Stay classy, Annecy…
After being lucky enough to take part in their popular London to Paris event I’m pleased to report I’ve completed my second Hotchillee event of the year. I’m lying here nursing sore legs and a warm feeling of satisfaction after finishing the 2013 Alpine Challenge, writes Richard Schofield…
For me the event exceeded my high expectations. I knew the level of professionalism and the attention to detail the organisers bring from riding L2P but for an Alpine virgin the roads and scenery, even on a very wet day one, have been a revelation. The climbs did their best to put me in my place but as the days passed I adapted my approach, pacing myself better and better, using my heart rate monitor to keep at a tough but sustainable pace (what coaches call riding just below your threshold) and above all remembering to enjoying it.
Day three was all about the Col de la Croix Fry, an another Tour de France veteran, and what the French call a hors categorie climb – in other words tough beyond description. Actually, it was hard: 11kms of gradients between 3 and 15 percent (averaging at just over 7 percent), but using the aforementioned technique, perfectly manageable. Dreaming of stuffing my face with my personal favourite CNP lemon meringue pie energy bar, I managed to haul myself up in just under 50 minutes. Winner of this year’s Alpine Challenge Felix Barker (pictured below) managed to sprint up in 35 minutes, setting a new Strava record in the process.
In hindsight it was well worth pushing myself to ride in group one. I’m sure the riding in the slower groups was of a high standard but I’ve never ridden with such a smooth, frankly classy bunch of cyclists. I can’t think of one time in the whole three-day, 340km adventure where I felt uncomfortable with anyone’s riding and, despite the undoubted competitive tension towards the front of the group, there was a real sense of camaraderie and appreciation of our shared efforts. There was consistent friendly chat, or at least a nod and a friendly grimace on the harder sections, as well as a willingness to share time in the wind and work together that I hadn’t anticipated at the sharp end of the field.
As we cruised as a peloton at 40kph back towards Annecy on the final afternoon, Skoda out front, motos swarming protectively around us, French drivers politely waiting our passage and pedestrians cheering, it was hard not to drift off into fantasies of riding the Tour…but after all that’s what the organisers wanted us to do.
Next year though, please can we have a helicopter flying over us too?
Richard Schofield, Cycling Plus Magazine
This entry was posted on Monday, September 16th, 2013 at 4:32 am and is filed under Blog, Cycling Plus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.