12 July 2006

Epic France Epilogue

Yesterday; 2 days after the camp finished; I rode 180km to the summit of Mt. Ventoux and back (approaching from Sault - the more moderate side of the mountain) with one of my older athletes Klaus Hebben who has a house here in sunny Provence.
The Haus of Klaus is a pretty nice place to hang out! Its in Bonnieux just down the road from Pierre Cardin’s place in La Coste. Not quite as grand as that but still a roomy enough Chateau to comfortably house 20 of his friends from Phuket (where he lives most of the year) with their kids, and his Thai helpers (cook, masseuse).
After having a snack at the summit of the Ventoux to check out the view we sailed back down the 26km descent to have what Gordo calls “the full sit-down” lunch in Monieux before heading down the D942 back home (for those following along with your maps at home!), then going over the Col de Murs. 8,000ft. of climbing for the ride.
I mention this because doing rides like this is with guys like Klaus is the reason I’ve set up this little camp venture with Gordo.
I want to do great, challenging training in fantastic places with good people.
This is what Epic Camp is about for me.

I’m acutely aware that these camps are for a very small, select group of people. And I’m going to make sure they stay that way.
I realize not many people can or would want to get away from their normal life and do a brutal 50+ hours/week of competitive training.
I’m OK with that.
Not every one can date Nicole Kidman either. Life ain’t fair!!! but I hope to find enough people like me to share the challenges that Gordo, John and I can dream up in future camps because sharing it is a big part of the fun.

There have been quite a few people who have done previous camps who I’ve not been in touch with since. Even though I don’t know if the camp they did totally jived with their expectations I do know they will have had a very memorable experience – perhaps one of their most memorable experiences in their life as an athlete. And I’m certain they will have had ample opportunity to explore their physical and mental limits in the endurance realm.

I think we’ve done a very good job over the last 3 years of identifying the camps ideals, goals and schedules. We do want every one to know what they’re in for when they sign up for the camps. These blogs are an extension of that.
Now that our first European venture is done we’re excited about getting together a good camp for Italy taking in some of the Dolomites next year. But first we have another Epic on the South Island of New Zealand in January with an option to take part in Challenge Queenstown either as an individual or part of a team immediately after the camp.
I’m planning on doing the entire race. I’ve not yet done an IM race immediately after an Epic and perhaps its not even sensible for an old broken down old geezer like me to even think about it but that’s part of the appeal for me – to see if I can do it.

Thanks again to all of you who shared this camp with me and a special thanks to our super support – especially Ian who came to the party late but saved us from coming to grief over and over.

Train Hard.
Satiate the Need.


08 July 2006

EpiC France Days 11 & 12

Days 11 & 12 – Font Romeau – St. Girons over Col de Puymorens and final day’s ride from St. Girons to Pau.

I’m writing this at our hotel in Pau at the end of our camp. We have dinner in a couple of hours so I’ll try to do a quick re-cap of the last couple of days before I forget it all.

Font Romeau had quite a full house while we were three. Lots of swimmer kids, a full contingent of distance runners and the Niger soccer team, some race walkers, the Rabobank cycling team had about 11 guys there, some of them did the Giro. Some other athletes of note were triathletes Vukovic(sp.?) who was 2nd in the Sydney Olympic tri. He was preparing for IM Germany (Frankfurt). Brad Kapheldt from Aussie was there training with some Germans and some guys from Luxembourg, and Kiwi Evelyn Williamnson

We started with a 6am swim at Font Romeau. Jonathan Kelly and I started our swims with the 3km IM set for a bonus point and I kept going to get in a 6km session which seemed pretty damn long today. I think only about ½ the camp swam this morning – very quiet at the pool.
Gordo did a 50 minute run before and again after his 3km to get a few more points. He also had another 50-minute run planned for the lunch stop mid-ride to keep the pressure on Mike M. for the yellow jersey. Mike did his swim and 50 minute run to keep a slight lead and then packed his run gear in his day bag to be ready to run with Gordo at lunch if necessary.
Not every one is still chasing points, so the ride to St. Girons today was all they were going to do.
The grupetto rolled out 30 minutes before Mike M, Gordo and I which I thought was a little cruel as those 2 were still in a battle for the King of the Mountains (KOM) jersey as well and I would be cannon fodder on Col de Puymorens which would be the last KOM of the camp.
The grupetto had their own battle on Puymorens with Jonathan Kelly and young Colm attacking early, then working together for about 8km and finishing in a dead heat sprint at the top.
Mike M attacked G-Man and I at the 5km to go mark. Since it was my last chance to win a KOM I decided I’d better make a total commitment and did so only to have Mike motor me off the back with 2km to go even though most of it was into the wind. He then held G-Man off at the top by a wheel.
I’ll try to talk Mike into entering more very hilly triathlons in the future because he really is very, very good at going uphill fast. Most triathlon courses don’t give a guy like him a chance to show their climbing talents.

We rolled along solidly to lunch, Mike and Gordo went for a run and came to an amicable agreement to end the points insanity and we all rolled into St. Girons comfortably. Jonathan, Dr. J and Ken Wallace tacked on to Massat and back to get 210km for the day, young Colm rode more to get 180 and then they did their runs of 1:40 or 50 minutes. HUGE Day for Day 11!!!! 11+ hours or training today is a hell of a lot.
I hope I didn’t miss any one doing extra as I went straight to the bar after my run to watch the finish of today’s stage of the Tour and then I went straight to sleep.

At dinner we had a B-Day cake for John Newsom who turned 30 today. John has organized almost every detail of this camp and has been outstandingly patient in support so it was nice he could have a little treat tonight.

Day 12 – swim, run, eat, ride to Pau - 170km

6:30 assembly for a snack before jogging 5 minutes to the pool.
We were in a 25 m pool today so a good opportunity for me to do my 1km of bands only (just a thick rubber band around your ankles) for bonus point. I don’t think any one did more than 3km this morning as I was nearly the 2nd to last guy out. We then did an easy 45 minute run around town before breakfast.
We had a leisurely hour for brekkie which was nice. 10am roll-out. We planned to roll along easily to keep the group together but a few big hills broke things up a bit before lunch.
Man its just beautiful riding here.

The sun poked its head our during lunch break. I only had 2 beers! Which is about normal for my last Epic lunch. Boy did the food taste yuuumy today! Gary Burgess sandwiches at lunch have kept getting bigger and bigger the whole camp and today he made a colossal Dagwood Bumpstead special that I thought he’d need a forklift to hold.

After lunch we still had about 65 km to go to our hotel in Pau and Dr. J did most of the pulling again to keep us moving along. I knew a few of the guys would enjoy a little city limit sprint to finish things off so I got the ball rolling on a hill I thought was about 5km out. Turned out to be about 12 km from our hotel and young Colm was on fire and held Jonathan and I off quite comfortably even though most of it was over 50kph pace. Ohhhhh!! to be young and strong!!! The kid is a gorilla on the flat.

At tonight’s final dinner we will award the jerseys and some special awards and have a few toasts.

This has been a very good camp and the group here has risen to the challenges presented remarkably well. The cumulative stress of all the massive climbs, the altitude and the daily runs and swims added up to the biggest average daily volume for the camp.
And I thought we had some doozies in the past.

Perhaps I should save my thoughts for a proper Epilogue tomorrow or the next day…..

06 July 2006

Epic France Day 10 - Activities Day!!!

Day 10 – Activities Day!!! In Font Romeau

A few notes from yesterday first……….
A few tired folks around yesterday:
Mike Peters was truly trashed. He was worried for his own safety when riding solo back to Font Romeau as he thought he might wander out into the road like one of those RAAM guys and get munched. He did swim in the morning and then DID run 1:40 to get some points but then he DNF’d the Aquathon and rode home solo zombie style. One pooped camper.
Ed McDevitt thought he was having an asthma attack at the beginning of the Aquathon. Turns out it was really an anxiety attack! But he pulled the pin and sat on the beach for a while before re-grouping and got his running shoes on to run a bit.
Mike Montgomery lost about 5 minutes in the swim in the Aquathon. Normally he wouldn’t even lose that much to me in an IM swim and this time I wasn’t even swimming decent.

Today is our only really easy day of the camp. We’ve traditionally had an activities day at the end of the camp but logistically it is much easier to have it here in Font Romeau so we had it today.
Its just a fun day where we get to do some sports very dis-similar to IM training.
We do score points for all events, but we’ve reduced the over-al impact of the days points so as to not affect the over-all points significantly. Having said that a stellar effort on activities day may get some one a podium spot for the camp points competition! So competition is bound to be fierce!

The pool events are 400IM (a Tom Dolan), 200 kick and 50 freestyle.
Other events are push-ups to failure, 1500m run up a ski hill (steep!), 4km gradual uphill TT on the bike, mini-golf and perhaps one or two other events Johnno can think up today.

In the swim events Ken Wallace from NY showed a bit of spark to take out the 50m f/s in 28.3. Where the hell did that come from??? Turns out he used to be a 50m f/s and 100m fly specialist before triathlon.
Monica took out the 400IM comfortably in 5:59 which was a very impressive effort. She used to swim it a minute faster in college but she’s pretty shelled having turned up to the camp having had about a month off after IM Brazil. I’d like to say for the record that I got a very clear 2nd!
Most of the guys here don’t have a strong history in swimming so it was a bit of a struggle for them to get through the IM and kick.

After breakfast we met for the push-ups and run up the ski hill.
Ed McDevitt had a max Bench Press of 395lbs in college and once did 20 reps with 245 so he was the hot favorite to take out the push-ups and he didn’t disappoint. But push-ups at 6,000ft is an endurance event! I managed a respectable 54 which was a hell of a lot better than I did at the Aussie Epic so I was pleased my last 4 months as a gym rat payed off for something.
Racing up a ski run is always hard but in our state of fatigue it was downright cruel! Colm took it out hard as 20-year olds are prone to do but once he hit max Hrate about 2 minutes into it I was able to gradually pull away to hit the top just in front of G-Man with Mike M 3rd. I think every one else was just happy to get to the top at all. Gravity is clearly evident on a ski hill.
So a pretty good morning for the old guy having totally whupped G’s ass in the 400 IM, the 50 f/s, the push-ups and the mountain run! Without the silly 200 kick it would have been a total shut-out for the morning! And who the hell really needs to have a good kick anyway………. J
And I’ve out-blogged him by miles while keeping my heavy schedule of social responsibilities on the camp! HA! Since Gordo isn’t writing up a blog you’ll just have to accept my version of how things went on this camp……..
We did a standing long jump after the swim events. Several guys went over 2 meters which I thought was pretty impressive.

I immediately jogged down the hill back to the training center but most of the others went looking for super support crew Ian's young Lewis (age 14) who was taking part in the uphill run and got lost taking a short cut through the forest. He ended up doing about 10km in the mountains but eventually found his way back.
After a nap and lunch we headed out to the track to do a run with your bike for 400m (like you do in a very long transition......) ansd the guys showed a good turn of speed. I didn't!
Then we headed up to a dead end ski road to do the uphill 4km TT which turned out a little harder than advertised. I scored another victory for the old guys with Mike M a close second at 14 seconds back and the G-Man taking 3rd 30 seconds back and just in front of young Colm. With just the mini-golf left to go it was a close battle for the activities day champion! We have some pretty good golfers here but mini golf is more luck than anything. It must be since I did OK. Mike M and I ended in a tie for first for today and so he leads G-Man by a few points in the over-all hunt for the camp yellow jersey with 2 days to go.

We then went out for pizza and beer and some sugary treats and every one looked pretty damn tired. Most went back to their rooms for a nap before dinner and then right back to bed.

The weather has closed in again and its looking pretty gloomy and wet for our ride to St. Girons tomorrow. There's 2 passes on the route tomorrow and from this side Col du Puymorens is a biggie. I think its about 155km to get to our hotel so its going to be a long day in the saddle regardless of the weather. Most people will swim and then run before heading out at 9am for the first group and about 9:30am for the rest of us.
I'm hoping once people get rolling again they'll start to perk up. Although we did 3 all out events of between 6 and 12 minutes today there was a hell of a lot of eating! so most people should have a full tank for the day to begin with even if they're tired.

05 July 2006

Epic Camp update through July 4 - Day 9

Day 7 – In Font Romeau

Before I forget a big congrats to our good buddy Clas Bjorling for lowering his IM PB by 6 minutes to go 8:15 at Quelle Challenge in Roth this past week-end. This is the first Epic that Clas has missed and he did so because of his plans for a good effort at Roth. Very good to see the guy still improving. He’s also been the on-going editorial director for the Epic book of standards at our camps and his influence on us all at the camps has been very significant. Hopefully he’ll be back for future camps.

Today is supposed to be a _relatively_ moderate day in the context of Epic Camp. Most people are doing the minimum distances of swim 3km/bike 60km/run 50 minutes. But we are at 6,000ft and any ride you do from here of 60km will most likely get you 3,000ft of vertical gain.
The sun was out all day and although not every one swam this morning at 6am nearly every one did.
No one missed breakfast. J
After a bit of a break and internet time we headed out for a sunny hot run on the trails and roads down into town and then around the training center. Most people did 50 minutes but Gordo started early and finished late to get 2.5 hours to stay in the battle for the camp yellow jersey. He and Mike Montgomery have now well and truly pulled away from the rest.
After lunch we headed out all together on a group riding downhill for 16km and toward Spain. In planning this camp I saw a little town on the map in Spain called La Molina with Super Molina right next to it. It didn’t occur to me one bit that they could be ski resorts. So I put them on the route map but when we got here we found out it would be a heck of a climb to get there. En-route half the crowd flipped a u-turn at the 30km mark. They obviously weren’t as keen as I was for the photo opportunity at the town limit sign. So we kept climbing up and up and up. Since I was a bit ahead I made a quick stop for a coffee and a beer and then got caught up at the drink and photo stop. We then continued upwards to make it a 90km ride and it was really nice up there at about 6,000ft. Another fabulous descent and then a toasty climb the 2500ft. back up to Font Romeau. My guess for vertical gain for those that went longer is about 6500ft. We were going at a leisure pace and there were 2 x 5 minute breaks but the ride still took us about 4 hours. So just a total of 6 hours for the day for me which has been my shortest day so far.

Day 8 – Font Romeau – Andorra loop with Pas de la Casa at 2408m (high point of the camp) and Col de Puymorens

6am start in the pool again today. We had some ITU boys from Germany on one side of the pool so I had to pick up the tempo considerably to keep the camp from falling into dis-repute! With such a big ride on the plan today a few of us were keen to get our 3km done and get in a massive breakfast. Mike Montgomery got his 3km done and promptly went for a 50-minute run. Michael Peters woke at 5am to do his run before swimming.

The planned route was 170km today.

Every day I think how glad I am that my good buddy KP isn’t along on this trip because we probably wouldn’t be friends any more! Although he’s done every other Epic this camp really isn’t a camp for bigger people. Its just too damn vertical and hot. He might have blown a few gaskets by now for sure. In planning Italy I am going to stick to a one pass or mountain per day policy to keep some sanity. I’ve made that promise to G-Man and I know he’ll help me stick to that goal. I’ve usually forgotten the pain of previous camps when planning the next one but this time I won’t forget. I’m planning on quite a bit of riding in the Dolomites for the Italy camp. If you’ve followed the Giro closely you know the Dolomites have a lot more steep climbs than the ones we are doing on this camp and now that I know what 13% feels like I will be more sensible in planning those routes.

We rolled out on the bike in 2 groups again to let the “grupetto” take it a bit more leisurely. I wanted to get to Andorra and the meat of the climb as quick as possible as I had seen the forecast high temperature was for 95 degrees F in Andorra for today. I had ridden this loop with Mike Pigg and Mark Allen in ’91 when we came here (Font Romeau) for a training camp between the Zofingen Duathlon and the Nice triathlon. But we rode it in the other direction so I didn’t remember Andorra too well as we just blitzed though it in the downhill direction dodging traffic. Riding with Pigg was always a challenge in more ways than one.
The climb today was about 5500ft up all together and it’s a doozy. The grupetto went to the center of town which was a small diversion but it meant we didn’t see them as we climbed to the top of the pass. Mike Montgomery also went the wrong way and came blazing past me near the top in a less than stellar mood! We hard a drink stop on the way up and lunch was at the top at about the 5-hour mark of the ride. It was a beautiful day so I stopped for a beer and a coffee at the top and at 8300ft it only takes one to get decent buzz in my dehydrated state. I could have stayed there all day with my shirt off slowly turning purple. I had my Santana playlist on the iPod today. It has everything he’s ever done – its about 5 hours long. Seemed appropriate riding through Spain. For those of you who like Santana he has a new album out titled “All that I Am” which just rocks.

On the climb through Andorra Gordo was very happy to see some of the best sustained Watts on his SRM that he’s seen since 2004. And this is Day 8 and you’d think he wouldn’t be able to ride his way out of a paper bag by now such is his fatigue level. But he was chasing Mike M! Nothing like a de-ranged super fit motivated age grouper to bring out the best in you eh G-Man! J
That’s exactly why we have the points system – to get every one to get a little more out of themselves.
The group got quite a kick out of seeing Colm Cassidy attack the Andorra climb in his big ring and then promptly detonate like a nuclear bomb. He ended up about 20 minutes back at the top of the climb! But 2.1 liters of Pepsi and a big lunch helped him get it back together and he ended up blazing up the last climb in 90 degree heat to get home first.
About 1km from the end I stopped to have a chat with Mike Montogomery who was doing a little “treats tour” of town hitting every shop that sold something with sugar in it. He was planning on a 1:40 run after the ride and looked pretty damn nuked at that point.
I went straight to sleep after a beer and a snack and rolled out for my run at 6pm. I was very happy to see the sun out and it was still about 80+ degrees F so I headed up on the trails to Col de Pam at 2005m elevation and wandered around up there listening to the Crusaders vocal album on my iPod. Great album and wonderful way to finish the day’s training.

We had a very nice outing to the closest restaurant tonight for a beer. 1 km walk each way which was perfect. We had a few wedges and lots of laughs. Nice warm night.

Day 9 – In Font Romeau

Today was planned as another easy day but its really up to every one to decide how much they want to do. The only planned activities today were a ride down (and back) to a lake 24 km away for an aquathon.
Some of us hopped in the pool for a swim at 6am. Monica Byrn gave some swim instruction after her swim and some of the guys really need it! So that was very nice of her. She’s pretty damn pooped too as you can imagine.
Some people ran in the morning and Mike M rode down to Andorra and back! which is 160 f….n km! Yikes!!! He skipped breakfast and got back just in time for lunch and then a roll-out at 1pm for our aquathon. That was a huge effort! And he’s really put a lot of pressure on G-Man for the Epic yellow jersey now.

The lake we did our aquathon is was about 70 degrees so we used wetsuits. John Newsom marked out a 3-lap course that ended up just over 2km. Monica and I led it out in about 28 minutes so it was a bit more than the planned 1500m for sure. Quite choppy and hard to navigate as well. We then did a 2-lap 7km run. I got a jump on Gordo but he quickly bridged up and ended up taking it with me second, Monica 3rd and Mike M 4th. It was good to give the G-man a bit of a push on the run today. He was breathing like a freight train! Even being at 6,000ft. I felt surprisingly good.
We then had a little snack and rode back up to Font Romeau. I could have had a picnic and a 2-hour nap in the sun there by the lake quite easily instead.

We had a little sit-down Q & A tonight with those that want to talk over some of the normal training and race issues they have along with some special considerations to prepare for post-Epic. We also talked about the various activities for tomorrow’s activities day which should be a laugh as always. Just a bit of goofing off really.
We had dinner 7:15-8pm. Cafeteria buffet-style dining is very nice when you’re in a hurry.
Then a quick trip to the local restaurant/bar for ice cream (Gordo’s suggestion!) and a beer (mine) for a few of us, then at 9pm bit of internet time to get caught up with the outside world to finish the day.

02 July 2006

Epic France — Day 7

Its Sunday morning at 9:25am as I type this waiting for John Newsom to come downstairs to where wireless internet connection is possible. He'll show me the short-cut to cut and paste so maybe I can get this blog up to date.

In Font Romeau

A little editorial .........

If you're a cycling fan then you've no doubt read the news about a huge blood doping set-up to cater to the needs of professional cyclists being investigated. Its pretty big news over here as you can imagine. There's lots of talk about who is utlimately culpable for this situation but I put it down to the nature of human beings - we want to win. It doesn't matter if the Tour is 5,000km like it used to be or they make it series of flat criteriums - the desire to win will always make rule enforcement an important issue. I certainly hope they don't dilute the Tour's magnificent routes more than they already have over the last 20 years. When Hinault and Lemond were duking it out the whole course was a hell of a lot longer and harder than it is these days. There's speculation that the higher avrage speeds in the Tour are due to drugs or technology but I think its mostly because they've reduced the distance by about 30%!

Shortening it further isn't going to address the issue of cheating one bit. It will only dimish the Tour.

Today we hopped in the pool at 6am. The schedule today is swim, breakfast, rest, 10:30 run, lunch, rest, 1:30 ride. Im not sure how long we'll ride today. Its sort of a re-group day so we might keep it to under 80km. But even that's hard here as tht will probably get us over 3,000ft of climbing no matter where we go.

Gordo and Mike Montgomery are still in a very close battle for the camp Yellow Jersey based on or quirky little points system so its making for some entertaining days.
Mike stayed in to do 6km long course this morning. At 6,000ft. that's long time in the pool!

At breakfst he was ribbing G-Man with a little bit of "so do you want to ride to Barcelona and back today???"

As I was heading downstairs to do this blog I saw Gordo heading out for a "little warm-up" run of 7o minutes before meeting the group for a run at 10:30. So he'll end up doing 2 hours for some more bonus points.



01 July 2006

Epic France — Day 6

St. Gaudens – Font Romeau via St. Girons, Cold de Port, Col de Puyrmorens

We hoped in the vans at 6am to drive back out to the lake. Ian, G-Man and John Newson came up with an Aquathon to get our run and swim out of the way quick this morning as we were looking at the longest ride of the camp today.

We did a 2.5k run/1km swim/2.5km run.

Normally we would do this sort of thing as a race for points but I suppose with the over-all difficulty of the camp already being what it is it was a good idea to just let every one decide on their own just how hard to go. But just for the record……..

G-Man, Johnny, Me, Mike Montgomery, Colm finished 1-5. It was good to finish something in front of Mike Montgomery this camp other than the race to the buffet.

I’m actually running OK these days which is a nice treat. Most of the other camps I’ve either been injured or unfit after just coming off a running injury.

After the aquathon we drove back to the hotel for a typical French hotel breakfast which was pretty decent. Excellent coffee and hat’s all I really care about in the morning. I’ve been averaging about 5-6 cups of yogurt per day on this trip because its so easy and they’re not to big on protein for breakfast over here as a rule. And you can’t find any oats in this country unless you go to a health food store.

The ride – We headed out in 2 groups today again to let the “grupetto” have a more relaxed start to their day as they were looking at about 8 hours in the saddle to cover the tough 200km on the route. Every one is given detailed maps for each day’s route, and John did brief them very well along with Ian but they promptly got lost just outside of town! So even though our group left 30 minutes after them at lunch we were about an hour ahead.

G-Man motor-paced us the first 80km through St. Girons to Massat where we had our second drink stop. Then we leisurely ascended the Col du Port which is one of the nicest of the Cols we’ve done so far. Its very gentle at between 4-6% and in the trees and just so very quiet. Cruising along on this mountain was what I had in mind when designing the trip. We don’t have to race up every mountain! It was quite a bit cooler up there too.

On the way down the other side Michael Peters crashed again! And this time really did it properly. There were 2 guys right behind him who watched the drama unfold like a slow motion horror movie as he skidded one way, then the other before flipping over slamming into the road. Lucky he didn’t break anything on his body but his rear wheel was toast and he’s quickly destroying all of his best cycling gear he brought on this trip! LOL :-). His helmet probably saved him a massive headache at the very least. John an Ian weren’t far away and cell phone reception was evident so they were summoned to get him a new wheel.

We had a quick roadside lunch after that, lathered on more sunscreen (except for Gary Burgess – silly bugger…) and got rolling again mostly downhill to Ax les Thermes. Gordo went to the front again and his efforts today probably saved our group about 20+ minutes of ride time. When we stopped just outside of Ax for more water and a pitstop the temp was a toasty 34 degrees C but at least it was a “dry heat” according to Micheal Peters.

Out of Ax the Col de Puymorens starts and we said good-bye to Mike Montgomery again. This is a long sucker with a very gradual 10km at the base, a 7-8% 2km section in the middle and then a gradual 6-7 km to finish. The support caught up with us about ½ way up with more drinks. It then cooled off considerably as we approached the top and some very big black clouds and some rain rolled in. I was very happy to see our super support crew at the top with jackets and hot coffee. The top is 1920m and very exposed so its not a place to hang around in a lightning storm. So we bolted down the other side which was a little hairy.

At the bottom of the descent we still had 17km and about 3,000ft of vertical to get to the altitude training center at Font Romeau. The rain came in with quite a bit of wind and it cooled off a hell of a lot. The training center is right up at the very top of town so we got a bit of a tour as we rode through. It looks very much like a ski village so I hope we get an hour or two to have a look around tomorrow or the next day.

Ride times for the faster guys for the 200km that was on the plan was about 8 hours. Some of the people who got lost and ended up doing 230km with approx 10,000ft. of climbing over about 10 hours. Remember we started at a few hundred feet of elevation and finished at 6,000. They got it all today – mountains, blistering heat, cold rain, mega-distance.

The accommodation here where we’re staying for 4 nights is definitely dorm style. And the meals are very basic. This ain’t the Four Seasons for sure!!! It’s a place for athletes, not tourists. The indoor 50m pool is very nice and the running and riding here is just spectacular so I hope we get a bit of good weather. After the monster day most had today the campers deserve a little pampering and this accom certainly isn’t going to give that to them. We have an easier day on the plan tomorrow though! :-)