This is a brief report of my ride last Saturday which i can only describe as good,bad and disastrous.
I had arrived in B'ourg d'oisans late Monday evening after a 12hr drive from Calais,the first thing i noticed was the temperture,it was now 9:30 and it was still very warm .
Next couple a days i did a few 2hr rides in the heat of the day trying to get acclimatised to the heat.The temperture being well over 30c.It was in fact 30c in the shade.
Come the big day and it seemed like it was warmer than ever.In previous days there had been a chill in the air early morning but not today,normally in these kind of events i wear some arm warmers first thing but not this morning.
Anyway i rolled out of the start in the second wave at 7:30 didn't go to mad from the gun not like last year(remember Mark) reached the foot of the Glandon in just short of 30 mins averaging 32kmh,now began the climb,the first 5km or so is quite steep with grades hovering around the 9/10% mark.Straight from the start of the climb i had decided to keep it as easy as i could and within my threshold,it was only 8 o'clock but riders were already looking for shelter from the blazing sun.
I continued on my way looking forward to where the road eases a bit further up the climb but this year it didn't seem to get easier,it must of been in my head because after 1 1/2 hrs of climbing i reached the summit within 30 seconds of last years time
I refilled my bottles and started the descent of the glandon which is very steep and technical especially the top half,there had been some talk earlier in the week of netreulising this section as there had been some serious crashes in the past but it seemed like they didn't bother on the day although there were a considerable number of marshalls warning of the dangerous bends.I managed to reach the bottom safely in one piece averaging just over 41kph.
Now was the time to start looking for a group to ride with to the foot of the telegraph,hooked up with about a dozen riders mainly Italians who were going at a good speed but seemed to be surging and the slowing,not what you really want.Eventually they caught a group in front and they came to virtual stop.The speed was down to 23kph.A few guys rode of the front of this large group of now well over 50 riders,after they had opened a gap of a couple of hundred meters i decided i couldn't hang about any longer and put in a big effort to get across the gap,as i was about to make contact i had a quick look behind,for a minute i thought iwas back at Goodwood.You guessed it 10 guys sitting on my wheel.
Reached the Telegraph in 3hrs 17.mins a couple of minutes up on last year.The Telegraph is 12km long which i completed in just on the hour,5 minutes better than last year and was probably the best i had felt all day.Filled my bottles again at the summit,drinking one on the short descent to Valloire.
Now came the ascent of the Galbier that's after a quick refill of the bottle i had drunk on the descent,i don't like this climb at the best of times,18 kms of climbing up to the summit at 8000 ft,i especially hate the middle part which alternates between 7% and 8% but seems to go on for ever and you don't even feel your making any progress,eventually i reached plan ltat where the climb steepens for the last 8kms.It was about 4 kms from the summit that istarted to feel not quite right.There is n shelter at all on the Galbier and the sun was begining to take it's toll.After a couple of short stops to dowse my head in water i managed to reach the summit,1hr 40 minutes riding time alot quicker than last year and with the stops added still 25mins up on my previous ride.
This i'm afraid is where the wheels came of,if you feel rough on a 40km descent then there is obviously something not quite right and i felt terrible,banging head and nauseas,all the way down i had made my mind up to pack at the feed at the foot of the A'lpe
I finally arrived at the A'lpe in a total time of 7hrs 51 mins which left me 1hr and 45 mins to achieve what i set out to.A fter a brief discussion with my wife who had met me at the feed and asked me not to continue i decided to give it ago.The temperture by this time was in the 40s on the A'lpe with hindsight i should of packed there but i continued for 6kms of absolute purgatory and finally called it a day 7kms from the summit suffering from what i presume is either heat or sun stroke or a mixture of both.
It has taken me until now to recover sufficiently to right this report after spending all of yesterday in a darkened room with wet towels over me,not what i had hoped for but you win some you lose some and i lost big time.
ps i always seem to ride these events on what seems like the hottest day of year