KM3233 Riders KM7934 Me

With at least a few hundred kilometres left to drive and race the Tour is pretty much over. Geraint just has to stay on his bike now, no proper racing for him to do.

For me the Queen stage in the mountains was a bit of an anti-climax. On the final mountain stage you hope for some action but with only one stop for the day you really have to hope you get lucky. Sadly Lucky I was not….camera issue just as the GC group arrived on me almost left me with no photos for the day. It’s a equal foil to the joy of capturing something you are happy with so Pete had to put up with a bit of grumpy silence for the evening. Thankfully our hotel aka Pete’s house was less than a mile down the road and dinner was sorted so there was no coup de gras for the evening of a long drive and scant dinner options.

With a long day looming and a long drive to the start I had to skip another ride up the Col de Marie Blanc, which after a little romp up it the previous morning was sad but with sleep needed and rain stopping play we packed up and headed off.

The rain on the drive to the start was no filling us with joy….bad light and sat in one place for 4 hours is not ideal.

The time literally vanished as we arrived so there was no time to recce the course and then loop back round to stop somewhere, I had to negotiate the course with riders still doing their recce and fans not quite paying attention.

By the time I started walking back to the 3KM point the rain was completely gone and the waterproof was not needed and in the heat I actually needed to take it off.

With all the riders coming though there is plenty of time to find the shot you want, my challenge of finding some good Fans was easily achieved, even with barriers.

The Basque fans were amazing, starting with deciding I looked like michael rasmussen and treating me to a little chorus of that and then after he retweeted the video a little chorus of my name. But e icing on the cake was food and then a seat

The pictures full of enthusiasm and colour were a bonus

Now onto Paris…4 1/2 hours to Poitier…one late night phone call to get into the hotel and a good nights sleep and we’re ready for one last stage and maybe a bit of partying before it’s back to reality outside of the weird Tour bubble.

KM420.5 (Riders) KM1717.17 (me)

Given today’s stages was a short (ish) team time trial for a brief minute I thought it was going to be a short easy day…how foolish i was.

A course recce didn’t leave us wowed, at least not from photo opportunities but there were a few options that could work.

22 teams…maybe 2 or 3 pictures each…be all done in a few hours…no need for podium pictures as we won’t make it back in time.

With plan A and B set we take a wonder through the team buses looking for some riders who might have ventured out early.

The cut of time drawing close we dash back to the car to head out on the course prior to the riders…it didn’t take very long for plans A and B to get thrown in the bin.

2mins late and security wouldn’t let us on the course and they didn’t really seem open to negotiation so plan C it was…dump the car and run around like crazy shooting Team as they waited and on the start ramp.

500 pictures later it was more like an individual time trial and a marathon editing effort to keyword and generally sort out.

Still it’s always fun being in the heart of the action

Totals so far

Riders 420.5 KM

Car 1717.17 KM

Bike 89.7 km

Photos 1000/13.2gb

Duo the fun…Duo the pain

The Christmas break is fast approaching but sadly so is the cold weather which means my trifecta of conditions i won’t go out in happen pretty much every day…Cold, Dark and Wet. But on the plus side i have logged quite a lot of Zwift hours and also cracked through quite a lot of christmas movies while training.

But at this time of of year the Pro’s are starting to find the areas of warm, or at least warmer weather to make everyone jealous and Instagram is full of people loving the Australian summer. Once i get rid of a very jade skin tone i start thinking back to the highlights of last season and days of sunshine and fun rides.

One highlight of the year just gone was the Duo Normond, having tried and failed to get myself organised with a partner this year it finally came together. With the help of  teammate Andy some great accommodation was sorted and with Aaron as a keen partner all i needed to do was get there.

With the challenge of limited leave allowance it meant a less relaxed journey on the friday rather than the other guys and my external optimism or more accurately my innate ability to underestimate how long things take meant i arrived in the wee hours of the morning. By a miracle navigation and some careful instructions not only did i find the house with no issues (the collection of TT bikes in the shed gave me some confidence of being in the right place) but i also found my bed and snuck in quietly without waking a soul and pretty much passed out.

Previous visits to the Normandy area of France didn’t give me hope of a nice dry weekend but waking on the Saturday morning to glorious sunshine was the best start to the weekend. I would say the “gentle spin” to Marigny was pleasant but get my teammates on quiet sunny roads on TT bikes that aren’t exactly flat leads to a very generous definition of “gentle”.

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It was the ride back with just Aaron and I that the realisation of just what i was letting myself in for, a combination of a 58t chainring and a him being few kilos lighter made for a challenging climbing pace. The pressure of not letting him down was definitely starting to weigh down on me and really helping the nerves start building up.

When Sunday morning came all was looking promising for a lovely day, the first pair from the team were off early and set a great bench mark for the day in great weather but as noon came around and our start time drew nearer the clouds were starting to thicken and the biblical downpours i’d seen pictures of from last year threatened again.

Having been and photographed quite a lot of Pro TT’s the start ramp was not an unusual site, but actually going down one was, the prospect of going down one and straight up a hill was not making it any easier on the nerves.

As we set off my prediction of pain came true all too quickly as i struggled to keep pace with my younger and faster partner, holding back the panic and trying to compose myself into “the zone” i merely grunted to ease back as we crested so i could tuck in and get settle into the pace. As we gently eased (from a cornering perspective definitely not pace) through the bends of the flattish opening km’s my red line definitely passed i was left wondering how much harder it was going to get, respite came in the form of a mini disaster and Aaron unshipping his chain which afforded me a minute or two of coasting.

This was to be the last respite of the day as he then proceeded to push well past my limit for the rest of the course, i feel this image typifies my memories of the ride…Aaron on the front, my desperately clinging on to his wheel.

 

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With no course recce i was riding entirely blind, but my team mates had only given my words of warning for one decent that was “a bit tricky”, sadly this was the one decent i misread the road entirely and narrowly avoided the bush with some effective breaking, which on new carbon rims was an experience in of itself.

Somehow we made it round the “hilly” part of the course in one piece and rolled through Marigny to start the final 10km’s of the ride. At this point my legs started feeling a bit better, as i realised at the final turn it was mainly because it was slightly down hill. The sprint out of the dead turn extinguished whatever fire was left in my legs but thankfully by this point Aaron and i were matched on tiredness, having done the lions share of the work evened us out. With a sense of numbness we pushed the last bit of energy out in the downhill sprint to the line and sought somewhere to collapse

As you can probably tell from the post race photos…one of us was the hammer and the other was the nail, and if you need a clue i couldn’t string a sentence together for 10mins afterwards)

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Photo credits to Mike Smith for capturing Aaron and I hurting ourselves for 33miles