Mirages do not just occur in the desert. They frequently appear on mountains, in the form of downhill slopes that are actually uphill. AND, it can feel like you are still cycling uphill when you're actually going down. Unscrupulous mountains. I wildly underestimated them.
So much pain. Everywhere. The vagina - note we are now disassociated - is hanging round my legs in ribbons. My shoulders, back and hips permanently ache and twinge and I cannot describe the pain in my knees. Actually makes me feel sick between doses of high voltage ibuprofen. Our warm up (ha!) comprised 2 hills in heavy fog. It was so cold, visibility was bad and our clothes were moist with dew. Mentally I lost it today. My mojo fucked off yesterday morning, fickle bastard. I started the day nervous and I was right to be. The mind is a powerful thing but it can be an arse. PMA MIA.
After about 15 miles we broke through the fog and the view was stunning! Alpine villages nestled at the foot of the mountains, a very light dusting of snow on the highest peaks, just a few white fluffy clouds in the sky. Another spontaneous outbreak of morale and a quick selfie stop and we pushed on. And the hills just kept coming as we climbed, and climbed, to around 5000 feet.
I started to lose my shit when, 5 miles after Lucy told me the drink stop was just 3 miles away, Toby informed me it was another 4 miles. All lies. The drink stop was at the top of the 7 mile, 4.6% climb. A mile from the top, having stopped several times already to cry and breathe, I had a complete meltdown. Hugh - having caught up from the fast group, who left 45 mins after us this morning - found me and patiently rode with me the last mile, encouraging me until we reached the top. At which point Rusty Bob was launched through the air to the ground, and just short of a whole malt loaf was consumed.
That is the hardest I have ever pushed myself. The thing about Rusty Bob is he's twice as heavy as a proper bike and his lowest front cog twice as big. That's a heavy gear to push. Getting up hills is hard and today had some real low points. But, it's only pain! My babies were all born healthy and I am here and (almost) fit enough to take on this challenge. Riding through the fog this morning, I thought of Ash. Those of us who rode Ciren to Paris will particularly miss him at the wrap party tomorrow. We could have done with a round of Allouette today. So when I find myself whining like a little bitch, I remember why we're doing this!
The extended lunch stop on the shore of a beautiful lake, after a 20 mile white knuckle descent was a much needed boost. The scenery has been jaw dropping ... as I suppose you would expect cycling through the Alps. More hills, wee stops, photo breaks and an ice cream stop later and we're in early. It's so good to have a bit of time to relax. Most evenings it's in, eat, bed. One more ridiculously steep day tomorrow and we'll be in Nice. Thanks for all the support and messages of encouragement so far, it's really helped x