I’m off to the Alps this weekend for the Time-Megeve Mont Blanc sportive. My little brain has been on overload these past few days, as I have absolutely no idea what to expect and I’ve also got no idea what my poor not-so-little legs are going to make of it.
The last time I rode a bike up a European big bastard hill was (I think) 1997, when a group of us toured down through France and Spain to Morocco. The Pyrenean hills we climbed weren’t super big, but they were big enough and we were pretty overloaded with gear which added to the discomfort. A few days later we climbed the Puerto de Piqueras pass from Logrono to Soria which was a complete bastard too. I think we started riding uphill at 9am (in blazing sunshine) and were still going up at 5pm, having dealt with rain, sleet, snow and the biggest hailstones I’ve ever seen.
Since then, I’ve ridden on some big hills in the Indian Himalaya, but that was so unlike anything anywhere else in the world it’s pretty futile trying to compare it.
Anyhow, I am expecting the weather to be cold and wet, in the hope that it’ll turn out to be warm and dry. I have stocked up on some new cold / wet weather threads, including a rather dashing white Craft rain jacket, and some new bib tights. I have a new (and bloody expensive) pair of Schwalbe Ultremo Aqua tyres, in case the roads are streaming with water. I have a collection of various energy bars and gels, although I hope the majority of my nutritional requirements will be passed to me by the boys at GPM10.
Tonight the English will be going into the bike box that Jonathan at Strada Wheels has kindly lent me for the weekend. I’ve been training with a rented Powertap wheel since February, but this (and the Marmotte come to think of it) is a holiday, so I will be leaving it behind and instead using the rear wheel that Rob built for the bike. I’ve stuck a SRAM 11-28 cassette on too, which should keep me spinning freely, twinned as it is with a 50-34 compact.
Time-Megeve consists of three routes of varying lengths. The 2011 route will depart the small town of Cluses and include the climbs of the Col de la Colombiere (1618m), Col des Aravis (1498m) and the Col des Saisies (1633m) all of which featured in stage 9 of the 2010 TDF. The 85km route returns to Megeve after the descent of the Aravis while those who have opted for the 115km route start up the Col des Saisies (1650m). At the top of the Saisies, the middle distance route returns to Megeve whilst the 145km route descends to Beaufort, before returning back over the Saisies to the finish in Megeve.
With the Marmotte on the nearing horizon, it’s the longest one that I am pretty much committed to, and hopefully only a very severe attack of evil weather will put me off going for the full 4000m or so of climbing. If I crack that then I think I’ll be pretty confident for the Marmotte, and might even start thinking about a finish time, rather than solely survival.