Helen Findlay

My adventures in Middle Europe and The Colonies. This blog contains my own views and opinions and does not represent those of my employers, or any other organisation with which I am involved. Remember, just because it isn't Singletrackworld, doesn't mean it isn't shite !

Saturday, August 27, 2005

L'Alpe D'Huez and Le Grand Guide Chaud

In July, the local cycling club in Bourg D'Oisans held a TT up D'Huez. About 30 entries, but this night the record was broken. Some French dude called Patrice Somethingfrenchthatsoundslikeagirlsname got to the top in just over 43 minutes. In the same race a french lassie did it in just over an hour, to finish in the top 10. Chapeau !!

I was riding my full suspension mountain bike, with quite aggressively knobblie tires. And I'm a girl. Was quite pleased to manage it 1n 1.29. It has become a bit of a Tourist Attraction. On a slightly cloudy tuesday morning in late August I must have passed about 50 folk, and about the same passed me. I always felt a bit mean passing french blokes on fancy road bikes on my FS VTT, so tried to say "courage" in the most non-patronising manner I could. Good for them, because trust me it wasn't easy. Every corner is numbered, starting at 21 at the bottom, and bizarrely it gets flatter towards the top, so you can start speeding up a bit for your sprint for the line.

The VTT was a most excellent choice of vehicle, at the top of the climb was a huge sign detailing all the offroad paths back down again. Choice !!

Found the most awesome of path I have ever ridden in my life. It was narrow, had a 500 metre (I think, was trying not to look) drop over some of he corners and was very tight and turny, as well as being narrow, rocky and quite steep in places. And rooty in others. Superb !! There were a few road sections, and it took me an hour to get back down to the valley. Arms and hands sore from constantly working the bike.

At the top of the hill I passed some English DH'ers all padded up. Heard them saying something about French lassies being well hard, no body armour etc. I have decided that my approach to body armour is to rely on some limited skill and some unlimited common sense instead. And anyway, on this path body armour wouldn't have saved you, although a parachute might have helped !!

Then found a nice gentle old railway line path back to the Van. Best 4 hours cycling in a long time, and quite close to L'Etape 2004 for best day in a bike ever. Have discovered a useful function on maps called "the key". There is a bit at the side that tells you what all the different lines and pictures mean. Very handy. Will use that.

Yesterday I decided to treat myself to a days guided ride around the Port Des Soleils vtt trail, using all the ski lifts for the climbs. Turned up in the morning to meet all the French guys, Michel, Jean-Charles and Davide who were coming along, and of course the Guide, Thierry. I am sorry to say this, as obviously I generally disapprove of this kind of thing, but he was HOT. In a tall, tanned and handsome kind of way. Was a bit baldy and had a silly little French beardy thing going on, but that just took him away from being ridiculously perfect. He kind of knew it though. Gratuitously took off his shirt during our lunch break, and it wasn't even that sunny. Just some kind of Public Service to women I guess. Made the day more entertaining.

Was a good fun day out, Thierry quickly sussed I knew what I was doing and sent me down increasingly more technical trails, first. Wahhoooo !!! Lots of fun, although lots of waiting about. 9 hours out there, and 4.30 hours on my computer to cover 65 k. A lot of that was the lifts I guess. French chivalry seemed to dictate that I wasn't allowed to go on a chairlift alone, so I never got to see if I could gob on any cows, a bit of a disappointment. But I got to try out my French a bit.

One more week to go in Morzine. Am hoping to go and visit my friend Britta in Bonn in Germany next weekend, just waiting on her email. Have known Britta since we were 16 and used to cheat in French class (OK Britta could speak French and I used to cheat), looking forward to seeing her, haven't caught up for a year or so.