First time EVER!
Friday and Saturday was spent with our sponsors on some easy jaunts around some mellow country side. That was shortly followed by lunch and some more tour on TV. I found the English version on TV so that was cool but everyone was watching it in a room in a main area of the hotel. That version was only in French. So I hung out with everyone and watched the French version. No big deal as we were so loud no one could hear any of the French commentary.
Our group learned a lesson from last year. Last year we did our own ride the day before the Alpe D’Huez stage and then were to climb Alpe D’Huez the morning of the race/stage. The group ride the day before was a 4 plus hour ride with a major climb in the middle. That day the major climb being about 15 or 16 ks long. Nothing tough by Tour standards but tough for our group. Certainly not the easy spin we mortals should have done the day before one of the most fabled climbs in tour history. So this year an easy 2 hour spin around some flat scenery.
Saturday was also spent doing some recon for the route we were to take leading up to today’s Mont Ventoux climb. We had planed on a 8 am ride to the base of the mountain for 40 ks and then the climb of 22 ks of Mont Ventoux. That was thrown out the window when we got (false) word that the mountain would be closed to bike and cars at 8 am. Most stages close the roads up mountains early but this was ridiculously early. We had no choice though because we wanted to guarantee our sponsors the opportunity to ride. So, we got up really early, drove to within 10 ks of Ventoux and did only the 10 ks as warm up before attacking Ventoux starting at 7:30 am.
Most if not all of our sponsors ride a fair amount. Some train/ride quite a bit in hopes of crushing the other sponsors for bragging rights. Like many group rides, this one (between our sponsors) is sometimes competitive and they like to see themselves at the top of each climb as the first in our group. One suporter/sponsor though was more familiar with baseball and football than cycling. He was involved with the Mets/Nets group from New York. He also is head of the committee for the NY 2014 Olympic bid. Cycling though is far down the list on his things accomplished. Today he did a first. Or, at least attempted a first.
Yesterday, he did his first ride in quite a while as I cleated his new shoes and adjusted a borrowed bike. The day of Ventoux he told me he had never EVER pedaled a bike UP a hill. Of course he had ridden bikes, but his area of NY (Lower Manhattan) is flat as a pancake. So his first time up any hill was going to be Mont Ventoux. I’d call that crazy but he wanted to try. Try he did. Surprisingly he got about 1/3 up the hill for total of about 8 ks but that took about 1.5 hours. Ventoux is about 22ks long and has an average grade of about 8.4% if memory serves me correctly. That’s hard to say the least. We had to be at the top and off the mountain before the theoretical closure of the mountain. So we had to persuade him to get in the car and drive the rest. He wanted to finish, But we simply would have ran out of time. Eight ks up hill for the first time EVER. Crazy but not bad of and effort for him.