Well I have been in Nice since Wednesday night and it is getting ever so close to race day. In prep, I rented a car on thursday and tried to drive the full course to get some perspective of the challenge that lays ahead on Sunday. Oh My God - yes this deserves the full spelling!! Unfortunately I am not able to load up my pics, but this is nothing I have seen before on a bike. There is 1,800m of vertical climbing to be done on this course, I think it is double that but I will let the garmin keep track on sunday. It is daunting, you are always climbing or descending and the views are terrific. The unfortunate part is that if you focus for more than a second on the view, you could find yourself getting up close and personal with that view as you go over the edge, no guardrails, ok a little 12" piece of rock, but that only serves to keep the bike at the top of the mountain while you fly over the handlebars and down into the abyss below. I will tell you how tough this ride is:
the journey in the car took me almost 4 hours - ok so I got lost a few times - good thing I wont be leading the race and will always have somebody to follow - I had to eat a croissant, clif bar, 2 bananas, and a baguette with nuttela, in addition, drank 1.5 litres of water - and that is just driving the car!
If I could have a wish for everyone in the BCC, it would be to have a month to ride this area. We could ride some of the most picturesque roads anywhere, never need to ride the same route twice (confusing roads mind you), get all the climbing we could handle, wonderful boulangerie's in quaint villages willing to serve us up some of the best, melt in your mouth coissants you have ever tasted. All the while getting a suntan that makes my current state look as white as a ghost.
As an addedum, I went back out for a ride of the course with a buddy, and i was loving it. Came to the col de l'Ecre, the highest peak of the race at 1120m, I peaked it and then gunned the decent. Here it is quite important that you pay heed to the road signs. In Canadian parlance, a sign suggested that a right turn was coming up, in French parlance, that should have said a HAIRPIN was approaching - slow down NOW! Well yours truly reacted a little late and pushed hard on the brakes to the point of feeling lock-up, then the back end starts its predictable move out from under you. Thank goodness I was riding the road bike and I have the crit racing experience, because the inclination might have been to jam the brakes harder at which point i am not sliding into a fall, but rather abruptly stopping sideways and getting thrown from the bike and making friends with the trees and rocks below. I got off the brakes, straightened things up, took the corner wide (good news no cars) and managed to make it through. A good reminder for Sunday for sure.
Cheers everyone, I hope the weather is good in toronto, because it is beautiful here in Nice.