Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Day 2 Col de la Forclaz, Col de Leschaux and Semnoz….

Day 2 started off with that same effing climb out of the hotel and then a climb to the climb.  Help me - I need warm-up!!  Once again, my HR was in Zone 17a within 3 minutes.  Oh this could be a loooong day!!  The boys and Laura Lee took off and I was happy to be in a little control of my own destiny for the day.  The first climb (other than leaving the hotel) was Col de Forclaz.  A beautiful climb.  With an average grade of 8% I think.  There were section of 13-14% grade and the first time I wished I had more gears:)  It was sunny, warm and just plain gorgeous looking back down at the lake.  Just Wow.

The descent was a bit sketchy and one of the guys almost went down but had an amazing save - I was impressed.  Plus there was the mountain bike dude that didn't care for being passed on the descent so he passed everyone back and took off.  Another wow.

The next climb was Col de Lescheux - it was a bit more gentle but just as beautiful. And as a bonus, I got to kiss the podium girl at the top.

The weather up to this point was fantastic but as we started the climb to Semnoz (and the first time out of tree-line) the big clouds started lining up.  The best part of the climb?  Each kilometer, there was a sign announcing how many more k's to go.  The worst part of the climb?  Each kilometer, that same sign also announced the average grade of the upcoming kilometer.  It really sucks when it says 8% and you are on a flat cuz you know what's going to happen:)  About the time of the ski area, it started sprinkling.  After tree line at the cows, it started raining.  I decided not to put on my rain jacket since I only had 1.5k to go……Plus the cows were giving me more cowbell and I felt obligated to really go for it.
And then the skies opened up and it started pouring!!!  Thank goodness the Trek Travel van showed up with our dry warm clothes and the cafe had awesome potage (soup) and cafe au lait.  It didn't let up so 11 of us piled into the van and drove down the mountain.

Fantastic day 2.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Day 1 Classic Climbs of the Alps

Yesterday was Day 1 of the tour…..a "warm-up" day.  A mere 31 miles and just 1600 feet of climbing.  Just 1600. Cuz today was NOT going to be a "warm-up" day with 54 miles and just 7200 feet of climbing.

The day's elevation profile

Anywho the day started out meeting our group (3 women other than guides and 6 men) at the Annecy train station.  We are 9 strong from all over the US.  Our guides are Lisa and Laura Lee and I pretty much just love them!  We took a boat from Annecy to Menthon, had lots of meat and cheese for lunch, got fitted on our bikes and then took off for "warm-up".
Dad and sis before start of warm-up

Yes, the bikes are great and I am now completely enamored with UI2.  Must. Have. On. Home. Bike. Here's how "warm-up" went.  Somehow I managed to get myself right behind Lisa who was leading the group for today.  She doesn't suck.  The ride starts uphill and then really goes uphill.  Like my heart rate went from 115 to 150 in approximately 4.2 seconds.  Holy Moly.  Are we kidding??  So in between labored breaths I looked up and around and was completely in awe that I was riding a bike in France!!  Yes, I was 10 minutes into the ride and in zone 7ab but I was also in France!!!!
I'm riding my bike in France!!!!

This was the Col du Bluffy - yikes.  But I loved it.  I mean, really, I can't even describe how awesome it was:  so green, waterfalls, rivers, small towns, amazing mountains, skinny roads.  From there it was flats and then another climb.  Lisa left our group of 6 to check on the other group and that's when 5 penises came out to test out each others testosterone levels and pound on their chests.  I lost this one.  As the lone female in the group I had no penis and was shunned to the back.  Well, actually off the back.  But that was totally cool since I could finally look around, talk to the cows, and drink out of my bottles.  Col du Marais was this climb - a much kinder, gentler climb.  And then…..a descent!

The penises guys waited for me at the bottom (how nice!!!) and we continued the ride back to Menthon.  So freakin' cool.  The rest of the day brought a nap, watching the last stage of the Tour - in French (not as exciting as the US coverage) and taking a dip in the amazing waters of Lake Annecy.  Incredibly clear water.  And my first open water swim since last year.
Our hotel in Menthon.  Awesome until you have to climb all 109 stairs just to get to the lobby.   Poor planning for a climbing bike tour:)

Nic diving into Lake Annecy

Glad I found my big girl panties last night since I really needed them today……Day 2 recap coming soon!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Elephant

Where do I even begin……so much has happened over the last year and so much of it I just chose not to talk or write about.  I went rogue. Undercover. But it isn’t hard to figure out.  So let’s just talk about the elephant in the room and get that one out of the way.  Yes, my name has changed.  Yes, it is my maiden name.  Yes, divorce.  But to answer the inevitable next question – are you OK?  Is this a good thing?  YES.  I am fantastic and yes, this was a very good decision!  I am in an amazing place right now for so many reasons.  Let’s face it, divorce sucks ass.  And you certainly don't get married thinking you'll eventually divorce. But, I was looking for a better place for me, a happier place and that was not going to happen in my marriage. 

So I guess I’m ready to open up again.  (well I’m an introvert so don’t expect too much) But the last year plus has been cathartic.  It’s been a journey. I have learned tons about myself and the people aroiund me. It’s been incredibly difficult.  It has also been incredibly great. 

The top 10 list of biggest life stressors includes divorce, personal injury and moving.  And that has all happened over the last year for me.  2013 was my year of change (and it’s really no surprise that my ACL tear happened on December 30).  2014?  It’s the year of rebuilding.  Of growth.  Of change. Of being better.  Of healing and moving on.  Of recovering.

And so here I am.  On a flight to Geneva that I really didn’t think I would be on several months ago.  My knee is doing great and I’m off to ride the Alps with my sis and dad.  Then meet mom in Paris for a few days.  Yes, feeling blessed is one way to look at it.  Feeling lucky that I am able to do this right now?  Yes.  Feeling light-hearted and happy and healthy?  Yes.  2014 has been awesome so far.  And I know it will only get better.

So that’s it for now.  A challenge has been laid out for me (and we all know how I do with challenges…..).  Write everyday while on my bike adventure in the Alps.  I’ll post pictures and write about the riding.  The scenery.  The baguettes and camembert. 


And who knows, maybe I’ll even start posting regularly on my return:)  Baby steps…..