We expected today to be our toughest challenge for many reasons.
- Longest ride
- Biggest climb
- Searing heat
- Existing saddle sores, blisters, aches and pains
- Fatigue from the previous seven days hard cycling
To add another challenge to the day, was for our support team, Callum and Rory when an erratic / maniac driver tried to overtake the van they were driving on a bend in the alpine narrow roads whilst they were overtaking a cyclist. Disaster averted by Callum’s quick, calm reactions but damage done to the side of the van. He was thanked profusely by the cyclists for not ploughing into him to avoid a collision with the car. The irate driver however proved a real challenge. Angry and aggressive, our support team handled this and the language barrier calmly and admirably but no doubt were shaken by the incident. Damage along the Campervan side, whilst undoubtedly expensive to repair, was by far the least traumatic of the possible outcomes. There was a sheer drop to the side of the overtaking vehicle and they were dangerously close to the edge.
Having been driven to the top of both the Cime de la Bonette and the Col de la Couillole, it was apparent that no matter how good a day I was having, these enormous climbs were never really achievable for me. I managed 600m of the first 1500m climb but that was it. Rejoining the route at the bottom of Cime de la Bonette to get to the bottom of Col de la Couillole was unsuccessful too. 15km along the valley floor was like cycling down a wind tunnel. The traffic unforgiving, fast, with little regard for keeping a safe distance while passing, I completely lost my confidence. Battling with my balance at the best of times, this was just too much. I managed 25km and 600m climb in total.
Claire, John A and Roland didn’t miss a mile and John W called it a day after the first enormous climb. Respect to all of them. Claire, despite her own troubles, showed an incredible determination to reach the top of both summits today, still making friends and chatting along the way. Chapeau indeed. It was an incredible achievement.
An exhausting day for everyone.