EPIC CAMP - DAY 3

RUNDOWN

  • Aquathon Race - 1700m Swim + 5km Run  
  • 113km ride (+7km tack on for points), 2804m elevation
  • Embrun to La Grave (a small ski town in French Alpes)

HOW I FEEL
Maybe a 7 out of 10. I woke up feeling fairly decent, though my sleep wasn’t the best. (Back-to-back 1 night stays in hotels means less sleep with packing/unpacking.) About 40km into the bike ride I’d be feeling pretty brutal. Aquathon in the AM and efforts on the bike yesterday took it out of me.

SWIM + RUN (AQUATHON)
We jump-started the day back at Lac de Serre-Ponçon with an aquathon for points. Given that I’m better at swim/run, I wanted to push a bit on the aquathon. Not so much for points (I’m way back in the standings due to lost bike and no Ventoux) but more for fun/pride. That said, I didn’t want to go all out given that it’s just day 3. This is a long, long camp and a hard run really beats me up.

We dove in at 7:30 and quickly made our way through the 1700m swim. I led the second pack of swimmers, behind a stronger group of three. I was out of the water in 25-26 minutes, putting me in 4th and about 2 minutes down from first. Forgetting my Garmin at home, I set out the run going by feel (probably best since I wasn't glued to a pace). In the first 500m I was overtaken by Adam Krzesinski, a damn strong triathlete on the camp, and I had no desire to go with him. I sat on my own pace - which I later learned was 6:07/mi (or 3:48/km) - and soon passed one of the stronger swimmers. I finished with a 19 minute 5k and 4th place. I was happy to have been able to show some strength in the swim/run and take 4th, especially among this group of solid triathletes.

BIKE

Today’s ride was another doozie. 120km (~76miles) with 2804m (9199ft) of climbing, traveling from Embrun to Le Grave. It included two Tour ascents - Col D’izoard and Col du Lautaret - the first of which was a camp KOM points earner, i.e. a race to the top.

Traveling from Embrun to the base of Col D’izoard was wild. Basic at the outset, but 30-40km in we hit a twisty road (Route des Gorges du Guil) that sits on the edge of cliffs and winds through the mountains with tunnels and traffic adding to the scene.

Route des Gorges du Guil (Credit:   Envie de Queyras website; bit too sketchy to take my own)

Route des Gorges du Guil (Credit: Envie de Queyras website; bit too sketchy to take my own)

From there, it was a race to the top of Col D’izoard. Feeling the swim/run from earlier, I watched the KOM contenders hammer away and I slowly slogged up the climb. Even just a few k’s in I knew it was going to be a long day. For the tri geeks out there, I crawled up Col D’izoard at 169 watts normalized power (NP), or 2.66 watts/kg, about 10-15% below my Ironman watts. I reached the top in a sluggish 1hr25. Adam K was first to the top, followed by my training buddy from NYC Walter McCormack, who’s also coached by Justin Daerr. These guys blitzed it; getting to the top of the 14km climb in :57-1:00. (Walter is a total axe on the bike; has PB of 4:35 bike split).

Col D'izoard Summit - Feeling every inch of that 2360m altitude

Col D'izoard Summit - Feeling every inch of that 2360m altitude

From Col D’izoard to Col du Lautaret, I hitched a ride with a few other guys from the camp, being pulled largely by Murry and Phil. The climb is basically a straight shot as opposed to switchbacks, etc. In fact, I was so wiped that I didn't realize we started the climb until it was nearly over. I thought we were riding a false flat with a strong headwind, and was doing all I could to hang on -- again riding at ~170 NP, but this time while drafting -- to the wheel in front of me. Someone shouted, "Almost there." and I realized we had nearly reached the top of Lautaret. (There's a turnoff to the right for Galibiere, a mean Tour climb, that I momentarily thought was a continuation of Lautaret. The left turn to roll over Lautaret and descend was one of the best I've taken.)

With our support van at the top of Lautaret, we stopped for a refuel and quick photo. Feeling quite smoked, I took down a half dozen dark chocolate chip cookies and a bottle of water. 

Col du Lautaret Summit - Post six choco chip cookies

Col du Lautaret Summit - Post six choco chip cookies

Getting to Le Grave, where we'd be staying for the next two nights (2 nights, yes! Thank God...) was all descending from the top of Col du Lautaret. This descent from Lautaret has some stunning views too. Killer mountains with a small topaz blue lake below. Seems all the lakes in this area of France are this awesome color. 

View from Descent of Col du Lautaret - Had to hit the breaks and pop of to capture this one

View from Descent of Col du Lautaret - Had to hit the breaks and pop of to capture this one

Once we hit La Grave, the choco cookies had lifted my spirits enough to join in on the tack on the 7km ride for an additional point. While it'd be steep 3.5k descent and then 3.5km climb back, it was a hell of a lot easier than yesterday's tack on. It was also great to see more of La Grave. The town, which gets its name from the many climbers and skiers who have died in the area, is a cool village of sorts wedged in between mountains of the French Alpes. Pics of La Grave and our awesome hotel, Auberge Edelweiss, below.

Town of La Grave

Town of La Grave

View from the garden at Auberge Edelweiss

View from the garden at Auberge Edelweiss