It’s THE day we have been training for! With a 5am alarm and only about 4 hours of sleep, it really felt like an Alpine start! Excitement and fear had kicked in as soon as I opened my eyes with a huge wave of nausea, but there was no time to get those under control. We had our plan to get ready and we needed to be efficient to get down to the start line.
To ride in the Etape Du Tour is a cyclists dream and so here we are! On the starting line with 15000 other riders!!
I have so much to share about the epic hours of this day, some it so freshly engraved in my memories whilst I also have some dark tough moments that I can hardly remember… I’m sure some of these will also come back to me! This post is going to be one of a few that will tell the story.
We gave this ride everything we had, we were under pressure from the start given the cut off times and the dreaded sweeper van with the highly challenging elimination schedule. So we had to smash out the first 48km within 2 hours and then keep up some momentum, get over a category 3 climb and continue a long drag uphill for the next 58km within just over 3 further hours. I’ve always said I’m not a fast cyclist and in comparison to many true cyclists I’m not even that strong, but I’ve proven I can just dig deep and keep going.
On the day, we got over the Category 1, Col De Vars with its summit standing at the 131km mark and at a height of 2109m above sea level!
We were now already behind schedule and fighting hard to keep away from the broom wagon, so other than to top up our water levels at the summit, little time for decent selfie, we kept moving to attack the 20km descent into Guillestre! I wasn’t even sure if my legs would totally cease up on the descent … but this was an absolute treat and truly awesome!
I managed to find something from somewhere to ride these long sweeping down hill grippy roads in the highest gear possible and just give it max. I felt like I was descending like a maniac as I screamed a few random “whohoo’s” as the scenery of the high Alps opened up like a 3D HD iMax cinema in front of me and I could hear Michael behind me shouting out every now and again “this is amazing!!!!”. A very special half hour… with more to tell in future blogs.
As we arrived into Guillestre at the 151km mark we knew our day was done. They had already put barriers across the road as we were about an hour behind the cut off time now. We had ridden hard for 9hrs and 22 minutes and had enjoyed every moment of it. There were only 27km remaining and the massive Col D’Izoard which was 20km of uphill gradients… but we had to accept that we would not be riding to this summit finish. In all honesty, we’re not sure if our legs would really get us up there.
We truly feel very proud of what we achieved, because we DID achieve! This was a lifetime experience and we made the most of every moments. We left it all out there on the road and have no regrets!
We want to thank all our friends and family that supported us all year and to this very moment. We know we’ve not been able to see you all as much as we’d like in these past 6 months so we could focus on our training. So we thank you also for your understanding. The messages of support were willing us on with every pedal stroke. We know that most of you kept up with live track and even iPhone “find my friend” to see where we were… I can’t imagine how tough it was for you all, it’s like trying to watch a game via ole skool ceefax!! Thank you all, it meant more to us than you can imagine.
And to my husband Michael, my rock and my hero. We always planned to experience this together and that we did! You were there for every great moment and every difficult dark time and you got me through so it would feel like a massive achievement to be ever proud of. You pushed me literally, physically and mentally in the ways that only you know how. Thank you. ❤️