Wow, one whole month since the last post. Either I’ve been lazy or training too hard. Guess which. We’re packing for the flight back to Edinburgh, then I’m off to do Etape du Tour number 7, this time up the fearsome Mont Ventoux on July 20. This mountain is famous for two things - the death of British cyclist Tommy Simpson in 1967, and the hailstorm which closed the road when the Etape last finished here in 2000. I still remember that descent as one of the coldest, scariest things I’ve ever done. Some of the things I saw riders do to warm their hands up enough to grip the brakes can’t be repeated here. Anyway, this year the sun will be shining, guaranteed.
It seems to have been the month for interviews too. The Amaury Sports Organisation, organisers of the Tour de France and the Etape du Tour called up out of the blue, hunting down survivors of that freezing day in 2000 for an article in the Tour de France programme. I don’t know if my French was up to the task of explaining to M. Louis Doucet quite how cold it was, but I managed to describe the descent as a ‘zone de guerre’ becasue of the number of bodies at the side of the road!
Second interview was with the delightful Helena Frith Powell of the National newspaper of the UAE, followed by a photo shoot with the hugely talented Philip Cheung. We started the photo shoot outdoors in 42 degree heat, then Philip politely asked how I trained in that heat. When I said I trained indoors, we beat a hasty retreat to the flat and continued the rest of the shoot there. I should see on Saturday what the results are, but surely photographing some kitted out cyclist riding like a dervish in the comfort of his own apartment must be one of the more bizarre photo shoots he’s done.5 years ago
Good news and bad news last week. I got through the entry lottery for this year’s Etape du Tour, so have the fearsome climb of the Mont Ventoux to look forward to on July 20. Shortly after this, I got a surprise email from a journalist working for the Tour de France organisers ASO on the official Tour programme, which includes a section on l’Etape du Tour. He’s interviewing ‘survivors’ of the Etape’s last visit to Mont Ventoux in 2000, where we had hail and temperatures of 2 degrees on the summit, and when the police closed the road with about half the field still to reach the summit. I’ve since managed to erase most of the pretty horrific memories of the descent from the summit that day, so being interviewed about them will be a suitably traumatic experience!
Unfortunately, the Etape is now the only event left to train for…..
Meanwhile, back in never never land, the third Mercure Duathlon up Jebel Hafeet was cancelled due to lack of interest (big hand to certain ‘triathletes’ in a certain UAE emirate who have consistently failed to support this and other events in the UAE by failing to actually show up). Then, the Dubai Tri Club cancelled all their events due to bad mouthing by a minority of participants.
People need to know three things:
Another Friday, and other triathlon. This time it was the DTC Olympic distance triathlon. That’s a 1500 metre swim, 40 km bike, and a 10 km run. Once again, Team Tri2Aspire were up for it. It seemed every other triathlete on the course was in our team colours, a great turnout. As usual, I wimped out of doing the whole thing, and was able to find two willing accomplices, Jamie Atherton and Chris Sellar, to join the team event. These are two of the stars of the team. Jamie has previously represented Great Britain in his age group, but suffered a career threatening neck injury two months ago while swimming. This was his return to competition, and we wanted to make it a good one for him. Chris is also a fabulous athlete, having won the 2008 DTC Half Ironman triathlon in appalling conditions with a really gutsy run. Having recently become a dad (congratulations Chris!), he was happy to find an event which fitted into his new schedule of nappy changing and getting woken up at odd hours.
As last week, we were able to line up with former world Ironman champion Faris Sultan. As usual, the start line was the last most of us saw of him. If you were lucky, you heard the turbo whine as he passed you. A deeply impressive thing to watch.
Once again the weather gremlins struck a DTC event. This time there was a 20 knot wind blowing off the sea. There were two potentially strong teams in the team event, and we exited the water with a 10 minute deficit on the first of them. The bike leg was tough with the wind, but, unlike the much feared ‘Ghantoot wind’, it was steady, cool, and predictable, so hard work but not too challenging. Like all windy events, it seemed to go on forever, so I was surprised to check my lap split to find I was lapping at 18 minutes, getting in in a shade under 56 minutes, and leaving Chris with a 2½ minute deficit to make up on the run section. Like the star he is, Chris made it up by 5 km, and we came in to win by almost 2 minutes (results here). Which makes a hatrick for Team Tri2Aspire in this years team triathlons.5 years ago