Monday, 20 August 2012

Ghost Town

Monday 20th August: day two, Megeve to Courchevel 1850

So we find ourselves on 'Team-kit Monday', hence the mildly embarrassing photo from the start this morning...

Spoiler: this photo contains only one proper cyclist. He's the one at the end. No, the other end. (L-R) Me, Mark, David, Andy, Andy Fla, Martin and Matt.

Team Lanterne Rouge suitably relaxed before the off/enduring the organisers' excruciating choice of music!

Day two's walk in the park...
Regulation blue skies. Swiss law apparently. Like.

Start of the first climb today, the Col de Saise. Ropey, but do-able. Fast, fast descent on the other side. The Tractor clocked 56.5 mph! Unreal...but totally believable even allowing for Garmin, hah-hah!

Rare shot of me taking a turn at the front for as short as is possible. Fact.

The photo above was taken not far into the 13 mile climb up to Courchevel 1850 which is where we finished: it is a guy who is an amputee, both left arm and leg who is riding the same stuff that we are. A bit humbling, and then some.

Hopefully toll free and perhaps ABBA's greatest work.

Was slightly pleased to see this beauty, because it meant this...

500m to go until...

Marinate for six hours.

That water was as cold as ice, but felt fantastic: a tough day again but nowhere near the shoeing that awaits tomorrow. 5.30am alarm...which is nice!

'Ghost Town'? Well, two reasons since you ask:

1) It's my blog and I love The Specials, and

2) Ever tried to find a restaurant that's open in off-season ski-resort?

That said, we did ok as it goes and had our first decent food. Result!


Friday & Saturday 17th/18th August: Wesham to Geneva

So, it's the start of another journey and another long day. No dramas getting to Geneva via an brief overnight stop at Andy and Tish's place in MK: Virgin Trains and EasyJet even manage to deliver our bikes intact- not something that we take for granted!

The glitz and the glamour...Wesham railway station, where all epic journeys begin. Or something.

You know that you've arrived somewhere a little more up-scale when the very first bit of advertising that you see is...

You can look but you better not touch.

We're grinning because we have no clue what we have signed-up for...

Above shows two eejits who have just collected all their pre-race paraphernalia: check-out the personlised numbers...actually got a few favourable comments from the few folk that I did pass, hah-hah!

After schlepping our kit and bikes to our very handily placed hotel- at the bleedin' airport- we set about tracking down the Lord Nelson pub for food and er, a motivational talk. Alright, ale. It was quite warm, to be fair...

Have a gander at what the Euro-sessioners on the centre table are destroying. Gotta be more than a yard? A metre?

Excitement lakeside! Perhaps Phil Collins' bbq had gotten out of hand?

We attended the mandatory briefing and just about managed to stay awake: it was like Eurovision gone even more wrong than usual. Where's Tel Wogan when you need him?

Interminable. In both English and French.

We also briefly met the rest of our team, and then headed back to our delightful Ibis and a 4.50am alarm call. Ouch!

Sunday 19th August: Day one, Geneva to Megeve

We couldn't have asked for a more spectacular setting to begin all this folly: the sun was rising over the lake and managed to take our minds off what lay ahead, in between trips to the kharzi. Pre-match nerves affect everyone it seems!

With cycling partner-in-crime and bloke whose fault all this is. Still talking. Just!

Day one's "job of work"...

The shower departs Geneva. Nervous...
Feels a bit better once you get on with it. Although we appear to be heading towards those speed-bumps in the distance...

For the first time ever, I heard cow-bells used for real: this is the acceptable version of windchimes. I was really doubting if I could make it up the first climb but when it began I realised that this was do-able, albeit at a slooooow pace. Whether or not I would be inside the time-limit was another question...

Above is from the first climb- the Col du Romme. I was chatting to the lady in the black gear up ahead. Unsurprisingly she sped-up...
Certifiable behaviour although these guys went crazy-fast downhill apparently.  Euro-loons ahoy!

The scenery was beyond fabulous: no camera is going to match that but here goes regardless: it was a flawless sky!

Wow. No further message.

I wasn't unhappy to see the finish-line and was amazed to learn that I had snuck inside the cut-off time by 45 minutes. Miracles can happen...

The view from one side...

...and from the other. So, not too tired to showboat a little, huh?

Although I rarely say it, today was a special day on the bike. Glad I was there...thanks!
 Here's to the run continuing.

Trying to get the blood back to where it should be. Need water!