Another big day taken in two climbs the Daddy of which the Furkapass is featured in Goldfinger the Bond film. Roll out was split into 3 groups today based on your position in the GC. Bit of a shame given there was 55k of pussy-assed Swiss neutralised ride that would be nice to roll with Petro given we seem to kinda get on and obviously see each other rarely. So I decided to blag my way into the 720 group – which obviously was gonna be hard when you look like an obvious stud cyclist who should be going off at 740 in the ‘elite’ group…esp stood next to Pilsbury. Anyway the security was pretty lapse so spent a very pleasurable morning in a group along with Lesley and K-squared. Seems he loves Lesley as much as I love Petro as he did the same by re-assigning his start position after facing the same dilemma. Love versus ego and love won out. I’m sure the result would have been the same if there was GC time up for grabs too. Love’s a powerful thing…but not that powerful! I’ll let Captain K talk himself out of that one.
But there was no drama on GC as there was no timing mat until the bottom of the Furkapass…or that’s what people had been saying all last evening and this morning. So we got to the aid station with the timing mat marking the start of today’s race. 16k uphill. A steep hill. Plugged in the phones and started cranking the music. Time to get busy. Off I shot. Bit of rolling stuff and Petro and K-squared were on my wheel and we started taking turns. Then the road went up and I went hard given I figured we probably only had 12k to go now. Then it flattened…and stayed flat. Started to get a bit suspicious that maybe we hadn’t started the climb but I was committed so I was TTing it just when the 740 studs came past (faster riders went off last) and I chased like a mofo but never quite made it on. Then I saw a sign saying Furka 24k and I figured that was telling me that Furka was the name of the town at the bottom of the other side so we probably had 8k to go. Which was just as well as I was toast. All the while the sticker on my top tube displaying certain information still didn’t make sense. Then we passed a signing with a picture of a bike clearly displaying that it was 16k to the summit. For Furka’s sake I’d just TT’d about 40k at around about 20k pace and now I had 16k tough k to go. Sweet.
Got rolling pretty good in the circumstances and was picking off people at a pretty good rate. Then the members of the 740 ‘elite’ group who hadn’t made the front pack started coming through in groups of 5 or 6. Making me realise what a complete knobber I actually am. Even if I hadn’t blown my load early there was still no way I could climb at that speed…some big old units in there too! They did allow me to lift my pace a little each time to help keep me honest. I could see K-squared just below me on the switchbacks and I was riding scared – expecting him to cruise past at any minute. Was pretty happy to see the finish line before that happened.
Then I sat down and waited for the arrival of Pilsbury. It was pretty cold up there and the dude didn’t quite make the photo elimination time. Just as I’d given up on him and headed back to my bike he showed up and asked where the photo was ‘I’m too fckn cold. You blew it.’ I chattered. Pretty cold at the aid station and needed to get some fuel in. Petro pulled out more cycling clothing than I actually own from his jersey pockets as I put on my thin wind sheeter. Kind of made the top of the descent interesting as I was shivering a little as this point (mainly as I’m a wuss in the cold more than it being THAT cold) and this meant I spent the first 5miles doing a constant tankslapper as the shivering in my upper body gave the handlebars the full speed wobble effect – or a John Balland as it’s called by those who witnessed his at Epic Canada. Lovely descent and for me even more appealing than the climbing up. Snaking down at silly speeds with rolling bends and sharp switchbacks is a lot of fun – especially when the air is getting increasingly warmer. Neutralised again to the bottom of the last climb and this time I checked this was the case! Discussing with Petro that we only had 10k to the base and 10k up the climb it seemed the day was a little light. Not really sure why because it would make 3000m of climbing and 140k. After yesterday’s epic.
Climb up Oberalpass was a little less severe at a touch under 5% for the 500m of vertical. Set off with the intention of giving it a good rip but I think the morning’s over-exertions were taking their toll. It was okay and I never got close to Diodati-ing it but the engine room was on a work to rule. Main point of interest was noticing a wheel sucker half way up and as the weather was setting in there was a severe headwind which I wasn’t too pleased about shielding him from. So given whenever you’re climbing you’re unlikely to be in your happy place I decided a spitting of the dummy was called for. Promptly slowed, pulled over and used the internationally renowned medium of angry pointing to demonstrate exactly where he would be riding for a bit. Dude told me in broken English that he was ‘Going voll gas 100% just to stay on’ unmoved I told him now we’d established he spoke a bit of English that I was nobody’s effing gimp. Let him do a little shift whilst I recovered and then made the international cycling sign for ‘F@ck you’ which basically involves knocking down the block a couple of gears and burying yourself for a couple of k to put an end to Johnny Foreigner’s game of suck the wheel. Worked a treat. Then a few more switchbacks, a few spots of rain, under a snow shelter and we were done for the day. Given the weather wasn’t so bad and the climb was a little more Petro-friendly gradient he managed to roll in just after I patched things up with El Wheel Suckero and well before the photo elimination time – see below
That was it for the day save for the roll back down to the base of the climb for the real highlight..this 3hour coach transfer I’m writing this blog from. Had to get a later shuttle as Petro was getting a little hot under the collar with some Brits (I’ll let him share that story if he wishes) and after having a French woman watch me struggle to get on the massage table and be in a world of pain when she was working on my sciatica she called for the Doc and he worked me over from a more osteopathic point of view. Was struggling how to say ‘I have sciatica due to an L5/S1 disc prolapse. Basically I’m fckd and it doesn’t really affect me on the bike. So I’d really like some food now’ without sounding rude. But actually I’m glad I didn’t as sat here now he seems to have worked a bit of magic. Chapeau. I could eat a scabby donkey right now. Breakfast was 545 and other than a couple of bars and some sports drink I won’t be eating until well after 8pm by the time we get our admin sorted and checked in. Am thinking positively about the weight loss.
Tomorrow’s a virtual rest day or a dick measuring contest depending on your view of the world. Basically 22k up a hill run as an individual time trial. Pretty neat to experience that too for the first time. As long as I can piss higher up the wall than Pilsbury then I’ll be happy with my recovery day but he’ll be bummed with his dick measuring day ;o)
Don’t have any results at the moment but we figure Petro is about half an hour in arrears. He’s predicting a full ‘Diodati’ from me at one point and the resultant swing could see him taking me down. I’m packing my headtorch for the rest of the week in case he’s right!