Day 19 – Sainte Luce to Huéz (Alps)

Thanks to the piss up out of the blue, courtesy of my French hosts, I slept like a log. Eventually waking up at half 10, my first job was to clean up and repack from the mess I had made last night

Once more I was faced straight away with a bit of climbing without any warm up. It was only 300 meters and a hell of a lot easier than yesterday.

I briefly stopped at once of the many ‘Bain d’eau’s’ there are around these parts for a freshen up

Then taking on a decent that was a different kind of tough. It was sinuous and technical. I essentially had my brakes on the entire time (it was the turn of my forearms to take the strain)

Once I hit the bottom and there was a long flat before I would take on the next col. I over took another cyclist who was carrying a similar amount of luggage as myself. We nodded at each other out of mutual respect of each other’s efforts

With the col now rapidly approaching, I desperate for some proper sustenance. Fortunately I passed a restaurant called ‘Le Village’. There I had some home made pork pate, spaghetti carbonara, that was delicious and a creme caramel (the very friendly waitress told me to write that it was delicious which I had no problem doing as she was a smoke show, a real smoking hot show)

So it was time for me to take on the Col d’ornon. Easy gentle gradients of 3-5% on the foothills. It would later make up for it by punching you in the face with the latter part being between 13-17%. It just got steeper and steeper as you got more and more tired. Upon reaching the top I caught up once more with my fellow mass luggage nutter. He turned out to be from Poland and was feeling the burn pretty hard

The decent was a sweet one with plenty of speed and wide roads for cornering (for once the cars where slowing my down and were in my way)

Without realising it, I was now at the bottom of The mighty, the grand daddy, the heart stopper, the biggest mother fucker of them all, the one, the only ALPE D’HUEZZZZZZZZ!!!  I shouted out “THERE SHE BLOWS” Moby Dick style.

I started the climb straight away like a desperate child ripping open their presents on Christmas Day. Obviously this was stupid of me and by the 1st turn, I reconsidered. On that corner, there was a Swiss couple who I asked if I could leave my baggage with them. They were nice enough to look after my stuff. I return to the bottom to start again

Liberated from the shackles of my stuff, I felt like a new man. Ready to take on the 21 switchbacks and almost 14km of pure uphill averaging at 8%. This bad bitch was mine for the taking (caution I’m about to start sucking myself off here). I proceeded to smashed the fuck out of it, giving it my all. Riding hard up this massive piece of tarmaced spaghetti that had been carefully placed up the side of this monster. I seemed to pass people with ease, racing my way to the summit. Each corner was its own separate party, all more than happy to cheer you on as if you were their favourite cyclist. Dutch corner (switchback number 7) was slamming. Those guys were BBQ’ing, drinking, dancing and were literally painting the place orange.

After climbing a massive 1190 meters in 58 minutes, I got off my bike and done a celebratory jig. I couldn’t hang about as a storm was heading my way.

My cycling achievements for the day were all unlocked and I made my way into town to find a bar and unwind. I treated myself to a couple of beers before finding somewhere to camp for the evening

Right at the very foot of the beast, I found a group of Germans to hang out with (like any good German should be, they were all crazy as hell). They had an American dude called Willy also in their party, who worked with them in Cologne. In September they will be doing a bike ride to Sardinia, so we exchanged details and agreed to link up if our paths would cross around then.

We were all camping me out having a great time till around midnightish. Then the storm came. Within seconds, a few gusts of winds had broken the gazebo we were sitting under. A few moments later the rain came (and boy did it fucking rain). Desperately trying to find my waterproofs fry bag and three having to secure my tent down to stop it from getting blow away. It all happened so fast. By the time I had managed to hold down the fort, it was already soaking inside along with all of my clothes and sleeping bag. Trying to get to sleep was a joke with rain water dripping on my head, I was wet and cold, then it got worse. I could feel a vomit coming in the near future (I guess the altitude had got me). I kept smelling in waves the pork sausage from my bag. It was coming soonish. I did a few practice runs so that when it eventually did happen I would have a plan. I knew where he zips were and now it was just a case of when. With a few little stomach twitches, it happened, and was all out in 3 big schpjugs. I felt like shit but the worst of it was over. I lay there is the puddle of rain in my tent hoping the morning would hurry up.

“Things can only get better”

-D:Ream

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