Hope you enjoy it too.
Helyn & Guy
Monday, 23 January 2012
The French use "un jour sans" - quite literally, "a day without" to describe a day when things don't quite go your way. Yesterday, for me, (Guy, that is) that was what happened.
The Foulée Blanche is the biggest cross country ski event in this part of the country - a week of races in all disciplines, attracting thousands of skiers to a beautiful part of the world - the Vercors. To those that don't know it, it is an elevated plateau sitting to the west and south of Grenoble and it is a delight to cyclists in summer and skiers (Alpine and Nordic) in winter.
My preparation had gone well - lots of long ski sessions on the col d'Ornon, at Chamrousse, even over at Superdevoluy. Add to that a bed for the night 10 minutes from the start with our friends Ed & Sandrine (as well as the invaluable advice of the super-experienced ski racer Ed) and I should have been set for a great day. The long course is 42km, starting on the plateau at Autrans before climbing to Geve and then swooping back down to the finish.
After glorious weather in the week preceding, heavy rain fell in the night and race day was damp and gloomy, with low cloud. No probs - same for everyone. I ate a leisurely breakfast then drove via the back road to the start, 100m from the action. That's when things started to unravel. I parked the van onto a hidden roadside drain hole and beached it. No probs - worry about that after the race Guy.
Race started; feeling good. All well. Until 13km in when my ski pole inexplicable snapped in two. Hmmm. I carried on ski-ing uphill to the Geve ski area (one-armed) where I felt sure someone might lend me a pole. No luck. So, I bailed out. I ski-ed back to the van; all downhill BUT I was forced to ski some unprepared tracks to avoid the head of the race, which I was keen not to disrupt! CRASH! I fell in deep, weat and heavy snow and landed with all my weight on top of my thumb. Hmmm. Painful. And wet. And cold.
Back to the van, changed into dry clothes and embarked on getting the van pulled out. 1 & 1/2 hours of wandering the streets, garages and farms of Autrans later, bombarded by shrugs, "je ne sais pas"s, "bof"s and similar, I finally found Johan, a pisteur with a pick-up truck and a length of cable. 10 mins later, I was out.
The day got better after that; I found a quiche to eat, I got a warm shower and a coffee back at Sandrine's and went to Grenoble airport to collect Helyn & Alice, who had popped back to the UK for the weekend. They were all smiles (Alice went mad, to be honest) and we drove off back to KOM towers for dinner and catch-up. All's well that ends well. Oh, I've got new poles now too - thanks Ed - and I'll be off to do the Traversee du Queyras next weekend to make up - in what has become our favourite little bit of la Belle France.
Thanks for reading.