We left pretty close to on time.. and rode out of town in a nice double pace line. we were short three rider, however, one (Martin) had yet to arrive and two others who waited the delivery of their bikes.
Our first alpine climb started soon after we left the city… the Col de Cru. We started the climb last after stopping to remove layers then climbed strong.
After a bit more rolling we hit the Col de Ramaz… which was to be our first big test a proper Cat 1 climb. We caught and passed a few other riders on the lower slopes and about half-way up I pulled ahead of Judi to climb a bit at my own pace… after a few kilometers we came to a flatter part of the climb and I decided to go back a bit for Judi. She was quickly found and we continued to the top. Unbeknownst to us there was some kind of cycle sportive going on.. and the finish was on top of the climb. I tried to get a decent shot of Judi "winning the KOM"
Lunch - we arrived late… and during lunch judi decided to take the shortcut to the hotel and I decided to climb the Col de Joux Plane. the only problem… pretty much everyone had already left while we were eating lunch… oh, did I mention that I was navigating via the printed directions? I did not have my Garmin loaded with the course… for a while I thought I was following Route 50… until I realized 50 was the speed limit… I rode probably a bit harder than I should have but I did begin to catch our group on the Joux Plane… and by the top I was with everyone else.. and they all had Garmins with directions… I was getting the hang of the descending too and had a great time flying down the mountain with a couple of the guys.
|Mont Blanc in the background|
We got a bit turned around in the valley… but were soon sorted out again and hammering along the flats. Although I was hanging okay with Tom and we had dropped everyone else the efforts of the day were catching up with me. Our route ended with an unnamed 10 Km climb @ About a 6% average gradient and it kicked my ass… stayed close to Tom most of the way up digging deep to do so… With about 5 km to go I got a cramp… I tried to stretch it out but in the end I kind of had to ride through it. Tom was nice enough to wait for me a couple of times at intersections to insure that I knew the way. Thankfully the last 1.5 Km was downhill… I was ever so happy to see the hotel, Judi, and drink a well deserved beer.
When I went to bed that first night… I was wrecked physically… still cramping… aching back… and pretty sure that I would not be able to complete the full course the next day which featured even more climbing.