Wednesday, 6 October 2010

I do believe I'm hard enough

It felled Lance Armstrong. Marco Pantani conquered it in 33 minutes. 'But it's a Haute Categorie!' exclaimed my friend Cosima. 'That means it's hard.'
Certainly its reputation via Google was immense. But there's a lot of bluster in cycling. A lot of posturing. A lot of people who think 'I ride bikes' means nothing more than popping to the shops. And ultimately, the Col de Joux Plane was just another hill. I like hills.
I left the car in Morzine and rode up to Les Gets then down and along to Samoens, the 11km sweep from Taninges to the base of the climb, a lesson in how to create a road that rides fast.
The Col, often closed completely in winter, was clearly signposted but was beautifully empty, a smooth curve of tarmac winding through tiny hamlets and fields of cows. Sweat gathered on the tip of my nose before plummeting onto the crossbar, the heat unseasonable for early October. At 8km there was a spiteful increase in the incline. Not for long, but enough for the lungs to break out of their comfort zone. Then up ahead I saw them. A couple - man and woman. Or rather: bait. I have a tendency to keep my pace steady even when the gradient changes, a tactic that when employed on long rides can put you well ahead of other riders. But I'm learning to sprint and these two were enough for a try. At 10km I dropped the hammer. Lungs filled and emptied rapidly. Head down, elbows out trying to give as much space to my chest as possible. My legs began to pound from the hip - you ever get that when you're racing hard? Your thighs become pistons, the power they control fully engaged. Two corners and the couple were still in sight. Four and I'd dropped them.
'Bravo! Vous gagnez!' You win! yelled a descending rider.
The road continues to climb after the Joux Plane - not for long, but just so you know, then it's a screaming descent through wood into Morzine where the Coupe de Coeur bar and it's terrace doused in sunshine offered the perfect end of ride bevvy.
Lance? Where are you?


Pedalling Polarcherry said...

great post.

Pedalfeet said...

Cheers chick! Any excuse to eat three Snickers in one day ...