TransAlp Stage 4


Stage Four: I'll See You When You Get There

Before I could ride today I had to find a new partner, as riders are only allowed into the starting grid in pairs. At the race office I met a Belgian rider in the same predicament so we were able to race.

Jon was gutted not to be able to ride today, but this was not a day for any rider who was less than 100%. The stage was only 83.5km but the four big Alps added up to more than 3,000m of climbing. The first climb took 1.5 hours. The descent was 20 minutes before the next climb, which took well over an hour. Back in Wales, the biggest local climbs I can find on the road take only 30 minutes. Nothing can prepare you for the climbs in the Alps.

Despite my best efforts to keep my heart rate in the target zone, it was constantly at, or above, the max that my coach had set for the race. There seemed to be no gear combination that would get me up the climbs at a steady cadence without my heart rate going too high. Nonetheless, the climbs were more enjoyable than the descents as my brakes were squealing, burning and locking out. On the loose surface I had problems controlling the bike on the many tight turns and on several occasions came within a whisker of crashing.

At the final feed-station we were reliably informed that there was only 200m of climbing left, but the single-track climb and the winding road to Grödnerjoch seemed more like a stairway all the way to heaven. The final descent, in the slipstream of two local Italian riders, was heaven sent. After 5hrs and 40min I was keen to see the finish line.

Jon's day proved to be more leisurely. His parting words were "See you when you get there", then he disappeared to meet his chauffeur for the day. Our good friend Gary Hill agreed to take Jon and his bike to St Christina (Italy) for the stage finish. Gary is supporting his partner, Carrie Carruthers, who is riding for "Brit Girls Go" with Megan Griffiths. Although he still feels a little light-headed, Jon is determined to ride the next stage to Sarnthein.

Pete & Jon's sponsors: | | | | | | | |Gateway Cycles