Mon 22 Jun 2009 13:00 BST
Early on Saturday morning 6 riders from King of the Mountains rode the cyclo-randonnee 'Jacob Dubois'.
Claire, Simon, Dan, Glen, Guy and myself all signed up for the middle distance route of 117km (the other choices were 70km or 130km).
The circuit started at the foot of the Vercors mountains, famous for being a stronghold of the French Resistance during the second world war, and then took us all into the heart of the mountains via some amazing roads carved into the rock and following the contours of stunning gorges and rivers.
There was a lot of evidence of the Resistance in monuments, graves and plaques on various buildings that had served as bases for Resistance fighters. The local cycle club who were hosting the event and manning the feed stations were keen to tell us that one of the villages we were due to pass through (Malleval) had been cut off and suffered many casualties during a battle in January 1944, apparently the British came to aid them by parachuting more arms to the Resistance fighters. That's one of the things I love the most about these events; to witness the pride the locals have in their area and its' heritage - not only do you discover new areas and roads to ride, but you often also come away with some gems of local information too.
Knowing that the overall height gain of our ride was due to be around 1250 metres, it was quite disconcerting to ride the first 50km on virtually flat roads and cycle paths along the Isere river. We knew too that the last 15km were all downhill, so that meant only one thing - a big lump in the middle! Not long after the first feed station we found our 'lump' and started clocking up the height gain on the cols du Mont Noir and Romeyere, the road just didn't stop going up! But, as they say, what goes up must come down and we were rewarded with some beautiful descents and areas of plateau.
Guy and I added a small optional loop to the ride which took us over the col de Herbouilly where in winter the road becomes cross country ski pistes. The Vercors is also an area famous for its great cross country ski traditon with a lot of the French team living in the environs.
By the time we got to the finish we were really looking forward to our buffet meal. What we weren't anticipating was to find the rest of 'Team King of the Mountains' loaded down with 2 trophies! Claire and Simon had won one for being the youngest couple riding and the other bit of silverware was for registering the biggest team of the day. We duly drank some sparkling wine from the cup in celebration of 'Team King of the Mountains' being the largest representative group of riders. The organisers seemed delighted and proud to be welcoming riders all the way from the UK, and were ecstatic to find that Glen was from New Zealand - we really should have won a trophy for the furthest traveled team too!