What a weekend! – the ride!

Marmotte MedalSaturday moring we woke to beautiful sunshine, there was a nip in the air but it was going to be a scortcher. preparations complete and it was off down to the start line in Bourge.

I don’t know if you can imagine what 8000 cyclist look like, but it’s an impressive sight seeing these guys and girls streaming along the road festoned in team colours. Anyways onto the line and we’re off!

I could write pages about the day but i am going to skip through this and get to the highlights. Essentially we had over 100miles to travel and 5000m to climb, covering 4 of the most famous climbs on offer.

The first 2 Glandon and the Telegraph were tough but nothing could prepare me for the monster that is the Galibier. nearly 2500m high across terrain best described as lunar with the sun beating down. it was hell. Cycling can be as much about what’s going on in your head as well as your body. Well this mountain messed with both. In a nut shell, you’ve climbed and climbed and climed and just when you think you’ve cracked it you turn a corner and wham there is this huge Col (top of the pass) with zig zagging ramps to the top, you’re head goes, legs wobble and if anyone said “lets stop and take 5″, you’d happily climb off and curl up and pray you’d wake up tucked up in bed. What you have to do is try and get to the first corner and see what happens, then the next and so on then surprise surprise you’re there and you’ve climbed your first HC (hors cat├ęgorie – beyond catagorisation) mountain -wow, but how the hell am I going to get up The Alpe!

But that was some 20 miles down hill and I was still basking in the glory of getting up the Galibier, a mountain that in it’s hundreth year of the Tour de France will be climbed twice as a mark of respect to celebrate it’s centenary and will be the highest ever stage finish! history!

A little piece of side information is that we figured we counted a dozen ambulances attending incidents enroute! When your flying down the side of the mountain at up to 50mph with only lycra between you and the tarmac it doesn’t half focus the mind.

So onto the The Alpe. This you’ll remember is the mountain we drove up to register for the event. The only way I can describe this mountain in terms of cycling is to say that if I am a pub cyclist then climbing Alp D’Heuz is like a pub footballer getting to play at wembley against the Red Lion. Honestly when I got to the bottom of the Alp I knew I was going to make it. But fate dealt me one last curve ball. As I said previously each hairpin bend is numbered. On corner 12 I had a blow out, not a puncture but a blow out. I had actually used up an entire tread in one day! The problem was I didn’t have another tyre. Now what I haven’t told you is that the Alp was lined with people cheering us on, really this sport is like a religion in this part of the world. You’ve got children high fiving you as you cycle past, old men shouting Allez Allez and me in my time of need had men women and children lending a hand holding my bike offering pumps and helping me get back on the road. How did i do it, well I changed the tube and cut up the old one, using my teeth, and used it to line the inside of the tyre that had worn through. Back on the bike with willing hands pushing me off, onwards and upwards to the summit. Not just a great climb, not just my second HC, but I felt i had experience the “spirt” of Le Alpe. This mountain is magical, the whole experience verged on spiritual, I had completed the hardest cycle sportive on offer

looking back “rose tinted spec” are already forming around my memories of this event, but lets be very clear if anybody fancies doing this event and is looking for someone to join them DON’T ASK ME. Never again! but what an experience.

Well that’s it, thank you all for all of your support and messages of encouragement, it all helped make this a very special event. Fund raising hasn’t been brilliant if you feel able to contribute I would be very grateful

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