Wednesday 10 July 2013

Stage 17 - Tme Trial - Embrun to Chorges

Today was a short time trial stage through the hills on the edge of the alps.  At 32km, it'll probably take the pros less than an hour.  It took me considerably longer, but then I did stop for photos.
The stage consisted of 2 cat 2 climbs and their descents.  The climbs gave wonderful views over the lake and the 2 descents was lovely and fast (the 1st was too twisty to go fast)

Sarah had prepared a treat for lunch.  I'm not sure where Nutella pies feature in a balanced diet - but they taste good!

I should write a bit about the organisation behind this trip.  I think I'm probably a pretty harsh critic of poorly organised events, but the organisation and logistics behind this enterprise are nothing short of brilliant.  Sarah (Perry) is the mastermind behind it all and has been supported by a team of masseurs, mechanics, physios and drivers).  She has arranged everything from the hotels, to the catering (e.g early breakfasts, getting the hotel kitchens to cook buckets of pasta for us each night), the transfers, the bike shipments - she appears to remember every detail effortlessly, and nothing is too trivial for her attention.  Without doubt, she is the fundamental reason why The Tour de Force is such a success.

Saying that should not diminish the contribution of Phil Deeker.  A slightly greying wiry - ageless, but probably older than all but a few people on the trip.  He covers more miles than any of us.  Sometimes riding with the fast guys - and capable of beating most of them, he'll then drop back and help the back markers before helping to take down the route markers at the end of the day.  On the Mt Ventoux day, he was one of the 1st to the summit, yet was last back having been most of the way down and gone back up with the back-markers.  There was no room in the bus to come down, so he appeared in the hotel after dark, soaked but still in good cheer having down a phenomenal ride!

  I'm still pretty slow up the hills but I'm getting quicker (about 750 vertical metres per hour, compared to just about 600 m/hr in Corsica).  More importantly, they feel much easier - I can just get into the rhythm and the km just tick by.  That's fortunate, since we have 3 enormous mountain stages coming up with 4 cat 3 climbs, 5 cat 2 climbs, 3 cat 1 climbs and 5 HC climbs.  I find it helpful (but sometimes a little daunting) to convert the climbs to multiples of Kop Hill - one of the biggest climbs near home with 130m of ascent.  It's a standard Cat 4 climb.  Category 3 is 2-3 Kop Hills, Category 2 is 4-5 Kop Hills. Cat 1 is about 6-8 Kop Hills and HC climbs are 9-12Kop Hills.  Some very rough maths means that the total climbing over the next 3 days is very approximately the equivalent of 100 Kop Hills.  Actually, I wish I hadn't just worked that out!

We have 20 new people arriving this evening.  Its a bit od seeing them arrive fresh-faced for their adventure, while the lifers are definately think about the end, looking forward to getting through the last 3 days and reaching Paris.

Strava link here