Raid Alpine – Day 9

Distance 83km. Elevation 1700m.

Our penultimate day saw us leave according to our speed. That was Claire and I setting off first for a ride that would take us 8 and 9 hours respectively. The others who are much quicker were rewarded by a slightly more leisurely breakfast and had still caught up with us by mid morning.

Temperatures topped 32 degrees today and we could certainly feel it. The landscape was different today, apart from the obligatory Col (St Raphael), we cycled down through the gorge with its slightly less demanding roads. (I still haven’t mastered the hairpin turns with any confidence). There were still numerous tunnels, bends and sheer drops but the change in scenery added a different dimension to the day. The roads on the whole were quieter but the heat was searing and sapped our energy.

As always there were amazing sights to see, stories to tell, fun and camaraderie but there are also saddle sores, weary bodies, aching joints, blisters and more besides. Over the past 9 days we have collectively clocked 450 hours in the saddle, cycled 3350km and climbed 85,000m, consumed immeasurable calories and still burned significantly more. Despite the calories consumed, energy and stamina are still rather elusive for me today and I arrived back at our hotel considerably later than the others.

John A, who is usually at the front struggled today with a stomach upset. Too unwell to cycle this afternoon, he got a lift back to the hotel, rested and returned to cycle the 25km he had missed in the early evening in record speed.

Our final day tomorrow, 91km, predominantly downhill to the coast. The team who are doing the challenge over six days will catch us up at some point and we will celebrate together tomorrow evening.

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