this weekend sees the 3rd assult on the french roads and cols from bigfoot riders in as many weeks.
good luck and have a great day to welsh john(the mountain goat) and also to matt who will be taking part in his 2nd etape inside a week
Thanks chaps. Matt has already earned his bragging rights this year, but I still have a lot to live up to with the epic achievements already safely in the bag. I won’t let you down!
Looks like being a beautiful ride if the rain holds off. Current forecast is wet and 23 degrees, so very unlike the Alpe. Heading off early tomorrow morning and I can’t wait to finally be let loose on those mountains.
NEWS FLASH FROM THE FRONT LINE!
This just in from Matt.
"Torrential all day rain, gale force mistral winds, temperature from 5 to 20 degrees.
Etape Acte 1 Summary: A ride for boys and girls
Etape Acte 2 Summary: The ride for real men and women!
I managed to finish in about 9.5 hours of total time and assume 9 hours of riding time. Didn't manage to see John so hope he's ok. A lot of people abandoning with hypothermia at least the freezing cold riding in the UK is good for something..."
Well done Matt - a week of extremes, from 40 degrees down to 5 a week later. Looking forward to a detailed report when you get back. Time for a rest now or are you going to fit in Ventoux on the way home?
Heard from John G that he safely finished - he grumbles about the amount of ascent (4k metres instead of the promised 3.4k) and the general wetness and promises lots of stories on his return.
Pleased to see that Matt has made that tricky transition from boyhood to manhood in only a week.
We're milling through the grinder, grinding through the mill. This is not an exercise, could it be a ... drill.
Les conditions météos ont été exécrables et ont poussé plus de 2000 personnes à l'abandon.
Les prévisions météos étaient stables depuis plusieurs jours et la pluie devait être au rendez-vous....pas de surprise. Le vent, le froid sont également venus durcir la journée des 4000 téméraires présents sur la ligne de départ.
Dès les premières heures de course et lors du premier ravitaillement, ils étaient plus d'un millier à jetter l'éponge. Sur les sommets du Cantal, les températures n'excédaient pas 4°C, la brume, les nuages n'ont même pas permis aux cyclistes d'admirer les paysages cantaliens.
Au final, seulement 1982 d'entre-eux furent capables de franchir la ligne d'arrivée à Saint-Flour dans les délais.
Parions que tous ces participants reviendront tenter leur chance sur les pentes auvergnates, un jour de grand beau.
French isn't my strong point! Well done Matt to keep going through the weather.
The weather conditions were appalling and forced more than 2,000 people abandoned.
Weather forecasts were stable for several days and the rain was to be the go .... no surprise. The wind, cold hardening also came the day of the 4000 rash present on the starting line.
In the early hours of the race and during the first pit stop, they were over a thousand to throw in the towel. The peaks of Cantal, temperatures did not exceed 4 ° C, fog, clouds are not even allowed cyclists to enjoy the sights Cantal.
In the end, only 1982 of them were able to cross the finish line in Saint-Flour on time.
Bet that many participants will return to try their luck on the slopes of the Auvergne, a day of great beauty.
Some 200 cyclists participating in a trial of Patent alpine touring were rescued Sunday at the Galibier pass (Hautes-Alpes), where they had been "trapped by the weather and snow", say the fire at the AFP, confirming a report of the "Dauphiné Libéré."
Dressed in shorts and tee-shirts, bikers were surprised about midday with cold and snow on the summit of the Col du Galibier, at 2,645 meters, where the temperature had dropped to 3 ° C.
ON THE SAME TOPIC
Supported by firefighters at emergency center of La Grave, where they received a warm drink, they were then transported by bus to Bourg d'Oisans (Isère). According to the website of the regional daily, some riders were in a state of hypothermia when they are supported by firefighters.
The pass will host Thursday racers of the Tour de France, one hundred years after his first ascent.
I'm back! 4,000 metres was not a grumble really, just more of a comment. Thanks Hugh for letting everyone know I was still alive. I've written a report while on the train journey home and will post once I've typed it up. For now I am happy to report that I finished 1,648 out of the 1,982 who completed.
By the way, the quote Matt gave is available on the same website in English if you click on the right flag!
Rapha described Acte II as “the real Tour de France” and gave an unashamedly sentimental and romantic presentation about the fact that it passed through little towns and villages that no-one had heard of and for which Le Tour was the biggest event of the year. Taking nothing away from Acte I, I think they were right – I loved this ride and all it represented, but then I’m a sentimentalist too. The cold, wind and rain was nothing compared with the warmth, affection and support I felt from the people who stood outside in the pouring rain from 7 am onwards to cheer on the participants. “Bravo”, “bon courage”, “allez les gars”. I’m welling up just writing this and will have to go over to Martin’s so that we can have a little blub together!
Make no mistake, this ride was hard, hard, hard. Think of a Dragon ride/Legs of Steel fusion and you get the general idea. 209 km (130 miles) with, as it turned out, 4,000 metres of climbing including 8 categorised climbs. I had estimated 10 hours based on 3,400 metres and would have upped that to 10 hours 30 had I known. I got round in 10h 27, with 9h 58 in the saddle, so I’m chuffed with that. I took on board lessons learned from my Marmotte experience last year and was well hydrated and fuelled throughout. I could also feel the benefit of all the training rides we’ve put in together and the great support and encouragement from my fellow Bigfooters. It was also helpful to have worked out in advance where I should be at the top of each hour so that I could gauge my progress on the go, borrowing from Hugh W’s meticulous approach to planning. Inspired by Mike R and his Marmotte experience, I was determined not to stop when the going got tougher (unlike last year when I put in a few “picnic stops”), but just at the feed stations and when nature otherwise dictated.
Even though the climbs were short by Alpine standards, they were still demanding especially when you think that more than half of the 4,000 starters actually gave up or were eliminated and a further 3,500 could not even face it on the day. No doubt the weather played a big part in that. I saw one rider lying on the floor late on in the ride who, when asked if he was OK, just shouted “I’m tired”. I did, however, almost come to an unscheduled stop 5 metres short of the top of the Perthus because of a strong headwind – the guy in front of me was blown over!
What about the ride? The flat bits were hilly, the hilly bits were, well, hilly and many of the descents were also hilly! The apparent gradual descent from Prat du Bouc to the finish contained innumerable section of up to 1 km at 6-8% and not just the two Cat 4 climbs that are shown on the profile. I was prepared for this and so I was able to enjoy the rolling terrain, rather than endure it. Well the sun was out by now you see and I had beaten the dreaded broomwagon. I had calculated before the ride that the elimination times were tough for the first 116 km to the top of the Perthus, which was the second of the three Cat 2 climbs and the third named climb of the day. Indeed, for most of that first half I was probably only 10-15 minutes (3-5 km) ahead of the wagon. But from Perthus I gradually pulled away as I thought I might over the next two Cat 3 climbs and by the time I got to Prat du Bouc (the last Cat 2 climb at 154 km) I was 30 minutes ahead and relaxing. By Neuveglise 24 km later I was now 1 hour ahead and had a huge grin on my face. I stayed an hour up for the rest of the ride.
The final climb though St Flour was not as bad as claimed. I’m sure they said 10% on the TV, but it was basically a slighter longer version of Box Hill (so the “Surrey Alpe” would barely merit a Cat 4 designation!). Rather than go for a final huge effort on the climb to the finish line, I just savoured each moment as I spun up. The climb felt easy and the sight of the cliff overhanging the road was breath taking. The crowds were fantastic (“allez allez allez”) and my only regret is that there was no official photographer at the end to take the “glory shot” that would have been hung on my ego wall. I had the shot planned and everything – rain jacket finally removed to show off the Bigfoot shirt for the first time that day, which I would have grabbed with one hand in sissy footballer fashion and let out a huge roar. That will just have to remain a mental image!
Despite the rain, there were some splendid views from the Peyrol and Perthus at times and Chateau d’Alleuze was just beautiful. As I went past THAT bend and THAT fence, I also spared a thought for Vinokourov and Hoogerland. Another way of feeling part of Le Tour I suppose, even if not for the best of reasons.
My favourite non-cycling moment was the chap sat in his doorway with a contraption that made the noise of a cow! How random was that when there were plenty of the real thing around? [Note to Hugh G: the cows were wearing cow bells, so the natural order of things has been restored in the Auvergne if not in the Alps, though I saw no sheep in order to be absolutely sure of this.]
I met some great people in the hotel where I was staying and was able to share the anticipation, the ride and the inevitable debriefings with them too. Most got round, though one was sent on a short cut as the organisers tried to reduce the number of hypothermia cases by getting the backmarkers who were not at this stage behind on time to miss out half of the main climbs. Another was caught by the broomwagon an agonising 200 metres before the top of the Perthus – a few more minutes and he may well have survived to the end. On such small margins…..
Great camaraderie. Great ride. Vive Le Tour!
[PS – it was a long train journey home, as you can maybe tell from the length of this report!]
Matt/John. I have today received in the post a DVD of the 2nd Etape from the Auvergne Tourist Office. No idea why, as I didn't ask for it and didn't take part in it. If either of you would like the DVD as a treasured memento of that day please let me know and it is yours.