Mon 09 Mar 2009 14:50 GMT
I would never advise anyone to participate in the 'Marmotte' or a marathon, for example, without being well trained and well prepared. Why then, yesterday did I embark upon the cross country ski equivalent of that scenario? Inexperienced and under trained, it was a given that I may find myself in the tiniest bit of difficulty. Understatement.
The event was the 'Traversee du Vercors'. Basically; get up very early, drive your car to the beautiful Vercors mountains, park, have a shuttle bus take you 50km away from your vehicle and then ski back to it climbing 1,050 metres in the process. No get out, no broom wagon, no escape - the route is, as the name of the event suggests, a traverse across a mountain range. The pistes are created especially for the event (only a few kilometres of public ski pistes are used ) and are wild, remote but very beautiful.
Here are a few things I learned from my 7 hour ordeal yesterday:
-From the gun, skiing up the equivalent of the first two hairpins of Alpe d'Huez has an incredible effect on your heart rate.
-Wearing flashy, 'all the gear and no idea' clothing only makes you look even more inept when you keep falling over.
-To take signs of vomit in the snow as a warning.
-The toppling domino effect of around 15 skiers on a 10% downhill slope is actually quite funny unless you are one of them.
-Under extreme conditions I crave foodstuffs that will blatantly not be available at feed stations (I think it's probably 30 years since I last drank Corona Cherryade and anyway, it would have taken more than cherries to aid me at that point).
-Kilometres on skis pass a lot slower than kilometres on a bike; when you feel like you are nearly at the half way mark you have only actually covered 11km.
-Lycra makes for poor protection of the coccyx.
-Pain and suffering breeds solidarity and you get to meet some lovely people along the way.
-Shouting and swearing at looming hills does not make them go away.
-When at least 5 people have asked you 'Ca va?' (you OK?), you must look as dreadful as you feel.
-When a whippet of a Frenchman says steep, he means STEEP.
-Not to underestimate the terrain.
-Not to overestimate my abilities.
-When Guy says things are a stupid idea he is not often wrong.
-That on this occasion I mean never again.