By now the heat was punishing and I had long since taken off my gilet and arm warmers. On we went. Climbing higher and higher up the mountain, the views were shockingly beautiful but I did not have the spare capacity to fully appreciate them. Towards the top it got even harder but I was confident I would be able to finish the ride in front of the broom wagon. Pedal, eat, drink, check my power output, check cadence, pray..repeat ad infinitum.
Now the ride was taking its toll on the participants. Many had dismounted and were pushing their bikes. I asked one cyclist who was pushing his bike if he knew we still had one more tougher mountain to climb? He responded: “just let me get over this one first”. Similar scenes of courage and sacrifice were replayed along this harsh mountain road many, many times. I came across one group, all wearing the latest Rapha ‘Lines’ kit, trying to encourage one of their members to continue. He kept urging the rest of them to leave him but they flatly refused saying; “The deal was to get to the bottom of the Izoard together, if you cannot make it, then none of us will”. To say I was impressed was an understatement. The leader of the group looked as fresh as a daisy and was quite clearly capable of completing the ride, but he was prepared to sacrifice his ride in order to stay with a struggling friend. Chapeau! The entire group was disqualified at the next checkpoint for failing to make the time cut.
To be continued..