Sunday, June 7, 2015

Time Mégève Mont Blanc 2015 - cyclo-farce

64th out of 134 Age Category
311th out of 498 General Classification
291st out of 461 Men

4h: 08m: 08s           112km

ALL descents neutralised - over 50km including the 12km descent to the start.

769th (out of 1235) 01h: 45m: 13s Sallanches - Col de la Columbière  (Alt 1613m, 1110m  vertical)
854th (out of 1235) 00h: 50m: 18s Grand Bornand - Col des Aravis  (Alt 1486m, 866m vertical)
588th (out of 782)   01h:08m: 37s  Flumet - Les Saisies  (Alt 1633m, 747m vertical)
                                00h: 24m: 00s Flumet - Mégève

I'll warn you right now - I did not have a good day! However, I had a better day than Jacques Matt (Bourg St Maurice) who almost broke his collar bone, bruised his ribs and lost his car keys before even getting to the start. Not only did Jacques still participate (85km event) and came 5th in his age category with his body mangled but despite being 10 years older than me he left me for dust on the first 1110m vertical climb. Altogether that spells "Exceptional Performance Observation" to me, or as Lance used to simply say "Not normal". (Also "not normal" is that one of the older Bourg club members died of a heart attack on his bike later this week!)


Anyway - I didn't manage to recover in time from the previous week's race in the Vercors and during the week I'd had brief  headaches (left eye)  and general lack of energy. The night before the race sleep had been had to find and very restless. However we arrived in Mégève in plenty of time in the morning despite the main road up the Gorge d'Arly being closed as usual. I'd prepared as well as possible but had just missed the online inscription deadline by 2 minutes the previous day. Being slightly under the weather this meant that when I found they were charging 50€ instead of the online 44€ I already felt pretty pissed off. Part of the fee is to cover their self publicising Time Mégève cycling jersey that they give us and I was looking forward to picking up a Small size for Christiane - but the bastards only had XL - for everyone. Luckily it was only daft Jacques who fell off his bike - as he seems to do on a weekly basis because if I'd fallen I'd have turned around and called it a day immediately. Jacques had sped off ahead down the road when both Chris and myself had slowed down instinctively due to that section of the road being very wet. True to form Jacques lost his front wheel on a white line in the middle of the road. Personally, I've been using racing bikes for precisely 40 years - having cycled solo around Scotland at age 16 on one. What is going on in the head of somebody who falls often in training? If anything though this demonstrates how utterly pointless neutralising the descents really is. If people are going to fall they will fall - racing or not - because they are brainless.


Only at the race start did I learn that all the descents were neutralised. This meant that if you included the 12km descent to Sallanches for the start that around 52km would be neutralised over a total distance of 124km - with the actual "race" being over 112km. Not only did I already feel ripped off by the organisers but this was adding insult to injury. Nobody could figure out how the timing was supposed to work so when standing in a long line of 1500 cyclists the next question was when to start our own timing devices? I started mine on the official start time then proceeded to take 6 minutes to cross the start line. Confusing or what? Later I realised that on exiting Sallanches there was a control point for our timing chips and then at the top of the Col de Columbière there was another control point - so because those stupid organisers were not interested in the race we would individually be timed between the two points. I tucked in behind Chris and averaged close to 50km/hr for the 20km down the valley until the start of the climb. Even slipstreaming it was hard work for me because the legs didn't feel right and my heart rate was not climbing appropriately. Right at the start of the climb I said goodbye to Chris and settled into a sustainable rhythm of my own. It felt like crap but I knew the aim when feeling this way was to just plod on and make it a good aerobic training ride. The anaerobic zone was out of reach today. Arriving at the Col de Columbière was a relief but also quite a miserable one. The feeding stations were neutralised so people could chill out and sunbathe or have a party and not lose any time. The descents would become a totally disengaged amble to nowhere with nobody talking to anyone. Utterly pointless! This was turning out to be the first time ever that I've genuinely hated a race - all because of the sheer stupidity of the organisation. The rest of the event followed suit with another three timing zones. I've never seen anything like it before at an event. It was effectively three solo hill-climb time trials one after the other - with nobody having a clue where they were actually placed overall or relative to the person next to them. Complete rubbish and totally demotivating! This race has to be avoided at all costs in future. It used to be good but it has degenerated into a complete farce. The previous week in the Vercors we raced but were also timed on the hill-climbs! There was no neutralisation! I wouldn't mind so much if they hadn't charged 50€ for this rubbish. Imagine every descent in the Tour de France being neutralised! Risk is an essential part of sport and we are insured - all of us.

Only the final return to Mégève was interesting where I became involved with another group of frustrated riders who started to battle and accelerate while slipstreaming and sprinting alternately. It was 10km of good fun and the only time my heart rate went up high all day - after 5hrs 40 minutes out there. (1hr; 32m in total was spent in limbo - neutralised!!!!!!!!).

After the race I avoided the rubbish pasta food meal because I don't want gluten poisoning. There was no food choice other than pasta.


Definitely and by far the worst race on the calender (in fact in all of history) and to be strictly avoided in future by absolutely everybody.

For the rest of the week following I have still not managed a proper recovery. Alternating between running and cycling perhaps doesn't help. 

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