Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The hills are alive....

Clearly Ade and the gang are getting a bit intimidated by my Alp-climbing prowess, because suddenly he decides that Thursday, day 5, will be a “rest day.” Bah, I spit in the face of rest days! Granted, they’ve done about six times more mileage than I have at this point, but I’m sure I’ll make that up soon. Really soon.

In the meantime, the claws are truly coming out, and I can sense the jealousy as my status as a triathlon goddess becomes known.

Sarah: I have to admit, I have an 11-28 cassette on my bike, to help with the climbing. That way I can spin right up!

Ade: Yeah, I make sure I have at least a 12-27 on my bike, and a compact crank.

Me: Waaaait a minute here. An 11-28? A 12-27 and a compact? So, umm, why is it that on MY bike I just have a 12-25 and a regular crank??

Ade, laughing jovially: Oh, ha ha, that’s to just make you work a bit harder there!

Then there’s the matter of that damn hill, on which I almost killed myself the first day.

Me: Well, if no one else is going riding, maybe I can just get a ride down to the bottom of the damn hill? I’m not going down that thing.

Viv: Oh, just give it a try! Go ahead, you’ll be fine!

Kevin: Go on, just ride right on down!

Stacey: Try it!


Me: Stacey, how fast did you say you’ve been going down the mountains here? 15-20mph?

Stacey: Right.

Me: And your max speed so far – even going 16 miles down Col de Madeleine – has been 33mph?

Stacey: Yes, so……

Let me interrupt here to give a small lesson on the laws of physics, especially the one that says that a rolling stone gathers no moss, especially when it’s careening helplessly down a mountain. Kevin, Viv, and the rest of our gang, especially Stacey, are all what we’d call wee folk.

Miss Tasha, at the current moment, despite her best efforts, is not.

This means that when I just start going down a hill, I’m picking up more speed than our wee folk. This means that on the average, non-mountain road the other day from La Tania to Meribel, I hit 34 mph. This means…well, you get the idea.

It basically means that I’m not riding down That Damn Hill, even though if this were a cheesy Lifetime movie we’d have Chariots-of-Fire-esque music playing in the background as I triumphantly and gloriously make my way down TDH, and then do hill repeats on it, and then make my way back to the chalet and we all have a Very Special Moment, and the last shot is of all of us toodling off into the Alpian sunset.

My life – needless to say – is not a Lifetime movie.

So while the others rest, I ride around, and do head up the steep hill to the town of Meribel, where I buy several hunks of cheese, and then realize I have limited ability to actually bring them back to the chalet on my bike. It turns out though – in case anyone was wondering – that one can do a pretty good job tying said bag o’ cheeses to one’s handlebars and then white-knuckling one’s way back down even a steep hill. Who knew?

I continue to avoid TDH like the plague.

Day Six

The group is going off to conquer more mountains somewhere, and I decide that this, our last day in this part of France, is a good day to do some hiking around here, as it turns out there are little signs and numerous walking paths in every direction. I set off on my little jaunt, stopping at a store and buying a crusty baguette to tuck into my backpack. Finding the right path isn’t quite that simple though. The first one I see hardly looks like a path, and it goes straight up into the hills. So naturally I take the gravel path that looks more civilized…..and ends at someone’s house. Damn. Even the walking paths here are all either straight up or straight down.

I climb and climb, and do my best Sound of Music imitation, twirling around in the grass, though only briefly before the good people of France decide to cart me away. I don’t think I need to take any chances at this point.

France is beautiful beyond words.

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