The event has the particularity of crossing the Black Forest and the Vosges before returning to Neusdadt. With our family going to 3 in March, I didn't give myself much of a chance. I was able to do some good training blocks, but the goal of this adventure was mainly to get back in touch with long distance cycling.
Being at the start with Marguerite, Rémi or Pascal allowed me to see some of the faces I had seen on the 3 Peaks.
Unlike the latter, the circuit is imposed here, so no frills are possible.
The departure is grouped in the early morning. The atmosphere is fun.
On the first kilometers the groups are scattered, the event looks like a “cyclosportive” after all. Everyone is watching each other while waiting for the first "real" climbs.
The entrance of the black forest makes direct damage, we see quickly who are the strongest. During the whole day I navigate between the 3rd and 5th place, the slopes are steep, the D+ too, it's the burst of watts with Christian Englert (Cap 11)!
At nightfall I had trouble keeping my eyes open.
It's been 15 hours and 360k m that I ride. I say to myself: "what are you doing here, go back home with your family"... I am at the bottom of the valley, in Waldkirch at the foot of a pass, the cold is here. I am well equipped to sleep outside, but I am in serious sleep debt. I look for a hotel rather than burning extra cartridges outside with temperatures close to negative. I manage to find a room.
In the morning I am around the 12th place in the same situation as the 3 peaks.
I set off again, fresh as a breeze, passing one by one all the zombies who had stayed up all night or who had slept outside. The competition spirit takes over, I stop only once in the morning for the first checkpoint at Km 500.
I eat, drink, talk with the other competitors who seem to be well worn out; then it's off to the Alsatian plain before attacking the Vosges. I leave this checkpoint in 7th position.
This time, no slackening at nightfall, the body has recovered well. I catch up with some competitors. Temperatures are going down and I set myself the goal to stop and sleep in Munster. The second ascent of the Markstein goes well but the famous pass of the “petit ballon” stings; I am hungry and have nothing to eat. The bumpy descent to Munster keeps me awake.
KM 750 It’s time for a break in the entrance of a shoe store for 2 hours.
I leave in 5th place, overtake the 4th one who seems at the end of his life...
The morning is fresh, it's freezing until Sainte Marie aux Mines. There are only few bakeries on this side of Alsace, we meet more foxes than good pastries . There are about 300KM to go and I feel like and I feel like I'm going to make it through the day, with the classics of the “Champ du Pandours”.
The end is very tiring, the 3rd one is 3km ahead of me at 13h. I take a good break (a little too long) which allowed him to take back 15km from me. My phone rings several times with encouraging messages. The competition mode starts again while I wanted to finish quietly... There are 80 Km left. In pursuit mode, I'm going fast, I'm riding hard (at least I feel like it). In the last climb a German dotwatcher tells me that he is not far, I put on a double effort, I don't catch him, he arrives 15mn before me!
No problem, it was fun and I cleaned the engine for another 1000km, damn it!
The adrenaline goes down, the fatigue comes back, my little family appears by surprise, and finally I remember only that.
A 4th place for the fun of the memories, of the meetings and a superb organizing team!