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Old 07-18-11, 11:19 PM   #1
bing181
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Etape du Tour - worst experience on a bike

I posted here a while back before doing this ride, so for those interested, a (small) report.

Basically, 200+ very hilly kms in the Massif Central in France.

To cut a long story short, DNF. My first. Though out of 6500 registered, only 1900 did: 2000+ took a look at the weather predictions and had the good sense not to show up. Of the rest of us, over half dropped out.

I didn't drop out because it was difficult, or hard, or in a sense, beyond me. I stopped, like many/most, when I couldn't grip the levers enough to brake, I couldn't change gears, hold a bidon, get a bar out of my pocket etc. etc. We got caught out by extreme weather up on a plateau, that had us all drenched, frozen and in various states of hypothermia. At the first food stop (67 km), when I realised I couldn't go on (and shouldn't given that there was worse ahead), I was sent to a quickly set-up emergency centre, where ambulance workers sorted us out. I felt shocking, couldn't even hold my phone still long enough to text or call my riding buddy, but there were people there far worse than me and in a very distressed state. I certainly felt for the other 50+ riders, because we (they) were the ones that seemed the most affected.

Credit to ASO, the organisers, who managed to get on top of a potentially disastrous situation quickly.

For anyone interested in reading further, various reports, blogs, videos etc. amongst the following:

http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/...e-du-tour.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUZpV31uxIY

http://www.strava.com/rides/to-saint-flour-958844

TV report (in French, but images tell the tale)

http://auvergne.france3.fr/info/la-m...onglet=videos&

and a thread here, with reports from various participants, not to mention a couple of smug critics: starts half way down page (first part is re the previous EDT):

http://www.bikeradar.com/forums/view...89262&start=20
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Old 07-19-11, 06:01 AM   #2
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Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Despite your title, I'm guessing you learned a great deal on that ride. Some learning, however, if more difficult at the time than others. Glad you had the sense to stop.
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Old 07-19-11, 07:45 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by bing181 View Post
I posted here a while back before doing this ride, so for those interested, a (small) report.

Basically, 200+ very hilly kms in the Massif Central in France.

...

TV report (in French, but images tell the tale)

http://auvergne.france3.fr/info/la-m...onglet=videos&
Wow! Incredible cycling conditions. Looks like most people were prepared. Guess just not quite enough. You were smart to stop. Tough start for MondoVélo, (article says it is the first ride they organized).
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Old 07-19-11, 08:10 AM   #4
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That is some harsh luck! I would guess that many people had quite a lot invested in doing that ride and it must have been quite a blow to have the weather ruin it. Kind of makes one think about considering an insurance policy. I guess there is such a thing as vacation insurance.(?)
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Old 07-19-11, 08:33 AM   #5
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"6500 registered"

That's primarily why I would never enter one of these.

In general, committing a lot of time and resources to any single event like this - that that can go wrong very quickly for many reasons - has always seemed like a bad idea to me. You are in France, so not as big a stretch as for many of us. I've had friends who've flown to Europe for large single day event who've had such bad experiences that they felt they wasted a year of their lives in preparation.
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Old 07-19-11, 12:43 PM   #6
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Been around Mountains and desolate places since I was about 15 so I do understand what the weather can throw at you. I also did 16 years of serious mountain biking up on our local hills so Know what even a little bit of rain with wind can do to you. But luckily our local hills are close to home so if it is that bad I can always find a sheltered route home.

BUT to plan and train for a ride like that and you get to the start and start wondering. If you thought about it- you would not have left the Hotel. How long will the weather last?- Can I afford to carry all that warm clothing if it warms up?- And I have trained for this ride and I am going to do it.

You did the right thing by attempting to ride- but did better by pulling out when you did.
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Old 07-19-11, 02:53 PM   #7
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Best wishes for great rides in the future. A benign universe would certainly owe you and the other weather victims some splendid days.
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Old 07-19-11, 03:04 PM   #8
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Courageous story! Sounds too hard core for me. Kudo's for giving it a valiant try.
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Old 07-19-11, 03:23 PM   #9
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Jeez, who would think you'd get these kinds of conditions and temperatures in central France in the middle of July.

Colorado, yes, France ?

I know that I would be prepared for snow and sleet in Colorado but would never have thought to bring along enough rain gear and clothing to survive that in France.
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Old 07-19-11, 03:29 PM   #10
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Courageous story! Sounds too hard core for me. Kudo's for giving it a valiant try.
Ouff, not really as courageous as that. Situations like this develop over an hour or two, and in reality, it was only when i stopped and saw the carnage around me that I started to really assess my own situation. There's a great (kind of funny) post on that bikeradar forum from a guy who basically blacked out and ended up in a ditch, and I'm glad I didn't get that far. I don't regret doing it, or pulling out, though it's hugely disappointing. Certainly toughened me up a bit though! HTFU indeed ...
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Old 07-19-11, 06:36 PM   #11
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The video tells it all. No translation needed.
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Old 07-20-11, 01:51 PM   #12
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Good thing you were smart enough to stop when you did.
It is good to know the organizers could manage to set up emergency facilities. They have run out of water twice at the stop on Mt. Ventoux that I know of.
The year I went 9000 signed up. The weather was better.
Watch the TdF the next two days. There is snow on the Alps.
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