Something a little different this time. A group of five who like cycling in the mountains are heading to Briancon in the French Alps for four days of serious mountain climbing. We won’t just stick to France though as we are in striking distance of some Italian classics, namely Finestre and Sestriere, so it promises to be fun (in the way that I understand the word fun of course)!
We will also climb the Izoard, which was the last of the serious climbs on the Tour last year, hence my triumphant photo which some may recall!
The competitive element is the brainchild of Ben, who has put together a detailed race book that would surely be the envy of the Tour or the Giro. The book describes all the routes, climbs and rules of engagement. Specifically, as we are all of different abilities this will be a handicap race, meaning that we will set off at different intervals based on our relative climbing speeds.
This means that in theory the summit of each climb should see a 5-way battle for the win, as well as minimising the time we spend at the top waiting for all to arrive. It can be cold at the tops of mountains!
The idea is that as well as winning points for the King of the Mountains jersey, people will also incur time penalties for winning, to be applied to the start of the next climb. This should help even out discrepancies in the estimated differences between our climbing speeds and ensure fair competition throughout rather than early dominance being achieved and maintained by any one rider. We shall see!
I am also looking forward to the inquest at the end of each day where other time penalties may be imposed for other types of infraction. I have been nominated head of the race jury and will do my best to be impartial despite my obvious conflict of interest!
Together we are Ben, John E, Andy, Ying and myself. We have all been preparing for this in our different ways and we will find out tomorrow how successful this has all been. For myself, I am hoping that my recent week in Spain is going to be of benefit.
First things first, we have a plane to catch.