Monday, August 22, 2011

French Alps Haute-Route Day 1

Stage 1 - 109 km, 2200m elevation gain

The race start was on the edge of Lac Geneve at 7:20 am. Earlier arrivers took in the free breakfast of a chocolate muffin and a peach!

The first 25 km was neutralized. I chose to stay in the top 20 of the field to minimize the stop & go pace. There were 6% women in this race and I saw at least 5 women at the front. Any woman going into this event would be a good rider – cool!
race photo
When the pace Peugeot car left, the front guys went hard. I hung in the draft. At the 50km mark we were at the base of the first climb Col de la Columbiere and each to their own pace. Wicked steep to start with a few 15% grades, then mostly 8-9%. The chalet at the top was a welcome sight.

Two mixed teams went by then I was in the mix of two more mixed teams and one supposedly solo woman. Supposed as there was a same-jerseyed rider waiting for her and her crying out when he pulled away from her. I’ve seen worse at TransAlps with the German women’s team and their flock of domestique men. I rode with Team “Solo” the rest of the way!

race photo
The descent was not just the usual crazy fast, it included dodging vehicles and oncoming traffic. We were descending quicker than the cars until they let us go by. A lot of brake pad was used up slowing down for cars.

The 2nd climb Col des Aravis was easier mostly 6% and big chain ring! I worked to feign off oncoming leg cramps concentrating to utilize my glut muscles. Managed until the easier section of the last 10km where I lost my peloton at 3 km to go due to coasting to relax my legs from cramping.

It would have been a sprint to the finish between myself and the supposed solo woman. Glad that didn’t happen as there were a lot of twists thru villages and congestion with traffic before crossing the line. And I wanted to wear my cool jersey from Greg’s Acupuncture clinic with the little Canadian maple leafs the next day instead of the leader’s jersey.

Finish feed had the most awesome red oranges. Free massage queue was long so I headed off to the hotel. The folks at Hotel Chalet D’Antoine were usually hosts for mtnbikers and treated us well. My bag arrived a couple hours after I did. I had to borrow 10 Euros and went in search of veggies and fruit.

view from Chalet D'Antoine
It was cool to see the planters all over town with Kale and Red Chard growing amongst the flowers. I grabbed a few leaves to munch on my walk. The town was an orienteer challenge even with a map.

my favourite photo - check out the red chard!
Awards was abit chaotic and hard to endure. I wasn’t called up for 2nd place. Later, I clued in that the top 3 individuals “overall” are recognized and in this case it was all the mixed team women. The yellow jersey only went to the top solo. It’ll be challenging to duke Team Solo woman for the jersey!

dinner with Andrew from Ireland - meat vs veggie!
Day 2 looks to be interesting with prospective 3000m elevation gain over 100 km. Only 3 ups and 2 downs!

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