Lesly, Karsten, Nick, Seb, Val, Todd, Frank, Suzie, Georgia, Lynn, Rich
Getting 18 people including babies and semi-grown ups down to a remote village in the alps was never going to be simple, especially when they all insist on doing something different, but with only 1 ‘overslept’ exception we all made it down to Sallanches.
The trip from Sallanches to Megeve is 10km uphill, and as it was such a nice day those that had bikes decided to ride it to see how their form was….or wasn’t. Frank was just recovering from illness and found it a rude awakening. Suzie did amazing considering she had never tackled a hill like that before, although her language at the top did scare off most of the local wildlife.
Georgia joined us at the expo having had a good sleep in, and after an excellent dinner in the hotel, it was early to bed, we had not done much but everyone was tired. The next morning meet time was 8am and as usual Rich was perfectly on time, but his bike was not, requiring a last minute tire change. The 11 intrepid cyclists set off together for the start line, although minutes later were miles apart as some went for a quick spin, and other turned round because they forgot things. Happily the start was close so by 8:29 everyone was in the start queue ready to go. (Apart from Suzie who was waiting at the front)
The good thing about this race is that you can choose your distance while on the course, 80km, 107km or 146km. Lesly was a certainty for the 146km, everyone else was simply hoping to get round 80km ok – this year the first 80km were especially tough.
After waving goodbye to our erstwhile supporters at the front (and collecting suzie) the first 10km are a real pleasure – untimed (so not competitive) you roll in a massive several thousand people strong peleton, pretty much downhill (so quick) but not too quick, its warm you are excited – pure fun.
Which was a good job, as at the end of these 10km Lynns bike decided it wanted no more, chain jammed in the wheel and her race was over, although clearly dismayed not to finish infront of her kids, there was part of her happy to not have to go up those hills. Thanks go to Georgia who remained with her until support car kristine arrived to take her home.
So back to the race, after the opening 10km its over the timing mats you roll and the pain / hill begins. Lesly shot off never to be seen again, nick, Kasten, val and seb managed to stick more or less together all the way up the 14km hill, and as there were a few flats along the way the fatigue was not too bad, the 4 were in a playful mood when they reached the top more or less together.
Seb roared ahead on the downhill, but was quickly overtaken by nick who has a massive weight advantage on the downhills, but this was over too quickly and after a little flat at the bottom, a right turn took us back up the hill for a much tougher climb.
It important to mention this right turn at the bottom, as lesly and the boys all saw the sign no problem, however a few minutes behind and Rich, Suzie, Frank and Georgia all missed the sign, and went at least 5km the wrong way before realising their mistake !
The next hill was a punisher, getting tougher and tougher as you went up, another 14km at 10%. It took time, patience, and some suffering, but everyone made it. After Lesly, Karsten made it up first, then nick, seb and val, who all stopped at the refreshment place to enjoy une petite jambon beurre or the mountain of Lion bars available. Then just another 1km climb before the big downhill, however it was all too much for Rich, and when he finally reached the refreshment place he gave up and called for the support car. All the others pressed on though.
The flight down the hill was fun, with nick and val racing and putting in a km in 58secs, but towards the bottom val decided to go home and finish with 80km as he didn’t want to be too tired, nick and seb continued towards the 107km course – we had no idea what Karsten had decided to do.
The nex hill For the 107km – col d’Aravis – was comparativly easy, bumpy roads along a sheer rock face and through tunnels the twisty roads through a few pretty villages, as Seb and nick (who had resolved to stick together) reached the top they had the happy surprise to see Karsten on his way down, maybe 10mins ahead. They stopped at the top for some refresments and noticed for the first time the clouds closing in, it began to get chilly – this was going to be close..
They shot down the hill as fast as the turns would allow them to, and at the bottom saw a brave Todd (the only other to complete 107km) starting the climb. About 10 seconds later the heavens opened, although nick and seb were somewhat covered by the rockface and the tunnels, they still got a soaking, val also got a soaking, but by this tme he was already in the hotel and his soaking was in the shower.
It then brightened up a little and seb and nick raced home, relatively dry, as usual seb went too fast too early, and with 5km left nick stepped up a gear and pushed home in only a couple mins after Karsten, with seb merely seconds later all delighted to see the support crew who by chance had been passing.
The rain came again, this time harder for longer so the 3 boys, support crew and a warm clean and surprisingly nice smelling valentin made their way into the hall for roast chicken and wine (free for all competitors) and slowly but surely the rest of the team made their way to the finish and joined them. Each one wetter and more exhusted than the next.
Frank had gotten properly hailed on, Todd couldn’t stop shivering, Suzie was very pleased indeed that kristine had made her put an extra top on, so who were we missing, oh yeah Georgia (who had to catch a train at 16h) and of course Lesly who no-one had heard hide nor hair of since he left the boys on the first hill – we knew he would do the 146km course, so that meant he would be very cold and wet, but after all he is Belgian, so should be fine with that.
Eventually the round-up was complete, georgia had completed te 80km then gone straight back to the hotel, booked the taxi, and was in penty of time for her train. Lesly had competed the 146km in record time, but was in danger of catching hypothermia, so he too crossed the line then made a beeline back to the hotel, shower, then bed and tennis (Rolland Garros final)
Finally all met in Kristine and Richards room, as punishment for quitting early, richard had been electricuted several times by Kathryn, but he was in good spirits as everyone had a well earned beer or pastis (or both for nick) before heading down to the town centre for a well earned team meal.