After a fine Italian dinner on Place Masséna then a reasonably restful sleep, some of the team assembled outside the hotel for our first team photo. From left to right are Henry, Patric, Katarina, moi, and Chas The Destroyer. If you nod your head up and down rapidly we come into focus.
Mark, my old teammate from 2013 and roommate this year, stayed with his wife on the Promenade des Anglais, so we only get to see his crotch and new nationality. Mark, born in Northern Ireland, was by far the fastest Iranian in HRA ’13.
Last time we did Haute Route we had two neutralized descents over the entire 7 days we were on the road. This time around we had at least that many on the first day alone. I am not sure why this mass-neutralization has been implemented, but I can take some guesses. Whatever the reason, this stage, along with most others, ended up being basically a series of uphill time trials. For example, the first climb out of Nice was timed, then you went over a timing mat at top and could take as much time as you wanted on the descent, hitting another timing mat somewhere at the bottom (like the one below). The process began again with another mad rush up the hill. For me it broke up the day uncomfortably, taking away the ‘race’ and replacing it with short (or long) extreme efforts, followed by similar recoveries. I didn’t like it.
A few of us taking a break before a timing mat. I saw people sleeping on the grass in similar places later on in the race.
This first day ended in Auron, scene of one of the hardest days I have ever spent on the bike. This year it was much better, but I still need a rest afterwards.
I think I came in around 155th on the day.