27 June 2006

Epic France — Day 2

Loop ride through Lourdes

Today was supposed to be a bit easier, shorter ride with the 4,000ft. climb back up to the col du Soulor being the only significant obstacle. So we drove down to Lourdes to swim in the 25m pool there and were greeted by pool manager Yves Taubarant (spelling!) who is a legend in French triathlon. He was 11th over-all in IM Nice last year at age 54?

We had a good swim with Gordo and Monica doing 6km and the rest of us doing 3km. A few of the guys did our special 3km Individual Medley set for a bonus point.

After a snack we drove to the base of the mountain and ran the 7+km back up. Mike Montgomery lead the way with young Colm Cassidy (age 20) from Ireland and I giving it a bit of a nudge as well. Colm’s father Cairin did our camp in New Zealand in January.

A few of the guys carried on to run 2 hours for some bonus points which I thought was a pretty bold move so early in the camp. Its all down and up running when you’re on top of a mountain.

So there are a few keeping their name in the hat for a shot at the camp yellow jersey.

After lunch and a nap we set out on the bikes at 1:30 for our ride. Everyone had to bundle up to not freeze getting down the mountain but once down in the valley it was a very pleasant, over-cast 20 degrees C with no wind so all of the layers came off. We some how lost Monica on the way down! So Gordo had a bit of a stressful afternoon wondering what the hell she was up to but she managed to find her way back up the way she came eventually. Just about every one else who was with me got promptly lost! Because we lost Ian our guide for this ride when waiting for Monica we ended up taking a pretty significant detour through some “scenic” countryside taking in about 20km of very hilly roads that looked like driveways. We stopped to ask directions a few times but of course no one speaks French! So it took a little while to get back on the route. John Newsom found us in the car so we got some aid right before climbing up the mountain. And what a mountain pass it was! That D126 road back up to the col du Soulor is just magic. We were motor-paced for about 10km through a fantastic gorge by Mike Montgomery for a while until he spat us off. Mike was 7th over-all at the Honu _ IM just a few weeks ago and looks to be the guy who will be torturing us most this camp. At 150lbs he’s definitely looking the part of the mountain goat.

We hit a km at 9% to start the real climb. It continued for another 12km at between 6-8.5%. We had a car come by about every 10-20 minutes on the way up. Its dotted along the way by little villages that look like they’ve been there for a few hundred years. Once we hit about 4,000ft the tree-line ended and we went past the last village and the mist returned. And I was very happy to only have one mountain on the route today.

93km covered today with about 6,400ft of vertical gain. Ouch. But just gorgeous. A fantastic climb.

Nice to see some beef on the menu tonight! I feel a little catabolic already. But that’s OK! I came to the cam a little heavy at about 164lbs. I’ll try to weigh myself again at the end of the camp. At the January Epic I got sick for the first 3 days and ended up losing about 8 lbs during the 2 weeks to be the lightest I’ve been since ’91! KP calls Epic his “FOOD HOLIDAY J!” and I have noticed there’s a lot more food for me without him being around, so hopefully I won’t loose too much weight. After being so depleted after the last camp that it took about 3 weeks to feel normal I make a concerted effort to come to this camp with a bit more beef.