Monday 27 August 2012

Haute Route, the real part 1

(I admit I did have plans to write some posts during the event but a combination of tiredness, poor wi-fi and can't be arsedness meant that I've saved things up to write about now. Hindsight will add perspective. Probably)

Ah, November 2011. I was young(er), carefree and up for a challenge. 2011 had been a "meh" year in terms of events so somehow I let myself be convinced to enter the Haute Route 2012. It'll be fun, a stretch, a target to drive me through the dark training days of winter, when my only other motivation would be getting through series 3 of The Wire whilst on the turbo trainer.

The months ticked past, the tedious turbo sessions sucked, the training events came and went and I found myself at Heathrow airport on the morning of the 18th August, bike bag in hand and leg hair freshly trimmed. The previous week I'd been playing mental games to move my feelings from trepidation to anticipation. The result of the games was a no-score draw so it was with mixed emotions that I boarded the plane, team-mate (and instigator of this whole idea) David beside me. We'd spotted a few possible other riders in departures and even taken the step of talking to one. I felt slightly better at the sight of them, as they looked... normal. Well, normal for cyclists.

At arrivals it was more of the same - further conversations reassured me that not everyone was a Cat 1 racer and that I probably wouldn't be last in the event. Accents were mixed - South African, Kiwi, Australian, British. The language of the peloton would be as close to English as those from the colonies could get.

Taxi, hotel, wander to the event village. Get photographed, issued with giant kit bag, rucksack and lycra uniform. It was like we'd joined the army, albeit an army that dressed in figure hugging monochrome with a jaunty flash of yellow.

I looked like this:

Yes, the top's a bit tight. Extra small. Very Euro. Those aren't the race shorts, I was in public without a bike.

We ate, we met the rest of Team Infrared, we had more photos done, we went to the initial briefing. It wasn't brief. We ate some more then retired to the hotel to get everything ready for the morning - it was going to be the first of many early starts, 0530. Preparation was everything. Numbers pinned on the jersey, minty arse lard close by.

I tried to sleep. I failed. It was going to be a long ol' day...

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