Saturday morning the team arrives in Megeve, sort the cars out and we load up for the 1 hour drive to the highclass ski resport of Megeve, France. We had no idea what to expect.
We arrive. 28 degrees C. Alps everyhwere. A magnificent view of Mt Blanc not far away. Wow. This is incredible. Zinni says its' the highest mtn in europe. Cali disagrees. The repsone from Zinni? "Ok, fine Mt Kiliminjaro is higher but ... " huh? Not surprisingly, the word terrone may have been used after that comment.
At the first roundabout in town we see the stadium and go to register. Plenty of bike porn for those interested. We had a cursory glance but were more business than pleasure and headed for the hotel to get settled and then find some lunch.
2 rooms, 2 guys to a room was a much improved scenario after the nightmare of 5 guys and a room at Gimondi. Net net - the place was comfortable and inexpensive even if the owner wasn't the most mannered with us.
So checked in, bike assembled and we head into town to have a sandwich and a beer. On the walk back after lunch Farace looks at Noshow and says, "hey Noshow, i think i am going to take a nap." Noshow responds by saying, "Listen, in all my years, and I am only talking about my experiences, a nap this late in the day won't be good for sleeping tonight." So we meander back to the hotel. Lay down for a couple minutes and Noshow is asleep and under the covers before Farace can finish speaking about how in love he really is with Sarita. An hour later, upon awakening, noshow hears, "And that, Noshow, is why I love her so."
So off to dinner at the slowest restaurant in Megeve, a couple glasses of red and the team heads back for a sleepy night in cool and breezy Megeve. Dreams of Sarita in all of our heads now.
Sunday. A 6:30 start - Cali and Zinni upset at breakfast because Noshow and Chiche don't go upstairs to walk down as a team. We have the "cyclists breakfast" of cold toast and fake powdered orange drink, pack our things and ride to the start. It looks to be a beautiful day. Hot air balloons drifting through the valleys of the alps, a view of Mt Blanc not far away. And the sun coming up over the mtns. What a great way to begin a race.
8:30 the bell tolls and we roll through town. 4 members ot the Ranch in their first french alps race. We have 115km of alps ahead of us. Focus.
We roll for about 20 minutes to the first hill. Not too bad. Maybe 45 minutes of climbing but couldn't have been more than 6% at its worst. Over the top of that and we have a great decent touching speeds of 75-78kph. Was beautiful. Noshow gets a flat and the team waits for him. Brilliant. Climb #2. More difficult. Ths climb takes well over an hour and the team is spreading out a bit trying to climb at their own tempos. Cali, spinning away, relaxed, eating up kilometers. Farace grinding along like Jan Ullrich in a heavy gear. Zinni churning his chainring eating tarmac under his wheels and Noshow shifting to his triple as he begins to feel his 39 years.
Over the top - Zinni flats, Noshow climbs back up to help him with the change and off they go again. The temamates, Cali and farace waiting around the corner. We're at 4 hours now and see the turn off for the 85km loop. Not even a hesitation for the team, we go for 115. Noshow flats again on the decent and almost loses it. Realizes his tube stem isn't long enough and we wait again for a gentleman spanish rider to make a trade for a tube that fits (Cali negotiates) and up climb 3. We were warned that the first 3km were difficult. What we weren't warned about was the climb was more like 20km and the whole climb was STEEP. Cals and Noshow start to bicker about 1/3 of the way through (MEIGHT) and Cali takes off. Noshow not feeling it but angry chases him and tries to drop him. About 10 minutes into the "try to drop CALIi move" he looks back over the curve in the road to see where he is and hears a chipper, "Hey Buddy! Right here!" About an inch off noshow's wheel. Darn it. Thought he had the flu.
Up over the top, a decent into the valley again and the team heads for home. At this point, the team is looking ragged. Zinni is covered in salt from dried sweat. Noshow can't think straight, Cali, looking feverish and Chiche looking calm somehow. 33 degrees C - it's hot. The road drifts up slightly and at this point it saps you but the finish is so close. We will make it. We will make it as a team. Zinni had slowed on the decent to ponder where in fact Mt Kiliminjaro actually was so the other 3 teammates wait before the finish so we could all cross together. This race was ridden as a team and we wanted to finish as a team.
We all arrived in Megeve unprepared for this race. 2 guys not trained well, 1 with the flu and one with a cold. The Ranch wasn't willing to not ride it so we bucked up, held together as a team the entire 6 hours of riding and are the better for it. I, for one, am proud of the effort and the support of fellow ranchers. Once again I am impressed at the character of the riders I am associated with. Pure quality.