Let's just say that this thing was ACCURATE!!!! How do they do that? Surely precision German engineering. I was absolutely in stitches, tears rolling down my face. My roomie, David, was equally amused at my uncontrollable fits of laughter emanating from the thrown room, and I'd imagine, he was also a little perplexed as well. Anyway - job done.
Right - the riding. It was back to a beautiful sunny day albeit a cold start at 6 degrees. I love that crisp morning mountain air - and Val d'Isere is a quintessential little Alpes ski village. It was the first day where gear indecision set in. Arm warmers? Leg warmers? Maybe only knee warmers? And summer undershirt or winter? Long gloves, short gloves, no gloves? And gillet or not? See you non-riding types think it's all "slip into the lycra and off you go", but no no no, tis nerry that simple at ALL!
I settled on the santini mid-weight undershirt, castelli fleece arm warmers, castelli lycra knee warmers, no gloves and no gillet. But getting to that point was tough! Can I just say though - nailed it!! Perfect morning climbing ensemble.
OK - so let's meet the guys on tour:
- Rob Diamond - tour organiser and guide
- Antony - main cycling guide
- Peter - bongo bus driver and support vehicle
- Amanda - John's wife and unofficial photographer
- Paul - engineer & project manager
- David - ophthalmologist & surgeon
- Peter - dentist & facio-maxillary surgeon
- John - neurosurgeon
- Marcus - neurosurgeon
- Marty - anaesthetist
- Rob - anaesthetist
To be frank, Part 2 of the Iseran ascent was a little broken up. It was so damn spectacular and beautiful and amazing and awesome and spectacular that you just had to stop and take shots. Words will not get it down. Stone bridges build hundreds of years ago running over torrents of mountain water snow melt past lush green paddocks. Long, winding alpine roads of the smoothest hot mix asphalt, climbing and turning back on itself over and over. Views down deep valleys to little ski villages being towered over by snow capped peaks. Simply too much to take in.
I let Peter (the maxo guy) ride out as I was taking photos - he was on good form after a couple of days recovering from a bug. Not the one to let a man go however, I decided I better reel him in from about 3k to go - I hadn't seen him since about 9k from the top. The air was thin and I was breathing reasonably hard from the altitude exertion (we were over 2600m) when I caught him up in the snow at 1.4k to go. But I wasn't breathing so hard as to mishear him exclaim - "you bastard!"
We rode in together. Then after my nothing short of gentlemanly camaraderie at riding to the summit along side, he went for the drops and kicked at the 150m to go. What was he thinking? Has he not heard about the VO3Max!!? I let him dangle, like a hopeful neo, for about 80 metres and it hurt him...then guess what?
He got maxxxxxxed - and I don't think I even left the 39/21!
Another beautiful, beautiful descent followed.
After lunch we went on to the Col du Telegraphe. To get there we should have had a cruisey drop down into the valley but there was a mongrel of a head wind. I hate hitting a -7% and having to peddle your arse off. 3 of us took rolling turns to get the bunch there.
Prior to the ascent, I was a bit scared - this is a legendary climb with a supposed 10% kick in the final kilometre of 13.5k. From the bottom, it seems impossible that you could get up to the summit building because it is so high above you and close. At the base, my legs felt pretty good and I feel they are getting stronger. I just sat on tempo - HR155 and nice and smooth. The top was not nearly as bad as I expected and it was a lovely shaded climb through forest. I gave it some for the last 500m in the drops and was KOM by more than 10 minutes (granted Contador wasn't there). Great climb. Then the Raptor took me for a few reps to pick up the posse.
So at this stage I've ridden 352k and climbed 9,781m in 5 days. Massive day tomorrow with Galibier & Alpe d'Huez. The Marmotte is coming!
See the ride here.
Impey in yellow for Greenedge - awesome stuff. And what a champ is Gerro for selflessly handing it over. GOLD!