I checked the Wahoo and I was 3.5 hours in, I did some mental arithmetic and realised that I could finish under my eight hour target, and then after a really fast ride through the valley I couldn’t hold the wheels in the group and could only potter along on a slight uphill that actually turned out be a climb, thank God for that, I'd thought it wal all over. Over the top and Gretchen appeared again and we jumped on the wheel of a big Frenchy for a tow, whizzing round the corners and through the villages, allez, allez the spectators shouted, we took our turn on the front for a while. I turned around and their were a hundred riders behind me, that’s enough of that I thought and pulled over, G decided to attack and rode off with some blokes. I tried to keep my powder dry for the last ascent.
We hooked up again at the feed station at the bottom of the Col de Rom and topped up on fluids, I was self-sufficient this year and took my own food as I didn’t want to have to fight for some warm cheese with th other riders. I broke etiquette and used the top tube bag provided by ASO to store my cliff bars as I don’t like to have too much in my pockets.. Nutrition wise I managed to get round on the three Cliff Bars (crunchy peanut) and two caramel waffles and four 750mm bottles of Electrolyte. I had needed a wee since the start and as it takes me a while on the best of days I waved on my companions so they didn’t need to lose any more time than necessary.
The Col de Rom was steep from the start, the downy bit before the Colmbiere was greatly appreciated, the start of the Colimbere was a very civilised gradient and then it steepened and I weakened. The last three kilometres to the top were very hard and very slow and I'm not sure if seeing the chalet at the summit was helpful or not. ASO awarded us with another smooth fast descent to the finish in Grand Bornand and I pottered over the finish line… only the 30km ride back to Annecy to tackle now, but first I needed a beer, thank you Trek Travel for the deckchair and the hospitality it was much needed.
Over dinner that evening (my second) my ride buddies stalked my Strava account and noted that I had ridden 10% of my annual total that week... 280km. If only I had ridden more I could have finished in the top 1000. Next year I will double the riding and lose another 2kg; but before then there is work to be done; I am on the reserve list for the 3 Peaks Cyclocross and aim to improve on my London League showing of only one race last year and on my 5th place overall at Beastway.
This year I finished in 7:07:37 and most importantly thirty minutes in front of my forty-something strength and conditioning coach, if you need any tips on pacing a ride Tony, let me know.
The Trek Emonda SLR frame and Lightweight Meilenstein wheels are a perfect combination with no flex out the saddle and solid descending.
The 1x11 combo worked well with a big enough gear for the fast start and just enough (but never enough) for the climbs enabling me to spin easily and keep the watts down.
The disc brakes were brilliant with no fear of over heated rims and punctures.
I used innertubes, shock horror!!
The San Marco shortfit saddle was lovely and cupped my glutes on the climbs nicely.
Bontrager gel tape and the Zipp carbon bars worked well, though we did have to smooth out the transition between the Ultegra Di2 lever and the handlebar. The hoods are much squarer now and the gap between good and handlebar was making my third and fourth finger go numb. A small piece of Sidas footbed did the trick.
The Emonda was fitted with an 11-40 XTR cassette and rear mech (that’s the max it can take) and a 42 chainring and I didn’t spin out on the fast flat start or the descents.
For next year I will run an 11-46 with an XT mech and a 44t chainring to give me a higher and lower gear. I didn’t find the larger gaps between cogs an issue (as many think they will) and amended my cadence accordingly.
The naff top tube bag was a game changer.