Sun 31 May 2009 22:03 BST
We all trooped over to the Vercors yesterday for the annual season-opener which is the Challenge Dauphine Libere sportive - a choice of 3 distances (66km, 123 km or 173km) over some of the most beautiful countryside in France. Whilst not Alpine in terms of it's topography, it's certainly not flat. The longer course of the three included no less than 9 cols!
We were a group of seven from here - Nick and Vicky, John and Neil training for the Marmotte and Tony, David and myself out for a good day out. We certainly had that. We met up with "locals" Russell (of Grenoble Cycling Pages fame) and Ed, who lives very close by in the Vercors.
The start venue was Autrans this year (it alternates between Autrans, Villard de Lans and Lans en Vercors every 2 years) and for the first 40km, all the riders are on the same route. The race then splits again at around 75km.
I had only ever done the 123km route before, so (despite not riding all that much this year) I plumped for the 173km and rode most of the way with Russell and latterly with Nick too.
The highlights for me were: scenery, weather, route. The lowlights: pain and suffering, largely on the aptly named col de la Machine.
Russell, ever the pro, managed to film, ride comfortably within himself and chat happily. He was on great form. Respect due - his video diary is online on Vimeo at:
http://www.vimeo.com/4923833 and I feature heavily!
Nick had suffered like me and towed me back to base for the last 30km (I thank you), Vicky had had a tough day too and the wiser group who chose the 123km route were happily back in the refreshments tent drinking wine when we finished. So they had definitely had a good day.
More events coming soon (I'm particularly looking forward to the BRC randonnee on the 13th June (in the ever-beautiful Chartreuse)) and the weekly Alpe d'Huez TTs, so I'd better get out and ride a bit!
Happy summer riding everyone....