Col D’Iseran

We changed our itinerary around yesterday due to the likelihood of thunder storms today. We didn’t fancy facing thunder and lightening at the top of a mountain! So, rather than a long flat ride we attempted a mid-length mountainous ride. The Col D’Iseran climb is 48km or just under 30 miles and has an average gradient of about 4%; the height at the bottom is 815m and the top is 2770m. We made it to Val d’Isere at 1827m…

So, yesterday wasn’t a total success and I owe the boys an apology because I am sure that inwardly they are somewhat disappointed. I am confident that I could have completed the climb, which I wasn’t finding overly challenging, if it weren’t for the conditions. It was so hot! Around 30 degrees, and midday sun – no shade. My body doesn’t appear to be able to regulate temperature very well, so despite drinking a crazy amount of water/electrolytes, within a very short period my head was throbbing and I had to have my first break; a sit down in a patch of shaded grass to the side of the road and my first steal of some of Ollie’s water.  Once my heart rate was down and I was cooler we started off again, for a few miles until we met up with Chris in our designated lunch stop village. Sadly, the village was in a period of shut down, between the winter and summer seasons, so there wasn’t even anywhere to buy water. This was at about the 1200 point and my water and electrolyte reserves were very low. Again, we spent some time in the shade before setting off; arranging to meet Chris at the next eatery. 

However, we pedalled and pedalled without finding anywhere. With reserves so low we were stopping once every mile just to get out of the sun, so progress was extremely slow. At around the 1400 point I stopped in a patch of shade, drank my final drops of water and stood shaking – bonk. Ollie went ahead to see if he could work out how much further/get water/ find Chris. He found Chris, who went ahead to find water.  Ollie and I walked up the hill a little and then got back on for the very well received tunnels. Ahhhh shade! 

Finally, we reached Val D’Isere. Panic; nothing is open. Relief; the hotel is. Disappointment; they aren’t serving food. Relief; the Supermarket is. 

After a drink stop at a lovely hotel we cycled a few 100m to the supermarket where we bought baguette, cheese, ham and crisps for lunch. 

At this point it was around 1600 and too late to continue climbing. So we descended back to the village of Bourg St. Maurice. 

Laura 

(Pics to be added once I am able to connect my phone to the Internet!)

Advertisements

Lacets de MontvernierĀ 

On arrival at the first campsite we pitched our tents and then headed out on a short, flat 26 mile course which was lovely. When we got back to the village it was about 2100 hours and we needed a hot meal. Sadly, there wasn’t much in the way of restaurants and the one that was open, was either closing or wasn’t keen to invite our dead-fly-ridden bodies into their establishment.

We got back to the campsite and they made us various fast food meals, which was lucky. 

Camping was a slightly improved experience over Yorkshire, but I was still freezing! 

On day two we packed up and headed off on the 5 hour journey to Albertville – our current location. The thing about long car journeys, in a car filled with carby snacks is that you are constantly hungry (read bored), so despite all of our cycling we are all going to come back as heavy or maybe heavier! Not helped by the fact that at lunch time we found an all you can eat buffet and had 3.5 puddings each!!

We finally arrived in Albertville at gone 1700, and had a 70 mile ride planned. We cut this down to just over 40 by driving some of the way. Lucky really, as we got back to the car at 2200 hours!

Anyway the fantastic ride took us up the Lacets de Montvernier and back. 
 

Lacets de Montvernier

 

As I looked up at the building placed at the top of the mountain, I said to Chris and Ollie, this is not possible; there is no way I will get up there.
But I did and the views and the experience was fantastic. The view, from one of the early hairpins, of a waterfall coming out of the rocks made me say “wow!” out loud to myself and then at the top, a short walk through some bushes brought us out at the view in the photo above. 

 

Ollie and I reaching the top

 
 

The view was even worthy of Chris’ first ever selfie


Must go…we need to go shopping before our ride today. 
Laura  

One week to go…

..with just one week to go until our epic trip to the Alps Ollie and I have spent the day doing bike washing and maintenance. We are planning on having a week off of cycling, so our next ride will be on arrival in France! Which is exciting and scary all at the same time. 

   

As the neighbours went out for their Saturday morning I was sat cleaning a cassette and when they came back from their Saturday morning excursion I was sat, in the rain, cleaning another cassette. Now our bikes are sparklingly clean and my hands and nails look like they belong to a mechanic. šŸ˜
Next we have a trip to the shop planned, to get some new cycling glasses, as mine broke yesterday after only 2 months of use. You get what you pay for I suppose! Though I don’t like to pay too much for glasses because they inevitably get sat on, and because I have a wonky face and they don’t tend to be that comfortable!  I suppose on the contrary I could actually spend more to get some which fit my wonky face. 

The week is going to be a busy one, but also a second week of anxious waiting. Chris has managed to injure his Achilles at the worst possible time. We are all desperately hoping that it will mend in time for our adventure – and he’s been to see two physios to try and speed up the process. He’s taken it in good spirits though and has been looking at the potential to hire an electric bike! Not something he would normally condone, but needs must and there is no point is making the injury worse and being out for 6 months just because of a 2 week holiday.
Laura x

Gloves

Glove Two

Glove Two

Glove Three

Glove Three

Glove Four

Glove Four

Gloves. Not the most interesting topic, but an ongoing problem in my cycling life.

I will begin with explaining that they are not labelled incorrectly, Glove Pair One went to the charity shop, so was unable to partake in my glove line-up.

I don’t know whether I have got weird hands. My fingers are quite long, maybe excessively so, but my hands seem reasonably normal I think. Yet, despite what I judge to be normal hands, I have yet to find a pair of fingerless gloves which I can comfortably wear on a ‘longer than short’ ride. I started with a pair of small black and white Gore gloves (the same type as Glove Two), but they cut off the blood to my fingers and were excessively tight, particularly after I had been out for a while. So I upgraded to the medium pair (pictured), the problem doesn’t really seem to have gone away though. Although the gloves fit me when I first put them on, once I have been out for a while they seem to move up my fingers, become tight and uncomfortable – and then once I take them off I am left with deep indents where they have been restricting the blood.

With our holiday in the Alps in mind, I decided to go for another pair. The Grip-Grab gloves (Glove Three) have many good reviews on the Internet, so I decided to give them a go. On first use I thought that they were much more comfortable. They were loose around the fingers and I thought all would be well. However, on second use, the gloves began to bunch up, the gloves were tighter around my fingers and they made the palm of my hand extremely sore. Ollie bought them off me and has been fine with them and I have been back to using Glove Two.

As you can see from Glove Four, I have not yet had the chance to try out the latest attempt to make my hands happy; I bought this pair on the way home from work today, at Performance Cycles in Poulton, Cirencester. In the shop they seemed super comfy – lets hope the Ā£10 gloves do the job! I’ve only got two weeks to solve this issue!

I wonder whether anyone else has this problem, or whether I just have weird hands.

Count down to this year’s challengeĀ 

Hello Blogosphere! 

It’s been almost a month! I’ve been catching up on, well, everything! Since I handed my final essay of the university year in I have been just as busy as I was, just with fun, sociable things (and cleaning) instead of academic stuff! 

Typically though, the weather seems to have taken a turn for the worse since I was released from the grips of academia, but I have managed to put in a reasonable amount of miles. Three more weeks of training and then a rest week before heading off to mainland Europe and the Alps! 

Top 100 climbs

In our training for the Alps we seem to have taken to attempting climbs which feature in the top 100 climbs book. This weekend we climbed out of Cheddar Gorge; a nice climb really! I even spent some time on the big ring!! The same could not be said about Bushcombe Lane… Ollie, Chris (Ollie’s brother this time) and I did the British Heart Foundation Cotswold bike ride a few weekends ago, and as we were going to be going past the end of Bushcombe Lane my brother suggested that we should try it. So we did. 

Bushcombe Lane 

During the first section, I wondered what the fuss was about. Yes it went on a bit. Yes I was tired. But it didn’t seem to be on the same scale as the top 100 climbs of Yorkshire and Derbyshire. Then I came across a local chap and I asked him whether I was nearly at the top. He just laughed and told me that I hadn’t even gotten to the steep part yet. 

I turned the corner from him and hit the hill. Within minutes my cadence was so low that I was falling off sideways into a bush. With wobbly legs I leant my bike against a tree, held onto said tree to keep me upright, scoffed some Jelly Babies (other sweets are available) and recovered my breath. 

I looked back down the hill and saw a relatively flat driveway off to the side; I clunked back down there on my cleats and got back on, whilst the gentleman looked over amused to my comment of “Here I go again!” 

I made it slightly further this time, before getting off due to a car coming up behind me making lots of revving noise (off-putting). I had almost made it to another drive, so I walked a few steps and then climbed back on for the final part of the hill. 

Phew. Bushcombe Lane is certainly deserving of the top 100 climbs book (although I think it features in the second book rather than the first).

Name and Shame

While the hill at Cheddar wasn’t too bad, the drivers of Somerset were the worst encountered so far! They were impatient, aggressive and lacked driving/common sense. On two separate occasions we were subjected to unpleasant hand signals; the second time by a passenger in a Ford Fiesta, who decided to do hand signals at every single cyclist on the hill. 

Whilst a driver (presumably a tourist) on Cheddar hill caused all sorts of chaos with his atrocious driving. 

Gains

Despite being unconvinced that I am getting any better at hills, the amount of hill climbing that we have been doing has vastly improved my strength on the flat, and thus my average speed over flat rides. This was demonstrated in my first 10 mile time trial of the year, a few weeks ago. My time was 30.50 which was a decent improvement on last year’s times. 

Finally

The last few weeks of cycling have left me wondering:

1. Why more cyclists don’t keep their buffs as part of their summer kit. I am yet to ditch mine, as it is excellent at keeping flies out of my nose and mouth! Doesn’t do much for my face tan though.

2. Whether other cyclists have as much trouble as I do when cycling through wind. Sometimes the grass isn’t even rustling but it feels like I am pedalling into a wind which is pushing me backwards. This wind which doesn’t even register on the ‘Grass scale’ saps my energy, making even a short ride feel extremely challenging. Will this ever become easier? The boys don’t seem to notice it. šŸ˜”

That’s it for now. I will try not to leave it so long next time.