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The Big Day

So the big day arrived and looking out of the hotel window at 8am it all looked a bit grim. Rain and charcoal gray clouds were the order of the day. Bugging hell. But hey, it is my birthday.

You don't see bib numbers like this in the pro peloton...

We drove out to Bourg D'Oisans getting mightily lost out of Grenoble and as we approached it was all looking a bit threatening, but at least it wasn't gonna be too hot. Drove to the top and got myself prepared for a gentle descent down to the bottom and a warm up before coming back up again.

Me? Nervous? Never...

The descent to the bottom is a blast, not overly technical but still managed to get the back wheel out of shape a couple of times - some of the inclines are steeper at the switchback which means you think your slowing as you approach them but actually speed up...

As I descended I made a mental note of the steeper sections and the longer switchbacks. The ascent up from switchbacks 18 and 21 being particularly long...

Got to the bottom and my heart rate monitor was acting up. Wouldn't get a signal. After a little encouragement and a splash of SIS Go it sprang into life. I really needed the HRM. As I prepared myself a group of 6 or so German riders went past me. I set off and quickly caught them, and to my surprise went past them... they looked like serious cyclists with chiseled, visceral calves and deep tans. The antithesis of my weekend warrior looking pasty chicken legs. I thought, hang on, you must be going out too fast. I looked down and my heart rate was climbing to 170. I kept going.

I had decided that as long as I kept my bpm below 180 I could just keep going. My legs felt good, I was shifting. You could probably hear my breathing at the summit but thats just the way I am. I got a couple of strange looks as I panted past. But never saw them again... so who's the daddy :-)

The rest as they say, is history. I could try and wax lyrically about counting down the switchbacks, the history it evoked, the pain and motivation. But in reality I put my head down and gave it everything. I didn't ever think of stopping. I occasionally held back as my hear rate flew over 180. The first time I looked up to see which switchback I had got to I was already at 14.

After the church at switchback 7 the road eases off a tad. I didn't push through here. That will haunt me. Hey, maybe next year... One hour of this kind of pain is enough for one birthday.

"And he's dropped Pantani, the race has been blown apart..."

As I turned at switchback 2 I had 90 seconds to get to the finish line, I got out my saddle and crushed it. 10 seconds later I sat down again. I was on the limit already. I looked ahead and saw a few riders obviously flagging and pedalled hard circles to catch them. Now my heartrate was over 180, but who cares? This is the last stretch.

As I crossed the line at the tourist office I looked down and saw my time. I hadn't beaten the hour but it was a good time - I did myself proud. I considered, for a nano-second, carrying on to the tour finish. Frankly, I didn't care. I wanted to stop and see my sogneur wife.

Looking all of my 40 years at the end...

As usual, here is the data, I lost signal at the vital moment, into a headwind with power cables overhead. Didn't matter just kept pushing. Below is the raw data, ater correcting for the bad signal my average HR is 177 (93%) and a max of 188 (100%). You can't ask for more than that. And I beat the Germans handsomely...

That incline looks pretty consistent doesn't it...

With error correction my time in the red zone is about 98% !!

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