out.

Not plain sailing though! At the foot of the Col du Tourmalet I was actually timed out (marshall with yellow flags waved me off the road) by less time than I’d spent waiting around while they scooped people who’d crashed into ambulances. The next group asked if they could carry on and were allowed to so I did too, feeling pretty pissed off at this point, but thinking I might as well do the Tourmalet now I was here, plus I could just roll down the other side to where our van was. (You wanted a gutsy story Donna!) I was flying up the climb however, and passed the timing car half way up, realising I could still make the real elimination point at La Mongie (and there hadn’t been a control point to check my transponder at the bottom) and carried on, passing pretty much everyone – riding, resting or pushing their bikes. Got to La Mongie with 15 minutes to spare, having been about 15/20 minutes down, grabbed a banana and got to the top of the Tourmalet in two hours total from St Marie de Campan.

It’s worth saying that the weather was horrible, Saturday night was a huge thunderstorm, while waiting at the start it was drizzling with the odd heavy shower. So up top there were no views at all, and the descent off the Tourmalet was a bit scary – you couldn’t see much road in front! The flat to the second decisive elimination point was hard, the wind was right at me with predictable results (I slowed right down, everyone passed me) and my knee was hurting (was wondering at this stage whether to drop out and avoid really injuring myself) but I got through the elimination point with a few minutes in hand.

Luckily I seem to suit climbing (or all the training round here on the cols has worked) as I had no problem on Hautacam, a couple of stops (jacket off, eat a banana, have a wee) but no pushing, no resting and I got to the top with half an hour to spare.

Now, Gary and I lost each other with only 20km gone (poor effort on our behalves!) but this made the look on his face when I rolled in just 3 minutes (and 50 places) after him well worth it! And well done too to Chris, who was himself just a few minutes in front of Gary – we’d all got round within 6/7 riding time of each other. Well done too and thanks to all the marshalls and supporters, no fun to be stood out in the rain for most of the day.

So here’s a few pictures, and thanks for all your messages of support – if that’s what they were!

Tired but happy - check out the medal!

Tired but happy - check out the medal!

This is it!

•July 5, 2008 • 1 Comment

Just 17 hours from now we’ll be lining up at the start – weather forecast suggests some rain so that could be interesting coming down from the Tourmalet! Got to head to Pau now and register – so stay tuned for the result!

Ariegeoise – round-up

•July 4, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Well success for both Christine and I. Christine managed her course in under 4 hours, very respectable indeed, considering she’s done hardly any cycling this year. For myself, I managed the Mountagnole in 6½ hours which was about what I was aiming for, it turned out to be 111km in the end. The Plateau de Beille was hard, as always, but I wasn’t pushing my bike up or stopped like many! In all managed 166km what with cycling to the start and then back to Tarascon – a pretty respectable day out, though am a bit worried about the average speed for the Etape.

On a sad note, someone died on the Beille – not sure if it was a heart attack, heat exhaustion or a crash while descending.

Tomorrow – first cyclosportive!

•June 28, 2008 • 1 Comment

Tomorrow is a big event round here – the Ariegeoise cyclosportive. After a successful recce of the course this week, my wife Christine is bravely taking on the 70km Passejade, the shortest of the three courses. I’ll be doing the middle sized Mountagnole at 106km, but still finishing up the Plateau de Beille – almost 2500m of climbing. The actaul Ariegeoise course is 169km long, so on a par with the Etape really.

More tomorrow on how we got on…

PS – for our friends – beware, we lost our telephone capability in a thunderstorm Thursday night!

Ton up – first 100+km ride!

•June 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Strange atmospheric conditions in the Ariège at the moment – the sky is a strange colour – blue I guess you’d call it, and there’s a fiery ball up there that’s painful to look at. Noticed my arms going red – perhaps there’s been a nuclear explosion? Anyway, the lack of water falling from the sky prompted me to try a longer ride 133km in the end.

Well, on the downside – I need to add a new choice to the vote, z) Graham will get timed out before getting anywhere near the Tourmalet. I’m hoping it was ‘cos I was a bit ill as after 45km on the first little bit of 6% hill I had to get off and rest! So I missed my time estimates based on the Etape elimination times.

On the plus side, overall I made a faster average speed than on my previous rides (but not much steep work, around 2000m climbing in total from the watch).

More details when/if the exhaustion subsides!

Vote now…

•June 17, 2008 • 4 Comments

…here you go, your chance to vote on waht’s going to happen on my Etape attempt:

Will I

a) get injured before the big day?
b) get picked up by the ‘broom wagon’ on the Col de Tourmalet for going to slow?
c) fall off descending the Tourmalet while going too fast?
d) collapse with exhaustion on the ascent of Hautacam?
e) make it to the finish line in time?
f) none of the above?

add a comment to this list and let me know what you think!

Too good to be true

•June 15, 2008 • 1 Comment

Yes, after an amazing 36 hours without rain, and a completely dry Saturday, I went out Sunday – and got soaked, again. And a puncture below the Col de Péguère, again! You certainly do get more punctures in the wet Gary – why is that?

Still managed to link the Col de Crouzette, the Col de Portel and the Péguère for the first time. 14km and 921m with a good part in the middle at around 8% gives a good steady climb, good training. Descending to the house was grim, and by the time I’d fixed a puncture I could hardly hold the brakes (had to stop at the Col de Marrous and stick my hands down my shorts to warm up – middle of June in the south of France!). So, I’ve decided only to go out in decent weather from now on!