All I can say is it was a brilliant but brutal route. The heat on the Mont Revard & Semnoz was crushing.
I reached the feed at La Revard around 11.40am - my plan was a quick wee, coca cola and some energy bars.
It turned into a zombie wonder around the food station sampling everything from apricots, to cheese, quiche and sousission slices. Finally when I decided to go on, I was approached by a French man who asked me some questions about cheese & the etape. I was happy to oblige, I think at one point I referenced Poulidor?
I was set up for the final climb, Semnoz with savoury snacks. I can't say much more than what anyone else will say about the climb, it would be better to watch the pros hit it at full pelt in two weeks.
I just had to nod away at 7k/h up an 11k monster and hope to crest the summit faster than the 2 hour limit I'd set (reecee route time). My little French interview mate came past as a pillion on a motorbike, snapped some shots & yelled "Allez Claire". I felt slightly more important for about 2mins while those around me (that could raise their heads), looked on.
Excitement over it was back to the grind.
I was surprised to see there were people walking when I got to it at 1pm, shouldn't these be the fast people?Some were slumped at the side at the 9k to go mark.
I thought about stopping but it is far more difficult to climb back on if I did. I had an inner battle to not get off, which was a helpful distraction for me. Knowing the climb was hugely helpful, I knew once the road emerged from the trees to truly kick up a fuss in the final 1km that was it and I'd be done.
At the top of the mountain it was nasty. No where to sit, bikes on the floor people treading on them.
There was no way I was staying up there to have my bike treated like that. Not one that has crossed the line of the National Criterium Championship in first place a few years ago.
Shame to see the choppers forlorn on the floor, a picture of absolutely no style, their bikes tossed aside, no respect for their Taiwanese import. Hating cycling.
That was that. 59th woman and 3,000-and-something overall. 4hrs of climbing and 7 hours in total (I hope that was all the stopping for cheese and doing wees).
I think I'm not cut out for mass ride races. I can't handle the people or the lack of freedom on the road. I think I used to be but I seemed to have developed a fear of other people's inability to ride, somehow I think I am the master & everyone will take me down.
That's the etape but what about #womens100?
I stayed at a chalet Rapha had organised for their Women's 100 event, a house of 20-or-so women from newbie to experienced. The setting was unbelievable and Dominque Gabellini's cooking was amazing. The 'last supper' for the 'race' was duck and it was beautiful.
I'm not used to being at an event where some of the people don't have a reference point of a mountains ride or a super chamois day in the saddle. It was sort of hard for me to talk without sounding like an annoying know it all, I'd have to think back seven or so years to remember those tough days.
I didn't have nerves but I became nervous for them.
At the event, I waited in the event village with the medal round my neck until 5pm to see Laura, Bangs, Emi (sic?) and others bring it home. What interesting journeys they have had, what a challenge to face having only picked up a bike in January.
A very fun girl I met, Emi, she won a competition to go to the etape, she had never ridden in the mountains before but her enthusiasm the night before for doing the event was infectious. When she got down the mountain she exclaimed "I loved it!"
What a great way to let someone do an ultimate challenge and inspire other riders to get out to ride a bicycle for the simple pleasure of it.
(I think Einstein made a quote like that once).
|The start pens|
|The summit finish (Andy Schlek has let himself go)|
|Messing about on a hot tin roof w/ Gem Atkinson|
|Rode using analogue data rather than a digital prompt. I very much enjoyed not having a stupid screen telling me what to do. I'll pick up that top another time.|