Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Vaujany Sportive

We had to be in Allemont, in the Isere area of the Parc des Ecrins, for the Vaujany cycle race, we were both entered for. For Ian, it's just a preparation for the Marmotte, and he has done the Vaujany before. For me it was my first French cycle epreuve or sportive. Just had a bit of a warm-up cycle down into nearby Bourg d'Oisan and then reccy the last 10kms culminating in the steep climb into Vaujany, for the "mountain top" finish.  Not quite but still steep averaging over 9% for 6kms into the finish.  Registered and then rested ready for the race.  Ian warned me that the forecast didn't look good.  Rain all day and lots of it!
It poured with rain all night and we sprang a leak again in the van!  Got up at 6am to the sound of heavy rain!  The thought of not turning up never crossed my mind, even as we set off, downhill, at 20mph down the Sechilliennes valley.  Dark and gloomy.  Street lights on.  Couldn't look up because hard rain was belting my face.  Was wearing all the clothes I carried, free arm warmers(I was given on entry), vest, leg warmers and cagoule.  Energy bars and gels and carb drinks.  Some cyclists already cycling back, after 10miles.  Never considered doing the same.  At the foot of the Alpe du Grand Serre, it struck me that I was soaked to the skin and cold, and unless the rain eased off, it wasn't going to get any better!  A good 15km climb up Grand Serre with a gradient of 7%.  Ideal for keeping moving at a good pace and warming up a bit.  Climbed through surreal forest landscape with swirling mists and poor visibility.  Really atmospheric.  Just getting warmer when we hit the top and started the very long and very cold descent into the Valbonnais valley.  Normally fantastic views but not today!  Really cold.  Food stop in Valbonnais and then the climb up to Col d'Ornon, which is not too bad from this side.  Still raining but not as heavily.  Not too steep but it goes on a bit!  Starting to warm up again nicely, ready for the cold descent to the main road to Bourg.  A steady climb back and then the stinky finish up to Vaujany.  Sun decided to poke out for a few minutes as I crossed the line.  Glad to have finished.  69miles, 8000' climbing in 6hrs24, including stops.  Silver time, and only 7mins outside Gold time!  They allow you more time for being a female and then for 50-59yrs.  Maybe they realise you need more "wee" stops over a certain age!  First in that category, out of three!!  Not bad, bearing in mind time lost on slower descents in the foul weather.  Maybe next time.  Ian did really well having improved on his previous time, in spite of the weather, 4hrs 59.  Amazing. Third in old gits category!

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