Monday, 17 June 2013


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


Distance:140 km's
Average: 21.8 km/h
Climbing: 2379 metres
Riding time: 6hr 22min
Temp Min: 14 degrees
Temp Max: 34 degrees

For some reason I went into today's stage thinking it was only 98 kilometres long. Leaving at 8:45am I did the sums in my head and figured we'd be back in time for a late lunch. I guess when Graeme was giving us the brief last night my cloudy head, blocked ears and profound deafness had me hearing what I wanted to hear. In reality we got back at five-pm and it was a day I will remember for a very long time due to these three things:
Pretty damn stupidly beautiful course; not fair that the French countryside can be so damn gorgeous yet cause one so much pain!
My body said to me this morning sleep; instead I went for a 140km ride that involved 50km's of climbing!
Mateship and Smiddy spirit; I will touch on this later but let me assure you it came to the forefront today.

Sharky's tired ramblings of a strange hallucinating dreamy type day.
Rolling out of home-base this morning the weather was perfect; a crisp 14 degrees, coupled with a downhill start thanks to our Chateau residing at 420 metres and the company of six other fantastic riders, what more could you want for your first day of riding in the majestic French Alps? Well I don't mean to be greedy but to be rid of this damn head cold would be a nice start. Now it has been a long day for all of us and the group just shared a wonderful barbecue dinner as we sat outside in the coolness of the setting sun. Thanks to daylight saving darkness comes late here at half past ten. Thank you to Graeme and Eric for another amazing meal and once again the leftovers will join the other leftovers in the fridge and keep each other company! No-one or no-thing gets lonely on a Smiddy tour... Now when these lads cook they cook as if all the neighbours are going to join us. Going hungry on one of these tours is not an option. Anyway this time during dinner I listened really carefully to the brief that Graeme gave about tomorrow's ride up the Grand Columbier. I listened even more carefully when Glen read out yesterday's blog to the group. And in return the group were at their utmost attentive when I told them the story of the bird I befriended on my lonely climb up the Revard today.(Please see highlights for that story.) Of course they did not believe me and insisted I was hallucinating, but I will let you be the judge of that one.

Sharky's Top ten highs and a few lows of the day:

I always do a top ten when my brain is so fried and I can't think, so here's hoping this all comes out okay...

1. The bike kits are sensational; riding a kit that are in the French colours does exactly one thing when riding a bike in France - French people take notice. There is only one thing more popular than an Aussie or a Kiwi in France, and that is an Aussie or a Kiwi cyclist wearing the red/white/blue colours of France. With five of us in uniform we look slick and heads turn wherever we go and really that is all that matters...

2. The Col Revard is a 22km gradual climb that has an average gradient of just 6%. Truly spectacular views all the way up, good road surface, cold fresh mountain water fountain at the half-way point to refresh one's sweaty brow and under the circumstance would bring to my face a grin from ear to ear. But not today, my body rebelled, my heart-rate plan failed miserably as I could not get it to go above 120 BPM, which brings me to my next highlight.

3. I was last up the climb today, by a long way, nothing wrong with that, just get to the top. But let me share with you just how slow I was going. Now in France there are lots of paddocks, these paddocks attract cows, these cows poo copious amounts, these poos attract vermin, welcome vermin number one- the humble fly. Now flys are lazy, they hate flying and are always looking for a free ride. In my case they had time to not only rest on my back and up my nose and in my ears, but to lay eggs. These eggs then had time to hatch and the baby flys joined the folks and laughed at how easy it was to hang with this dude that was going so slow that time appeared to stand still. The flys celebrated big time and by the time I arrived at the top, not only had my fellow Smiddy riders eaten a four course meal and enjoyed their seventeenth drink, but they failed to recognise me as they thought I had grown a beard, when it fact it was just so many flys had attached themselves to my chin. Now that is slow!

4. The bird story has to be told but first let me apologise as this blog so far tends to favour stories about me. I promise to make up for it when I tell you a highlight about the other riders soon. So five kilometres from the top of the Revard, I am by myself by a country mile, the flys are having a ball, I look down to my right and there is a baby bird. I narrowly miss running over her as she failed to even blink as I went past. I looked back and she was looking at me. I returned, said hello and still she stared. I reached down and she jumped onto my finger. The lads were joking that I was actually talking to my own finger, but I know what I saw! Anyway I lifted that bird up to eyesight and on my finger she stayed. It was not until I reached for my camera that she flew off, camera shy perhaps? That little bird lifted my spirits as if my dream girl had just came into my life, which coincidentally has actually happened thanks to Alyssa coming into my life. I rode off and for the next kilometre picked up the pace to an unbelievable 8km/h!

5. Graeme today was up and down that climb like a bloody yo yo. A welcome yo yo at that. He typified the Smiddy spirit in the way he looked after not just myself but Antonia and Zane, who were all feeling the pinch of that long climb.

6. Eric then came into his own when accompanying Antonia down the long descent and stopping to fix Zane's puncture. He also saved my arse on the final climb up Col Da Couz when I was in a world of hurt.

7. Zane on the descent showed maturity and a got-to-save-my-arse attitude when he successfully stayed upright when his rear wheel punctured while clocking in excess of 70km/h!

8. Glen for saving me today with his salt tablets, Antonia for giving me her last Shark saving gel and Garath for his caring and positive affirmations and attitude when he realised the tough day I was having.

9. Why is it when you go through hell that the human spirit is most vibrant and alive? I hated today for the suffering I endured. I loved today for the kindness shown to me by my wonderful new Smiddy friends. Thank you all and you now have a special place within my heart.

10. That bottle of coke was on my mind for the remaining 14 kilometres up the Revard. Sure the views were spectacular but could not compare to the taste of that coke!

11:11pm - Sleep beckons; first day down, four to go, shared with beautiful people. How lucky am I!


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