22 August 2011

Epic Camp France 2011 Day 8 - Annecy - Lyon

Epic Camp France 2011 Day 8 - Annecy - Lyon
August 21

The main feature of the day was the Col de Columbier:   

There were a few runs and swims done early today for those looking for camp completion and to s/b/r every day.  Beautiful, calm, warm morning.
After breakfast we rolled out at 8:15 to what looked like another scorcher.  The forecast was 36C predicted for Annecy today so I added a little extra sodium to my High 5 sports drink to begin the day as well as sticking an extra bottle in my back pocket.
 The gruppetto wisely set off about an hour before we did and I can honestly say I'm looking forward to the day I can start with that group!
  Since it was Sunday and very hot and in holiday season the roads were very quiet and Newsom led us out at a sedate pace to keep anyone from getting lost.  After about 30 minutes I could sense that this might be an all-day affair so cranked it up a notch to get the group going.
 We had a quick drink stop at the bottom of the Columbier and then the grinding began again in earnest.  That is one mean, bad-ass climb.  Its beautifully shaded from the forest,  but the grade is a a relentless 8-9% most of the way up its 4,000ft gain.  I was in my 30x25 most of the way.  Oh man was that a tough hour.
 There was some sort of cycling event taking place on that mountain today and some medals were being given out at the top.   Clas managed to scorer one of those as they thought he was in the event!
 The other side is significantly steeper and I was happy to be going down it, not up.
From there we had a lot of descending and some great, quiet country roads.
  Only one more grunty climb for the camp that had about 1,000ft of vertical @5-7% and Randy finally got going and cranked me up to max effort for about 20 minutes.  It felt really good to be able to ride well on the last climb and it got me in a  positive mood although the exhaustion was clearly setting in.Randy came to this camp quite a bit under-done and heavy and he's struggled on the massive steep climbs, but he's certainly ending the camp in a lot better shape.
 Ian found a great shady spot for lunch near the top of this climb and it was a quiet, tired group and no one seemed in any hurry to get going on the last 70km to our hotel.
 As we descended into 37C heat and some wind Steven hit the front for his typical last hour+ pull of the camp and although we were suffering to hold on its better to move right along than to get dropped and be out there on your own for another 20-30 minutes.
 With about 10km to go a few of us pulled over to an automated petrol station to get cold drinks out of the machines - luckily John and Clas had some coins as I didn't and the machines didn't take notes.   I didn't know it got this hot in France.
 Felt  good to get to the end, but as Julie Wright pointed out there's always a big of melancholy at the thought of it being over.
More tomorrow when I get some rest and time to write up an epilogue.
Cheers, Scott