Every rider has strengths and weaknesses. I think that I am a crappy climber. My power to weight ratio seems poor. I lack strength. I barely get over 300 watts on the B-kool trainer. I can’t win a race whatever I do. All in all I’m not much good. So what can I do? I can corner. I ride efficiently. I try not to waste a single one of my limited number of watts. I pedal smoothly. My easy riding pace is brisk. I recover quickly. I am motivated and want to keep going. I am low on the bike which helps me ride into wind.
So for long ride in the Alps being weak and a poor climber is not ideal. However, my analysis is based on riding at home with my buddies. Here (Haute Savoie, France) I felt in my element. The 40k ride to the base of the climb was easy, probably down to excitement. The moment I started up towards the Col de la Colombière I was a different rider. It felt completely normal to be pushing hard on the pedals keeping up a steady and relentless pace. I had 17k to go and was doing around 15kph. Over an hour of uphill – average 6.8% maximum 10.2%. I was in my element. It was sunny but cold.
I passed riders on the way all of whom were Brits, I flew up the steep zig-zags of Le Reposoir. I sneaked passed the Col Fermé barrier and passed the start point of a ski randonee that I had done a few years previously. With the top in sight and only an easy couple of k away my progress was halted. The 4 road workers really made a fuss and would not let me through. They said it wouldn’t be open for a week. There was a huge avalanche across the road. That was a shame as I was past the half way point of my ride. Over the col was Le Grand Bornand, then the Col D’Aravis and then home.
Plan B was to descend via the Col de Romme. This was made famous for us when Wiggo rode head to head with Armstrong only to lose out on the final push over the Col de la Colombière. But we all know why he beat our boy now.
Looking down from Combloux my final climb looked pathetic but I was dreading it. I had seemed so steep when I left earlier in the day that I had been saving my 26 tooth sprocket for the return. However, compared with what I had ridden, even with a tired and aching body it was not a problem and never needed the 26. In fact the climb up through Vaudagne was a breeze.
So maybe my power to weight ratio isn’t that bad. Perhaps I can climb. Next time I’ll fit a 12-25. The 12 will help in overtaking cars on the descents.
On the subject of cars, not a single, car, lorry or white van gave me a scare. All gave me a wide berth and never tried to pass where the road narrowed. We Brits might be up there with the best on the world stage but we have a long way to go before we can feel safe back home. It is not surprising that so many Brits travel to enjoy their riding.
Clothing: Endura MTR softshell bibshorts (best pad for long rides), Endura FS260 jersey, Pearl Izumi transferlite base layer, arm warmers, Northwave Pro wind jacket, Northwave Extreme Tech shoes, Kask Vertigo helmet