I woken up very early, 3:30. I arrived to the airport around 5:30 and my check in was already open. I got shocked when I realized that how long is the line. Gatwick airport was ramped, thousand and thousand people went for holiday. I had to wait one and a half hours until I checked in. I passed the security control surprising fast, quick breakfast and run to the gate. I met with one of our customer on the plain, he came with the British Sky TV's brunch. We had a quick flight 1 hour and 40 minutes. Passport check was terrible on Marseille airport... 1,5 hours kewing again. After I met with my tour organizer, Sports Tours UK. It is a really good company, everything was well organized in the 4 days, I can highly reckon for everybody! 1 hour coach transfer to the Hotel Novotel Avignon, quick check in, little shopping and rest in the bed on the whole afternoon. My room mate arrived after 5 o'clock, really nice guy, he came from London and after the Etap he will stay couple of more days and do some cycle touring.
We had a coach transfer in the event village, Montelimar after breakfast. We had to assemble our bikes in the bike storage and live it ready for the tomorrow morning start. I built my bike and I had a quick test ride on. And that was the point when my whole Etap has been fucked up. After 50 meter ride my new "friend" turned up. The cramp! Cramp everywhere, what you can imagine! In my boom and ham strings. Honestly I don't know what a fuckin hell is wrong with me, I never had the same before and quite strange that only just happen on events and never happen on weekday training! I rolled back in the bike storage and tried to strach a bit. When I was able to move, I walked in the event area and picked up my start number, couple of free bits and visited one friend of mine on the Rapha stand. On the way back to the coach I visited on nougat shop and bought couple of world famouse Montelimar Nougat. After I got back in the hotel I tried to give some treat for my legs, massage, streching and cold-hot shower. Around dinner time I felt myself pretty good and I was hopeful that I havn't any more problem with my cramp tomorrow. We went in the bed really early, around 9 o'clock.
The big day! We woken up 3:30, quick morning seans and go for a breakfast. The transfer left the hotel 4:45 and we got in the bike storage around 5:50. I rode for my start area, my number was 4668. Ohh well.... nearly 4500 people front of me and a same amount behind me. The start was 7 o'clock but when I started to moving the time was 7:20. I rolled out from the village gently, my legs felt ok, but I was scared. Everything looked fine..until the 5 km, when the mayhem started. My own mayhem. the most painful ride in my life. The ride which one was planed quick, strong. I was peaking on this weekend, everything was timed for the Etap. But the plan went broken after 5 km. The cramp started, and it didn't start gently...cramp never start gently! The feeling was incredible! I tried to spin but didn't change anything. I was slow, really slow. I thought that, may be better after couple of miles, but didn't. After 40 km I had to stop for strach my legs, because I wasn't able to move. I sat down the pavement and tried to strach. One french local woman came and asked me, that I wanna doctor. I explained for her the situation and told for her doctor can't help... may be a riffle can help... somebody shot me down PLEASE! She was really sorry and offered me a coffee ... I thought: why not! :) God bless her for the help! The coffee was helpful, after 10 minutes I was on the bike again. I thought, OK, I can't stop ...I have to carry on... And I rode slowly with my cramp. Unfortunately I had to stop one more time for 10 minutes around 90 km. But after this I went mad... NO MORE STOP! And I carried on. I past couple of friends, Rene, Chris and Gavin. I felt myself pretty shit, I was slow but tried to enjoy the day. When I got bottom of Ventoux , I felt that I can do it. I did 150km with locked and cramped legs, this 20km more is nothing! I have to say Ventoux is a brilliant and beautiful climb, but yesterday on the way up I had different things in my head. It was my life's longest and most painful 20km, but I did it. On half way up the pain was incredible, I just cried but I didn't stop. I had on every kilometer 2-3 minutes when I could ride just on leg, other one was absolutely locked up. People just given up around me, temperature was around 36 degrees. The last kilometer felt ages. When I rolled over the finish line I didn't feel anything. I was a bit empty and disapoined. But when I turned over on the first corner and stopped for look around from top of the hill, I started to feel the satisfaction. I was satisfied with everything, with the whole day, with the pain, with the view, because I did it! I don't wanna find excuse, that why I didn't finished in better position! I don't give a shit for what other people thinks , when they see my result on this race, because I know I am a winner! I really won this race my inside! Because I got ower my pain! I finished with 6:53 and I did the Ventoux climb 1:54.
After this really inward couple of minutes I rolled down to the event village where I met with Nick. I think he did around the time then I did! Well done. We had some chat and in the same time we produced the most unbeliavable combintions of cramps. And we had a laugh on the whole day!
I really look forward the Saturday 12 hour night race and hopefully I can do without any cramp... :)