I sometimes tell friends that I have retired from cyclo-sportives. Mainly because I am a terrible descender – and I dislike going downhill quickly and/or in a crowd. But a UK friend – also named Will – was entered and I happily agreed to meet him.
I have ridden this event three times previously but not for several years. So I confidently arrived at the usual start site only to find it deserted. Oops. I had absolutely no clue where to search, so after driving around lost I briefly panicked. But I figured out how to activate data roaming on my phone, and discovered that the new start town of Charmey was only a few villages away.
The event is stereo-typically Swiss: expensive, well run, and beautiful.
I was pleased that this year they chose to reverse the direction of the usual route. I had never climbed the south side of the steep little road to Col du Mittelberg, so why not today. I set off with high spirits and high expectations.
The event is far smaller than my previous visits (’07, ’08, ’10). Only 369 people finished the long course. It used to have a couple of thousand riders …. including Fabian Cancellara in 2008. Now, there is no podium. While times are kept, the final descent is neutralised and it is promoted more as a social event. Fine with me.
Please excuse me as I didn’t take many photos. This was truly not my best day on the bike. I just didn’t seem to have any legs and spent the day trying to survive the climbs, and to not descend too slowly. I was so tired I passed up some excellent cow photo opportunities.
I did at least try and give a cheerful thumbs up to the pro photographer.
Ultimately, a fun day. It’s by no means the toughest event, but for me it hurt. I appreciated the excellent marshalling throughout. Closed intersections waving bikes through, the final climb closed to motor-vehicles, etc. And I especially appreciate the cheerful young man that greeted me at the top of the final climb with a “congratulation,” a smile, and a drink – mid road.
Another highlight: me being wiser than my friend, we had agreed that the first to finish bought the beer. Woohoo: free beer for me!