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…..