Wednesday, 26 June 2013

SMIDDY FRENCH ALPS - A TOUGH FIRST DAY

COLS CLIMBED: Col Da Couz at 640 metres, climbed twice and Col Revard at 22 kilometres in length at 1590 metres

STATS FOR THE DAY:

Distance:140 km's
Average: 23.9 km/h
Climbing: 2442 metres
Riding time: 5hr 50min
Temp Min: 6 degrees (This was at the top of the Revard)
Temp Max: 31 degrees (This was at the bottom of the Revard)

Sharky personal update
Well what a difference ten days can make. This time ten days ago I was climbing the Revard in 34 degree temperature, I had a head full of snot, a sinus infection and legs that were so fatigued it resembled my first serious bike ride of 25 kilometres back when I started this beautiful sport 30 years ago. This time around I had my health back, I had 700 Alpine kilometres in my legs, my head and lungs were clear, the legs were back to normal and once again the enjoyment factor for cycling had returned. Just to give you an indication of the difference from the last time I climbed the Revard ten days ago to today's effort, my time up here was 35 minutes quicker this time around. I can't begin to tell you how happy I was today! Helped along by the fact I was surrounded by 15 Smiddy mates and we were climbing on a day where the temperature for the climb itself was a lowly 12 degrees at the bottom and just six degrees at the top.

How the day panned out for the group
Neil was kind enough to drive myself down to the wireless hotspot this morning at 7:30am so as I could get the blog out. Accompanying me was Row Man, Mikey, Justin and Tony. Five of us pile out of the van and set up shop at the front of this cafe that is not even open and start using our smart phones, iPads and laptops. Ten minutes later staff open the doors and started setting up shop for the day. Mikey took one for the group and ordered a coffee, so thanks to a couple of Euro and just one coffee, it was decided we had earned the right to continue to use their wifi.

The 8:30am departure was pushed back by half-an-hour when the support van was included as a late inclusion to today's ride. Originally all three lads in Eric, Neil and Graeme were going to ride but due to the size of the group a last minute decision suggested it would be wise to have the van. For which we were grateful, as it meant riders did not have to carry too much on their person. Thank you Graeme for missing out on today's ride to drive the van. The descent down the Revard was crap mate and you would not have enjoyed it anyway...!

50 kilometres of climbing greets the lads
So today's ride included ten kilometres of descending to start with, about ten kilometres of gradual climbing to the top of Col Da Couz and 15 kilometres of descending into Chambery. The actual climb up to Col Da Revard is officially 18 kilometres but you are climbing gradually for four kilometres prior to the official start point. Interestingly this climb will be included in this year's Tour De France, which I am sure we will watch with a different set of eyes as it unfolds on the screen. The descent is 22 kilometres long, then into Chambery and back up for 15 kilometres to Col Da Couz. Finally down again for 10 kilometres and then back up to our accommodation for a further five kilometres of climbing. All up just over 50 kilometres of pure climbing is involved in this 140 kilometre day. No wonder by the end of it we are a tad tired! Anyway to finish please enjoy my top ten list.


Sharky's top ten observations from today

1. The DeAngelis boys in the cafe at the top of the major climb ordering beers while everyone else ordered cokes or coffee.

2. Brendan 'Boof' Foster taking out the prestigious first fall award, when as we waited at the top of the Lavard for the signal to push off, Boof tried to clip in and turn at the same time and had a very honourable dismount. He was up so quick if you blinked you would have missed it.

3. Mark Anthony, my room mate and good friend, takes out the biggest effort award. Today Mark struggled up each and every climb, and there were a lot of them, 2442 metres or around 50 kilometres of uphill. He said to me that he has never been an athlete and never will be. I reminded him of the fact that non-athletes do not climb 2442 metres and ride 140 kilometres in a single six hour period. Mark was last up the climb but he did not give in and was an exhausted man when he reached the top. The descent cheered him up considerably.

4. Justin Jelenkovich, JJ took out the King of the Mountain today in fine fashion. Rowan and Neil stayed with the pocket rocket until five kilometres from the top. But the Jumping Jack Rabbit was having nothing of it and the last time he went, he went full on. Row and Neil decided to save it for another day and JJ cruised to the top with a full five minutes to spare.

5
. Marky DeAngelis showed amazing form early in the piece when he went out with the big boys on the climb, hung with them for the first seven kilometres and then held his fourth position all the way to the top. A man to watch over the next few days once we start hitting the major climbs.

6. Jimmy Acomb may be sick with a head cold but he climbed today like he was the next Tour De France contender. Biding his time when the early attacks went at the start of the climb, he then clawed back all but the first four in front of him. If this is his form when he is sick what is to come as his cold disappears? Jimmy is now officially off my feel-sorry-for list!

7. The 22 kilometre descent off the Lavard was out of this world. I was descending with Jimmy and Adam and for 30 minutes we enjoyed each others company as we pushed one another, swapped the lead several times, passed a few cars and generally got our butts safely down the technical descent without any mishaps.

8. The 15 kilometre descent into Chambery was meant to be a group rotation. But as the speed edged up to 50, then 55, then 60 and finally 65km/h the 16 strong peloton imploded! It was immense fun for the ones that hung on and still fun if you got dropped as after all it was a descent right? And descents are always fun as they are always as hard or as easy as you make them.

9. The cafe at the Lavard was the warmest place to be at the top. Ten days ago we were sweltering in 34 degree temperatures, this time every spare piece of clothing was put on immediately upon reaching the top at six degrees. Inside the cafe a young lady working behind the bar warmed the hearts of all the male riders there, which on last count would be 15 of us. I of course -as I am perfect- did not notice as I only have eyes for one girl back home, that would be Alyssa. True story!

10. And finally seeing the new French Alps Smiddy riders in action today, Tony, Daniel, Matty, Mark, Boof and JJ was a sight for sore eyes. Each of them rode their hearts out today and enjoyed the experience immensely. Hearing the laughter in the peloton is music to my ears and I only hope this continues over the next four days as the real climbing begins.

That's all from me. Tomorrow the lads tackle the great Grand Colombier climb and as you know from my earlier blog it is cut-throat demanding to the point that it asks of you blood!

Cheers,

Sharky

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