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After Costa Rica we flew up the western sea board to have a little ‘back to Kate’s roots’ trip. We hit up Seattle, sampling much food, Pikes Place, ferry trips and superb Happy Hour Apero. People are very friendly. Love it there.

We then rolled down the highway to Portland where Kate and Mom jumped on a boat to roll down the Columbia River to Ilwaco, I meanwhile,  would spend some time with my good man Michael Keep. A spot of hanging in uber cool Portland and then out to a place called Sandy Ridge for some tyre rolling. My head, legs and lungs seem to be on holiday so I was in the red the whole time but it was great fun and a great place. Lovely forest.

We then went to Hood River and basically drank a lot of coffee and enjoyed a very leisurely breakfast before heading out to hit the trails. There were many options but after all the travelling I just wanted minimal hassle so we went for local trails called Syncline. An stunning hillside which is cut open by this great big basalt columned canyon. The wind was as fierce as the singletrack climb was but it was A+ stunning with volcanoed back drops.

We hit up some lovely flowing singletrack that seemed to make the very most of the hill before climbing back up to drop into The Shit. Coyote Canyon must be an overused name for trails but this was sublime. Fearing Poison Oak we donned full length clothing and ripped our way down. So good and completely different to trails I normally ride. A very happy camper I was, we then had local beers and a burger made with peanut butter. Happiness complete!

An early morning drive from Hood River to Ilwaco and I was reunited with Kate. The constant Fog had descended but gave it an very atmospheric feel. A very true fisherman port on the edge of the Pacific, quite a place. We spent time with family, went to Cape Disappointment which was definitely not disappointing and I took a run through original old growth rain forest which blew my mind.

Having spent a year in Whistler I had forgotten just how stunning the Pacific Northwest is. I can’t wait to return.

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It has been a long time indeed. Lots of things have changed.

Competitive racing has finished for me. I feel I got what I came for in the 2 years of training and competiting. It was fantastic but its a time to return to just riding, adventuring and exploring. With that I undertook, as is my norm, a slight obsession with building a local trail. Its something Phil and I have wanted to do for a longtime and now, it is done. We weren’t expecting to complete it before the winter came but with the very late winter and awesome Autumn we did. I enjoyed every moment of it and have to say that the first rides on it were very satisfying. Seeign other peoples reactions were almost better than my own.

Part of the reason I wanted to make my own trail is that I wanted something very exacting so that with my future of less riding I would know where I would go and what I would get. Less riding? Yes, Kate and I will be (fingers crossed) having a Little HS in March. Life change but for all the good things.

Anyhow, Winter eventually rocked up with a few little snowfalls before the big storms rolled in. Before the big storms I met up with a guy called Adam Craig (www.adamcraig.net). Its the ol’ American Switcheroo trick, they come over and somehow they end up on my doorstep (its a small world). Adam is one hell of an XC racer (US Nat Champ), kayaker, skier and general adventurer. We got on. I thought I’d show him my fav place of Sex Carro.

As is normal, the snow pretty much sucked (got blow somewhere else) but it was great to be up there, seeing the mountains and checking in at the hut. Doesn’t feel like a winter without it. I have to say I wasn’t really feeling skiing. A funky knee made me feel very defensive and what with my change in mindset (Clips to Flats on the bike) I decided I was going to snowboard again….

I’d thought about this while I was in Costa Rica surfing (post to come), I like boarding, I like the feeling and the approach. I also snowboarded on the last day of the winter last year and loved it. There is a certain playfulness about it.

The big storm: Tempest Joachim rolled through Europe and precipitated an awful lot of snow on the Alps. Infact, it was more in 3 days than the whole of last season! I luckily got to sample it when Christmas Break came around and I choose to do it on a board. Also, my buddy had let me borrow his Burton Fish after I spent a day in Deep Conditions in the trees. I can’t believe the difference. Its really like snowboarding should be.

I got a GoPro Hero 2 from Kate for Chrimbo so this was its first outing:

 

I short Christmas break in the UK brought us back for more snowtime. With Kate pregnant but still wanting to ski meant we needed to find quiet skins and skiing. Nice trips up to Savoleyres when it was shut and Bruson made for great outings. Its pretty cool to think LHS is getting his first outings already!

Kate wanted to goto the Grand St Bernard Monastry and a sunny day dawned. It was go. I dragged poor Menso up there with the promise of some powder turns. That place is windy indeed. We had mandatory wine, cheese and soup and then I forced him up another 300m of steep, sunny, hotness. He was loving it (possibly not). The ski down was absoulutely shit. Very, very funny as it was full on carton snow with huge wind blown ridges. Still, it was fun. Sort of.

Another big storm rolled into Verbier and closed the lifts down. I managed to drag Menso up to Ruinettes in a tempest. Again, he loved it (possibly not). We skied the trees with 20cms of the light and fluffy stuff on boiler plate base. It was scary fast. Again. Top notch fun.

The freezing level went up and up and the rain/snow came down. I hit up Bruson with the Frennette crew. I have to say it may have been one of the few times where it was a wrong call. 50cms of Elephant snot BUT it really was fun. A lot of people having issues with the depth and weight of the snow.  A early finish for NY.

A little vid of what it was like. The GoPro was covered with snot most of the time.


 

Jonas and I started a 1st of Jan tradition last year and thus continued but this time with Jerry. Early doors and a road trip to a lesser known and high resort in the Valais. The sun didn’t play ball for a while but we had great fun and stress free riding. Easy hikes and no ‘Helmeted’ freeriders to speak off meant we had our pick of the terrain. We were just about to head in for lunch when the sun came out and we spotted a line. The day just got better and better. A perfect amount of riding done before we headed back to Planet Verbier.

The video to go with


 

One last skin in yet anther snowstorm with Kate for a cheese based lunch brought our Christmas period to an end. It left me with the terrible Snow Addiction again. Luckily, as I write yet another storm is pounding the alps.

Val’ D’Allos. Probably one of my favourite places on earth. The 2011 Enduro Series came back round. This time I was running Lone Wolf but with minimal stress due to knowing what was coming. A brutal but beautiful 2 days of racing with 10,000, yes, Ten Thousand metres of descending.

Having had a virus for 2 days and feeling less than perfect, even considered not going, I was a little concerned about being upto the task in hand. I went for a little ride on Friday evening to see how I felt. I pretty much forgot about feeling crap as soon as I looked around me. There is something extremely special about the area. The mountains, the climate, the vegetation, the light. Its magic. Go there.

Tent setup, pasta consumed, to bed and a pretty rubbish sleep. Standard. Went for a comfort break at 3am and the clarity of the night sky was incredible. I could clearly see each constilation instead of just a bunch of stars..pretty but should have been sleeping! Waking up I popped my head out of tent to see the sun rising over the Mercantour and immediate heat. Make no mistake, we are in the South. Minimal flapping from me. I now know what needs to be done and the timing. For example, I don’t need to miss my morning coffee to jump in line for the lift. Oh no. Eat well, caffenate, prep and leave.

With that I jumped on lift without the massive delay of last year and took in the view. From minute number 1 I practised my French with a variety of guys. All very friendly and talkative. Some new comers, some old timers.

Saturday: Is the day of DH orientated competition. Three different tracks done twice each. Almost the same as last year I didn’t need too much time to warm up. Was pretty pleased with my opening run. No errors, no real delays and solid. It always surprises me the level at these races and its got higher now that its officially the French National Series and everyone has been training! Most noticably Miss Anne Caro Chausson who posted 2 9th positions and an overall 13th for the day. Its incredible that she is challenging the big boys. I’d love for her to win a special!

I had 3 really good runs and 3 runs where I chose a bad time to depart and got held up. Every moment you pause, hesitate, mistime a corner, fall in a bush or get delayed by another rider you are going down the ranks. That instills a very high sense of tempo in everyone. Fast. Very Fast. There is a skill to over taking of riders…a quick shout as soon as you spot them, then more informing the closer you get and then a move or they let you pass. There is no time/energy for waiting and if you get the chance to get past them before a bottle neck you only have yourself to blame.

Anyhow, I finished up the day with my riding getting to a place that I was happy with. Think I pulled in a couple of 40 ish position runs which really makes me happy considering the level. I snuck into 59th position for Saturday which is great (although last year my goal was top 50 it wasn’t really acheivable, this year different story).

A great atmosphere, paella party and early night leads into Sunday. The Business end of things. Although the ‘Coupe De France’ is determined by the 2 different days and points awarded for that everyone is looking for the overall finish. Sunday is where the battle really happens with significantly more physical requirement and more and longer visits to the Pain Cave.

Last year it was super brutal with a horrible climb up a ridge but this year it seemed to have a better balance. Beginning of stage 3 from Staturday through beuatiful meadows and then spin off and climb upto last years ace course. A nasty little climb that was steep at first then slowly flattend out. If you gave too much, too early the longer flatter bit was horrendous but saying that you were so keen to get On The Gas and pass EVERYONE! Mwhuhuhuhuhu!

This then came in to the traversy tech singletracks that had 2 river crossing with steep banks to push out before the fun began again. First run this fun got more fun than I barginned for!!! Absolutely flying I somehow seemed to have LocationTravelled to Yorkshire in winter! A huge bog. I had the first 3-4 step drops before the inevitable happened. A full front wheel sucked into the mud and me catapulted through the air and other competitiors!! A soft anf gooey landing, rolling around, laughing and then eventually pulling bike out I got back on bike then slid to the bottom of bank. Covered in mud but all good.

Flat fireroad and back to the Gas Chamber. In the red and into singletrack which goes on and on and on till the end. I went to far into red and never recovered. Bit of a passenger on the bike, hands like claws and just wanting it to be done. Hardly able to hold onto the grips at 30mph is a bit worrysome!

Final sprint and done. Messy. Body a mess, cough racking my body and felt pretty bad. On the return I considered quitting but knew that the next one would be better, the first run is always the worst. A 20:35 sec run was tough, 2 more to go and I’ll get it around 19.

Run 2 was excellent and I felt on top of the world this time. Followed two guys down who held me up a little but was fun following, on the Elevator took them and powered through…some small errors here and there but good. 19:49. Better.

Last run on this special and I put it all out there. It was going so well, clear track and I properly owned every corner. Had a little Team Davros moment out in the meadows…A good lous shout of ‘EEEEEEEllllllssssss!!!’ is what happens when you high on EndoCrackain! Wooop. Elevator destroyed and then the last 3rd discarded with a disregard for safety. Just the steep last turns and I’d be home and dry…woops.

Front wheel tucked in on the 8th from last corner and over I went, missed tree, banged knee and at least 2 somersaults down the steep hillside before I came ro rest. Back up, on bike and get it finished. 30 odds secs lost and finished with a 19:41. Would I have got sub 19 mins? Who knows?

Very happy to have finished the 3 hard stages and with only one more to go I have to admit to wanting it to be over so I could start recovering..not the best mindset. Went up and waiting along time for the right time to go. Too much time spent mulling it all over and off I went. Didn’t start great and just as I got into it after the first quarter I heard that terrible sound.

‘Pssst….pssst….psssst’

‘Fuck. Please seal, please, please, please’

Nope. Game over. I tried to limp down but no way. Oh well, its one of those things. I suppose I could have swapped out to a dual ply DH tyre for last run but I didn’t.

Was more than a bit pleased with the pain to be over and a really solid performance considering. After checking the results I was running 46th for the day before the puncture. THAT is a win.

Some post race analysis of times and percentage away from winners and 30th place positions revelas just how tight it is. I am not going to compare against winners (12 -18%) as thats not really a realistic goal but 30th position. On the Saturday I ranged from 13.8% behind to 5.48% slower than 30th. 5% is 40 secs…which over 400(guessing) turns/ corners over a 1000m descent equates to being 0.1 secs slower through each turn…not sure if that has any validity but this sport is about effiency and consitency whilst being fast.

Interestingly looking at Sunday we see me getting closer to 30th with a range of 2.6% and 6% slower BUT getting even further away from the Top Guns (21 – 19 – 21%). They really are Beasts of the highest order!  However, I can look back at last years results and really see some significant improvements. Last year I was 35 – 28 -24% slower than Fast Boys. So I can see I am massively faster and much more consitent from the getgo…

In the end of the day it doesn’t matter or change anything however to be able to see the cold hard facts that I was faster validates all the hard work and beer and food sacrifices. Of course it is ALL good because this racing lark is way more than the race.

Lets see what Les Arcs will bring.

Here is the video from the race: 26in.fr

Some little piccies too:

Haven’t got back into doing my blog. Lots has been happening. Back into training for the summer and have a good long list of Enduro events. This year they are spread out a lot more so less stress and less impact on normal life.

Skiing. Yes. Lots and lots and lots of Chrimas and New Year. Great christmas present of a foot of cold snow. Unfortunately we have been living of this for a while before a warming period and some more snow. Its been a lean Jan but is fairly standard. Cold weather means snow has stayed good and stable and if you like to walk you’ll still get the goods.

Biking: Yes. Been trying to get out a bit often with commutes and some bike rides. Its just great to be out and the highlight was a solo nightride at Branson with new light. Ace.

A load of photos

What a great weekend. Started a little cloudy then went bluebird. Win

Saturday: The main event

Holed up in the office I sent my hands around the internet looking for a new adventure. Target acquired. The Pointe Ronde sits above Martigny at 2700m and is a fairly well known popular tour as its 20 mins up the road.

The schedule looked to be quite big for this early in the year. A vertical mile of ascension with a possibility of a mellow ski down if conditions weren’t on or a more direct and steeper north facing bowl.

Well organised, Kate, Matt and I (and Pinto of course) set off at 10am with a  friendly group behind us. A gentle start up a meadow soon gave way to up and up at a solid gradient. Really “nice” gradient that shot us up 600m like THAT. Kapow. Exiting the woods we started to get some great views of Rhone Valley, Genepi, Aguilles Rouges and Mont D’Arpille. Stunning. A brief flat section before the steep face.

Matt’s splitboard didn’t really like this, Kate didn’t like me (I am a memeber of the SS so its fair enough) but we got to the col and had a STUNNING view, soup and bread. The world was better. Off we went up a really beautiful alpine area. Sun came out and smiles started.

The altimeter ticked over and over and we started getting some impressive views to the north bowl. We eventually hit the summit with some good airy exposure and it was all worth it. Looking down and across to Trient Glacier, Aguilles Tour, Chardonett etc, etc..aka Good Shit.

The Dynaclones (heart) set off and ventured into the North Bowl. We were thinking about not going in there but that settled it. Some cheese, sausage and wine were eaten and off we went. The top was just about stepping down as there were too many rocks but once in the bowl it was tip top and really not bad. It could have been horrendous but I enjoyed skiing the whole thing and boy did it go on and on and on.

A spot of bushwhacking and almost some river time we skied out. Tired and happy to be done. It was a big day for so early in the season. Chapeau to us.

Slideshow or pics at bottom

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Sunday: One run for the win

A lovely, easy morning lie in and breakfast. Gentle start up the lift and then headed to Gentianes. We met up with Paul ‘International man of Leisure’ and then Jerry, Anna etc…Beautiful winters day.

We sort of had plans for Catwalk or something but as soon as I saw Mont Fort it was mine. It didn’t take much to persuade Paul to accompany me. A liesurly skin up with plenty of time for chat, photos and telling idiots not to ski into crevasses we summited. Boom. Full on gale and -20 but lovely out of the wind. Perfect views from the cross and the back looks good to go.

We met a fellow skinner, Eric Le Dr. Good guy and we immediately got on. We skied the steeper face. Eric first,Paul and then me. Just as I went the sun caught a lovely, slight ridge. Beautifuly steep, amazing light and empty. A run that has given me a smug feeling and will keep me excited till the next time.

A full on yard sale on the way down the piste due to binding pop nearly ruined my day and somewhat agrivated the old shoulder but luckily nothing popped out.

Piccccies

Saturday

A friday night Xmas party meant we didn’t arrive in the mountains till late morning but my god they were pretty. Perfect weather, fresh snow and good buddies. Team Splitboarder arrived, faffed and off we went. The plan was to take Marlenaz by storm.

A skin track was already set so we followed that and it was nice and direct. Beautiful weather and views. Great to be out and enjoying it. Team Splitboarders hung with us the best they could but the extra heft and width slowed them down. Hung out on the summit, did a quick run on some beautiful fresh snow and took in the view.

Jason appeared first with somewhat of a pained look. A desperate plea for some sandwich and a sit down made him feel better. Miss Finland arrived and looked glad that it was over. Tea, boar sausage and we were ready to go.

The ski down was nice enough and the beer after was even better. A GREAT day even though nothing GREAT was undertaken.

Sunday

Weather came in and we headed off to Sex Carro for skin in woods and some fondue. Kate and I, Paul and Uncle Jerry. First issue was road closure so we parked in un finished tunnel and hiked like gringos up the Dorenaz DH course. Pretty physical but got us up quick enough.

Skins on and up, up and up on the consistent steep path. The higher we got the more we noticed a lack of snow due to wind. It had been ravaged. Anyhow…

In the cabin for fondue and wine. Thats what this trip was about! Fire started, heat created, cheese melted, wine had and full stomach achieved.  Looking outside a tempest had arrived. Perfect for the correct atmosphere!

Out into said tempest we went. A traverse, trail break kept us warm and we found the gully. It looked okish on one side but bare on the other. Oh well. Off we went. Was Sub Optimal but we got down and walked out full of the joys of life!

August rolls in and that equals the end. The end of racing for 2010 BUT what a finish. The scene for the final round of the Enduro Series was Valloire, France. Named ‘The High Race’ it did not disappoint. For some reason I was under the impression it was going to be an ‘easy’ race. I don’t know why. It wasn’t. It was probably the hardest of them all.

Same format as the others. Three tracks, 3 x 1 saturday morning, 1 x 2 in the afternoon and 4 x number 3 on sunday. One x number 2 Sat afternoon? What? You getting soft or what? Ahhh. Well. We’ll get to that.

Friday night I met up with the WTB boys who had been scoping the area for a couple of days. Immediately I was informed about the word gnarly. Sorry, Gnarly. They showed me some pics, vids and instilled a sense of respect. Tyre change for the morning as it was a fresh track. A fresh track means a taped track through the high alpine with virtually no singletrack in situ.

Saturday morning dawned perfect weather and up we went. The scenery round these parts is something else. Got to top, walked a small part of track and got nervous. I was pretty intimidated by the unknown and also standard race nerves. Off I went and a standard sub optimal first run. Not warmed up, WILD track and tentative = off the pace. 105th, its ok. i am used to it. Bit rattled BUT experience now helps me and I know I get stronger and stronger both in riding and physical output.

2nd Run. Bang. Thats what I’m talking about. Loving it more and a bit more dynamic but still not fluid. The bottom bike park stuff is beating my already beaten up hands. Have a little tumble trying to pass someone, quite amusing.

Run 3: Better but had some bouchon and had to force my way through. Glad to see the end of this track as the bike park part is just not my cup of tea but I knock of almost 2 mins from 17:02 on run 1 down to 15:09 on run 3.

The afternoon and only one run. This ‘only’ one run is from top to valley floor. A total of 1800m of descending and some solid pedaling to be done. I am feeling strong and warmed up now. A gel in and I’m off. First beginnings of track 1 but then a good pedal to hit the ridge. I’d put fast tyres for this and the difference is incredible. I take 10 riders on the first pedal..

Onto the ridge and skip past another group of 8 and I have an open section of some of the finest alpine singletrack. Supremly fast, open, a few rocks and constant small changes…into the trees for loamy, steep fun. Riders are clearly feeling the attrition from the morning and I skip past easily. People talk about ‘The Flow’ and I had it, incredible experience.

Into second traverse pedal, on the gas. I know I am only a 3rd into the stage but also know that I can afford to put everything I have into it. This is the time to attack. Traverse turns into nasty steep up, heart nearly comes out of mouth and then into tech traverse, flop along this for a minute and regain some coordination from my body. Down onto road and then THE TESTER. A gradual road climb that then goes onto a flat track alongside a water pipe. This is probably about 5-6 mins in total but is all about getting head down and ignoring the sirens screaming ‘STOP’! Its like a graveyard…people walking, broken bikes, broken people. I take strength from this and look to every single training session from Dec to now. I’m dribbling, spitting into full face helmet…Writing this I try to imagine the pain but I can’t…its been replaced in my memory as something not as bad as it was. My heart rate monitor tells a story of 7 minutes with my heart rate sitting above 193bpm and topping out at 197bpm. Thats painful.

Eventually I hit the final plunge into the valley. This plunge is 800m of vertical and semi paved, roman style. Its horrendously steep and never ending. Its so fast and so on the edge. My hands and forearms have gone through so much. At one point I couldn’t stop braking eve if I wanted too. They were locked on. I simply had to grit my teeth and get on with it. I let all the marshals know my pain by grunting and they responded with encouragement..I needed that.

Eventually it comes to an end. 36 minutes and 2 seconds of pain, suffering but ultimately an incredible sense of accomplishment. Its a scene of sorts at the bottom. I quickly roll down the road and get a lift back up with team WTB.

Jason had a puncture half way down scuppering his run but Mark Weir put in a stormer. Just 3 secs off Remy Absalon’s time of 30:29…3 secs over that distance is incredible! Pushing the boundaries. Without a huge off he would have won..A lot of respect from all the French riders  was duly given. Having been a bit downhearted about my position I was properly over the moon with making 58th on Saturday!

Sunday. Another perfect day in the mountains.  Format is simple. Four times 1 special stage. Tis is no ordinary stage though and is a true Alpine Enduro beast. Over 1000m of tough descending and some super solid pedaling meant it would be a hard day. 18-20 min runs on this beast.

Run1 was going really well and as normal I ride about 100 times better on day 2 of riding. Got a puncture but it sealed enough to get down. Gave it all I had to limit the damage to my time but probably lost a minute. Not the end of the world, quick tyre change and back up.

Run 2: Fantastic. Loving the course and loving the pedal. 2 mins up on first run as expected.

Run 3: Feeling good but rear brake goes so have less than optimal set up for what is a fast course. Little junior guy pops by me and I stick to his tail. Amazing rider for 14 (although gets time penalty for cheat lines!!). Power by him on pedal and finish strong (thankfully brake has returned for mental steep end).

Run 4. The final run. I’d bled my brakes but think the rear was still a bit funny. Thankfully front was super good. Tired. Really tired. Conserving energy on push up to the start.

A quiet place. Everyone is exhausted. Not much chat or banter. Sheltering from the sun we sit in silence summing up courage for the final run. I go.

I can feel I have no sprint left in me so I go for solid, consistent output. I won’t be able to hit max but I can still sit high up in the revs. Rear brake goes almost straight away but I know the course now and can take lines with more commitment. My hands are in tatters. My right wrist is in pain, my 2 little fingers have tendon injuries but what can I do…just go.

I have a complete, almost free run down. Really good, lacking the raw power, but fluid. I give it all through the last pedal, style it up over the last jump, jump into spectators corner and get caught behind a rider who is kickingup so much dust. Just hold on, stay on target.

And Finish. A mixture of relief and sadness fill me. Thats it. Done and I am well and truly done. Hands won’t grip much anymore.

The Enduro Series is over. All my focus, training and sacrifice has come to an end. A great feeling of success, the results don’t really matter as its more about personal challenge BUT I hit my target of top 50. That weekend I came 50th.

A true progression:

Metabief: 75th

Allos: 68th

Vars: 67th

Valloire: 50th

It was way, way harder and more competitive than I thought it would be, there are some amazing riders out there and fit to match. I have so many things to work on to improve and get better as a racer. Bring it on.

Everytime I do another Enduro Series I say…that is the best.

I find it hard to believe it can better than Vars. Scenery, friendliness, organisation, variety, trails..etc..etc.

After a terrible nights sleep e.g an hour of shivering I was not best prepared but Saturday was going to be a long day. First special at 8:30 with a total of 7 completed by 10:30pm in the dark! Something along the lines of 6000m of vert, 1 hr 40 mins racing time and 4000 calories used.

The format was fairly simple. 3 different stages. 1st one. Short track of 5k with 800m of vert. 11mins ish of flat out Twistathon. Incredible. 3 x that please. Check

2nd Special. Double length and more enduro style i.e. more pedallig but not too much. Very physical in lower section and super high speed grass section. Absolutely ace and pain cave visiting 15 mins.

Final stage of day. The twilight/Dark trail. 4k, 400m vert and a man made feel. 7 mins of flat out RADNESS! We all left in a mass line. I swear there were 15 riders i front of me and 15 behind. All hell bent on going as fast as possible. SO MUCH FUN but almost zero potential to pass.

Come 10pm its a different story. Its a bit of an arms race in terms of lighting tecnology and thankfully Phil from BikeVerbier lent me his almighty light. The racing was no slower and full on. I gave one french guy a lesson in reasons to not block me.

Pizza and BED! Oh that sleep was good.

Sunday. An easier schedule with just 3 special stages. However, this stage had it all. 99% singletrack, high ridgline rocky stuff, then in to a grassy meadow that criss crossed a river gully. SUBLIME stuff. Couple of little pedals with one that hurt before dropping you immediately into singletrack through trees. To die for. Hold on, off the brakes and try and spot the lines early. Hold on and give it everything to the end. 12 mins x 3 of pure exhilaration.

First 2 I went off with people of around my speed. Somethign amazing about that. Someone over takes you and you just stick on their wheel, follow them and then try and regain that position.

Final one I was pooped so decided to go at the back and run my own race. Was loving it, picking off people here and there. Then the Dorian  lad zipped past me and I tailed him to the end using his French lines and aiding him with my English pushyness for back markers…

All in. Done. Finished. A great Sunday that left enough energy to drive home.

Am literally clawing my way up positions. Managed 67th. Yes, ONE place higher than the last one in Allos. Although to be honest i think I rode worse and made more mistakes this time due to tiredness but made up positions due to race strategy. Hmmm. Goes to show.

Last race next weekend. Valloire, The High Race. Bring it.

Love it. Not sure how to explain it but its simply fanatastic.

Nice big training ride after work, plan was to pick up a ride I hadn’t done since summer last year. Cruise to Morges then upto Bierre and onwards upto Marchieruz via the long, long forest road. During this I was doing some 6 min intervals with 12 min less intensity…That added speed, sweat and opened up the Endorphin Tab with my dealer.

Hitting the base of the major, extended climb I had just finished a interval through flattish roads on the plateau. Amazing place to ride a road bike. Must have been zooming along at 40-45km hr…anyhow…up the climb and keeping steady and reading myself for the final interval. Sweat dripping down, temp dropping to comfortable level with altitude. Sip of drink, snippet of banana and I’m off. Breathing deeply and trying to take it to the mountain whilst staying within said zone.

While I’d be lying if I said it was easy, it wasn’t, but I had the edge. What that edge might be I don’t know…Its the difference between getting on and suffering and getting on, taking the suffering and enjoying the fact I have 3mins left instead of dreading the next 3 minutes. Its a sickness I know…

Nearing the end I spotted another roadie. Finished up interval and eased off. I was gaining on him and new I’d catch him. No racing, no desire but still enjoying the climb. Drew up with him and passed. A hearty ‘Salut’ a brief chat and he took up the challenge. He sat on my wheel while I cruised up…well, it felt like cruising compared to the last interval. My heart rate was still sitting firmly in the 160bpm mark.

It was funny, I felt acutely aware that this guy was using me to get it over with, he was suffering, really laboured breathing and he wouldn’t last long. I felt no desire to break him and was happy that I could help him up the hill a little. A few more minutes and a ‘Bon route’ from him and a thumbs up and ‘Ciao’ from me. On and on the climb goes…Lovely stuff. I can’t say how much I enjoy climbing quiet forest roads…Eventually I hit the turn and cruised the 25km downhill and via a new descent to home. Full of happiness and enjoyment.

Although this training lark is aimed towards something and being something better it really is a means to something in itself. I enjoy, no, love getting out there and applying myself to the discipline of turning pedals.

And that is written 15 hrs after the endorphin high! Here is the road ride if you are bothered, bored or broken

With a couple of hours of overtime to take I sneaksied away from work and took myself to Montreux. A funny place that is right on the lake and right on the mountains. There is a steep and slow train that can take to Roches De Naye at 1600m (1200m above Montreux). Thats great and all but it takes forever as its so steep and old.

I drove upto Caux with intention of finding some new trails and getting some climbing done aswell. The road up is Steep (with a capital S) and I was wondering how 750m in a single 36 tooth ring would feel. Parked up and had a sniff around. I managed to ‘explore’ (not find trail) for a while and check out the fancy housing and get a good workout..basically I got lost and pedalled up steep roads. I got a bit annoyed and climbed to a trail I knew. I was enjoying being in the mountains.

We have had a lot of rain recently so the first trail I rode was a slipfest. The terra firma is a lot different to what I ride most of the time, limestone and a clay based mud. Knocked a load of pressure out of tyres and that was much better. I love the grip of the 2.35 Swampthing up front with sliddy but surprisingly grippy Crossmark in the rear.  Managed to find a more defined singletrack which had been ‘downhilled’ with some fun jumps and shortcuts. Great, slippery fun indeed!

I didn’t want to drop all the way down so climbed back up to car for 45 mins. Sweaty. I then found the trail I had been looking for which turned out to be triple ace. Flowy, traverseville with roots and fun-ness attached. There was a new DH section in progress which I rode. To be completed but very well built and stunning location.

Down a direct trail that was SO dark  and into the , as named by Arska Sarimaki, ‘Anal Gorge’. Its quite, quite a place with waterfals, rocks and greeness. Up and down, tricky sectiosn, hard pedals etc, etc and into Old Town Montreux. Lovely. Much more time to be spent here I think.

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