In bed for 10pm, 2.30am alarm set and I wake up at 1.30am. Hmmmm….couldn’t sleep, just tossed and turned until about 2.15am when I just sat up and played on my phone to run the time down. 2.35am, no alarm had gone off! No time to worry about what if, I had to be on the road for 3am. You could hear a pin drop it was so quiet. It was warm so all the neighbours windows would be open, so I had to be as quiet as possible. Not easy when you have a bike bag. I carried it to the car, dumped my case, went back inside for a quick, strong coffee, locked up and left.
Sat nav on, it told me Heathrow was 2 hrs away. The roads as you would expect were dead so I had a clear run down the motorway. The new(ish) Terminal 5 beckoned. I’d booked valet parking which is simple enough. Rock up, met the driver, give them your keys and they drive your car off to park it offsite. Hmmmm…bit worrying if you dwell on it but I doubt my Fiat Panda is going to be used as a race car or in an armed robbery while I’m away! The instructions were to call them when I’m 20 mins away. Very strict. This meant an illegal call on my phone on the M40 for 30 secs but all sorted I drove straight into the car park, Level 4, out of the car and I was greeted with a ‘Hello Mr Prince….’ Awesome!
Car unloaded, trolley racked I headed into the terminal. I was a bout 10 mins early for check in. Impressive building, have to say. Loads of info, queue info for security, space. Great. I joined the queue to check-in, getting the stares at my bike bag from the costa del I don’t do exercise crowd. 10 min wait and I was checked in and advised to take my bike to the oversize baggage reception. No queue, scanned, off the trolley and into the scanner. So far so good. Next, security, here I normally half undress for them and always have my case searched. Well, I was ready this time, no belt, trainers, all my liquids in my bike bag. Yes, straight through, wait for my case and it gets pulled. The nice lady asked me to open my case and asked if I had any liquids. Nope. She continued to empty my case and opens my cycling glasses box. Lens cleaner bottle! FFS! My fault but happy they are vigilant and were obviously doing their job correctly. Case re-packed there was a 40 min wait now so went on a wander and bought a sandwich.
We got the call to board after various BA gold, silver, bronze, executive and priority customers got a head start. For what? Us cattle class walked on and I had sat in the wrong seat because someone else had sat in the wrong seat too so one of a couple were in mine. I agreed to take the wrong seat so the couple and the other guy could stay put and the bloke who told me I was in his seat could have his. Pffffff! but did get a window seat 🙂
We took off 5 mins early. I was given a free sandwich, juice and coffee, we landed 15 mins early. My first BA flight was a great experience.
A small queue at passport control with the stone faced stare down you sometimes get from the Officer then a wry smile and a Merci. I’m in Geneva!
I’ve flown to Geneva with my bike before and I know it pops out quite quickly at the ‘special’ carousel for large items. 10 mins and it was there all on its own, on its side. I dragged it off, opened it up for a quick damage check. All good.
Now the transfer. I’d had to cancel my hire car because I realised very late that it required a credit card with a very large free balance as deposit, so I ditched the idea and booked a transfer and saved myself over £200. I had a call the day before to say no-one could me after my flight, the earliest they could do was abut 90 mins after landing. Cool with me I could chill. As planned I saw the girl walking around with my name on her board and she advised we just had to wait for another couple and we’d be off. 30 mins later they rock up. Couple of mountain bikers, one was all talk, the other was the yes man and the div becuase he felt it was ok to carry a 30lb downhill MTB in a cardboard box rather than get a trolley. Half way to the minibus they stop, I carry on, dump my stuff and take the trolley back and they’re fucking about rolling a fag! After some pissing about with some others on the transfer not happy how their bikes are stored in the trailer we finally got going. Luckily I was first out. Listening to shit from some guy who thinks he knows why the French road surfaces are better than the UK’s, different grades of bitumen and how he’s going to be mortgage free in 10 years so he can move over here was enough.
I thanked the driver and checked in. I was shown the bike store and told where the pool and hot tubs were. It was very warm but I wanted to get my bike built ASAP so I could chill out for a bit. That done, I popped to the supermarket to get some food (I was staying in a studio apartment so I could self-cater) and I was done. Now a cold beer next door. Ahh!
Where I was sat I could see a cable car going straight up for x hundreds of metres. I bet thats Mont Chery. This had been on my radar since I watched the Dauphine in June and hadn’t realised the Prologue TT was here. Some of the Pro’s had moaned about it been too hard for a prologue. I fancied a go and I wanted to test my bike out. After my beer I went back to my room and plotted a route on Strava. Checked the Dauphine website, ensured I had the right road but it was too short, so I threw in a climb up the other side of the valley too. It was about 5pm and I got changed and off I went. Nice and simple. First gear, all the way.
Well fuck me. Off the main road you hit a steady incline for a couple of hundred metres, hairpin and it carries on nice. It steepens and you hit the brand new tarmac, a right hander and boom 20% for nearly a 2km. Brutal. Lack of sleep and dehydration. My legs were blocked, tight and I was blowing out of my arse. I had to stop. 3 times. When I got to the top, the finish line (still there with the metres to go road markings) was right outside the Telecabin I could see from the bar earlier. Great views but holy shit. The descent was a test. New brake pads, some BBB Hi-performance. White and blue, bit bling but stopping power was immense. With them bedded in, I passed my hotel and begun the climb up to Les Chavennes the other side of the valley. Steadier this time, no more than 10%. Passed a golf course on the side of the mountain. Odd! What was odder was seeing golfers in shorts and flip flops! No class these foreigners. The dead end was another Telecabin, so a swift decsent back to the hotel for a shower and food.
I was starving now so into a local restaurant for a massive pizza and beer. It s expensive here, £5+ a pint so I savoured it, had a walk about then back to the room to plan tomorrow’s ascents.
Streaming some UKTV on my laptop, I fell asleep for about 10 hours on and off.