- 120km ride with 3306m elevation gain (Cormet de Roselend + Col de Saisies + Col du Aravis)
- 7km run to the pool
- 3km swim
- Sainte Foy Tarentaise to Le Grand Bornand
HOW I FEEL
It's pretty amazing how the body can rebound after some good rest and healthy eating. The chalet we've been in is pretty luxurious, and the added comfort of bigger rooms, a hot tub and a large common area make a big difference in helping a defeated body recover. While we still did a good bit of training yesterday, it was nice to sit on a couch for the first time in a week and watch a little TV with the group -- the Tour kicked off yesterday, so we're keeping track during what little spare time we have.
Things have improved on the diet front as well. While a little rocky at first, my diet over here has started to more closely resemble my diet at home -- i.e., lots of veggies, nuts, fruits, and beans/other legumes. The chef at our chalet in Sainte Foy Tarentaise has been awesome and seems to genuinely enjoy cooking vegan dishes for me. Needless to say, I'm super appreciative and am eating it up. Veggie curry on evening of Day 5, which ended up being yesterday's lunch, and a killer ratatouille last night.
I'm sitting pretty at about a 6 out of 10 on the how-I-feel scale.
After yet another strong breakfast and some time packing our bags, we geared up and started our descent from the chalet to the foot of Cormet de Roselend. Today would be a big one on the bike, with 120km (74.5mi) on the docket with three fairly robust climbs. Nothing like the Day 5 crusher, but still a solid day. Given my condition yesterday, I was approaching with caution.
The descent from the chalet to Cormet de Roselend was quick, and after just 30 minutes we were lining up to tackle this first KOM points climb of the day. Not interested in flogging myself right off the bat, I sat back and rode at my own pace, going by feel -- which ends up being 190 watts and put me at the top in 1hr29min. Walter, even with his sprained ankle, pushed hard and claimed the KOM with a time of 1hr14min.
The descent down the north-western side of Cormet de Roselend is a pretty one with an amazing lake (Lac de Roselend) that comes into view about halfway down. Despite stopping to take a picture or two, I put my new descending skillz to work and really went for it on the more open sections of the downhill. (Wanting to catch up with the front guys and still have time to get a coffee in the town of Beaufort.) Not knowing it at the time, I hit 56 mph, feeling 100% in control. 56 mph is easily 10 and possibly 15 mph faster than any previous highs, so John and Phil's tips were paying off. (I also closed the speed gap a bit between myself and John + Phil, with each hitting highs of ~60mph.)
After a quick stop on the cobble-stoned streets of Beaufort (no time for a coffee sadly), we started rolling to Col de Saisies. This was not a KOM climb, so most took it at a moderate effort. Walter hung back and we chatted while riding together. I appreciated the company, so figured I'd reward him with a solid climbing picture with Mont Blanc in the background. (See below...) The conversation and views made this ~15km (9.4mi) climb that gained 945m (3,100ft) seem quite easy. After 1hr31min, me riding at NP of 185 watts, we were at the top.
We descended down 15km to the town of Flumet and from there were quickly gearing up for the final KOM climb of the day, the Col du Aravis, a climb that's appeared in the Tour nearly 40 times. While I had no interest (or chance) at going for the KOM, I wanted to maintain a good effort on this climb since the day was nearly done and it was shorter than the others today and not as high. I again targeted 190 watts, nothing too crazy but still a decent effort given that we were 4.5hrs in, and had no trouble holding it through to the top which I reached in 40mins. I'd be lying if I said that I weren't motivated up by all the TdF signs that lined the road. John took out the KOM with a climb of just under 30mins (?!). While he outweighs me by ~10lbs, he was pushing 278w. Nutty.
A few of us regrouped at the top and then enjoyed a long descent down through the town of La Giettaz. Soon we were rolling through the center of Grand-Bornand and getting close to our chalet. Seeing an Epic Camp sign, I mentally checked-out and chalked the ride up as in the books. Sadly, the sign just indicated a turnoff and we still had 4km to go up a 3%. "You've got to be f'ing kidding me." 4km is not a long way, but it feels like an eternity at the end of a 5.5hr ride with 3 strong climbs. I was damn ready to be done. Finally, I spotted our place. And, again, it was an amazing setup and worth those painful 4 additional kilometers.
RUN + SWIM
The only downside to great accommodations is that it takes extreme willpower to leave and finish the day's workouts. My transition from bike to the run+swim was a slow one. After feasting on the dishes layout out for us upon our arrival (the host, a former Epic Camper, Peit and his wife were AMAZING and even labeled the vegan dishes for me!), I found my room and slowly geared up for the jog to the pool.
The pool was a 7km downhill jog from the chalet. All that was required of us was a jog to the pool, and given that I along with a few others were in no mood to do anything extra, we arranged a ride back from the pool in one of the support vans. The jog, joined by both Peter and Iain, was uneventful and actually pretty relaxing. I tossed in headphones and listened to music for one of the first times while training on the camp.
Similar to the run, the swim was no more than a check-the-box effort. I got through the required 3km in just under an hour. At times, I found myself annoyed with having to slog through the 3km swim. With it now approaching 6pm, I really just wanted to be done for the day. As those thoughts crept in, I took a moment to soak in the surroundings of the outdoor pool situated on a hill next to a beautiful set of buildings. In the distance we could see dozens of paragliders with brightly colored chutes cruising through the sky (this has to be one of the top paragliding destinations in the world). I compared this to the Chelsea Community Center pool that I logged a good bit of swimming around the same time last year. (I wanted to shower in bleach after these sessions.) Let's just say my mood improved and I got through the 3km set with no problem.
CHALET 4 & POSITIVE VIBES
Our lodging for the next two nights is Chalet 4. This place is truly remarkable and Piet and his wife could not be better hosts. With Day 7 in the books, we enjoyed an amazing dinner outside while chatting through the past week of big training over wine and beer. At this point in the camp, it's clear that anxiety/straight-up fear has lifted from most on the camp. It certainly has for me. The long training days are also taking their toll, so we all seem to be a bit delirious -- which has us laughing a lot more. I've gone from enjoying the camp atmosphere to really loving it.