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To remind me that I am not Andy Shlek, Contador or even a half good roadie SO that when I attack one of the steeper climbs in and around the Alps I should do it in the manner to which I can successfully complete and not suffer, drool and nearly implode.

First time up Mt Saleve outside Geneva and I requested the steep way. Turns out that the steep way is steeper and longer than I imagined. I thought it might be 20 mins ish even though Jerry had said 40 mins. Not entirely sure why I blocked that figure out. I think it was my ego ear muffs.

I started off feeling pretty good. PRETTY DARN GOOD actually. Round the first corner I spotted my first victim. The power increased. Victim eaten. And repeat with the steady stream of evening cyclists. With this came the ramping of the gradient. The 10plus is a nice gradient I find. Really rewarding.

Then the switchbacks started. Steep as and then steeper after. 12/13%. Up, up and up. Was flying and liking it but knew I was over doing it. A few more switchbacks, victims and eventually I had become the victim.

Well into the red zone and starting to really suffer. Mixing standing up with trying to turn those pedals faster to keep on top of the gear but I was failing. I was slowing and no wonder as I had been climbing at a silly pace (1200m an hr I am guessing). I also noticed a softening of my front tyre through my haze.

I looked for more gears more than a couple of times. Passing another rider I realized the previous cocky rider that took the corners at their steepest was now a disgusting, non classy rider drooling, and pedalling like a bobbing baboon.

I consider stopping as my heart was trying to rip itself from my chest, my windpipe was on fire and I felt terrible but that Ego thing kept me going. The gradient eventually eased and I struggled on and eventually got to the col.

I’ll learn to check the profile AND the height next time but it was ace in a very sick, pain locker/cave/dungeon. ¬†I’ll break it next time ūüôā

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Still resting my little fingers (well, thats my excuse) I took 2 windows of freetime this weekend to crack out a couple of rides on the road bike. I had been secretly hankering after this for ages and it just was perfect with 3 hrs to spare each day.

Saturday: Verbier – Mauvoisan Dam. A stunning valley stretches east. 20km ish and 1100m of climbing with 2 climbs, a lovely wide valley and simple peace and quiet. The weather was A grade and it really couldn’t have been any better. Popping into see Vanessa and Thibaut he left me with “if you can do it in an hour you’re fit”.

Swine.

Now…I still had to get back upto Verbier AND try and break the Verbier Peleton record of 36:45 (Neil) so I couldn’t do myself in too much but I pretty much went at a fair old pace. Its a great climb and JUST incredible to look around. A diversion up a hill water stop put me behind but still going well. The final part kicks up but ALL the time its difficult to really suffer as its just so beautiful.

Made it around 1hr 15min, ate stuff and high tailed it back so not to be late. Descent was rapid!

Hit round about at Chable and gunned it. I knew I didn’t have much and probably went too hard. Hot and hard work. Sweating in my eyes trying to keep composure. Just beneath Mediere I started coming apart. Little lightweight guy zipped past me, held his wheel for a few mins..struggling. Hurtsville. Just trying to¬†maintain¬†speed.

Enter lower slopes of verbier and another lightweight rider comes past. Looking fresh and Euro compared to my¬†disheveled, sweating, gasping, pathetic corpse. Do my very best to go after Verbier Village…not much in there. Make it to Place Centrale in 37:30 and I am done…1700m up on all in the red. Youch.

Big night Sat

Sunday:

After ‘recovering’ I head off for a more chilled ride. Well same distance/elevation but not on the rivet like Saturday. I decide to do the La Valletes – Champex Lac climb which is pretty steep but pretty.

This one starts steepish and keeps going and stays steep and then steepens up a bit more. Hairpins stacked on top of each other at times. Just stunning. Climbing at 900m/h, in smallest gear and making a big effort to not go into red. Slip higher and higher into great forest. Nice little singletrack crosses road.

Higher up I get an incredible view up into Aiguille de Genepi. The NE couloir is a huge ski tick I want. Pretty excited to see it and also how to get into it.

On and on I ride. Gradient eases off, spanking new tarmac and constantly craning neck at the views. I eventually crest the col and roll into Champex after 58 mins for 830m climbed and a big smile. LOADS of people here. Have a sit down next to lake, eat a bar, refill water and off.

Its amazing how fast you can go on a bike down a road. Great views into other valleys and other trips. Head back to Chable and climb back to Verbier at same pace as rest of day. Not too fast, not too much pain, loads of sweat but no grimacing today. 43 mins and ok.

Get back to see Neil and Gareth just finished flogging themselves in Mano o Mano. Gareth learnt a few things about a Turbo Trainer!!

Gone are the days of just¬†mountain¬†biking for me….so much more to it all.

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

The plan was to get out from work about 5 and try and head out for 3 hrs.

Something got stuffed up so didn’t get riding till 6 but the weather was lovely and warm. I had pretty much decided to just go for a ride and see what I could find. No training structure or anything like that…just for the pleasure.

Well. Within 8 minutes I discovered Lausanne is very steep but with intentions of trying to explore further out I took direct route up. Around the 20% mark. Pretty muscular on a compact. I have a very basic map of lausanne in my head so found the bottom of Epilanges wood by default. Nicely warm now. I spotted a steep road and kept it going.

Bloody hell! The sign said 22% and it went on and on but with winding parts and ‘slight’ rests. Was a very pretty forest though. Topped out into a slightly different spot and found road I had been sort of aiming for. Great views of the lake and mountains opened up. A REALLY stunning and clear evening. Started up a road but it was too busy for my liking. I wanted quiet backroads so turned off and followed my nose. Through lovely rapeseed fields and other rural type settings, pockets of forest, hills. Darlings Buds of May sans horty Welsh Bint and much more spikey Alpine backdrop.

Bombing round a corner I spotted another hill. I wanted to get up that. Followed the sign for ‘tour de Gourze’ just for the name really. The entrance noted a 25% hill marked. Goodness me.

Goodness Me Indeed. It went up and up. Short flat bit to admire the stunning Vaudoise houses and view, catch breath and back to Painsville. I came round corner and rested on the flat to look up. Bang. Straight up and a good kilometre of it.

As I started up a car came by and  the driver gave me a big smile and thumbs up. He whined up the hill in first gear which was juxtaposed with my grunting at about 30 rpm. Reaching the top I was drenched with sweat. Rode round in a circle for a while to gather myself and had a look around.

This is the view

Wow. Back down, around, along. Stunning houses and views. Loving it. Back round above the lake and next to the Autoroute. Surprisingly quiet but just enjoying the ride. Raced a moped for a while and then hammered back through the streets of lausanne which was FUN.

2 hrs, 900m, 40k and a great discovery. I reckon there is a time trial potential from the lake straight up 5km and 550m to the said top of hill. Anyone?

Evening ride. It was supposed to be gentle, low intensity. I had good intentions but Jerry shot off with in 6 mins. It was supposed to be low intensity for HIM! Off we went through the traffic, gently climbing but moving at a fair rate.

Off the main road, avoiding commuters and into the little village Just For The Name: ”Gingins’!

We had sort of a broad plan but when we saw the sign for La Dole I couldn’t resist… The climb wound itself through beautiful houses, forest positively bursting with spring greeness and a lovely temperature that hid the sweat. The gradient grew steeper, gears shifted up and talking got harder.

On and on but so very good. Parts reminded me of this but dry and lovely. The road turned into one way so no worries about traffic, not that we really saw any. We eventually started seeing the top and slowly but surely spotted the Dome on La Dole. A quick looksee to see the potential of riding up there and returned back.

I’d forgotten to bring a spare top but we flew down the mountain dropping into warmer temps. Again the road was one way so less worry on the blind corners. A really beautiful road.

Down onto the flat, nostrils full with the smell of spring and BBQ’s. A little visit to the French border and Jerry and I parted ways. Back to Geneva for him and Roll for me. A good 15km spin, hunger pangs and fading evening light.

51km (with 26k in the morning), 1100m up makes a good ride indeed.

Simply stunning. A little road ride tonight beckons for Jerry and I. Just two men dressed in lycra riding through the countryside…Its normal.

Places I’d like to visit: Pie Town

Road ride into the Jura.

Gland (Helmet) – Burgins – Gimel -St George – Gimel – Rolle.

It really is ace round here to ride. Big hills but not super steep so you really feel like you fly up them. This one was a bit more rolling but I followed my nose with an idea to head to the Col de Marcheriuz.  Following the 5 x 12 min Threshold efforts with 6 min recovery. The power that comes out of my legs these days is something to behold (well, for me, not anyone else). An indescribable feeling of satisfaction from all the winter training to finally see real results of speed and endurance. So a quick 1hr 25 mins, 660m climbing, 950m/hr climbing rate!! (Not sure if thats right) and a round 1000 cals.

I am now loving the road bike going DH. The final road down to roll is fast with lots of swooping corners. Before I was quite gripped, on the drop bars and braking a lot before corners. Now, I sit on the top of the bars and barely touch the brakes and drop shoulders through the corners. Really is quite exciting!

Proper knackered today after that and the gym so resting for the weekend (which is tomorrow!)

See if this works. Little map of route

April. Not May, Not June. When its sunny and 14 degrees down by the lake what temperature do you think it will be in 2 hrs after 1100m of climbing?

COLD you idiot!

Even with tights, thermal, jersey, Windstoper and skull cap I thought I was done for.

On a warmer note I did find a beautiful way up into the lesser known Jura. Loved it.

What a beautiful day. A real spring beauty so I decided to ride in the longer way over Signal De Bougy and via Aubonne (adding 500m of vertical). It was not as warm as it looked and infact was 8 degree’s at the lake and 4 degrees up high.

Dressed unsuitably I got a stunning ice cream headache for 45 mins but was wide awake and happy to be turning the pedals.

The day finished and I jumped back on and decided to do a return of the longer way. Gently, gently into Morges and then up through the Vaudoise countryside. Its really a very nice place to ride. Great, quiet roads and views over Lac Leman. I hit the summit and got a big ol buzzz screaming down to the lake side. So much so I thought I’d go look for Kate. She had left Geneva at around 6:30 and on her normal time she would just be along the road. I belted along with fading light…

No sign of her so kept going past Gland and eventually came to Nyon. Hmmm. No Kate and a lack of light. Turned round and belted it back with complete light failure and no lights. Luckily the cycle lane is well protected and I crawled in at 8:45 to find Kate relaxing on the sofa. Turns out she has new bike speed and had done the ride in a new record time!!

A good day with just over 4 hrs on the bike, 95km’s and 1100m of climbing…

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