Epicness²: London to Monaco Ride Day 7

I know “epicness” is not a word. So you can’t really multiply “epicness” by itself to produce “epicness²” but that’s just what happened on day 7 of this ever intensifying adventure in tiredness, and sleeplessness, and badassness, and overcoming adversity-ness, and most of all awesomenss that is the inaugural London to Monaco ride.

Hey wait a minute, that's not a road. That's a tractor path.
Hey wait a minute, that’s not a road. That’s a tractor path.

In fact, the true enormity of the ride, and the particular “epicness” of the last two days in the Alps hasen’t really sunk in yet. But I can say that many people will be talking about the last two days in the almost 1,000 mile ride that started in the shadow of the Tower of London 8 days ago, and is steadily trucking along at 100 miles per day clip (which means we’ve already ridden 800 miles for those of you who are as mathematically challenged as I am) in an effort to raise money for the Blue Marine Foundation for many, many years to come.

All of the people (like my man Joost who happens to be rocking some stick antlers) on this trip are simply amazing.
All of the people (like my man Joost who happens to be rocking some stick antlers) on this trip are simply amazing.

And truth-be-told, the slowness and the notworkingness of French internet makes it hard for me to upload all the amazing photos and video from the trip. But I can use words (and a few photos too) so…here we go.

Yesterday started like every other day. Up at 7. Coffee. Breakfast. Apply googe-cream (don’t ask). Fill the waterbottles. Go for a 100-mile bike ride. But yesterday was a bit different in that we were headed for Gap (the famous tour town that has hosted more mountain stages in Le Tour than anyplace else). And if you are headed to a town that’s famous for mountain stages in Le Tour, you can bet you’re sweet, spandexed, googe-creamed bottom that you’ll need to do some climbing to get there.

And there was.

The glorious one with the ribbon of switch-back silk (pictured above) that was climbed in sunny stillness was simply magical. And it was in the very glow of accomplishing the hardest climb of the trip that things got much, much, much harder.

First, the road we were supposed to take to Gap after the climb was closed for some crazy-ass totally unannounced French car rally.

The road simply ended. Here. Full stop.

And then the road the amazing crew headed up by Mark Lawrence and his rock star team from www.tifosi.cc who’s working with La Fuga that’s organized every element of this trip found another road on google maps. The only problem was….it was a crazy-ass french tractor path that was covered in cricket-ball sized stones (you think I’ve been hanging out with the Brits for too long? Um…maybe).

And then it started to rain at lunch.

And then it started getting late.

And then we still had 60 kilometers to go (yes, I know I’m becoming a metric-spouting preppie Euro–deal with it) and morale was bad…

Asses hurt.

Legs hurt.

Brains hurt.

All the guides (like my man Adam) are simply, classy.
All the guides (like my man Adam) are simply, classy.

And then our extremely classy pro/ride guide Dexer Gardias (they’re all extremely classy in fact) went to the front of our group and pushed on the gas pedal very, very hard. His gas pedal pushing pulled the entire group (including yours truly) at an utterly remarkable average speed of 50 Kilometers/Hour (that’s 30 miles an hour for my non-euro peeps) for over 10 miles into a stiff, stiff headwind. Ofcourse, for someone like me it was amazeballs to go that fast for that long into that headwind, but what I loved even more than going that fast for that long with the people on this trip that I have really come to like and respect, was that Dex’s true class showed not only in how easy he made it look, but how humble he was when we talked about it afterwards. And no I don’t have any photos because it’s hard to take iPhone selfies when you’re struggling to keep up with a charging group of cyclists being pulled along a valley in France by a accomplished pro cyclist pushing the gas pedal down to 30 MPH. Pro cycling is one of those things that’s so hard that it breeds humility. And we all can learn from that, right?

And then I ran out of gas (and felt a wee touch of despair) with 15 Kilometers to go into Gap. It happens in sailing and cycling and any endurance sport. The cool thing is what you learn from it when it does. And you know what happened? I used the last bit of energy I had to zip my jacket because it was flapping. And that simple act–zipping up my jacket–flipped a switch in my brain. No longer was I hurting and miserable and asking my man Sam next to me if he had a gel and struggling to hold the wheel in front of me.

I was more aero.

I was gonna make it.

We arrived in Gap just before it got dark.

And that was just day 7.

Just wait till you hear about today. There was some pretty special moments including some very deep thoughts up at the front. Some spectacular views. And on yeah, we all rode about 10,000 feet most of which was on a 15-mile long climb.

But it’s late. We’ve got another 10,000 feet of climbing on tap. And I’m really, really tired.

I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.

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  1. says: Barbara

    Billie…this is amazing…you are amazing…i can’t wait to hear the stories when you get home…

    and that mental thing about zipping up the jacket…i totally get…

    be well..stay safe…