Bike 120km to Embrun (2,000m elevation gain)
Records are there to be broken and we’ve got a couple of new records for Epic on day 1. Firstly, everyone’s bikes & luggage arrived with their flights which is the first time I think this has happened since I have been involved. The other record today is not one we want to brake any time soon – we had a total of 6 hitting of the pavement today (Steven twice,
Douglas, myself, Randy and Russell). Douglas and Steven had a collision of some sort on the final decent of the day. The second incident was totally my fault. We had arrived in Embrun and had to head uphill to the town centre for registration for tomorrows event. I was leading a small group at a slow speed. As we came across an intersection I saw a small bike path marked on the side of the road. There was what looked like a coloured demarcation to separate the path – what I didn’t realise (largely due to lack of concentration) was there was a raised lip. I hit that with my front wheel and slid out and in the process taking down Randy and Steven (who quite rightly was not happy about going down for the 2nd time). I felt like a right plonker. The only consolation was a couple of minutes later Russell came up the hill and did the exact same thing and did a superman slide on his tummy. In the process Russ managed to impact his HRM so hard onto his chest that he now has a big red mark there. Aside from these incidents we had an awesome opening day.
Coming up with the day 1 route took me some time. We simply couldn’t make it from
Lyon to Embrun as it was too far so we had to load up the vans and drive around 90mins to a start point. There were lots of start point options but I wanted to avoid as many busy roads as possible. The other consideration was we needed to make it to Embrun in time for registration and racking our bikes. I will give myself a 9.5/10 – we had a great ride over mostly quiet road with some lovely climbs and awesome scenery.
The only “competitive” part of today was a KOM in the final 3rd of the ride. Prior to that Russ seemed intent on keeping the pace very honest on any climb we came to. I was certainly feeling a little burn in the legs on a final ascent just prior to our first aid station at 50km. After the aid station the fun and games began. We came through a tiny village where there was a big traffic jam. The group split a little and I was boxed in at the back. Seeing Steven, Russ and Clas powering off the front meant when I finally got a chance to ride around the others I had to put in a pretty big effort to bridge the gap. Russ and Steven seemed intent on pulling on the front. I assumed they were trying to tire us out for the KOM or they were just feeling great. The KOM itself was nothing massive. I think it was about 6km long with nothing too steep. Steven put in an “interesting” attack, as Clas put it, a couple of km’s before the start of the climb and in the process nearly missed the turn off. We started the climb just riding tempo then I upped the pace a little and the group seemed to splinter. Then Clas and Zac came around and pulled away to take the honours. Rob P rode up to me in the final km or so and I was intent to sit on his wheel and pull me to the top. I didn’t feel great so was fairly pleased with my placing up to the top.
The final part of the day was doing the hilly part of tomorrows race in reverse. Holly crap we are in for a hard ride. Someone will post the course profile I’m sure but out of the swim you basically climb for 6km pretty solidly then roll along the top before coming back down. It is a very very tough course.
Registration took forever which meant we had to cut the run and swim short.
A great opening day to the camp. We wait nervously for tomorrows race.