Andy and Fiona's Alpine Adventure

General chit chat

Andy and Fiona's Alpine Adventure

Postby Andy D » Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:31 pm

I am just back to Aberdeen (and Fiona back to Manchester) after 2 weeks for me and 10 days for Fiona in Montchavin, in the Savoie French Alpine Region.

We were staying with our mate Derek, who we met through cycling in Mallorca and who, after a career in the city (London - not Brechin or Elgin!!) has given up the rat race to live and ride his collection of Colnago's in a wee village 1300 metres up, above Bourg St Maurice, along from Les Arcs and La Plagne ski stations. The views alone from Derek's chalet across to Mont Blanc are incredible but the roads for cycling were the match of any I have ridden, home or abroad.

Derek does some work for Alpine Cadence, a cycle training camp/tour company and he knows the roads like the back of his hand. That meant I was soon toiling up to Les Arcs, over the Cormet de Roselend (a tour de france favourite - and a bit of a brute!) where, at the summit, a café has helpfully installed a sign forbidding people from depositing sausages, garlic sausage in particular, cheese or potted head down their toilet......I cannot for the life of me think of what sort of incident prompted such an instruction to be issued!?!

We bagged a few cols, and went to the Tour de France stage which finished at Grand Bornand (won by Rui Costa of Movistar). We positioned ourselves on the Col d' lespins, which was a 1st category climb, coming as the penultimate one on the stage, after the riders had tackled the Glandon, Madelaine and Tamie....BRUTAL!

As the riders came up the climb (we were about half way up) you could see that they were really suffering, the pace was slow and the pain etched in the faces was heartening, that these superstars could suffer the way they do and I also thought that it might just mean that the doping is fading in the pro peleton, as in the past I had seen riders ripping past at super-human speeds on harder climbs than this.

I wore my Tolo's Restaurant (Mallorca's finest!) jersey to the stage (my Ythan one was dirty after a hill-climb local TT the night before at Montchavin, where I was 9th by the way......Fiona finished 6 minutes in front of me, in the 8km race!!).

My Tolo's top produced an unexpected result though.....Juan Antonio Flecha (ex-Sky) now riding for Vaconsoliel,was in a break of three riders, a few minutes down on the leader and a good few minutes ahead of the peleton on the climb, rode up to me as he passed, staring right at me.....'Hey, Tolo's!!' he shouts as he passes....I couldn't really say anything other than stand there with a surprised look on my face! An Euskatel rider passing a few minutes later (I think it might have been Igor Anton) gave me a double take and nod of the head as he rode past as well, also in a break in no-man's land ahead of the peleton...bizarre...but fun!!

It didn't end there though, as Malcolm Elliot, hero of mine who I have had the pleasure to meet a few times and even ride out with in Mallorca, was driving an official Skoda car on the Tour (I think a lot of ex-tour riders were drafted in for the 100th edition to provide extra stuff for the sponsors etc). Malcolm had his window down and I saw him at the last minute...shouted to Fiona, 'hey there's Malc!!' and duly got a friendly wave from the legend as he tootled past in the car.

I think this now qualifies me as more of a friend to the tour than our own Sky/Brailsford groupie, Colin Allanach...surely!!

Finished the trip on Sunday with a final bit of climbing, 2000 metres+ to La Plagne, the scene of the famous Stephen Roche ascent, to limit his losses in the tour to Delgado in 1987.....'It looks like Stephen Roche....' We found ourselves involved in what must be the local equivalent of the Great Inverurie Bike ride, except that they do it a bit differently in the Alpes - straight up to a ski station more than 2000 metres above sea-level and about 18km of a climb. There were mums and dads and some really young kids toiling up there in 30+ degree heat, people in fancy dress and me...puffing and wheezing my way up there, somehow.

Fiona was doing 1km intervals as part of her training as she rode, but she still took well over an hour to get to the summit, where she heard the announcer saying, 'Look it's the first woman to the top', where she promptly swung off the road to avoid the finish line, worried she'd cause an international incident! (I had to be told about this as I was a long, long way behind!)

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the Alpes and have really re-kindled my joy for France...what a place! If you are planning or even thinking of a trip to that area, give me a shout and I can put you on to Derek or his associates who may make the experience all the better with their local knowledge.

A bientot
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Andy D
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