At 5am the sound of the alarm went off like a bomb! Got up, brushed teeth, washed face, got dressed and headed down to brekkies where a selection of cold meats, cheeses, cereals, eggs, bacon, breads, fruit and pastries awaited us. I filled my stomach with everything it needed and a bit more and then waited for race numbers. Mine was fortunately there but Andy's was not so he headed up to get bike etc and I waited for his number. By the time he got back there was still nothing so I got ready and we then waited for the number which happily came and we could all leave from the hotel to the start.
The start is quite odd by our standards in that there is no real start time. Provided you leave between the allowed time, you can start when you want to start. After a pic or 2 I set off into the unknown that is this race. First striking thing was that people were stopping for red robots!! The cold was a bit hectic though. On downhills I really froze! It was insane. Going through 1 town I understood why - it was 4 degrees!!!
Without incident, (other than dropping my windjammer when I wanted it off and then having to quickly fetch it) I got to water point 1 where I had a quick photo stop and grabbed some of the yummy food on offer.
The next bit included a pretty suck climb which only really had 1 highlight which was coming across another South African. We then cruised along meandering hills to the first of the major climbs of the day... Rosier. This was a nice stead climb which the person I was riding with and myself just cruised up at a happy pace chatting away. The next climb, Masquiard was not as bad and we once again just cruised up it. Then came Mont Theux which isn't that bad but for some reason my gears started having issues (blaming the cold) and I couldn't find a comfortable gear so was forced to just suck it up and use the gears I had. Fortunately for me there was lots of beautiful downhill after that before the next climb and a water point as well where I could get my gears tended to.
The guys at the support were amazing! They sorted my gears out quickly and I was able to chill for a bit before starting one of the epic climbs of the race: Cote de la Redoute. This is a spectacular climb!! Sad thing is that there were people walking it. At the top, I stopped for a quick photo opportunity (to prove I had been there) before going down the next bit towards the next climb which was Cote de Colonster.
Colonster was actually boring and not that fun. It was a long drag that didn't end. But, like all bad climbs it ended and I was able to get a bit of downhill rest before the last big climb of the day: Cote de Saint Nicolas. Saint Nic was a fun climb!! In fact, so fun I would love to do it again. Short, sharp and fun with a distance of only about 1.4km but with a decent gradient. After that stunning climb, it wasn't too far (only 1 more climb) to the finish. After 7hours 12 mins, I was done with the race. I collected medals and tshirts and then a beer.
Was a really cool ride that was fun with cobbles, fun with climbs and fun with meeting other people. My bike was a dream bike that between it and my bunny doing all the work, I just got to sit there and chill. My Bryton saved my bacon as it told me exactly the distances which ended up being such a motivation!
It was cold today and despite the layers it hit me at times. The max temp was 19 but with am average of just over 9 and a min of 3, its a cold day out!!
Now that the race is done and dusted, I am treating myself to. 2 or 3 weeks of recovery before the next training block begins. But, fear not! More travel blogging is on the way over the next few days.