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Slapshot

Quebrantahuesos 2007 - 205Km 3 Cols

1st part of 2, I hopw you won´t get bored!!!!

It was 5 am when the alarm clock started to beep, but I was awake before that, the nervous didn’t let me sleep very well.

I walk into the kitchen to start cooking some pasta, but I was full from the night before, so I had some coffee with chocolate cookies, pastries, jam, and some bread. The four of us (we went 6 in total, 4 slept in 1 apartment and the other 2 in another) were quite anxious for the race to start. At 5.30 we started to get dressed, shorts and short sleeve, but a bag full of winter/rain and more summer clothes ready to take with me, it is impossible to determine the weather when is darks still, although the temperature was quite nice for that time in the morning.

We departed for the start at 6 a.m. the apartment was 20km away from the place, the race didn’t start until 7.30, but with over 8000 riders a traffic jam is more than guaranteed, and we didn’t want to take that risk, we were nervous enough!

We arrived to the official car park at 6.45, once there, it was manic, set up the bikes, check the weather, change clothes, eat something else, drink, check the bikes, sun cream, change clothes again…… The 6 of us were ready by 7.15 and rode down to the start that was about a mile away from the car.

Thousands of riders were there, it was amazing, and the atmosphere was fantastic, everybody talking to everybody, joking, laughing just having a good time, and at 7.30 sharp, bang!!! Everybody starts clapping and shouting, there was no way back now! I crossed the starting line at 7.46 my chip beeped and there I went!!!

It was a quick start, right from the beginning the computer showed 44km/h, and we were flying thought the crowed streets of Sabiñanigo, there were thousands of people on the sides of the road, very exciting, but there wasn’t time to appreciate it, I couldn’t hardly move, you could feel the elbows of the rider next to you touching your arms, etc… after the first 10k the road opened up and riding was more comfortable and I could relax a bit and talk to one of my brothers and a friend. My other brother and his girlfriend started a bit further back, in a less crowed area, and the other friend started right at the front, as he wanted to beat his previous year’s time. Finishing was my objective. (And beat my brothers!!!!)

We were riding at an average speed of 43km/h, very quick; the road was slightly up hill, not much, but steady and you could see riders dropping down already. The roads were still crowed of public, and now I could it enjoy it, and feel what the pros feel, in someway.

After 40km the road reaches Villanua, a little town, and the first difficulty of the day, Col de Somport (19km, 687m, 3.6% average). I was feeling very good, riding very comfortable and enjoying the landscape, the public, and the chat with many riders, the nervous of the start were, at the start, 40km away from me!

It was after 14km that I realized that we were climbing Somport, somehow I missed the “Comienza Puerto” (Mountain Start) sign and when I saw the 5km to the top sign made me extremely happy, at that point, in a 7% ramp, I dropped my brother and his friend, I won’t see them for the rest of the day.

Climbing Somport felt very easy, but I didn’t let myself get too excited, it was only the first 59km of 205, with a Hors Climb, Marie Blanque, and a First one, Portalet, yet to come, plus the Hoz de Jaca.

I stopped at the feeding point that was 1km away from the top; got some water, one banana, and some nuts (you can apply this in any way).

The day was going brilliantly, sunny, warm, and I felt great! The last k was beautiful, the sides of the road were crowed, everyone was clapping, shouting, supporting each and every rider, I took a newspaper from a kid, place it inside the jersey and down I went!

There is a 29km downhill up to Bedous, the first 6 or 7 k, were horrible, the road, is not very good, and there were more than enough riders on it, In a way it was good, I took that time to eat and drink and rest a bit, and then the hell started. The weather conditions changed drastically, the sun wasn’t anywhere to be seen, it was foggy and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees in a few meters, and I only had a pair of arm warmers!!!!! I started shivering, and my arms shaking very badly, which made the downhill more interesting as I couldn’t break as normal, I decided to go faster, and start pedaling again trying to warm up, but it was useless, I was getting colder and colder, I was going down at 65km/h, couldn’t go faster as my arm weren’t responding as I wish, the only way to console myself was thinking, and wishing, that it was only going to be half an hour!!!

About 5km from Bedous, the sky opened up, and the sun shined again, I can’t tell how happy I felt at that point, but if any of you have been in that situation before, I am sure you know what I am talking about!

From Bedous to Escot there is 11km flat, prefect to warm up again, drink and eat again. I drink a bottle of energy drink with and energy bar and one gel thinking of what is coming, Col de Marie Blanque, 9km, 687m ascent, 7.6% average.

I am staying in the middle of my gruppetto, we reach Escot and the road starts going up, 2.6%, 3.6%, 5.8%, the group goes down about half units, but it collects more riders from other groups ahead. The organization says, it doesn’t matter how you start, Marie Blanque will sort you out! And it is true. The first 5km are not too bad, my tempo is good and the legs are feeling fresh still, so my moral is right up! I do stop again at the feeding point to fill up one of my bottles, I left the other empty, don’t want carry unnecessary weight up this beast, especially when there is another Fed.Point at the top.

The feeding points are great, full of volunteers, they will fill up the bottles for you, bring you the food you want etc… which is much appreciated.

500 meters up the road we turn left, suddenly the only thing you can hear is clank, clank, clank, everyone is changing gears, smallest chain ring as possible and biggest sprocket, the heart monitors are beeping like maniacs, nobody talks now, the first k, or 5th, is at 10.9% with two 13% ramps, the road is very narrow, I started ok, good tempo, 11km/h with the 34/25, I look around me, there must be 20 or 30 in the group, I am in the 2nd row at the far left, in the edge of the road, many people dismount their bikes, and start walking up the hill, they are not less cyclist for doing that. The 2nd K is nearly finished, and the landscape up the road is devastating, the sides of the road are packed with people walking up the hill, suddenly I do understand why, a 16% ramp hits me straight on the face, the 34/25 is not longer useful, I change to a 34/26 and the speed droops down to 7 km/h, the road is straight, with very few bends, the 3rd K has an 12% average with a another 16% ramp, plus a 13%, 9 minutes later we see the “Ultimo Kilómetro” (last K) sign, people start talking again, only to say things like go on lads, last K!!!! or It’s nearly done!!! Come on!!! But the last k is as hard as the others, 11.1% average, with 13 and 14% ramps, there are not many people on the sides of the road, as it was closed by the organization to the public, but every word of support is very welcome, the col ends up with a lovely 13% ramp, it’s done, I am sweating buckets, but very happy, I skip the fed.point, as is very crowed, there is another one 7 or 8k down, I drink some water and eat again, bar&gel. The descent is amazing, very narrow road, it was resurfaced last year, and it is smooth so it makes the descent very pleasant and enjoyable. The landscape is beautiful too, and is not as cold as going down Somport, which is a bonus!
MAILLOT JAUNE

bergaretxebe -Congratulations and thanks for the summary!
bbnaz

Wow! What a tale. I am anxious for part two when you get it posted. The part of your freezing descent was quite visual, just one question...was your chest warm from the newspaper? I have always wondered how effective it was.

Great job Berg!
headwind

Part 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hurry bergar!!
CapeRoadie

headwind wrote:
Part 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hurry bergar!!


+2

Nice going! Do continue!! Love it!
sheeponabike

Well done Bergar - sounds amazing!
When do we get the rest?
Bartali

This is a great read bergar! Can't wait for part two ... hope it has a happy ending with you beating your brothers!!! Wink
Slapshot

2nd Part

Once I left the Marie Blanque everything seemed different, the col I have feared for the last few months was history now, so nothing was going to stop me now from finishing!

I did the descent of MB on my own up to Bilhéres where I caught up with another bunch of riders, around 12.

From Bilhéres to Laruns, 10 k, the road is mainly flat; the 12 of us are doing relays and the pace is high again, but we have time to have a chat, do some stretching on the bike, and keep eating and drinking, at this point the road is open to vehicles but you don’t even notice.

We reach Laruns, is the 127th kilometre of the race, more than half way through, but what is yet to come is not easy.

We ride through the narrow streets of this town for a couple of miles, cross a park with the river to my left, turn left few hundred meters, another turn to the right and there it is the Col de Portalet, 29km, 1265m ascent, 4.35% average.

At the bottom of the Col is full of mad Basque supporters, just like in the TdF, and as I am wearing the kit of the Basque Cycling Team, (not EE), I get a bit more support than the others.

I am feeling great and is not long before I leave the other 11 “friends”, the start of the col is easy, I am riding with the big ring and a steady pace, I don’t want to look at the signs, is a long mountain, and I will reach the top at some point. Is not after the 9th kilometre that it starts to feel that you are going up, the 10th k has an 7.5% average, it drops to 4.5% in the 11th and to 3.5% in the 12th, the 13th is even gentler as is an 3% average. I take the chance, in these last two k to keep drinking and take another gel. The second part of the col is completely different to the first 13th k, the 14th k is a 6% and it will like that for the next 3.

The weather is fantastic, not too hot, but warm and sunny, many riders are stopping to stretch, and is not unusual to see people having muscle clamps etc…

After a 7% k, the 16th of the col, and a sharp turn to the right, we reach the Dam of Artuste, amazing landscape, and the hundreds of supporters there makes it more amazing, I get some chocolate from one of them while another pours a bottle of water over me, it felt very gooooooood!!!!, after this point the landscape changes completely, the trees disappear and the mountain is completely open, leaving the amazing Pic Middi d´Ossau to look after us. It is not until the 20th k that I look at the sign, 5%, and 9 to go, my pace is good still, and I am enjoying the views while chatting with a fellow english rider, we both stop at the water point at the 23rd k, I filled one of my bottles, leaving the other one empty as I did at the MB.

6 K to the top, what it was a pleasant mountain suddenly changed it into a monster of col, a 6% kilometre makes me regret my high pace at the beginning of the col, the hardest part is that you see the end, I know that after that turn to the right the last 2 k are easier, but to reach that part I have to go over 4k at 6.8%, it might not sound hard, but it is.

Is a long straight line, no trees, no shade, and the sun that wasn’t too warm early on is burning now. 6 k to the top, we form a group of 6, we ride slow, but steady, 11-12km/h, I drank all the water, before the 24th k sign.

I need water, lucky for us, a young couple has come with the truck of their car full of cans of coke, I grab one, it taste like heaven. 3k to go, that bend is only 1 k away, but the legs don’t seem to be interested in pushing any harder.

2 k to go and the road is packed with hundreds of supporters, it felt amazing, the pain in the legs disappeared straight away, and the 6 of us pushed as hard as we could, it was beautiful, I can not describe what I was feeling at that moment, but I was extremely happy!!!!

I stop at the top to fill up my bottles and grab another piece of newspaper. The road down is crap, very wide but the surface is not best to go down at 75km/h. The descent is fast, 18k, before we reach the last difficulty of the day.

The lovely Hoz de Jaca, 2k, 179m ascent, 8.9% average, is short but sharp, and after 174km, very painful.

Is like if the have taken a piece of the Marie Blanque and put it there, is exactly the same, narrow road, covered by trees, and hard.

The first 500 meters, 9.6%, tell us what is coming, a full k at 11%. I hold my handlebar, change to 34/26 and look down, 7 minutes extremely painful, but I knew that once that is past, is done, 28k left mostly downhill and flat.

I reach the top; my only thought is the finish line. I skip the last fed.point; I have enough water to finish.

I start the downhill on my own, trying to catch the big bunch ahead of me, is quite windy, and again there is some cars on the road, which doesn’t make it any easier. While going down the people from the cars were shouting and encouraging you to finish.

I fly past Biescas, 15k to go and connect with bunch, but only for 4 k, I used to much energy trying to catch them and with 11k to go I drop out. Again I am on my own, with no one coming at the back and with no energy to catch the bunch at the front, and the legs feeling very tired now.

7k to go and I get caught by huge “peloton”, I would say around 150 riders, I set myself right at the middle. Is done!

I drop out with about 300m to go, I want to cross the line on my own, the feeling I get is, I don’t know how to put it, mixture of happiness and sadness, happy for doing it and sad because is finished!

I can say, without a doubt, that has been the best sporting experience ever!!!!!

My time was 8hrs 30min 38 secs, of pleasure and pain!
Brother 1, Jorge, was 9hrs 26min 28 secs
Brother 2, Eugenio, was 10hrs 16min 38secs (same as his girlfriend)
But we all got beaten by Aritza 6hrs 38min
headwind

chapeau!
Slapshot

bbnaz wrote:
was your chest warm from the newspaper? I have always wondered how effective it was.


That newspaper "saved" my live, is amazing how such small thing can keep you so warm, and 100% windstoper!
kellyrocheearly

congratulations Berg
so is it same again next year??
Slapshot

kellyrocheearly wrote:
congratulations Berg
so is it same again next year??


OH YES!!!!! worth every second! highly recommended to anyone!!!!
berck

Great adventure berg. You've set the bar kind of high for Bartali and I after our adventures next month Wink
Slapshot

lucky you that english is not my first language!!! Very Happy
headwind

thats impossible to tell berg.

you ride the new bike then? still waiting for pix!
sheeponabike

Re: 2nd Part

[quote=/]
2 k to go and the road is packed with hundreds of supporters, it felt amazing, the pain in the legs disappeared straight away, and the 6 of us pushed as hard as we could, it was beautiful, I can not describe what I was feeling at that moment, but I was extremely happy. [/quote]

Sounds like an adrenelin rush!

Superb bit of writing bergar - really exciting!
Bartali

Excellent!!! Well done bergar! Sounds like a fantastic experience and a good time as well. Chapeau!!
CapeRoadie

Fantastic job, berg!!!!!!

What a story! Congratulations! I think we should have a thread where everyone writes in their ride experiences in detail like that. Excellent read!
bbnaz

FANTASTICO!

Excellent riding and writing Berg.
headwind

we have some real inspirational folks here...it does my mental prep a world of good.

you rock bergar! Allez allez allez bartali!!!
Slapshot

there is nothing better than heard it from the horses mouth! It is a same that most of the cycling mags only talk about pro riders etc... and very little about rides like the ones we do.... Maybe I should focus the justcycling site in that way.....
Slapshot

pics coming soon! Very Happy Very Happy
headwind

I agree bergar...looking forward to the pix.
cardinal guzman

Brilliant! Cheers for this B, me n the mrs are doing our first 100 mile run in September and this is great inspiration. Chapeu!
forza_petacchi

Shocked 100 mile RUN? Shocked Are you some kind of ultramarathoner?
crash48

Good work berg

Your a mountain goat mate-but then again you are basque so no surprise there.

What PEDS did you use? Wink
Slapshot

crash48 wrote:
Good work berg

Your a mountain goat mate-but then again you are basque so no surprise there.

What PEDS did you use? Wink


are the UCI leaking things already??? I should start asking to test the B sample!!!! Wink
crash48

Wearing black kit did not help...
Slapshot

I had two beers the night before....that is why my testosterone levels are so high, although my body produces testosterone for me and all my mates!!!

It´s a conspiracy!!!!!!!
Bartali

Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing
headwind

two beers...thats a good one bergar...follow the landis pathway. its time to open your wiki defense NOW!!!!

I can arrange expert testimony on the crap analytical conditions. We need to find an ex pro to threaten though...
Slapshot

option b, is that they gave me something dodgy at the feeding stations.
Slapshot

BTW I did actually had two beers the night before! Wink
headwind

bergaretxebe wrote:
option b, is that they gave me something dodgy at the feeding stations.


I suspect it was "testosterone water" in the evian bottles!
Bartali

Berg - where's the pics???
Slapshot

still waiting for my brother to send them to me, mañana, mañana!!!
Slapshot

funny enough, they have done a very similar article about this sportive in the Procycling mag of this month!!!!
shimouma

Berg, a very belated Chapeau from me.

That was a great story and an even better ride by the sounds of it!!
Bartali

bergaretxebe wrote:
funny enough, they have done a very similar article about this sportive in the Procycling mag of this month!!!!


I'll check it out. Just been reading about the etape in Cycling Weekly. Looked a bit tough with only 70 riders getting the gold standard and almost 3000 not making it!!!! Apparently tarmac ws running down the Balles
Slapshot

I hope that it won´t be very hot in a couple of weeks time, Larrau is waiting for me!!! I am scared.....

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