Monday, 1 July 2013


COLS CLIMBED: Col Du Chat at 638 metres and Mt Du Chat at 1504 metres


Distance: 103 km's
Average: 18.2 km/h
Climbing: 2386 metres
Riding time: 5hr 35min
Temp Min: 16 degrees
Temp Max: 26 degrees

Stats for entire five days + Prep Day
Distance covered: 720 kilometres
Time on saddle: 32 hours and 31 minutes
Vertical metres climbed: 12,606

Sharky Stats for combined two tours
Distance covered: 1467 kilometres
Time on saddle: 65 hours and 14 minutes
Vertical metres climbed: 25,661

No wonder I am tired!

Yesterday's day in the rain was our punishment, but for every punishment comes a reward. Today was our reward. We awoke to a day that promised a perfect day for climbing what is reputably the hardest climb in France, Mt Du Chat at 1501 metres at an average gradient of 10% over a 14 kilometre climb. Well I am chuffed to be able to tell you that the day we all wanted added to our wish list finally arrived. At the moment, as I write this blog it is seven-pm, we finished the ride a few hours ago. In that time some of the lads were soaking up the last rays of the sun on the huge expanse of the front lawn, sipping on beer or Champagne, while the rest of us had our priorities right and watched the closing 40 kilometres of stage two of the Tour De France on the TV in the lounge room. In French of course, and while we all missed the expert commentary of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin, it was still a real buzz to watch it, as it was happening, live on TV, right here in France. Let me tell you life does not get better than that!

Graeme is busy in the kitchen preparing the final feast for tonight and JJ's family arrived and are at this very moment sharing a nice moment on the front lawn with the lads. I excused myself from the social responsibilities as I wish to get this blog done. The past three nights I have survived on five hours sleep a night and it all caught up to me today. Actually on the ride I was fine, but since finishing, it's as if my body and mind knows the two tours have been done and dusted and they are telling me time to rest honey! So super determined to get this blog done and regardless of the big night that is bound to happen tonight I am going to bed early!

So without further ado this is how the day panned out:

As per usual I was up at 5:30am after just a few hours sleep and each morning I have been making porridge for the lads. I knew something was not right when at 6:15am I had finished my breakfast and the hordes had not descended upon the kitchen for breakfast.

Tired riders and by Jimminy where would we be without Jimmy?
Each and everyone of us were feeling the pinch from yesterday's incredibly hard day in the rain. Our 7:30am departure for today's cracker of a climb up Mt du Chat was definitely not going to plan. Now I was perfectly happy about this as it gave Neil time to drive Jimmy and I into the free wifi in town for me to send out the blog and some sneaky emails to my girl Alyssa. If I am being really sneaky I will attempt a quick Skype session with her but in two weeks this has happened just once on blog upload mornings. Anyway we get our business done and are back at seven-am and still the place was relatively quiet. Jimmy had his work cut out for him this morning as all the bikes were a mess from the rain. Chains needed cleaning and oiling, brakes readjusted and a quick wipe-down to clear all the crap off the frames. I really need to acknowledge the service Jimmy provides on these trips. He has to raise the minimum requirement of $5,300 just like all the riders, and it would be perfectly in his right not to do any mechanical work at all, (you see Jimmy is a bike mechanic and owns a bike shop in Taringa in Brisbane) yet he is always happy to help out. Mate a huge thank you once again on behalf of the riders for not only this trip, but for all that you have done for Smiddy over the past six years.

'Slippery' the animal whisperer...
Anyway roll out happened at eight-am, the temperature was a balmy and most welcome 16 degrees and once again a downhill five kilometre start kickstarted the ride. Neil drove the van today and 'Uncle Eric' and 'Ironman Graeme' were looking after the peloton. To get to Mt du Chat you first must negotiate a 38 kilometre course that meanders through amazing back country roads, pretty open fields and with lots of happy cows. Actually I would like to thank my mate Slippery (Phillip De'Angelis) as I have taken him under my wing and taught him how to talk to animals. Man he is good! He can now not only recognise a cow from a horse, from a sheep, from a lamb, but he knows now to yell out in a good loud voice; "you're a cow!" "Or you're a horse!" Once he got it wrong and called a horse a cow and the horse did not even look up. A valuable lesson was learned that day and he has since not put a foot wrong. Slippery I want you to know I am proud of you mate and you are up there with the best protégée I have ever taught.

Jimmy and Sharky hold up the riders
So with the riders all being so tired there was lots of small regrouping stops. Graeme and Eric were extremely patient as they knew what the riders had been through over the past five days. Jimmy and I were naughty and forced the whole peloton to stop and wait for us, and Eric even came back looking for us, when all we were doing was getting a photo with a couple of fake dummies on a seat in a farm house. Actually the owners came out and laughed at us when they saw what we were doing. I said to Jimmy that we could just say we had a mechanical, but when it came to the crunch I owned up to being a tourist. By the way with regards to photos I am sorry that I don't post any on this site but my blog want let me for some reason. But if you are keen to see photos just ask me to be my friend on Facebook under Mark Sharky Smoothy. You can see heaps of photos of the lads on my personal Facebook site.

Climbing Mt du Chat and I no longer have to call it 'The Nothing.'
The first climb was up Col du Chat, which is a smaller climb of four kilometres up to 638 metres. Everyone behaved themselves and took it super easy, saving themselves for the real climb of the day. The descent down to the beautiful lake was ten kilometres and the boys skills have improved so much that ten of us were tightly bunched up and enjoying the thrill of descending with your mates.

For those of you that read the blog report from the first time I went up Mt du Chat at 1504 metres with the first tour, you will know I was sick and that at the time I felt it was up there with one of my toughest days on the bike in 30 years. I could not bring myself to call it by its real name so gave it the moniker of 'The Nothing'. Well I am extremely relieved to report that this time around, being fully fit and healthy, plus the fact that 'Slippery' and I rode the entire climb together, that, while it was still bloody hard, I did not feel like throwing myself over the edge of a cliff to end the suffering! But mostly I am pretty happy I can now call it by its real name, Mt du Chat!

Pedro takes out world title in kicking a kids butt!
Getting to the top for everyone was such a huge relief. The build up to this climb all week had been huge. But typical of Smiddy riders, they just knuckle down and do what is asked of them and in this case; just get to the top of this last climb and the tour is nearly done. And that's what they did, each and everyone of them. Peter 'Pedro' DeAngelis actually raced a 12 year old kid for the remaining five kilometres. Apparently the kid was with his father and hid dad was egging him on to beat Pedro, but Pedro was having nothing of it. No way was a 12 year old kid going to beat the great Pedro. They fought tooth and nail, the lead swapping frequently but the great Pedro saved his famous kick for the remaining 200 metres. Rowan, Graeme and Neil witnessed what happened next. As Pedro crossed the line first he celebrated as if he had just single handedly won the World Cup. Fists were pumping, both fingers came out in the pistol group and pointed at the loser kid, as if to say; "don't mess with greatness son." Apparently the father was disgusted in his kids performance, getting cleaned up by a middle aged Aussie just does not cut it, and immediately took off down the mountain, leaving the kid to deal with Pedro, who was still doing the fist thing five minutes later. Pedro was heard to call the Sydney Morning Herald on his mobile telling them the entire story.
"This is a front page story." He was heard to scream down the phone.

They must have asked him a question concerning the person's age, for Pedro said something along the lines of, actually he was still screaming as if his life depended on this story getting out;
"This kid could beat any Tour De France champion and age is irrelevant... just let your readers know that I, Peter 'The Great' Pedro DeAngelis, was first to the top of the hardest climb in all of the world called Col du Chat, which is higher than Mt Everest and I kicked the butt of a future champion of the Universe in front of his Father." Anyway he eventually calmed down and ordered a beer and skulled it in front of the kid as if to say, "see I can beat you at that too."

Anyway all is good, Pedro is happy, we are all happy and we had a kick-arse descent of 20 kilometres in front of us to enjoy. Marky Anthony had some fun with his Go-Pro video camera and got some awesome footage of the lads having hair-raising fun as they descended down this fast and technical descent.

The tour is coming to an end
The remainder of the ride home was pleasant but the camels back had been broken with that last final climb up Mt du Chat and the descent down the other side. The lads were starting to switch off and thinking of the celebratory drinks that awaited them back at the Chateau. We started the ride together five days ago and we finished together at 3:30pm on a beautiful clear Sunny Sunday afternoon. We finally got that dream weather day we had wanted all week and it was a beauty mate! The huddle was taken by my good mate Ad's, who said some really nice words and as soon as the Smiddy chant went up Rowan cleared out faster than Pedro phoning the Sydney Morning Herald. For what was at stake was left-over pizza from last night and he wasn't missing out.

Dinner antics enjoyed by all
JJ's family, which included his wife Tania, their two beautiful three year old twin daughters Layla and Eva and her Mum and Dad, Carol and Michael, joined us for dinner and the reading of yesterday's blog. Dinner was held outside at eight-pm as the weather was so brilliant and it does not get dark until ten-pm. Once again the boys served up a meal fit for a King, his Queen and all their servants. It was such a beautiful setting and a great way to finish off a most successful Smiddy tour. The see-how-far-you-can-kick-a-soccer-ball competition was held after dinner and Jimmy once again suffered another fall, this time while kicking a ball and not while on his bike. As far as I know Rowan won this very important comp and was trying to convince me that the winner deserved a one hour sports massage from me. I declined to respond as I did not wish to incriminate myself.

Shark is pathetic at writing short blogs and getting to sleep early
Well it is now 11:30 and once again I have failed in my quest to get to bed early. But all is good as I do not have to ride a bike for up to six hours in the morning. The lads I can hear them down stairs and although I am hungry and wish to visit the kitchen for cereal I think it is best I go to bed hungry. Out of sight, out of mind... I could hear furniture being moved so I guess I will see what that is about in the morning. JJ has left us tonight to continue his holiday with his family and will be missed on the bus tomorrow to Nice.

That's all for me for a couple of days. Tomorrow we all leave on a big bus for Nice, where we get to see stage four of the Tour de France live on Tuesday. I am so excited! I will definitely drop another Blog in your inbox as AD's Jimmy and myself have something up our sleeves on Wednesday that is worth writing about.

Until then all the best and hope you have enjoyed the journey. I know we have!


No comments:

Post a Comment