Thursday, July 9, 2009

TransAlps Update 3

Transalps Update - Way late

Before I start with the update Tracy used our ride through the Alps as an opportunity to raise money for Canadian winter athletes. If you would like to read her press release and even make a donation to the Canadian Athletes Now Fund to help winter athletes as they approach the Olympics goto
http://www.canadianathletesnow.ca/current-events/olympic-bronze-medalist-to-take-on-the-alps.html.

Day 3
By day 3 we moved up from last place to 9th in womens. It was a measly 120km ride with a 15km climb at 18% grade in places, similar to the Giants Head. Honestly, I thought I was going to die at times. During the ride I was surrounded by Canadians, sponsored by TNA (The New Aristia which is a clothing company). At this point Tracy and I were starting to iron out how we were going to race together. Our different strengths and weaknesses made it difficult to ride together like most of the teams did. Eventually, we were both happy to ride on our own and jump on any train that was near us. The race organization found out that Tracy was an Olympian and was interviewing her and taking pics of us. Apparently we have some pics of us on their website. It was on Day 3 that I declared myself a true cyclist as I found myself with my bare ass hanging out in front of many people while I got a massage. I was cycling porn.

Day 4
90km ride and we came 5th that day. Tracy was getting stronger by this day. Our GS moved up another position from 9th to 8th. The day started with a 25km climb. It was a beautiful, fairly straight road up the mountain, through snow but the air was still warm and the road was clear. Tracy and I kicked ass. It was weird, everyone seemed really psyched out by the climb where as Tracy and I saw it as a race to the top and the rest of the ride was nothing. One guy said to me as I passed him (again) "Is this just a walk in the park for you?". Honestly, the climbs I can do, it is the descents that are hard. This day, I referred to the descents as a "death wish". Little did I know what was to come. Again, at the end of the day Tracy had another interview. Today we had a fiasco with our hotel and thankfully, Jorg from Magic Places (the tour guy for the TNA guys) drove us around for hours and eventually took us back to the same B&B as Trevor Lindon an friends. They were very hospitable and fed us while we waited for our bags. It is days like this that made us realize if we were to do it again we would book with Jorg for sure.

Day 5
118km, 3570 meters of freaking up. Our day started out kinda scary because day 5 is suppose to be one of the hardest days and our breakfast was brutal. The bread was 3 days old, fatty meat and not enough cheese for a mouse and when I asked for juice she brought me pop. No yogurt and muesli. Her toothless grin should have tipped us off that maybe should make plans elsewhere for breaky. Panic set in and we told Trevors brother Jitter about the breakfast, he got on the phone to Jorg and directed us down the street to an oasis of food. We were saved!

This day 5 we climbed Stelvio which to say it was epic is an understatement. In fact, we climbed Gavia the next day and Tracy and I both thought that was nothing compared to Stelvio. If you want to see a cool pic of it goto www.tracycameron.ca, she has it at the top of her webpage. It is 25km of a daunting, twisting, winding road. As I was climbing, one of the cyclist road by me, gave me a flower and said "I love you. YOu are a so strong.". Another time, another cyclist, "You are both amazing! I am Eruosport announcer and I say Team Canada is surging up the hill, they are amazing...". He was still imitating being a Eurosport announcer way up the hill until I could not hear him anymore. It is people like that, that make journeys like this so enjoyable. Full of humour and positive energy. I killed this climb, ate it for lunch. But then there was one more....

The weather turned on us and I had done my usual fly and die. I still had a tiny 15 km climb ahead of me. Thunder and lightening. It was now not a race but a game of survival. Get to the finish safely, without a crash and quickly before I froze. Lucky for me I had done Stelvio quickly because I missed the hail and got to bottom (finish) relatively early and got a ride to a hotel quickly. I was frozen. But others were worse. Hypothermic. This is another time when having a tour guy is useful. We were grateful to be taken by some of the Canadians again. Jeremy Wilson of Speed Theory in Vancouver was there and looking out for us the whole time. We were very thankful to him.

Day 6
I woke up not wanting to ride. 180km, 3770 meters altitude. Passo Gavio was a little bump, no big deal. It was the descent that was ridiculous. Crap! The road was narrow, cliffs, no guard rails. If you go over "you donàt need your helmet anymore". At the bottom, just in case they didnàt kill you over the cliffs they throw in a pitch black tunnel with a turn in the middle of it. My instinct was to stop and get off my bike in the tunnel but I didnàt because I knew that was worse. So I pedaled but it felt like I was floating in mid air. I had no sense of what was up and down. That was the most scared I had been in a long time. I road this day very slowly, behind Tracy all day. With 20km to go I decided I had too much energy left and I needed to try and empty the tank. I took off. Before I knew it there was a train of cyclist behind me trying to hold on. I was euphoric and felt nothing but drive. I caught Tracy and she jumped on and we finished together. At the finish I had people come up and shake my hand and tell me I was crazy. People wanted to take pictures with me and I asked why and they said because I was so strong. Kinda neat.

Day 7
102 km. Easier day but hot and I hammered it again. Alot of people took it easy but I like to go hard so I did. It was a cool feeling finishing. I embraced the feeling on the descent but once I got to the finish I was Miss Cranky Pants. Hot and probably dehydrated. I just wanted to get out of there. I was also sick. I had a sore throat and achy body. I had to go on though. It was Jersey party next. They gave all the finishers a jersey and then we went out dancing. This Italian Michael tried his best to teach me to dance, I told him I was born without rhythm but he insisted that everyone can dance. I think I proved him wrong but I danced anyway. It was pouring rain and I was topped off with Jagamester (trying to kill my cold).

We finished 7th in the womens and 302 (smack dab in the middle) over all. Tracy did awesome for a none cyclist. I told her she can now call herself a cyclist too because she was cycling porn as well.

Totally awesome experience. This is not for everyone but I think it is for everyone at Speed Theory. "Do it" as Trev would say.

I am back on the 13th so I will see you then.

Later, Marilyn

5 comments:

Tom K said...

Fabulous Marilyn! You're an inspiration.

alejandro H said...

nicely done!! Super proud of both of you, you did speed theory and canada proud! Have a safe trip home.

Joel said...

Wow! Sounds like an amazing experience Marilyn! Can you send me more info on the event? I would like to learn more about it...maybe tackle it one of these years.

jsouchotte@yahoo.ca

Anna-Marie de Zwager said...

incredible Marilyn! awesome updates! So proud and pleased for both you and Tracy. You rock! you ARE so strong! so awesome!

Lockie said...

Holy freakin' amazing, Mar'! Congrats! What a wicked recount of such an incredible journey/race/life-experience. As I read, I could tell you were averaging at least 450W the entire time.

Wooohooooo!!!!

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