Posted by: mcfinder | November 1, 2009

The Mountain Stage

I will be honest with you..I was worried about today, I expected a really tough tough day through the Vosges Mountains…and I wasn’t disappointed.

Today has been the hardest day of my life, from a physical point of view, yet apart from the birth of my 2 children, probably the most rewarding and amazing day ever.

We set off at 9.45am this morning, down the huge hill we had come up the night before and headed towards the looming dark shapes on the horizon – the Vosges Mountains. The road up to them was very misleading, a gently slope upwards that was exhausting, even though it didn’t look that steep. After 8 miles we had a stop as we were both feeling the pace a bit. As we rested by the side of the road a couple of motorbikes passed at a fair rate..we heard their engines fade but then reappear about 100ft above us, then they faded again, and then re-appeared even higher up…that meant one thing..The switchbacks were about to start. And here started 12 miles of the hardest physical excursion I have ever endured in my life. Switchback after switchback…unrelenting steep hills..we passed 600m above sea level, then 700m..I have to remind you that we had a ‘continental breakfast’ which consisted of 2 croissants and some homemade jam – and that was it! So we were both struggling..My pace was ridiculously slow and every 3rd or 4th swiitchback I had to stop and lie down for air! My legs we on fire and it felt my heart rate was 300! There was nothing in Hampshire that could get you ready for this kind of thing.

Eventually we made it to 950m above sea level. At which point Steve confidently announced – we are at the top. We took photos and looked forward to a downhill ride..however, that downhill ride was very short lived. A mile down the road we made a left and was soon at 1100m. At this point we had to walk for a bit, the effort was just too much. We rode on and on stopping almost every mile for a breather. We got to 1300m and rode into a ski resort, complete with cable cars and a cheese restaurant. I practically collapsed in the carpark while Steve went in to get some water. A minute later he came out swearing about the ignorant German @£$!$ that wouldnt serve him. So I went in, and got some water and chocolate. That absolutely saved us, and after 30 mins rest we felt ready to crack on. Good job too as the sunshine we had enjoyed had rapidly turned to fog and we could see the weather front moving quickly our way, the temperature had dropped significantly and we knew we couldn’t hang about.

Luckily from then on, the rest of the trip was down hill…very down hill. I was free-wheeling at 36mph most of the way! The miles racked up in no time at all.. We went through many pretty villages on a valley road with the mountains either side of us and after a couple of hours of nice easy riding we ended up in St Die – very happy to find our hotel after a HUGE day where we had conquered the Vosges mountains…

If you are reading this and haven’t sponsored us yet, pls do so, we are riding the entire Western Front in aid of the British Legion. You can donate securely online at http://www.justgiving.com/cyclingtheline

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