UCI caffeine limits
The Guzet Neige, third time lucky?
I had planned to ride this climb on two other occasions, but weather and other climbs prevented me (Col de la Core).
The weather apps were not encouraging but I must do it today, otherwise my ride scheduling becomes a problem.
I woke up early and refreshed despite last night’s bagpipe serenade and slowly unzipped the tent.
As today was the designated ‘Thunderstorm Day’, I expected to see incoming black clouds, but the clouds were grey, and the ground was dry.
Should I dash out now and climb Guzet Neige, return and take the tent down or vice versa?
As much as I wanted to ride, the priority had to be taking down of the tent down while it was dry.
The prospect of a dry climb up Guzet-Neige meant that the tent was down and packed in record time.
But before all that, I’m not going anywhere until I’ve had my Hot Lava Java Coffee.
I was now close to UCI caffeine limits as the mighty Yaris sparked into life for the start of the segment at Serac Ustou.
Robert Miller – the Brit
They included the Guzet Neige climb three times on the tour. In 1984, Robert Miller won the stage here and subsequently took the King of the Mountains. (An occasion when the English embraced a Scot as being British?)
It’s a historic climb, so I must do it.
‘You gotta get up to get down.’
At the base of the climb, the weather was ok, but halfway up Guzet Neige was in cloud.
I looked up at where I thought the summit might be and teasingly caught fleeting glimpses of a peak.
My Col d Agnes experience made me hesitant, but not doing the climb today would be a problem.
Should I stay, or should I go? Sensible or foolhardy?
I convinced myself that I would ride it and come straight back down if it was bad.
That would never happen, of course.
I knew damn well that once my bum was on the saddle; it wasn’t coming off until the end of the climb.
For the first half of the climb, there was no low cloud base, and a gradient at the expected 9%, which was all fine. At the next corner, however, it was Pea-souptastic.
The visibility dropped to about 10 metres, but I felt it was ok to carry on.
A hundred metres further up the climb, the cloud cleared only to return on the next corner.
Riding in and out of the cloud, now continued for the rest of the climb.
In the final Km, the gradient dropped to 6% only to sting you with a last run in of 17%.
I was all set for my big macho moment “Agh”.
I’m knackered, but I had made it to the cloud base summit.
Time to look cool
As I looked around at another empty ski village, two ‘photographers’ out for a walk emerged like ghosts. How opportune.
On a freezing mountain top posing in sweaty Lycra and trying to look the part took some doing, but I think I pulled it off.
I descended in and out of cloud required full concentration and I even used the brakes on occasions, but the need for speed kept rearing its head.
There was one ‘Oh shit, that’s a bend’ panic as I flew down what I thought was going to be straight, but once below the cloud, it was time to zoom and freeze some more.
Despite waving my arms like a YMCA dance routine, my hands took ages to regain colour and feeling.
I had done it and lived to tell the tale.
I am King of the Old Gits
The Guzet Neige certainly gave me a buzz.
I confirmed my ride while sat in the car and, ‘Whoopee,’ I was No.1 old git (65-69) in the Strava rankings.
I do not go for Strava KOM’s (OAP on a Brompton ?), but I do like to try, so this was a real bonus.
Robert Miller has not congratulated me on my heroic exploits today, but I will keep a check on the email.