Saturday, September 07, 2013

Haute Route Pyrenees Day 7 - Happy & Sad

Day 7 - Pau/Arette to Anglet Basque Coast, 177 km, 3000m+, 3100m- - course revised

revised course - flat 16 km neutral start to the green line, then up Col D'Ahusquy.
Neutral descent, then furiously fast to the finish at Cambo Les Bains 131 km mark.
40 km convoy to finish in Biarritz. Long mileage last day!

With a few loud drunken locals bellowing on the street up until we left in the morning, no sleep was to be had! It was too muggy to close the windows in the room. Groggily, I dragged myself to the Palais Beaumont to the awaiting shuttle bus. I actually caught a few winks on the 45 min bus ride to the race start in Arette.
Finally, the race course was announced and the 2nd Col was in. After the early morning rain stopped, I still dressed warm for the 16 km neutral start to Tardets-Sorholus.
In the slow-moving peloton, I decided to stop for a pee around 13 km with a quick removal of a jacket, gloves and headband. It was easy to chase back into the front group at the calm neutral speed.
Once over the timing mat, I went with the peloton on the gentle climb. The pace was super fast. The rain began, and it poured so hard water was flowing over my eyewear. Luckily, the rains stopped within 10 min.
I faded off the fast pace sooner than I would have liked, and kept at my own pace with the odd guy to mark off.

Will Levy from Australia snapped my photo as he passed by me

As the pitch steepened, it was inevitable for Valerie to power on by. Will Levy from Australia (met at 2011 Alps) rode by and commented that I was not breathing hard enough, and if I was ok. I decided to go a chill pace on the steep pitches.
The road was leading us into the fog again. The “Summit” marker came early, and it was surprising there was no timing mat as a descent began. Then, around the corner the climb continued around swooping corners. The marker was obviously misplaced.
Will Levy snapped my photo as I proceeded to pass him

Within another 1 km, the pitch was back to a fun 5% and I hammered by Valerie and straight past Will. As my breathing indicated I was putting in a good effort, I asked him “Is my pace ok now?!”. Will said “yes”, and joined me up the rest of the climb in the fog.
Into the sinister fog again - photo Will Levy

A few of us questioned when the climb would end. Voila, within 10m the timing mat was visible and we crested the real summit of Col d’Ahusquy. The descent was now neutralized.

I stopped briefly to put on a jacket. The road down was super bumpy, cow-crappy, and narrow. It was not pleasant to ride. (came across a new name for this section "Col du Cowshit" from Stacie Hall's blog!) I rode by a few guys and made my way down the 700m descent still at a quick pace.

At the bottom before the next timing mat, a large group of 20 guys were gathering to ride together. I caught on just in time before they departed. With a slight decline on the road, the pace was erratic and insanely fast.

It was crazy how quickly we rode the course especially around the round-abouts. I stayed with this peloton for 25 km working hard to stay in the lowlands draft. Fortunately for the ascents, I was able to hang in.

Eventually, I was blown off the back on a descent. Lucky for me, Colin, one of the Brit-Geneva connection guys was just catching up. We worked with another guy for a few km.
When the Team Tempo-Sport came by strongly, we latched on until 8 km to go when we were both shelled at the same time. I must admit it was not fun to ride erratically with either peloton.  

The Geneva-Brit connection... Colin Apel, Iain McCluskey, Jan Dieleman, Marg, Pete Moorhouse, Fergus Garvin (missing in action: Rafael Huber, Hans Apel, Craig Cameron)

Colin and I shared climbs and descents amongst us, where he let me go with the last climb to the finish - the last rise to the finish, yay!

Chilled around town until everyone arrived, and had lunch.

Canadians Yves LeFebvre and Pascale Legrand
Found an interview with Yves LeFebvre with a clip (below) regarding my riding! I laughed when I read it. Yves would pass by me in the race and cheer "GO Big Gear"!

Laurent FR: As-tu sympathisé avec d’autres Canadiens et Québécois sur les Haute Route cette année?

Yves Lefebvre: Pas beaucoup avec les autres Québécois, que j’ai à peine vu. Par contre, comment oublier Marg Fedyna, 48 ans, une Canadienne de l’Ouest du pays qui termine 3e du général dans les Alpes et qui gagne dans les Pyrénées!! Elle était incroyable, toute petite, 110 livres mouillée, elle riait tout le temps et elle montait les cols sur le grand plateau de son pédalier compact, style 50-25 ou 50-27, la chaine en travers! Vraiment, une fille très forte qui aime assurément la montagne. C’est également elle qui gagne l’IronRider chez les femmes qui a couronné le meilleur temps des deux Haute Route. (ndlr: une entrevue avec Marg est disponible ici, et son blog personnel est ici).

Rode a long 40 km to Biarritz at a slow convoyed pace in the odd drizzle of rain. Good times to chat amongst the riders. Lots of congrats from fellow racers.

Made it to the Atlantic Ocean! Not enough time to dip a toe in it.
After arriving to Biarritz, it was a mad dash to go to finish line awards, acquire my bike bag and baggage, pack, shower,... It was frazzling with no time to stock food for the late night bus trip.

At the awards party, Volker Rohrmoser, a racer from Germany gave me an 80% Fair Trade chocolate bar for my bus trip back! He overheard me talking about chocolate one night with the wife of Matthias Koppe (another racer from Germany). The bar was yummy and appreciated!

Coast of Biarritz - photo Dave Moran

Earlier that morning, I saw Laetitia in jeans. She said her knee had been hurting her for a few days and decided to not race.

For me, the race was won with my hard effort on Day 6 to stick with the front peloton as long as possible. It was much like the Sunday group ride (race!) in Kelowna from the Bean Scene. 

It was a bummer not to have all the women racing in the end who were on podium during the week. Each woman had her own strength and it was the luck of the cards of how it finished up each day, almost a roulette!

Awesome to have Greg Lemond help present the final awards
On that Day 6 first climb, a few of the guys from the peloton commented they could not believe I was still hanging in there with them. I laughed hearing this as my breathing was so laboured like a steam engine to cause them to look back at me in wonder.

Race announcers Ludovik Collet and Monica Delavaux were familiar voices during both Haute Route events

In events I've been involved in, the women racers are the heartiest as they show the most perseverance… the strength to my comment is a little weakened by facts though I still believe it is true! A woman racer commented that “heart” injuries were the factor… a term I had not heard before, finding out it meant the emotional factor. If so, still a “hearty” reason!

The friendships formed this week were OUTSTANDING. It was really an intimate time of work, sharing and caring.

Quote from the Day 7 Haute Route NEWS:
Marg Fedyna, who achieved an incredible triple result as today’s female stage winner, overall female lead, and lead female Iron rider, described this last day on the Haute Route asFun, fast and furious! Nice to be complete in a way, but sad to say goodbye.’
The organizational staff bent backwards to make any quirk work of the already amazing service provided. If feedback was given, they willingly look at it for the future.

After each race day, it was comforting to put my bike in the secured corral, pick up my backpack and know that the bike was safe while I went about my post-race activities of shower, massage, lunch, briefing.

Mavic was there ready to help with mechanical issues.

The Haute Route race has developed into the best multi-day road stage race going.

Coming from my bike racer viewpoint of racing most weekends in a season, the entry is high. The comments from the racers that the Haute Route experience was well worth it meant it. It is an event where the racer gets treated like a pro - priceless!

I still wish there was green salad and raw vegetables added with lunch!

New Zealand connection - Dane Christensen, Jodi, Ben Allen

Many many enquiries, and not just jokes(!), were made about my green drinks and eating habits. I had a couple guys follow me to the organic markets for fresh figs. Ultra cool to have an effect on other racers with my normal eating habits. The best comment of “obviously must work” indicating my performance!

Marg Fedyna, Stacie Hall, Pascale Legrand

The three Iron women made it to the end in good form and spirits. It was nice to know we were in it together. Congrats to Pascale Legrand from Quebec and Stacie Hall from Australia. Check out Stacie Hall's TravelPod Blog for her awesome race story.

Stacie was travelling with her whole family in an RV which Is an extra Iron effort in itself. Watch out for them in Canada as her partner James will be taking on BC Bike Race 2014!

Rare sighting of Marg riding IN the saddle on Day 1 - photo Will Levy

Final Stats:
50th / 307 finishing solo racers with 331 starting
10th / 32 finishing IRON racers (both Alps and Pyrenees events)

28 finishing women (with 33 starting or 10% of the field - impressive though need MORE women!)

All Haute Route POSTS

Biarritz beach view - photo Dave Moran

Anglet Beach - photo Dave Moran

Flight leaving Barcelona after the night bus from Biarritz. Still had time after checking in bags to jump on the BLUE bus to downtown to gather some fruits and veg

Meanwhile at home, the Tour of Alberta was a huge success!
as was the Kettle Bell Cyclo-cross race!

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