Bitter, Sweet: Haute Route, Stages Six and Seven

Stage 6 began with an even longer early-morning descent – the whole 17 km down from La Toussuire to St. Jean de Maurienne. The sun was on us, though, and I don’t remember the teeth chattering too much. From the valley we climbed up the Col de Chaussy, a good climb with one of most enjoyable summits I’ve ever ridden on. The descent was nice, too, but not for at least one guy, who I think broke a collarbone on the way down.

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Col de Chaussy

The Chaussy was followed by the Col de la Madeleine, which I seem to have a mental block of so it must not have been fun. I do remember the descent, which wasn’t neutralized, if memory serves. The last real climb of the day was the Col des Saisies, at the top of which an Australian tour guide told great lies about the rest of the ride (‘All downhill for the next 20 km then a little 2 km up to Megève’). This truth was more like ‘downhill with a series of false flats and climbs for 15 km, then the rest uphill to Megève). He obviously had no idea and was faking it, which is the prerogative of guides and parents.

The day ended where our 2013 team finished its first day. I had fond memories of that day, including watching my coach get an IV drip.

The last day, Stage Seven, was a beautiful, hard, fast course, bolting through a part of the Alps I’m not yet used to. We went up and over a series of ‘no-name’ cols, like Aravis, but although I had never heard of any of them, they were just a joy to ride, with human grades and lots of green. Okay, ‘joy’ might be a stretch, since my heart was still pounding out of my chest on all of them, but you remember the good things after a while.

Then suddenly it was over. I stopped at the official spot below but never took a photo. Here are Patric and Henry, looking pretty damn happy that it’s over.

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As for me, I found a fellow Canadian and coasted down to the outskirts of Geneva, where we assembled for our ‘parade’ into town.

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The team were all staying at the same hotel and those who weren’t flying out of town or convalescing in bed went out for one last dinner, splurging on a meal at Movenpick that included booze for the first time in a week, which helped with digestion of the bill we had to pay at the end.

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And then I was on a train, then another train, then a taxi, and suddenly it was all behind me. I’m left this year with an uncertain feeling about it all. One part of me tells me I have some unfinished business with Haute Route, since I didn’t do the training I needed to do to do as well I think I could have. Part of me says that I’m done with Haute Route for awhile and that it’s time to move on to other objectives. Another part of me says shut up, stop fussing and stewing, and get on your bike you fat turd.

Whatever the future holds, this Haute Route was a great experience and I have to say it one more time, I wouldn’t have been able to get my flabby bum over to Nice if it wasn’t for the generosity of Aaron West, who couldn’t come over and ride because he’s shopping for a new hip. Once that’s installed I hope to be the one reading about his exploits and not the other way around (assuming he’s reading of course). Thanks again, man!

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4 thoughts on “Bitter, Sweet: Haute Route, Stages Six and Seven

  1. While I’m amazed and incredibly impressed at your undertaking such an exploit–for the 2nd time, no less–I sure can identify with end-of-season ambivalence (which is also the reason I haven’t answered your email asking my triathlons this year!).

    Bittersweet or not, you deserve a big “Chapeau”. And a few beers.

  2. You probably both know I ditto Sarah! Good on you! An altogether credible result in an amazingly hard race … and with a “flabby bum!” Funny! End of season ambivalence rings so true … and I could also agree with her about its playing a role in my owing you both emails ….Super magnificent job!

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