A two-week holiday without the bike turned into my off season. A break from the bike and a less-intentional break from blogging. Today my 2015 season begins with a zone 3 session, aimed at clawing back aerobic capacity lost in the last couple of weeks. With it my blog returns, to catch up on the end of last season and begin a new.
Day 2 – Expectancy (Megève to Courchevel 1850. Col des Saisies, Col du Cormet de Roselend, Courchevel)
I woke in Courchevel happy not to have suffered any bad reaction to the first major test of this Haute Route. I knew then that I was on an upward trajectory and would be able to step up from day 1, but as the stage unfolded I realised it wasn’t all going to happen overnight.
The Col des Saisies passed almost without incident. On the Haute Route that can be a good thing. Some climbs are unimaginably tough and this wasn’t one of them. Next up, the Col du Cormet de Roselend, which remains up there among my favourite climbs. Its lower reaches twist through deep forest in a remote, far-away valley. So very different from the open vistas that reward any rider reaching the Lac du Roselend on its upper slopes. It’s a beautiful view towards the twisting switch backs of the climb’s final section, one that lulls you into a false sense of security. The last kilometers are tough, but the descent to Bourg-Saint-Maurice makes for an intoxicating mix of super-fast straights and twisty switchbacks. This is a mountainside that rewards focus like few others, whose curves conceal an enveloping rhythm that leaves nothing left but you and the road.
Courchevel was a slog. A long neutralised section leading to the bottom of the climb deadened the legs. Mid-stage recovery is all well and good, but doubles the effort needed to spin up for another effort. I begun the climb with my team mates, but as I dropped my chain, they dropped me. Some I would see again later in the climb, others not.
Two kilometers from the line I encountered Emma Pooley running down the mountain, shouting words of encouragement, having already finished the stage. What an awe-inspiring athlete she is.
Comparing last year’s times to this year, I knew I wasn’t yet on form, but did go into day 3 with a new confidence. Little did I know what it held in store.
GC after day 2 – 107th