actually it was **** hard
Start 07:00am End 8:00pm – 13hrs ride time including breaks
Ventoux broke me. My quads are shot. The left knee know refuses to allow me.to push. The right achillies is a bit fucked too.
I got out my field and crawled into Sault for water and croissants. I crawled onwards past several riders crashed out behind hedges. I head a bit left up a limestone gorge, and need to stop. I phone home, and eat a custard croissant.
Things start getting weird. The roads look like they are downhills – they are actually flats, or slightly up hill. The (gentle) up hills are just brutal. I am in bottom gear the whole way. The left knee is destroyed, the right achillies.is not far behind.
My plan is just to crawl to Briancon, grab a hotel and ponder what to do next.
I stop for a lemon presse and double coffee, at a garden cafe, as riders come past. I crawl on, finally descending again, and hit a supermarket, meeting Jon and Simon again.I make rubbish food selections, then ride on, swapping places with guys.
The route to briancon is littered with broken riders trying their best to push on. I zip across a bridge to a lake and stop at a restaurant for food. Another couple of guys are there. Things are sorting them selves out, and I will see the same guys again in Albania….. Its hot – very hot. There are groups of riders around any water fountain. I push on for Briancon, uphill again but with a tailwind, finally. When I get there I am unimpressed, it’s a bit of a hole.
However, getting out of it is about 400m of 15% hill (100m climb), (didn’t sport the longer but less steep main road route while planning), had yet more water at the top (France has finally opened on a Tuesday) and emergency icecream -I push on as it’s only 4pm and too early to stop.
I stopped.and checked my route profile..
Oh – a 500m climb, descend then another 500m climb. The guys around me plough on. I am feeling shit. but what the hell.
It was hell. A 10k climb at 5% up a set of switch backs looping up above me does not sound too bad – but I resemble a kitten now. I finally get to the top, some French town and out the other side to plummet down 500m to a nicer italian town. Its not my town though, so I refill water bottles at a water fountain. I throw away my last 4 snickers bars I’ve been carrying for 2 days in 30 degree heat, and up we go the never ending hill to Sestriere.
Oh my God – 100m hills.in Essex do.not prepare you for this.
However the knee got better the harder I pushed and finally kept pace with some French dude I had been exchanging places with all day
Saddle sores stopped hurting, and knee felt better the harder I pushed, weirdly.
I finally got to the top and collapsed at the checkpoint. At about 8. I got a ridiculously expensive beer, a hotel room, wifi, a shower and finally washed kit. i popped out for some pasta with the riders staying here.
I discovered I had bumped into the mid pack 🙂
They were all off at 5 for and early start across Assietta – the 40k of gravel takes about 6 hrs in daylight, 10 at night. I, instead went for another (13 euro) beer. I didn’t feel like I was racing – I was now in survival mode only