Monday, May 31, 2010

Challenge du Dauphiné?

GPSies - Vercors

Saturday 29th may 2010

Decided late in the day to enter this big race. Drove at night the 158km to Autrans in the Vercors mountains just west of Grenoble. It took about 15 minutes to locate the centre where registration was to be in the morning and there was no sign of a race. This has happened before so it didn’t seem too odd – everyone turns up in the morning.
06:30 in the morning and absolutely no one there. Drove around a bit and could see no sign whatsoever of a race organisation. The race was publicised in a magazine guide and the details were also copied off the internet. Called a few telephone numbers but no answer – so I gave up. Drove to Villard de Lans which is a small ski resort and a very nice little town. Bought breakfast around 07:45 and made a decision. The weather was good and so I might as well explore the area on my own on the bike – especially considering that I had a copy of the course itinerary and it looked interesting with several mountain passes. A major part of the attraction of this sport is discovering new places.
The Vercors is a very beautiful mountain range rising up abruptly right beside Grenoble. On the other side of this range you find Valence. You can also drive around to Valence on the flat by circumventing the mountain range – which is the normal route. The mountains are a small self-contained range with spectacular vertical cliffs practically all around. The area is very popular for Nordic skiing in the winter and for trekking in the summer.
I bought a map, studied it for a while and then drove to Villard de Saint Julien to start off. Altogether the ride covered 80kms and around 1500m vertical in a leisurely 3h20’. It was very enjoyable and a good workout, but I was still disappointed. On returning to St Juilen another cyclist stopped right next to where I was parked to use a bench to sit down and eat his sandwich. I went over and asked him if he knew what was happening with the “Challenge du Dauphiné” race. He didn’t know but telephoned his brother in law who did know. The race had taken place a week ago (when I was in the Ardeche) and its name had changed to “Challenge du Vercors”. The idiots didn’t even think of mentioning this on their website. This is how things seem to work in France – they still rely on carrier pigeon to get the word out. It seems to work for the French though because they seem to tune into the madness and understand what is going on. It always worries me here in France though because organisation is either accompanied with a mountain of bureaucracy or a total lack of logic.
Although I missed out on racing I thought I’d post here another superb photo from the Giro D’Italia in its penultimate stage…

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