Epic Camp France 2011 – Day 5 – A Minor Detonation

I was hoping that a massage, sleeping with compression on and raising the foot of my bed would be enough to keep my legs in working order for the fifth day of camp. A group of us started day five with a run up the hills of Briancon to the old town, a medieval castle; combining hill work with tourism. Despite the height gain my legs didn’t feel so bad, perhaps the day would go well.

When I swung my leg over the bike it was a different matter, they were definitely feeling the previous few days. It didn’t stop me going to the front once we were clear of Briancon and working with Steven to keep the pace high. Having formed a breakaway the day before I knew Steven was keen for more KOM points so I suggested if he was strong he breaks from the front and I’d hold a steady pace. Hopefully no one would go.

Eight kilometres from the summit of the Col de Lautaret he made his move and I held a steady power, trying not to obviously slow down. Clas and Zach flew pact and got on Steven’s wheel, the rest were slow to respond, but when John jumped round and everyone followed I had nothing. I worked hard the rest of the Lautaret to maintain the gap, but I couldn’t bridge. When we hit the Galibier I was gone and put in my weakest climb of camp. Frankly I was glad when it was over. The plan had worked and Steven had taken third.

At over 2600m the Galibier was the highest point of the day and the next eighty kilometres were all down hill. After a fantastic descent interrupted briefly by the Col de Telegraphe we hit a 50km highway section. Still slightly downhill, but with a headwind in our face I decided it was time to make up for the previous lacklustre performance and hit the front. Working with Rob and with a little help from Steven, Douglas and Chrissie we pushed all the way to lunch.

I was shattered by the effort and struggled to eat. The heat had built up and I took in as much fluids as I could to battle dehydration. I honestly wondered how I’d get over the final couple of Cols before we reached Annecy. On the first climb my legs came back to life and whilst I was roasted and thirsty by the top I picked up on the descent and hammered my way to the lead group. Fuelled a little by frustration that I’d been left behind at that point.

I kept the workload on for the rest of the ride, pushing hard up the final Col and enjoying the descent the other side. I cruised down to Annecy where I was joined by Douglas as we navigated the town to find our hotel. Overall i was satisfied with the ride, I’d have liked to have been up to more on the Galibier, but had to take satisfaction that I could push myself later in the day.

We rounded training off with a 30 minute swim in the lake. I’m not sure many were enthusiastic, but it left me feeling refreshed. Tomorrow is the ‘easy’ day. A pre-breakfast Aquathon, and then a late morning hill time trial. Once that’s done the rest of the day is ours. I’m not chasing yellow so I’m not going for any extra points. I’ll use the time to catch up on email, work and this blog.

Once again I end the day feeling tired, wasted and hoping my body can hold together a little bit longer.