My long ride this summer was the Randonnée Alpine, one of the classic French Raids. This one goes from Thonon, near Geneva, to Antibes and is a pretty challenging mountain ride. It's 712 km and 17,485 meters of ascent, which is quite a lot. Unlike the Raid Pyrenéen, its western counterpart, it doesn't have such a strict time constraint, but this was little help for me as the support company that I had signed up with were doing it in six days. So that was that.
On Monday, 23 July eighteen of us left the lakeside at Thonon and began climbing more or less immediately, a pattern which was followed for the next six days until, on Saturday afternoon we all arrived at Antibes.
It's a tough ride, with varied and spectacular scenery. The route takes you over many classic French passes, makes a detour into Italy, ending with a spectacular run down through the foothills of Provence to the sea. Great fun.
Marmot Tours organised my ride, and were very good. Two vans, good spares and food support, a rider on some of the passes and very good hotels and mapping. The party was mixed, from youthful racing snakes to those old enough to know better (me). The former found it easier. No problems en route - and if anything had happened, everything necessary to fix it was in the van, up to a spare bike, if needs be. The weather was sunny every day, too hot on many occasions - up to 38ºC, but that's mountain riding for you.
My carnet number was 3190, which I guess to be the number who have attempted the ride over the years, and my homologation number was 2490, which I guess to be the number of finishers. So our 100% record was pretty good.
This year's bike was a special that Condor made for me. Lighter than the Boardman, with a 'gran fondo' frame that is intended for long-distance comfort. SRAM Rival gears, 11-32 and a compact, Mavic Krysium SL wheels, Grand Prix 4000s tyres and perfect for the job. No problems, no punctures and a top speed on the trip of 48.2 mph.