Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chaberton 3130 meters- 7th and Last Stage

End of Special Stage 1 at the top of Chaberton Fortunately it had stopped raining the next morning and the sun was out. Unfortunately, several people had their bikes stolen during the night. No one thought to lock their bikes up, since it was pouring down rain. The race organizers decided that the general classification was going to remain the same and that today's stage was not going to count. A few of the unlucky people were able to borrow bikes and still ride that day, but most were not able to ride to the top of Chaberton, which is supposed to be the highlight of the race. There is a bombed out Fort sitting at the top of the 3130 meter high Mt. Chaberton, which was built by the Italians, and destroyed by the French during WWII. From what I understand, the border between Italy and France runs straight across the mountain now.

I rode with Fabritzio, Katia, Danny, and Eric again. It took us approximately 3 hrs to do the 15 kms to the top of Chaberton. This included much hiking. No one seemed to be racing too hard, since the stage didn't count towards the final standings. When we finally reached the top Katia and I crossed the "finish line" together. The first special stage ended here and there was a tent set up with champagne, fancy olives and crackers. This was in addition to the pasta and fruit tarts served off course. We spent about an hour climbing around the top and looking at the 360 degree views. The race helicopter as well as a helicopter carrying tourists kept taking off and landing from the top of the fort.

View from the Fort

Katia and me in front of the Ironbike helicopter on top of the fort at Chaberton

Katia and me with Fabritzio

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. We rode about half way back down Chaberton and then had 2 more hike-a-bike sections followed by boring gravel downhills. We had a short fun single track section leading in to the finish line in a ski town called Sauze d'olux where it started raining again. Thinking that we were close to the finish-line we I didn't bother to stop to put my jacket on. It was raining so hard the streets were flooding and it felt like you were in a shower with lots of water pressure. After a steep 5-10 minute climb we finally reached the finish where people were crammed in under a small tarp. There were lots of kisses being exchanged before heading off to find the showers. Instantly I was freezing, and Eric and I rode an extra loop in the town because we couldn't find the sports center or camp. We came by the finish line a second time and people were clapping again....

I got straight in to a handicap shower with all my clothes on, I was so cold when we found the sports center. I had exactly 2 pieces of dry clothing left in my bag that was sitting out in the rain. I had to wear my plastic rain jacket to stay warm while packing up our bikes. I looked really cute when we met up with "the Brits" for a fun dinner with lots of pizza, wine, and race talk in the evening. We found a nice bed and breakfast to stay that night before taking the train to Torino the next day.

Ironbike was an amazing experience once again. We met some really great people and were so happy to see the same awesome race organizers as 2 years ago. You definitely have to be able to "go with the flow", be flexible, cope with language barriers, race for up to 10 hrs a day, be able to survive on pasta, bread, and jam and little sleep, but they sure do put on a fantastic event and everyone is so friendly, funny, and helpful.

A big Thank You to my sponsors at Progress, Magura, Kenda, Ergon, and my race team Sho-Air for all the support and help this year!!

1 comment:

raymond said...

Great write up and some fantastic pics.

I have mine on flickr here:

As for Gunther's pic of me at Chaberton. I was having a bad moment :-)

Well done on your result,