The Mamils from Ripcor have been coming out to the Alps with us for over 4 years now. Each time, we found a central base for them to explore some climbs. This year, we decided that it was time to do a point to point trip and our Cheese Classic route suited them down to the ground. We snake our way through the meadows and mountains that are responsible for the creating the delicious mountain cheeses. It is a route that is achievable but challenging nonetheless.
They cannot be described as a group of Mamils any longer (Middle Aged Men in Lycra), for the simple fact that Bevis is in his twenties, Yvonne and Nicki are not Men and perhaps some of the group are moving out of the middle-aged category. But whatever they would describe themselves as, they are a fun, energetic and enthusiastic and it is always a weekend that I look forward too.
Arriving in Geneva, we went to the first hotel, unloaded bikes and whisked the boxes away in the second van. These would be reunited in Annecy. Typically, Jerry, had a problem with his headset that our man, James could help with. A late BBQ and we were all set for the days ahead.
The weather was stunning throughout and the ride out of the hotel (which is in France just north of Geneva), through the flat, fertile fields gives (in my opinion) one of the best views of the French Alps. It was not long though, perhaps 3 minutes, before their first mechanical. Leigh, have somehow, bolted his gear cables under his stem post. It is a good job that he has taken up an apprenticeship at his local bike shop, a few more months and he will have it nailed!The first stage to Abondance is relatively flat. Stopping off at the shores of Lake Geneva for a coffee and then entering the Alps through rafting country before the lunch stop. It is then just a small hill. It is the shortest day but an excellent way to get the legs used to mountain pace. The 14th July is Bastille Day in France, and Abondance had its own little party just across the street from the hotel. So after dinner, the group went across to dance the night away to a questionable band. Phil and Bevis were left clearing up the tables. Phil never learns! This made the hardest day, a little harder.
Stage 2 starts with the Col du Corbier, a lovely switch back climb up into the Morzine valley, then it is out to Les Gets where we had lunch in the friends of Gary and Nick. Gilly and Dave had a few cold drinks ready for us and the group could fuel up for the Col de la Colombiere. Well that is what they thought. I decided to give half the group a little bit of an extra challenge. The Col du Romme, a steep bugger. Comes out above Le Reposoir where you re-join the Colombiere. The first kilometre is 11% and starts immediately from the valley floor. It is almost as if the climb is saying “hello, I am here!”.
Nicki, Yvonne, Leigh, Phil and Chris were more than happy to “just do” the Colombiere. Phil and Chris pushed on and the others took advantage of a coffee stop in Le Reposoir. As much as you can on a mountain climb, they all seemed to be enjoying themselves. Peter was certainly enjoying his new bike and it seems like he got another pair of legs too. He was mightily impressive throughout the weekend.
John, who was doing so well, had a blew up on the Colombiere. It is a difficult climb. You are eased into the last 7km and think that you are doing so well. You get to the 3km to go marker and see the top. Then it hits you. It is steep and hot and is the big challenge of the weekend. If you complete this 3km then you complete the weekend, it is as simple as this. John made it, but he looked terrible at the top! That is what it is about though, pushing through the pain. Chapeau. We were entering Reblochon country so tartiflette was on the menu, great for refuelling after such an effort.
Stage 3 meant leaving behind Reblochon and heading towards Beaufort. The Col des Aravis followed by the Col des Saisies. These are both similar climbs with Saisies being a little longer. They rise through Alpine meadows littered with chairlifts that come to life in the winter. Bevis, who was constantly being told that his youth was the reason for his speed, got a taste of his own medicine. A 14 year old got on his wheel and no matter how hard he tried, he could not shake him. Nicki woke up with sore knees but showed her metal and resilience and made it up over both.
We arrived in Beaufort with the chance to do the optional climb to the Cormet du Roseland. Peter was determined as he opted out last time. Yvonne was more than happy to find a sunbathing spot, she has after all spent three days in the Alps. Leigh went for the recovery option and was soon followed by Phil. They had a special drink to aid this. Nicki went on the look out some cheese.
The rest headed up. It is a fantastic climb of two section. Split by the flat section around the reservoir. Once you make it here, it is a shortish push up to the top. Starting in the woods is welcomed on a hot day and then it really opens up to the high alpine slopes. A tell-tale sign that you are high is the squeaking sounds of marmottes. Peter, Nick and Jerry took it easy, grabbed an ice-cream at the reservoir and then made it up. Bevis and Gary paced it up and Chris showed his true cycling abilities and made it up in a great time.
A truly great weekend, the weather was perfect and the ride out to Annecy with a celebratory bottle of rose really topped it off. I hope that it was a memorable weekend for all. Thanks to Nicki, Yvonne, Bevis, Chris, Gary, Jerry, John, Leigh, Nick, Peter and Phil – you all bossed it.