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I've been asked to see if any brave souls are flying out tomorrow to tackle this year's Etape - the dreaded Stage 17 from Pau to the top of the Tourmalet? I believe a Road CC contributor is going so drop me a line and maybe we can meet up in Pau.

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David Else [99 posts] 6 years ago
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That might be me.

I’m riding the Etape on Sunday, and I’ll be doing a report for this website next week.

To be honest I’m a little nervous about this year’s ride. I’ve done loads of big hard sportives in this country (and covered them here on road.cc) but my last two attempts at the Etape have not gone well - in 2007 I got food poisoning, and in 2009 I had a 1-in-a-million major mechanical failure.

So I won’t be feeling very sociable before the ride. Come and have beers with me afterwards though. My shout - if I make it to the finish!

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Simon_MacMichael [2457 posts] 6 years ago
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We'll be keeping our fingers crossed it's third time lucky, David, and good luck to MercuryOne and anyone else riding it too!

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WolfieSmith [1323 posts] 6 years ago
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Absolutely - good luck David. Sorry to hear about the disasters. You must have felt cheated last year. Better to fail in body than bike. I hope you saw some of Provence before the bike fell to pieces?

I have some trepidation myself even after doing it last year. At least the heat this summer has helped with the training. After the wet UK spring and summer the heat level was a real shock just walking around town the day before - let alone on Ventoux. I'm sorry to say that looking at the pros dropping like flies I have a nasty feeling that this year is going to be as bad if not worse. The mantra of "Stick to your own pace and take on plenty of liquid" will be even more prevalent on Sunday. It's always tempting to hare after some bucko who's come past you but if Ventoux was anything to go by - you may well see some of them again - all dazed and confused on the Tourmalet..

I'm not French or a mate of Alain Prost so will be sporting number 5568. I'm in Liverpool Mercury kit Blue, white, and black. You're sure to pick me out of the other 9500 riders.

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David Else [99 posts] 6 years ago
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Cheers lads. Yes, the weather forecast doesn’t look to good. Unless you like riding up huge mountains in 40 degrees or more. Better than the rain and snow that hit the Tourmalet a few years ago though, I suppose…

I’ll be in a patriotic jersey of white emblazoned with the red cross of St George, but doing my bit for entente with the wording that says ‘Angleterre’

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David Else [99 posts] 6 years ago
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also, I heard that there's more than 10,000 riders this year. so slightly harder to pick out fellow Brits in the crowd...

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Jon Burrage [998 posts] 6 years ago
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I will be doing it...but on the wednesday rest day so not the etape really! I cant afford the entry fee so Im doing it with my girlfriend acting as a sporadic support vehicle every 30-40km or so...also plan to descend the other side through la mongie and ride up the tourmalet from that side too.

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David Else [99 posts] 6 years ago
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Jon - if I have another disaster on Sunday, I may stay and do it with you!

but enough of that - my coach says I must THINK POSITIVE

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WolfieSmith [1323 posts] 6 years ago
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Just had my first Etape moment at check in: a group of MOACA's (Men of a certain age) in matching polo shirts with their race numbers embroidered on the back. Maybe an ear tag would be more subtle next year lads.

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Jon Burrage [998 posts] 6 years ago
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Nothing like spashing the cash eh' MercuryOne.

I wonder how busy it will be on the rest day?

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WolfieSmith [1323 posts] 6 years ago
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Good luck Wednesday Jon. It's a fantastic route. Amazing scenery. Allez!

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WolfieSmith [1323 posts] 6 years ago
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Hi Jon. Just re-read your message. Even if you're 21 and you can ingest
1,000 calories an hour and your girlfriend massages your legs after each Col I doubt you'll want to do the Tourmalet twice in succession. Straight out of bed the Tourmalet isn't a breeze - after 100 miles and 2 Cols it's hellish. Standing at the last feed stop at Super Bareges yesterday my friend (who did the L2P and the Marmotte within 10 days last year) said. "I understand now... It's not a race it's just about finishing.". I sound pompous I know, but if the TDF stick a rest day in the middle...? See how you feel. And don't forget to check out the scenery.  1

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David Else [99 posts] 6 years ago
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ahhh. the last feed stop at Super Bareges... It seems so long ago already. But here back at home, I'm still a very happy boy. I've finally completed the Etape with none of the disasters that I have 'enjoyed' in my previous two attempts. No bodily ailments. Nothing snapped on the bike. In fact, it went like a dream. I went under the target time I'd set myself, and was just 6 minutes off the silver standard for my age group. (Maybe I shouldn't have stopped to check out the scenery.) A full report and some photos will go up here on road.cc later today

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Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 6 years ago
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Welcome back David, and congrats on the ride!

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David Else [99 posts] 6 years ago
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Cheers Tony. I've just had a message from a mole in the Saxo Bank camp. After his chain incident on stage 15 Andy Schlek apparantly said "I'm gutted. Now I know how that bloke David Else felt after his mechanical in the Etape last year."

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WolfieSmith [1323 posts] 6 years ago
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Well done David. You must be pretty chuffed after the last 2 outings. Our group of 4 got split by the Col Du Soulor, had one swept up and all of us finally accepting middle age. The crowd enforced mass walk up the Marie Blanque was frustrating but the scenery and descents more than made up for that - even if any chance of a respectable time for us oldies was blown. I can report that our broom wagon friend did say, unsurprisingly, that an air conditioned broom wagon was a much better way to see the Tourmalet!

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WolfieSmith [1323 posts] 6 years ago
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Message for JB. I've been told your "super fit" and if your staying from La Mongie and not the valley floor I now see no reason why you shouldn't do the Etape route AND the Tourmalet twice! Excuse the rambling warnings from a bitter old man. There are lots of road cyclists doing sportives who got into cycling a little too late to really achieve their best potential. I freely admit I might be one of them. Fighting against the "dying of the light" is one thing. Taking a pop at young and eager souls with a grand scheme isn't as noble. My apologies and very best of luck tomorrow. Fab day out guaranteed - just be safe on the descents.

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David Else [99 posts] 6 years ago
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I dunno about this 'dying of the light' thing, MercuryOne. There are a lot of older cyclists on the sportive scene riding better now than they did in their youth. I'm probably one of them. A discussion on this topic started a while back in response to my 'Sportive Virgin' mid-life-crisis feature. It's still going on here at:
http://road.cc/content/feature/12694-sportive-year

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aidyback [1 post] 6 years ago
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If anyone on here would like a place on the ride then please follow the link below. I work for a website and we have a competition running for a place and would like as many people to enter as possible. If does not offer travel but we are offering accommodation.

http://www.sportsvibe.co.uk/win-a-place-in-the-sky-ride-hibernia/