Saturday, January 24, 2009

6 months!!!!

I can't beleive it's 6 months since my last post on here. I guess it's good as it proves I'm too busy to mess about with a bolg.
Ok - so what's happened. First and foremost I haven't done any competetive cycling since La Marmotte. Veloventoux just became too busy during the summer (which is good) so racing had to take a back step.
August - "Entstock" my 40th birthday party at the Veloventoux residence here in Faucon. Over 20 of my friends came from the UK. We actually started on Thursday evening with Moule Frites in the village. Then Saturday was the big party. We started in the garden with some chilled out tunes courstesy of DJ Mickey J. At about midnight after the Paella man Phillipe had fed everyone we moved down to the converted cellar for some more banging tunes courtesy of myself and Mickey. This lasted til about 4am.
September - La Routes du Ventoux Cyclosportive. A great group from Ribble Valley CRC booked with us and one of the party - Louise Murray was 2nd overall female - great stuff.
October - Nothing to report apart from an excellent attempt on the 3 way Mont Ventoux Cinglé Challenge with a group from Holdsworth Cycles in putney.
November - Chilling out!
December - Christmas in the UK with family and the chance to drink some Real Ale at the Bridge in Burnley and The Vick in Great Harwood - two of the best pubs in the world. I also got chance to ride with my UK club Clayton Velo. Usual stuff up into the Dales with café stops in Clapham.
January - Winter training is well underway. I'm about a month behind last year so glad I'm not doing The Prestion Wheelers Reliability Ride this year. Too fat to stay with the bunch over Bowland Knotts. However - been asked to join a group of mates for The Tour of Flanders in April - watch this space.
First 5+ hour ride this week was hard but great for morale. same again tomorrow.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Saturday in Hell

La Marmotte Cyclosportive came and went this weekend.
What is La Marmotte? Well it's an Alpine Cyclosportive based on a classic Tour de France Stage. It's 179km long, has almost 5000m of ascent climbing over The Col du Glandon (1924m), The Col du Telegraphe (1566m), The Col du Galibier (2646m) to a mountain top finish up the legendary Alpe d'Huez with it's 21 hairpin bends.
Months of preparation had gone into this, when I realised I couldn't do paris Roubaix back in June because it clashed with La Ventoux I made La Marmotte my major goal of the summer.
Great preparation for over two months, good results in other sportives and good training rides on Mont Ventoux meant that I was confident. I also had a great dossard number, 34! which meant I was on the front row and guaranteed a flying start with the fast lads on the front.
So at 7am we were off from Bourg d'Oisans. 40kmh to the barrage de Verney at Allemont and everything is fine. Then the first steep bit of the Glandon near the junction to Vaujany. Everything fine as the whippets move to the front. (Just let them go and pace yourself!)
I saw the sign, Sommet 20km and as I know the climb pretty well paced my self up the steep bits and rested well on the descents and bits in between.
Over the top and the fantastic descent to St Marie de Cuines then it was time to eat on the flat 20km to St Michel and the foot of The Telegraphe.
It was here where the alarm bells started ringing. I was working well at the front of a bunch of about 30 but as I came through into the wind my legs died! I sat on the back and waited for the Telegraphe.
The first 2km of The Telegraphe are steep and I was out the back straight away. From now on it was a case of survival. The drink stop at the top couldn't come quick enough but the 17km from Valloire to The Galibier was filling me with dread. (At this point I'd made my mind up to phone Ben at The Alpe to come and collect me in the van from Bourg d'Oisans)
I plodded on up past Plan Lachat then the last 8km of The Galibier at 10%. Then the cramps started - sheer hell - what a welcome sight Guy and Helyn from King Of The Mountains were 2km from the summit. They gave me a banana and some coke which got me over the top.
The 45km descent from the top of the Galibier was so refreshing and I managed to recouperate slightly before hitting the first ramp of Alpe d'Huez.
The first 2.5km of The Alpe are legendary and the 12% gradients hit hard but I managed to plod on upwards. At La Garde the gradient change hit me and I blew!
At bend 13 I'd had enough and sat on the wall to phone Ben and the broom waggon! I was shocked to see that the time showed I'd been riding for less than 7 hours. This gave me added motivation - I could still get under 8 hours which is pretty respectable for La Marmotte.
I carried on upwards, passing our chalet at bend 2 Ben gave me a cheer. I could quite easily have climbed off here just 2km from the finish - I really was done!
I crossed the finish line, turned and descended to the chalet totally uninterested in anything to do with the festivities and party atmosphere at the finish village.
I still don't know my time but estimate about 8h15m.
Have I put you off?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Mont Ventoux Screwballs

A bit late with this but we are now mad busy! Two weeks ago was La Ventoux Beaumes de Venise Cyclosportive. 175km, 3200m of ascent, over 1000 starters in both the Master and Senior events. Considering I'm still a 80 kilo lardy I should be pleased with my classification of 45 in a time of 6h 21m. Bizarrely 3 minutes slower than my 2005 time when I didn't even scrape into the top 100??????

Last week was great. On Thursday I rode (for the first time officially, even though I've done it twice bfore) The Cinglé du Mont Ventoux Challenge. I rode this with a top bloke called Guy Wilson Roberts who writes for . We rode steadily all day with a nice lunch stop and plenty of photo stops. Total ride time about 7.5 hours.

Good training for La Marmotte in 2 weeks time which I'm dreading.

Monday, June 2, 2008

St Tropez!!!

I did L'Epervier Cyclosportive yesterday down near St Tropez. I can thoroughly recommend this to anybody. Drop the missus off on the beach in St Trop and go an kill yourself for 6 hours in the hills above the Cote d'Azur!!! Anyway, yesterday we set off at an amazing pace. What a feeling riding along that beautiful coasline to the west of St Tropez in a bunch of 60 at 45kmh! On the second climb of the day I got dropped and about 10 riders went off into the distance. Then a nice "laughing group" formed of about 20. On the third climb we were all plodding along nicely when a chap in pink kit decided to up the pace on the front - groans all round - I hate you! Just 2km/h above most of the group's comfort zone. 5 more off the front, dropped again So I plodded round with the remaining group and had a go off the front with about 20km to go. I managed to stay away then with about 2km to go I saw a chap in pink up ahead suffering. I caught him, passed him and he sat on my wheel. With about 200m to go he tried to get round me. No way - not after the mayhem you caused 3 hours ago!!! Bliss

179km, 5h 31m, 17th overall - very pleased.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Champion of The Vaucluse - who me???

Yes you're as surprised as me. After 5 weeks doing hardly any km and any top end training, suffering from various ailments including tummy bugs and bad colds, today I won the Senior B (U 40's) Championship of the Department of The Vaucluse.
I woke up knowing the méteo was going to be crap and it was. Pouring with rain and blustery, I didn't even want to go after the lst two DNF's. Anyway the least I could do was turn up and help Bruno for a few laps before I climbed off. (Not trying to be negative here!!)
Here's how it panned out. 45 starters in the Senior B category (U 40's), 7 laps of a 13km loop. Each lap has a twisty descent from the start, 4km flat, 3km false flat up into a headwind, 5km flat with crosswind then 2km drag at about 3% up to the finish.
José, a good Cat 1 who won at Montsegur two weeks ago, was as usual very pro active and to my delight a counter attack by me after an attack by José on the second lap dragged 5 away. Then we worked hard together hoping the elastic will snap somewhere behind you. It did!! 5 of us away, in the rain, windy, we had to stay away. Flat out for 2 laps - merde!! 3 more joined us dragged up by an elite rider called Deshamps. At least the bunch was dead and buried somewhere behind. And then there were 8 arguing like mad! with 2 laps left no one wanted to graft so I put a dig in off the front and gained 100m straight away, then 200m then 300m. At the foot of the 2km drag I buried my self - 4 minutes of complete agony. I had decided that this was all or nothing. I was going to win or come 8th. The top of the climb was flat, past the finish, the bell, 13km to go. I'm a good descender so threw caution to the wind and went down the other side far too fast for the slippery conditions. Out of the bend at the bottom of the hill I was on the drops but standing up, 53-12, 60kmh, tailwind.
At the end of the 4km flat I chanced a look behind. They were gone but it was to early to smile. Up the 3km false flat, don't panic - pace yourself. 5km flat, no one behind me. At the bottom of the climb I looked over my shoulder and smiled. 53-21 turning nicely, legs good, 200m to go. Now I'm not smiling I'm laughing - delighted. Crossed the line, arms in the air with a 1m 30s lead. Shocked and amazed. Clubmate Patrick tells me I'm the first ever Brit to win the departmental Champs!!!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Time for a rest??

1st round of the Tropheé de Provence yesterday with the Cezanne Ste. Victoire down near Aix en Provence. 158km, 2500m of ascent on the same roads as my best result ever in Pourrieres only 6 weeks ago.

So, preparations going well, feeling good after a steady week (I did a sub 1h30m on Mont Ventoux this week) I ate well Saturday night, woke to a magnificent sunrise over Mont Ste. Victoire, good brecky Sunday morning, rode down to the start at the Stade George Carcasonne in Aix - everything perfect.
I had a good dossard number too - number 22 - on the front row. Many familiar faces, mainly from the front bunch in the Monts du Vaucles 3 weeks ago.
So off we went, a nice steady 9km out of Aix then the first easy climb up to St Antonin in the shadow of the Ste Victore.
After 500m I was out the back like a Champagne cork. Over the top I managed to get in with the a second bunch which had formed. We chased back on then up through the village of Pourrieres. Then on the Puits du Rians I'm out the back again. Chased back on then approaching the Grand Sambuc - out again. I Jumped on the back of the 3rd peleton and even that was too fast so I rode steadily back to Aix with my tail between my legs. What a horrible day to spend in such beautiful scenic counrtyside!!
Back to the drawing board with 2 weeks steady riding. Less than a month from La Ventoux Beaumes de Venise.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What a difference a week makes!

So after the Monts du Vaucluse sportive at Villars, one week with a dodgy tummy, then another week with only 5 hours on the bike it was time for the next road race.
7 laps of an 11km circuit, vallonée, which means undulating, 25 2nd Cats lumped together with about 30 1st Cats.
As usual things went hard from the gun. I knew that to be in with a shout you'd need to be up the road with some 1st Cats so I buried myself for 3 laps trying to get in every break going. Then on the 5 lap at the top of a short climb, trying to get across to a group only about 15s up the road, I blew dramatically.
The next lap was hell, almost dropped on the false flat up to the village of Collonzelle, then I was sick which sprayed over the guy on my wheel, then I climbed off.
Not all was lost though, a great second place for Bruno and a first win in the 1st cats for my mate José from VC Isle sur La Sorgue.