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Pip's failed etape attempt - race report
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pip




Joined: 22 Sep 2004
Posts: 5125
Location: Tooting (hopefully not for much longer)

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 11:30 am    Post subject: Pip's failed etape attempt - race report Reply with quote

My etape idea started last November when I saw the profile of this years race and thought ‘hey, that’s not bad, lets give it a go’ so I roped in a friend of mine, Mike and we managed to find ourselves an entry only place. These things are always a good idea when you have over 6 months to go 

My training this year, I have to say, has been pretty half hearted. I think if you add up all the hours I have spent on the bike, it would have been enough (maybe?) had it been decent training but it was very unstructured (apart from my week on the training camp) and lots of ‘I will try and hard ride next weekend’ promises to myself, visiting surrey hills but only going up the easy ones and pretending that was enough. Anyway, enough of that, you know what they say about hindsight!

The weather reports had been terrible all week and needless to say, when the day arrived it was still terrible. I had been woken up at 2am by a thunder storm and it managed to rain for most of the day. Pretty grim.

Mike and I were driven to the start (a racecourse) of the course my his very kind girlfriend at some ungodly hour, parked up and started to pack our stuff. There were lots of cyclists walking round with pink toilet roll and I wondered why. I soon found out. When I asked the officials where yesterdays registration port a loos were, he replied that they had been removed (!) and whilst it was still dark, it was best to make use of the race course. Mike and I have had some laughs since, imagining the race course director rocking up to work on Monday to discover lots of cyclist ‘presents’ and pink toilet paper all over their beautifully maintained course. I can’t imagine them inviting the etape organisers back any time soon.

We lined up in the start pens and had a chat with people around us. There seemed to be lots of brits there. 7am finally came and we set off in the rain. Everyone set off at a stupid pace and I foolishly joined in. I haven’t done much pack riding and I am not very good at drafting which is not ideal in a race like the etape. After about 30k, I started to feel pretty rough and trying to stay with Mike was hard. I had told him to go at his own pace and if I was with him, then great, but don’t wait for me, but he wanted to ride with me for a while and he kept telling me that I needed to get in the packs and draft. I must have been one of the only ones doing lots of cycling on my own. We cycled the first unclassified climb together, a box hill type of climb that felt more like Ventoux, another reminder that things weren’t going my way today. After this climb I told Mike that he needed to leave me as I simply couldn’t cope with the pace and as he rode off, I slowed down to a snails pace. At this point there were big packs coming past me and they were going too fast so I couldn’t stay with them. By the time I got to the first feed station (at about 60k) I called steve to tell him I was having a terrible day. He asked me if I was going to drop out but I didn’t want to do that. I at least wanted to be caught by the sweeper as that felt better than simply giving up. Anyway, I limped on and did the second unclassified climb (that hurt) and got to the bottom of the tourmalet. As I started to climb the tourmalet it started to feel like it might be ok again and I climbed to about 6k from the top and then my legs gave up. I got off and didn’t know what to do. It was still really busy at this point so I couldn’t just sit at the side of the road and wait for the bus, so I started pushing. The thing is that I was well ahead of the sweeper so I ended up pushing 5.5k to the top. Not pleasant in bike shoes. During my push I called a Steve again and my friend, Katy so she could share my misery (I wasn’t feeling that down really as I wasn’t confident that I was fit enough and most of my friends shared this feeling!)! I was joined by a few other pushers and made a few friends on the way up. I stopped at the top and sat down for a while, went to the toilet and chatted for a while. At this point the bus appeared but they were happy to let us decend instead of climbing aboard. As I started to decent, I began to regret this decision as apparently it was 2 degrees on top of the mountain, but as we got further down it got warmer. The decent takes you almost to the bottom of the hautacam and as I arrived at the bottom of the final climb, 15k from the end, I still had over 2 hours to the cut off time but I simply knew that there was no way my legs could manage a small hill, let alone a tough 15k climb. I was relieved to see that they had closed off the climb so the choice was taken for me, others weren’t so happy as they wanted to finish (they hadn’t done a very good job of letting people know that the climb would be closed at a certain time). Steve and Mikes girlfriend Eike were stood at the corner and they had named it ‘disappointment corner’ as there were so many people stood around gutted that they weren’t going to finish. Apparently some had tried to make a break for it and had been chased down by officials! I didn’t feel this as I knew that there was no chance in hell I could cycle up there and pushing up would have been rubbish.

Anyway, I have probably made the race sound like hell but I actually think the etape is brilliant, it just demanding more respect than I gave it. As a female, you get so many cheers as you go through the towns and the experience of riding with so many others over a tour de france route is awesome. I think my failure was lack of the right training, the fact that I am terrible in the cold and just a really bad day for me. Even on a good day, I am not sure I was fit enough to get up the hautacam after 155k of riding, but I would have given it a shot. I would like to do another, but with this one being seen as a relatively easy etape, I am not sure it’s a good idea. I would be up for other cyclosportifs in Europe though as they are great.

I also need to head back to the area just so I can ride up the tourmalet and the hautacam, just maybe not on the same day!
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repoman




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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good report Pip, and a great effort too. Clacking your way up the last 6K in bike shoes rather than blubbing at the side of the road shows some guts. Next time Wink
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2 scheds




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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good going Pip to get as far as you did - no way I could ride that much hilly stuff for that length of time!
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Nello




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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good report Pip..Well done for attempting this in difficult conditions. Cool
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JimboP




Joined: 07 Jul 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done Pip. Doesn't sound like you were THAT far off finishing. Smile
Bet your cleats are kn@ckered now though Wink

After the trip to Veynes and doing the climbs there I'm seriously thinking about a go at the etape next year. How hard was it to get into?
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pip




Joined: 22 Sep 2004
Posts: 5125
Location: Tooting (hopefully not for much longer)

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JimboP wrote:
Well done Pip. Doesn't sound like you were THAT far off finishing. Smile
Bet your cleats are kn@ckered now though Wink

After the trip to Veynes and doing the climbs there I'm seriously thinking about a go at the etape next year. How hard was it to get into?


I think you would love it. I think the best (or cheapest) way is to do the entry only places but i think you might need to pre-register for that with Graham Baxter tours or something. There are plenty of places available on package deals but I dont think they are cheap. We ended up getting an entry only place with an American company but they were like gold dust (this was a few days after the entry had opened). The entry isnt cheap though but then we are used to that kind of thing as triathletes arent we?!
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p00key




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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good effort Pip . And nice report .
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Angelina




Joined: 15 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is an excellent effort. Just remember that most of us did not even try.
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Sandperson




Joined: 21 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That sounds a lot like my Marmotte experience Pip. I clacked up the Galibier, you clacked up the Tourmalet. I wasn't allowed to climb Alpe D'huez you weren't allowed to climb Hautacam (I was as relieved as you were Wink )

I now know what I need to do for next year and it has totally re-jigged my whole training schedule and what events I am going to do next year.

I can only praise the organisation of the Marmotte and it's easier and cheaper to get into than the Etape (entries the day before available and only 35 Euros).

Well done for getting that far and come to the Marmotte next year!!
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Cleo




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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You did brilliantly all things considered. Everyone has a bad day now and then (and a less-than-ideal prep sometimes too) and to get as far as you did shows real toughness. Hug
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iainm




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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well done pip. that was a bigger ride than most people will ever do in their lives!
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MrsTricky




Joined: 18 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great report Pip and a massive effort Very Happy You did so well to get that far. Most people couldn't, in fact most people couldn't even get to the startline. Well done you Very Happy
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FastWestie




Joined: 08 May 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done Pip, shame my prediction was wrong!
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Badger




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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shame to hear about that, Pip! But good to know there's no lasting damage, and you've got a determination to keep plugging.

And SW France, how nice is that?

B Cool
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FastWestie




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PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Badger wrote:
And SW France, how nice is that?

Very nice I hope - moving there next year Smile
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