Distance cycled today: 100 miles
Distance walked today: 2 miles
Ascent today: 12,900 feet (a relaxing last day)
Total miles on trip: 1203
Hours in saddle on trip: 84hrs 15mins
Calories burnt: 66,600
Pedal revolutions: 378,975 (roughly!)
Distance to go: 0 miles, I’ve done it!
Phil says: “Heading due south over the dramatic Colle del Tende and back into France we close this Challenge with some choppy climbs and sweeping descents. Up and over one ridge after another, our efforts are rewarded by stunning views of this area. A deliberately shorter stage, allowing more time for café stops and an earlier finish, but beware, this stage has some tough ascents to deal with!”
Today we completed what would be a major UK sportive – indeed I don’t know of any with that much climbing. Sportive entrants would rest for days in advance, ride and then congratulate themselves on their massive feat. We treated it as a half-day!
So firstly we had to get from Italy to France. The way Phil wanted us to go, over a major climb, led to a road tunnel, but cyclists were very strictly forbidden. So Phil had a plan B. We’d ride up a disused road to an old fort on a col high above the tunnel. Going down the other side there wasn’t a road (even Phil admitted this) so we’d carry our ordinary shoes and change out of cycling shoes to walk 3km down a gravel track to where the road started (well, sort of, but at least there was some tarmac). Then we’d cycle down the rest of the 62 hairpins bends to rejoin the road in France. And it worked, and walking even felt refreshingly different at first, although after the first mile it got a bit wearing! At the bottom of the track the road was blocked by a fence, but we clambered through, getting stung by stinging nettles in the process – it all felt rather like a standard day on the CCC!
After that it was rather uneventful. Back in France and on good roads we made good time and enjoyed being able to descend without having brakes constantly on. Two big cols before lunch made it seem like a long morning. On the last one a couple of cyclist whistled past up going uphill. One turned to look back and we recognised Nairo Quintana, the winner of the Giro Italia last year and one of the hot favourites to win the Tour de France this year. We decided not to give chase! Later we saw him in a coffee shop, so he wasn’t doing the 7+ hours in the saddle we were putting in on the last day.
Dan and I descended first into the hotel with thunderclouds gathering ominously. I’d just got my bike into my room when the heavens opened. It seemed somehow fitting of the generally good way I’d managed the trip that I even managed to get back 2 minutes before the rain!
So now it’s bike disassembled and in box, suitcase repacked and thoughts reflecting on the trip and returning to normal life.
This is my fourth CCC – all successful. I had the least aches and pains although this morning my ankle felt strained and got progressively worse during the day, but it’ll just be a muscle or similar and fine in a day or two. I rode it faster and harder than ever before. There were achievements within achievements such as the madman of Ventoux award. The company was exceptionally good, the route mostly great give or take a lack of road surface in places, and the challenge set about right – it feels good to have achieved it. After all we do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. One day we will all be too old for certain challenges. Regret is for ever. The warm glow of success may slowly fade but helps lighten darker days.
As always, it’s been great having you along for the ride.