I waited for Richard the surgeon to leave the water stop with me, but I waited too long as he had already gone! Not to worry, I soon caught him and sped past him zoomy style. This road was an unexpected fast descent and I flew down many miles going straight past a bonus second water stop, ie Jo's Cafe. Luckily DA shouted at me as I flew past, so I was able to back track and take my break. I treated myself to a coke and got ready for the menace that lay ahead. It was clear that a menace lay ahead as even the sign posts were taunting me!
The menace ahead was the start of the mountain climb, namely the Col de la Faucille (which is to feature in this years Tour de France). I set off with Richard the surgeon but lost him after a little while. This climb was absolutely awesome. Probably the best climb ever! The road was bending and winding like a long piece of spaghetti and at times the road would switch back with many a hairpin bend. The climb went on forever and ever! I really enjoyed this climb and views got better the more I climbed. At times the road travelled could be seen beneath the same road as I travelled higher and higher. At some points the road would pass through tunnels.
About 3 miles from the stop for lunch (about 1/2 way up the mountain), David my room mate from the L2P challenge caught me and we cycled together. He looked beat and was completely covered in sweat. As we neared the lunch stop we could see the chef's in the distance. I asked David if he wanted to race, he replied 'I think we should come in together'. I respected his wishes and cycled alongside him, though I made sure my wheel reached the stop first. (Please note that my rims were rubbing on a piece of trapped grit for the past couple of miles too!). The chefs welcomed us with cheers and shouts. Dave the chef (who was previously a professional cyclist) said he had his money on me reaching this stop first. Good ol' Dave.
After a quick lunch stop, I was itching to get going again. Richard the surgeon and I set off together again, and again I lost him pretty early on. This second major climb to the summit was not as hard as the first half. For a moment I thought I had gotten lost as another speedy descent appered which went on for like 3 miles with fast switch backs before climbing resumed once more. A long beautiful climb to the top on a spaghetti like road. Eyes were sore still from sweat, salt and tears. Parts of the road had been resurfaced, which was a real chore to cycle through. Before I knew it, I reached the summit! I passed a sign which read 'Col de la Faucille alt. 1323 m'. Yay, I was the first cyclist to combat this mountain! Job done, well nearly!
Waited at the top of the summit for all the cyclists in the group to rejoin. Had to wait hours for the last cyclist to rock up, but was nice to see everyone (save chunky girl and her boyfriend) make it. We were all awarded with challenge T-shirts at the top. Somehow I managed to get a splinter in my hand. I asked madam Jo for a needle to remove said splinter, she replied `I have one, but I'm not going to give you one, they're too expensive'.
After we had all regrouped we set off for the final descent. This descent was awesome! If Clive the Dr was on this challenge he would have described this as a 'white knuckle ring twitching roller coaster of a ride'! It followed a similar patttern to the climbs, in that the road twisted like a piece of spaghetti and had many a hair pin bend and numerous switchbacks. I was by no means the fastest descender and saw Ian fly past me at an amazing speed. My hands were on the brake levers from top to bottom and I reckon I must have stretched my brake cables! Despite my constant braking I flew down this descent which seemed to go on forever. When the roads flattened out at the end of the descent, I regained my position at the front and cycled ahead to the next water stop.
The whole bunch of us regrouped again at this point and we cycled in convoy and passed through the Swiss/French border. Wahoo, I was in Switzerland for the first time in my life. The traffic here was quite heavy but within 4 miles we reached our destination. Our destination, of course, was the beautiful Lake Geneva! The lake was awesome, bright and blue, and a fitting place for the completion of my challenge! Yay, job done! We hung out here for a while and drank champagne and pims and ate snacks. Claps and cheers a plenty, and lots of photo`s taken.
Cycling did not finish here. From Lake Geneva we had to cycle back to the hotel. As soon as the hotel was reached, I had to sadly dismantle poor Cayo. Cayo had worked so hard and in the space of 8 days had travelled over 650 miles with no major menace. I felt quite upset having to remove her pedals, wheels and seat post and bunging her into a big bag ready for a flight home. I will treat her to a service and new bar tape when back in England!
I don`t wish to end this blog on a sad note, so let me tell you that the day ended with further celebrations. Madam Jo gave quite a sweet speech at the celebration meal and spoke a little about each cyclist on the challenge. She referred to me as `speed demon Tim`, which was nice. Good friends were made on this trip, and one such friend was Gary the Cobler. As a special treat, I have managed to get before and after shots of Gary and his bib short wearing style! :) Cycled a distance of 74.97 miles at an average speed of 12.6 mph and a maximum of 36.8 mph. Spent nearly 6 hours on the saddle today.