Day 2: Montagny-les-Beaune - Chateau de Pizy [Belleville]
28.05.2007 - 28.05.2007
Distance - 77.4 miles (124 km)
Top speed - 39.3 mph (63 kmh)
Some days you kind of know that you could be in trouble. While awaiting people to get ready, I went for a slight spin around the yard and had a slight problem. On discovering that one of my cleats was full of cr*p and wouldn't clip in, and thus bent down to clean it up. Wrenched my back out completely and then watched, still half bent over trying to work out how to get up again, as the rest of the guys rolled out on day 2.
I knew then it wouldn't be a good day.
A few km down the road and the Kaizer's chain snapped. We'd managed the first day with only one puncture, and that was more or less too good to last. Things were rapidly going downhill.
This isn't very helpful when it happens to you in the middle of nowhere....
After fudging a repair, the mornings festivities included a collection of littering on to the road, where we dispersed random items such as a map, sun glasses and credit card and 50euro note, all of which we somehow managed to recover through a combination of luck and dumb luck, and wind blowing the correct things at peoples faces as it was removed from pockets. God only knows what we weren't lucky enough to save.
They then degenerated into interesting knee pains (it was coming, i was just amazed it took so long to appear) which did at least have the benefit of taking my mind of my back pains, and took on their inevitable end in a miserable couple of hours before lunch which were windy and raining. And then very raining. Yay. At lunch, I was then privileged to pay 13euros for a salad and water.
An SMS talking about Kiki didn't help my mood.
At least by the afternoon things had dried up a bit and it was at least not raining. Sadly, however, it was all uphill. The first hill was one of those kind of rambling ones that just drags on and drags on, sapping energy and constantly gnawing at your morale, but never really being all that difficult, and thus making you feel even worse about it. Hasse even managed to fall off at the top, though nobody is particularly sure how.
In typical fashion, we then shot downhill for a few km, just to be confronted with another hill, going back over the same damned ridge we had just gone up and then come back down from. Sometimes, as a cyclists, you can't help but just dispair. The Col du Fut d'Avenas is a 737m high summit in the Bourgogne, with about 500metres of climbing. It was our first "major" climb, though obviously, by Alpine standards, it would barely register. It was a strange climb for me, with different bits of my body objecting at different times. I struggled with the attritional drag at the bottom and paid no interest when the front trio shot off, struggling as I was just to keep up with the next group. Then as it started to rise a little more, i shot up the road, and almost bridged across, before it flattened out a bit more and I fell right back to the next group, after realising that I was stuck in no mans land. Within 30seconds of falling back, the climb suddenly started again, and i turned around to discover that i'd already gained about 300metres, the last I saw of anybody, baring B-G flying past me about 3/4 of the way up.
By now it was actually warming up a bit and I was over dressed, alternating between decent sensations and evil knee pains. It was steep enough and the pain bad enough that I was depressed at having to drop onto my small front ring, something I always try to avoid. Then, maybe 3km from the top, it suddenly got awfully grey and then rainy. I rolled up to the top just as the leading 4 were about to head down. After a few minutes at the van, route checking (i'd hoped to learn from yesterday's balls up) and redressing to the conditions, i started down. By now it was pissing it down, increasingly chilly and visibility was fast becoming, well, a pipedream. 200metres later, and the horizontal hail storms started. Now, i don't mind rain, and I enjoy descending, but falling off a mountainside in freezing hailstones and low visibility is not my idea of fun. It was odd in that i could see 15km away reasonably well. But b*llocks could I see what was 15m ahead.
I'm not entirely sure why we seem to be ending each day with a climb, but i sure as heck hope it's not a habit we're going to get into.
A combination of a desire to be somewhere - anywhere - else, a surprisingly steep decent, strong tail [mostly] wind, some slightly manic descending and, essentially, the fact that my fingers were just too cold to be able to grip the breaks as much as I needed to slow me enough mean't I came off the mountain faster than was probably safe, and my line through one or two corners perhaps wasn't quite as planned as i would have liked and might have been interesting had a car suddenly appeared... I shot past B-G who was going very slowly (he had working brakes) and caught the front trio, and then stayed behind slightly just to give myself some chance of avoiding all the spray. Which mean't I was just that bit far away when they took off, leaving me with a maniacal chase hanging about 100m off the back and thus using more energy than any of them. We then hit then inevitable 100 short uphill stretch near the bottom and trying to keep the momentum/speed up, more or less did for my knee and back simultaneously, though it did suddenly stop rain/hailing.
We entered a small town with narrow twisting roads near at bottom, and in my surprise at the sudden emergence of a both a Ferrari and a rather large lorry headed straight towards me, caused me to loose concentration. Thus i rounded a corner to realise that there were no other cyclists anywhere in sight. This is becoming a habit I don't wish to retain. Happily, a quick 180 head swivel saw them disappear down a side road I had missed and I was able to rectify matters. 500m and we turned right, into a fearsome headwind which reduced me to a painful crawl, onto the approach road to a wonderful looking Chateau.
We thus rolled up, cold, soaked through and not entirely un-miserable looking to a fantastic chateau, where we were greeted by a slightly amused manager, and two rabbits and a peacock who were getting worryingly friendly with each other. We shortly realised that the chateaus other guests had arrived both drier, and in a slightly different (and some may say classier) style - a party of some 50+ Dutch Ferrari drivers. Cheating b*stards! I am wondering how the daily BMW-Porsche-Ferrari curve can continue tomorrow though.
Some of us arrived on bikes, tired and drenched, having just scaled two mountain passes in first pissing rain and then freezing horizontal hail stones. The rest of them arrived in Ferrari's.
By nature i tend to travel at the budget end of the spectrum, and am thus not entirely accustomed to the sorts of luxuries provided at such locales, let alone the prices one pays for the privilege. But at that point, i really couldn't care less. I needed a hot shower, somewhere to dry my clothes/shoes, and, of course, food and booze, and a large area to limp around in hope of a miraculous recovery.
To rub it in, we then went back up the mountain (now in lovely clear-ish weather) for dinner at a summit restaurant, though at least by then we got a chance to see a bit of the view. Not too bad, either.
Before I got roped into this mugs game of a trip, I said that if i could manage to complete a single day cycling (ideally without embarrassing myself by coming in many hours down) I would be delighted. It's only the end of Day 2, and i've met that goal. Anything more that I manage now is a bonus, though by how I currently feel, that seems unlikely to be much.
Being able to stand unaided or walk would be a major help at this point.
Bits of the view from the summit of the Col de Fut d'Avernas on our evening return