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Rapha CCC Recce: Pyrenees Part III
Phil Deeker concludes his reporting on the reconnaissance of the 2010 Rapha Cent Cols Challenge in the Pyrenees.
I write this back in my Belgian hills, just a day after we cracked open a bottle of champagne in Rivesaltes. Already it now seems like an unreal experience.
We all made it to the finish, celebrating with a predictable bunch sprint just to test our fit, swollen legs. I lost of course, but then I admire the lead-out men most! Just one of us failed to pocket 100 Cols, more due to bad luck than anything else. Four out of seven of us completed the full route of 107 Cols. Most of the event had been ridden as a tight, black-and-white group, re-grouping within minutes after each ascent and descent. Claire had looked after us like a saintly mother: our guardian angel who had provided superb support all day long.
But after the intensity of the 10 days and a superb celebration meal, we all went our ways somewhat dazed and confused. There had been no racing involved, but so much effort and concentration had been required just to ride the Challenge that it felt like we had raced all the way to get there. But where? Now we had arrived, it felt strange to stop, even though the relief that it was over was probably what we all felt most.
Every climb was hard, but soon we will look back upon many with real fondness. Some took us into moments of ultimate character testing, pushing our pain thresholds once again even further. I always find it hard to leave the mountains, comforting myself that they will still be there next year, if I am too.
I took the guys along a route through the Pyrenees that not many have followed, and along the way was nicknamed Del Diablo by young Ultan. But no one had got lost, no one had crashed (badly) and all of them thanked me for it profusely at the end. Why you may ask? That is as hard to answer as the question every cyclist asks himself when once again he is hurting yet drags himself up another tough climb on a long day ride. Why, why, why? It has little to do with ego: we had ridden the ‘Giants’ but all agreed that the Col du Couret was the toughest of the ride, but we know we will never turn many heads dropping that name! It has a lot more to do with a few very short moments on ‘a good day’ when you are climbing well on a long climb, when the grand mountain landscapes all around you are bathed in warm sunlight, and you know that these moments have been earned through many, many hours of hard training and dedication. But these words still come nowhere near to really explaining the ‘why’ and are even further from describing what the seven of us will bring back from this Challenge. The seven of us could probably explain it to each other, but not many others would understand! I suppose it has to be this ‘mystery’ that makes something like this so tempting to do…
Ultan will soon be posting his version of the story. Maybe he can shed some light on this mystery…!
- RT @IonaNiDhalaigh: Yahhh mountain jersey in the bag!!! Nice one @mike_cuming!!! @raphacondor http://t.co/GrGqSL0Kgl
- RT @CondorWarehouse: Nice to see the @raphacondor JLT team bike on display @campagnolosrl HQ with so many top pro teams http://t.co/5CgE0tY…
- RT @anpostras: GC after Stage 4: Bialoblocki,, McConvey, Guldhammer, Handley, Pelletier-Roy, Hunal, Simon Yates, Fodor, Roger Aiken, Archbo…
- Spare a thought for @Porterelliott who punctured out of the yellow jersey group, when will he get some luck!
- Took the @anpostras on today. Didn't quite pull it off. @RichHandley90 4th on GC and @mike_cuming in the KoM jersey.
- Tour series update from Stoke up on the site http://t.co/aVdcnGnkOX
- RT @elstopbanana: Here's Kristian House @raphacondor at last night's @TourSeries picture by Sue Howlett Great racing! @SoTCityCouncil http:…
- RT @sticky_bottle: Meant to say, to be eligible for the @raphacondor team car compeition you have to be a stickybottle twitter follower!
- RT @sticky_bottle: OK folks; nice morning for it. To win a day in the Rapha Condor JLT team car on the Rás last stage, Sunday, just retweet…
- Third team overall for the Men in Black at Stoke last night in the @TourSeries