Friday, 24 August 2012


Thursday 23rd August: day five, L'Alpe d'Huez to Risoul

So, first day with m'new bike. Apart from being a tad smaller the main and crucial difference is that the brake levers are fitted in the U.S. and Euro mode i.e. right hand operates rear brake. Bit of getting use to, especially when you consider the terrain we are dealing with here!

Day five's "jour de travail". Bonnet de douche, Rodney.

Tight roads with dodgy surfaces for a change.

The bike hire shop bloke from whom I bought the Ridley rang me when I was half-way up the first climb: he asked how things were going...has he sold me a cut'n'shut, or what?
He did seem to be laughing quite a bit, to be fair. Just joking, Oliver...cheers!

They are quite into their skiing around here. Who knew?

We've possibly stumbled onto the set of a 90's Tampax TV ad..."Wooooah, Bodyform..."

Yep, more valleys and hairpins. Terrific!

You want fresh drinking water? Fill your boots er, bottles!

That Napoleon fella got around a bit when he was on the lam.

There always one bell-end with his crappy box-on-wheels getting in the way.

All slow but doable so on the last climb I took off my bandana as the sky had clouded over: rookie move. However I finished the stage within the cut-off time and even managed to do a 'Mobot' over the finish line.
I was then collared by a Sunset & Vine TV crew to utter some precious words: media commitments are such a drag...It'll air sometime in 2050. Set your Sky+ now!

Anyway I now felt out-of-sorts: heat stroke most likely, the same thing that happened on day 2 of the America trip. Hungry but unable to eat or drink much, cold and tired. Lovely!

Team Lanterne Rouge did meet for dinner though and four of us including me, ordered 'Fondue Bourguignonne' or similar:  you cook the meat yourself. My, how we laughed!

The look on David's face? Priceless.

Martin had us in tears with tales of his dodgily-glued Chinese carbon rims: believe me, it was cry-worthy, but I bailed early and was glad of 6 hours sleep...we'll see what the next day brings.

                                                           Tired stats!

Friday 24th August: day six, Risoul 1850 to Auron

Was thrilled to wake and find that I certainly didn't feel any worse than usual despite not eating or drinking anywhere near enough. So, on we roll...

At the start-line this morning with Andy just ahead on the left. They always play awful music ('Cotton-Eye Joe' anyone?) so it was a rare treat to hear a bit of 'Upside Down', hah-hah!

Day six: I mean really, how hard can it be?

Not too long and we are into the first climb: about half-way up a camera car conducted a mini-interview with me mainly because I was wearing my Rolling Stones jersey, I think.

By the top of the climb I could see a few were not enjoying this especially. I was only concerned about completing the stage, no matter how long it took...I just wanted to avoid the broom wagon.

The descent was straight forward although into a headwind: I decided to make it more interesting by allowing a wasp to fly down my f**king jersey. Cue panic but a relatively controlled stop. Luckily no sting...result!

The next climb was the unreal Cime de la Bonette which has Europe's highest paved road at 2803m. Les berks! It was interminable but eventually we did it: the last km ramped-up to 13%. Again some more folks abandoned on the way...

You don't say.

Spot who hasn't seen the last ramp up to 13%?

Sitting on top of the world...

Only way out of here is down. Yes!

An amazing descent followed- too fast for any video, hah-hah! Actually I was trying to catch a few other riders up the road and did that, just before our last climb to Auron, which was only 6km long. I finished 522nd out of 527 remaining riders...sweet!

"Well awriiiight Auron!"

                                         Stupidly long climb stats!

A 5 a.m. alarm tomorrow and onwards to Nice and The Med...cheers!