The day of reckoning…
twhitby | Blog, Cycling Plus | 14/09/2013 18:12pm
So – day two of the 2013 HotChillee Alpine Challenge. Much warmer, sunnier and not a hint of rain in the crystal blue sky but just the same brutal climbing and full gas riding from my group one buddies. Today, as promised, I got a proper pro peloton experience as we tackled the Col des Aravis, used 39 times by the Tour, writes Richard Schofield.
I was fully cooked by the point we reached the day’s timed section, a 6km phase starting 1000 meters up Col des Aravis. I had already blown after we scorched over Col de Bluffy, a mere 700 meter pimple in the first 10 km, and had to chase back onto the group after a puncture (rapidly sorted by a new wheel from the mechanics van of course). I trailed up dead last in my group but did at least manage to put it in the big ring for the last 150 meter sprint home – hope they got that on the video.
Riding for much of the day in a small bunch with Stephen Roche and Mauritzio Fondriest was an delight and an education in smooth, effortless riding. At one point Mauritzio coolly answered his mobile phone, ringing away in his jersey back pocket, on a twisty climb, without a twitch or an inch of lost pace. Please don’t try this at home folks, it’s only allowed if you’re an Italian ex-world champion.
The other reward for my day of pain was some of the most breathtaking scenery you could wish for. Rugged peaks and lush Alpine meadows and cows with real cow bells! The other reward was the descents. I can’t claim to have stuck to the letter of rule #85
but I went faster than I would care to tell my life insurance underwriter as we came off the mountains. With the consistently excellent motorbike outriders keeping the local traffic at bay we were given full licence to scare ourselves silly. Nearly half an hour of high speed descending left me with wind-induced tears streaming down my face and a grin the width of my handlebars.
Today was arguably the toughest thing I’ve ever done physically but undoubtably the best day I’ve spent on a bike. Tomorrow will probably be more of the same and even my tired legs can’t wait.
Richard Schofield, Cycling Plus Magazine
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