The Tour de Force

The Tour de Force

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Bullitt! Stage 18: Gap to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne...Thursday 16th July 2015

Bit like TLR giving it les beans. Still unbeatable for a chase scene!

Blimey. No further message.
What...climbing right away? Outrageous behaviour!
Something clearly wrong here: I was ready early. Collector's item again.
We rolled out until beautiful skies straight into a steady climb: what always follows a climb? Alright, apart from the sweating'n'swearing...a lovely descent. At least until the next set of rollers come at you. It was going to be like that until the first real 'named' climb of the day, and what a name too: La Col de la Morte. Nice! We stopped at the summit as per and mugged a pose as per: shortly after the descent we spotted Tour Guru Phil ahead but stationary at the side of the road talking to a third party. We shouted hello and sped-by with Andy saluting and me high-fiving Phil, hah-hah! I think he enjoyed it as much as we did...gotta have the nonsense, right?

Hmmm...looks like we're getting a tad too close to those lumps.
Atop one of those lumps: The Damned! I'm wearing two pairs of shorts in a bid to suffer a bit less...
'Nuff said.
Without a doubt, the main event of today was always going to be the slog up The Glandon. Dear me, the first half of it has already been struck-off my Christmas card was bloody awful, even with a cafe stop. Gradient and heat are not always that much fun! I was dropped by Chris, Andy and Annabel (noted for future reference, hah-hah!) but was starting to recover a little during the start of the second half when I held back to take a couple of photos and then punctured. At least they were still at the summit's feed stop when I got there.

Oh dear: the start of the climb up The Glandon. the first half of it was awful. Truly awful.
Dam/damn Le Glandon. I prefer the latter.
The other side of that dam...looks lovely and to be fair, the second half of the climb ain't as bad. Good spot to puncture too...
Waterfalls all over the shop.
Chris, Annabel and some skinny Irish bloke.
Technique on display on the way down from The Glandon...go Annabel!
Grandma Bardet/Chris gives it some.
Le Billy de No Mates.
More loveliness.
Whilst The Glandon may have been the big name for today, the real Hollywood climb was Les Lacets de Montvernier which is barely 2 miles long but crams in a ton of hairpins. Think of Lombard Street in San Francisco and then triple it!

Ridiculous and yet strangely quite fun. Honest.
Les Lacets de Montvernier. More hairpins per mile than anywhere!
Told you. Just unreal.
We re-grouped again after the climb and enjoyed the run in to the hotel: I tried a little pretend breakaway which the cycling gods clearly didn't like...I punctured again 200 yards from the hotel and tried running across the 'finish line', hah-hah! No matter, I was able to ask one of the mechanics to adjust the rim tape and fit a.n.other new tube. Number four so far...

Tour Supremo Sarah then had a little bit of bad news for a few of us, including me and Andy. Basically, Le Dibble had stopped one of the luggage vans earlier in the afternoon and claimed that it was overloaded: this was a first, and it meant that Beth had to be left on the roadside with the offending items for a few hours whilst the van continued to our destination, unloaded and then turned-back again. All it meant was that we wouldn't have luggage until after dinner: worse things happen etc.. Sarah clearly spotted us as management material, as she presented us two with TdF staff t-shirts so at least we could shower and wear clean gear on our top-halves, hah-hah!

A post-massage, pre-luggage grin. What else can you do?
Because we had Le Chapeau today it was our job to decide who to award it to and why: we reckoned we should deliver a paragraph of the speech each. The recipient was Chris Ware, who had helped Annabel today and had done that to a few others during the tour, plus it gave Andy and myself an opportunity to put the boot in too, hah-hah! Seemed like a popular choice, to be fair...

After dinner, several riders found a kebab shop around the corner (Peter 'Lemond' Davies is your man to ask in these vital second-meal matters)...the proprietor was having a quietish night up until that point! It was a big old day today, but there'll be another one tomorrow...

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I do have a bit of previous...

2014: 1000 miles solo & unsupported out to France, then La Bicinglette...6 x Mont Ventoux in a day!

2013: 1000 miles solo & unsupported out to Austria, then the worst climbs in The Dolomites!

2012: The inaugural Haute Route sportive from Geneva to Nice, followed by the worst Pyrenean climbs!

2011: 3500 miles across North America...coast to coast!

2010: 1600 miles from Gibraltar to Blackpool!

2009: 1000 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats!

2008: 250 miles from Blackpool to London!

2007: 100 miles around Manchester!

2006: 0.5 mile to corner shop!