I’ve been struggling for days now to properly articulate my thoughts, emotions and impressions of my recent ‘beyond epic’ cycling adventure. I have just returned from France where my ‘buddies’ and I took part in the recent L’Etape Du Tour. The L’Etape is the one of the toughest cycle-sportive events in the world and usually involves riding the toughest stage in that years Tour De France (see previous article). How can I put into words the emotions, the sacrifice, the effort and pain involving in completing such a herculean sporting challenge? How do I capture in words the wonderful experience? I’m not sure words are an adequate medium.
Anyway here goes.
Arrived in Turin Friday afternoon. Turin airport in Italy is actually the most convenient airport for transferring to the Briancon area in France and is just a short flight from Gatwick airport. The first signs of trouble appeared during the flight when the captain casually announced that some bike boxes had not made it onto the flight and sure enough, two bike boxes belonging to our party did not arrive so we had to go through the lengthy and time consuming BA process to get the bike boxes forwarded on to where we were staying.
This was potentially disastrous for the cyclists affected (a total of 60 bike boxes were left behind at Gatwick!) who flew all this way to take part in a cycling event. We boarded the transit bus to complete the last leg of the journey to Chantemerle, Serre Chevalier. The closer we got to Serre Chevalier, the more stunning the views became. Up the tight and twisty mountain roads we went (while trying to ignore the sheer drop on one side) and down into the stunning long south-facing Valley of Serre Chevalier. We spent the rest of Friday settling into the lovely Chalet in which we were based and assembling the one bike which turned up.
Woke up early on Saturday to test ride my bike (bikes must be test ridden after transport and re-assembly) and we then headed to the Village to register for the event and collect our race packs. After registering and spending money in the village, we headed to one of the many cafe’s in Briancon to have lunch. I must say, while the food was quite good, the service left a lot to be desired! In quite a few establishments the staff were abrupt and the service was slow.
Later on that evening, the two bikes BA had left behind at Gatwick turned up! Hooray! Disaster averted for ‘The Doc’ and ‘Elder’. We hurriedly assembled ‘Elders’ bike and off he went on a test ride. Ended the day with a big carbohydrate-rich dinner.