Monday, August 24

A week of climbing: part 3

Took a while to get back to writing this!

Next few days of the holiday were pretty memorable. Epic ride out to Annecy. head wind all the way ment that Pauline had a mini bonk about 5km from the lake...however we didn't know how far we actually were. 73km in the wind took its toll but a bit of a push, and an omelette and chips, made her alive. Pauline went off for a swim with Paul, but taking the 'sensible' option i decided to ride home.... erm bad call Greg. Wind had turned in the valley and i had another 73km of head wind. This time though the descents on the way out were all climbs. The last 17km of the ride saw me climbing up the valley just wanting it to end. Gels in, water in, nothing appeared to want to make my legs work. Felt crap, but soldiered on. Nearly collapsed when i got back to the house. Beer, massage then dinner made me feel better. Off early to bed and i slept like a log shaped Greg.

Next day was Col de la Madaline. Apparently going to be a 101km round trip, with the main climb being the 26km up to 2000m.Two epic days in a row ehy? Sure why not. Felt ok leaving the house, legs were slow to warm up but not that bad. Took it cheesy on the flat acting as a wind break for Pauline on some sections, but as we reached the base of the climb i just eased off as the others decided it was go time. I figure in a 26km climb with sections off continuous 10-11% you don't want to leave all your rubber on the tarmac in the first 10km. Surprisingly enough i was right.

Great evening meal as usual and off to bed, tomorrow was to be the last day and i wanted a big day. Cormet du Roseland was the pain of choice and i wanted to be on form. Woke up the next day feeling perky and got the food in and the legs in order. Ride out was probably a bit faster than the group wanted but i wanted to be warmed up by the time we got to Bourg. Picked up Paul and rocked up to the base of the climb. Stuck with the group for the first km to get the legs going again and then in the finest tradition of Cervelo Test Team decided i was Thor and went for it. 19km climb on my wn, balls out, no easing up. Power over 270W for the whole thing, do not ease off, do not stop pushing, fast as i can. First 9km hurt like hell, next 9km hurt more, the last km was both terrible and gratifying at the same time. Hit the top and rolled around to stop my legs cramping. Parked the bike, quick puke (not intended), lay down and started the clock.

10mins later the first of the group rolled in, 5mins later Pauline, then the last rider 25mins later. Thankfully it was pretty warm at the top or i'd have frozen! Best ride of the week by far and i felt strong all the way bar a 1km section about 8km in where my mind was sure i was cashing a cheque i could not pay. WRONG. Rolled down slowly to enjoy the view i missed on the way up. Going to miss those mountains, such a fantastic place.

Saturday, August 8

A week of climbing: part 2

Had a great dinner the day after Petit San Bernard and retired nice and early.Unfortunately the local cockrel and peacock decided that i was not to sleep, add that the the church bell that decided it needed to toll twice and hour and freak out at 7am and 7pm each day.....well lets just say i got little to no sleep....and Pauline got attacked by the sneeze daemons and kept us both up! Short story long, i pretty much got no sleep for the first two nights. I unfortunately am a light sleeper...need to change this....i did find a way though. Wine.

The next day was very very hot (35' in the shade) so we just chilled out, i wasn't feeling to good for a change in the heat and pretty much. Woke up early and got a 6km run in before breakfast. Got in two 15km rides and a swim. Think i didn't drink enough the day before so spent the day drinking and getting hydrated again. Hit the beds early that evening after a few glasses of the house red, ZZZZZZ when combined with earplugs.

Local lake and swimming spot

RAIN, alpine rain, and lots of it. An 8am breakfast turns into the most leisurely chill out to wait for the rain to pass. At about 10am it lets up so we prep and head out at 10:30. Along the main road, through the tunnel, and off towards Moutier. Right turn after a few km and we arrive at the base of Notre Dame Du Pris. a 10km climb with sections of 9%, nothing to hard, nice and short but fun... apparently. Went out nice and hard as we were warmed up and kept up the pace, held off at to get our breath half way up, and found une petit petit lapin.

Met some random cars blaring out Europop and shouting 'Allez' at us through the speakers on top of the car. Something was afoot we thinks. As we get to the top it turns out there is a local fete on! Welcomed in with cheers from the lashing rain we get free coffee, pizza and snacks. Pauline even gets her own cheer as she gets to the top 'la femme! Allez'.Paul tries to pay and the woman just waves us away. Gotta love the French. Long cold wet descent in the slithery rain and we get back to Mascot. Great ride albeit kinda wet.

Had some food back in the pizzeria after spending 2 hours trying to get food...i HATE when French towns shut down and don't feed me. That evening we went out for a second spin up to La Plange. Long hard ride straight up from the village. Decided to drive it with Paul for the first 9km and we just rode each other into the ground until one of us gave up. Paul broke first....but only just, very much on the edge when he said 'enough' and we recovered for a section or two. Picked up Pauline as we recovered in the shade, and we rode on towards the top. 13km in and my legs were shot, and Pauline wasn't doing much better so we turned for home and had a descending masterclass for Pauline on the steeper 10% sections. Good ride, but needed fooooooood!!!!

Bob sleigh course near the top

Friday, August 7

A week of climbing: part 1

Ok, this is going to be a long one so i may as well split it up. A while back i became a bit disillusioned about the whole training thing. Life, work and Xterra France getting cancelled basicly ment that i pretty much jacked it in for a week or 4. Still trained but it was a bit haphazard and kinda pointless. So with that in mind i had suggested to Pauline that we go to France for a week of focused training/relaxing/time together. This is the story of that holiday:

Last minute breakage of my tri bike on Tuesday meant that the cross bike was being called into action. Flap flaps from Dublin to Geneva, minor delay at Dublin as they couldn't close the plane door....getting scared now. Hour 40 jump and we landed in Switzerland. Ok...its hot out...very hot, late 20's kinda hot. Met Toni and Paul and the other 3 Irish people who were on the same flight as us! Hopped in the car for a nice long scenic drive to Mascot la Plange...wherever that was. Arrived at the most idilic little French village, which turned out to be our home for the next 8 days. Beer in hand i went about putting the bike together.

Home for the week

The evening was spent talking to guests who were just leaving over dinner and meeting the people we'd be riding with for the next week. 3 dentists; one IM/HIM distance tri-athlete and partner, and a sportive rider. Mixed bag of ideas on riding so we all agreed to let Paul decide the ride for the day after and Col du Petit St. Bernard it was. Nice easy 15km on the flat, 30km climb and descent after, then 15km flat home. 90km in total on the first day with a 30km climb with sections of 6%...up to 2,180m....WFT am i doing here, i can't climb for shit!

Rolled out after the soon to be traditional breakfast of porridge, bread, coffee ,boiled egg, bread, coffee, juice, coffee and bread. I do like breakfast. 15km easy enough to Bourg St Moritz and got the legs warmed up for the 30km climb up to Petit San Bernard. Sections of 6% but mostly rolling 4 and 5%. Took it handy after realising that there was no point gunning it from the get go. Talked most of the way up with nice low HR then chilled at 9km to go waiting for the group. Last 5km Paul decided it was time to gun it so hung on for all i could. Lungs and legs were burning but i would not get dropped. Hit the top and caught my breath in the sunshine waiting for the others to catch up.

View from Half way up
The top and Pauline's new friend.



Descent was fun on my CX bike, breaks of cheese make for silly lines around hairpins. More or less a sprint recovery session on the way; break hard into corner, sprint out x lots. Great ride and nice cool down after coffee in Bourg. Only after did i figure that Paul might be testing myself and Pauline to see where we were, as the others had been here before! Dinner that night outside was worth it and talk of tomorrows ride in the heat made me a little sceptical...a run was planned and a bit of a swim. Slowly slowly catchy monkey....but not this monkey.