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 Post subject: Le 1000 du Sud 2016
PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 9:35 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2005 8:10 am
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Le 1000 du Sud 2016
I had been looking at this event for a few years as I have cycled a few times in the south east of France and have always found it to be a great area for cycling. This particular event changes route every year so it’s always a new experience every time you ride it.
This year was the ninth running of the event and the main climb of the event being the Col de Galibier, but plenty of other Cols to cross in the 15,000+ km of climbing over the 1000km event. A route not for the faint hearted for sure. There is no support allowed either on the route or at the controls so the emphasis is very much on self-sufficiency.

I flew from Edinburgh to Marseille on the Monday and stayed at a local hotel that night and had my first taste of the heat which is something I do not get to experience at home in the west coast of Scotland . Day two started with a train journey of a few hours to Les Arc Draguignan then a 32km cycle to the start town of Carces. I met a rider from Paris on the train who had travelled down on the TGV that morning so we cycled together to the start taking it easy while trying to get used to the heat.
The 51 riders who were to start the event and the helpers began to gather at the hall which would be my resting place for the night. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly and thankfully most could speak very fluent English unlike my limited knowledge of the French language.
Riders began to pack, unpack and then repack the kit trying to decide what would be required over the three days. My biggest concern was the heat, it had been a very warm and dry summer in the region and the hot weather was continuing well in to the autumn. The day time temperatures were in the high 20’s/low 30’s deg but you did have to factor in the night time temps on the high mountains!!!
After the pre event meal and some chat around the table it was time for bed, between the hot and sticky night and worrying about what was to come it was not the greatest night’s sleep but hey ho.
Morning came and I was keen to get the wheels rolling as was everyone else. The start was in two groups the first off at 8am and the second group, which I was part of, headed out 10 minutes later. I had decided to ride steady that day to get used to the heat and also to save the legs as the big climbs would come on day 2&3. Even so the first day was by no means flat.
The route headed north west towards Banon and then towards Sault which leads on to Mt Ventoux. It could be seen in the distance for some time, but as I approached the base of that climb the route then turned north towards Crest and the first control at Montbrun. I was riding on my own by this point and could see no riders ahead or behind me but as I stopped in the town for some lunch riders began to appear and move off showing that the time gaps were not that great at this stage of the event.
After the restorative pizza lunch it was back on the road again and somewhere along the way I joined up with Stuart from Ireland and Louis from France, we formed a good little group. We chatted and planned to get a good feed at Crest which would be the last big town before we hit the night time riding. We were joined by Ralph from Germany and another two Germans as we approached the town and headed in to a local restaurant for you’ve guessed it pizza again. A few more riders entered the restaurant as we worked our way through the food, it was a hot night and the head from the pizza ovens added to the mix. Glad to get back out in to the growing dark and get back on the road – lights on and viz vest then off we went with only myself Stuart and Louis cracking on the others still eating or flaffing around with the bikes.
We pushed along at a nice pace and I enjoyed the star lit sky, it is the first time I have actually seen the Milky Way with my own eyes and it was a pretty spectacular night sky. You just don’t realise how much light pollution there is in the towns and cities.
We were running low on water and trying to find a fountain as we passed through a town around midnight with no success headed up a side street to the church again no success, however our ears were drawn to the noise of a house party so Stuart and Louis headed off to seek top ups for the bidons from our late night revellers.
On we pushed to the next control town of Roybon but by the time we reached it all was closed so it was a quick photo of the bike at the town sign and on with the arm warmers as it was beginning to cool just a little. We talked about sleep strategy and just decided to ride on and see how it went, my usual strategy would be to ride through the first night and then grab some sleep the next night but I was conscious of the fact that day two contained most of the big climbs so ‘usual’ is maybe not the best fit for this ride.
It was just over 80km to the next control at Saint Pierre d’Entremont so that was the target for now, with one major climb just before the control it was by no means an easy section. We pushed along together and all was going well but as we started the climb up and over to the control town we split up and tapped away at our own pace to the summit where we regrouped for the cold decent down to the town. We got there a little too early for the bakers to be open and went on the hunt for somewhere to bivvy down for a bit. The butcher shop was opening up and Stuart went and got some advice that there was a camp site at the edge of the village which hired out camping huts. Off we went but found that when we got there all was in darkness. A quick wander round found the reception area unlocked with three comfy chairs with our names written on them – result. Head down and out like a light for about 45mins of solid sleep then woke to the break of day so it was on the bikes and back in to town for coffee and croissant in the local shop.
Now for the hard bit shortly after town we hit the next climb and at that point we broke our little group and that was me on my own pretty much for the rest of the rider other that hopscotching with a couple of Germans and a Belgian at various controls along the way.
Two climbs for the morning, the Cucheron and the Grand Cucheron, with a secret control near the top of the second climb.
The temperature was starting to rise now and as I headed along the valley towards the main climbs of the Telegraphe and the Galibier it became a bit of a slog.
A niggling headwind added to the mix and made for slow progress to the start of the next climbing section.
I eventually got to the town where I turned away from the valley and started the climb. A bit hot and frazzled, I called in at the local super market and filled my pockets and replenished my bidons and had an ice-cream to cool me down.
So it began the first section of the climb is about 10km to the top of the Telegraphe a bit steep in places and when you were out in the sun it was rather uncomfortable but all in all a reasonable climb to do. A quick decent in to the next control town of Valloire again topping up the bidons in the local fountain and a short break before starting the next leg to the top of the Galibier. This next part is 18km long and I was hoping to get up over the top before it got dark, leaving the town at just before 5 seemed like it was doable with room to spare.
The climb itself is pretty relentless, the first part is a fairly gentle gradient for a few kilometres and then it starts to pitch up to 6,7,8 percent gradients. The drop off from the sides of the road is pretty dramatic too with no crash barrier to stop you. After about 9km the road really kicks up with switch- backs cut in to the side of the mountain and just look like a wall as you look to see the road above.
Slowly ever so slowly I worked my way up, it’s amazing how long it can take you to cover a kilometre in the mountains. A few kilometres from the top there was another secret control and a welcome break from the climbing for a few minutes. However no rest for the audaxer , onwards and upwards eventually cresting the summit to some spectacular views of the Alps- well worth the effort to see this for sure.

Still had a good bit of daylight so on with some warm gear and off down the other side, the road was pretty bumpy in places and I was a bit cold so just took it steady until the junction for the main road and the turn in the direction of Bourg d’Oisans. A steady decent with a tail wind and in to the warming air meant that I was sitting about 50kph most of the way down the valley – what a joy that was. I arrived in Bourg just before 8:30pm and had plenty of time in hand so decided to grab some food and a hotel bed for a few hours, after a bit of negotiation I was sitting in the restaurant, after having a quick soak in a bath and a change of shorts, with……you’ve guessed it another pizza and a bed too. Although the plan was to be back on the road for 2am the next morning.
Plan went pretty much as I wanted and was on the road for 2:30am to continue the decent down the valley road to the next control town of Sechilienne a further 25km down the road. I caught up with Louis again on this stretch and we worked together until the control where he was going to grab some sleep as he was feeling pretty tired at this point. Turning off the valley road meant more climbing and what made it worst was the local roads department had decided to lay the loose chips over the tar, like they seem to be doing all over the place, which made for a rather unpleasant 6km climb – still could have been worst I could have been descending that road in the dark!!!
Once up the climb the road surface improved and I again enjoyed a star studded night sky, remained on a plateau for a bit before a sharp decent out of a town followed immediately by a tough kick up another climb on a little road then up on to another plateau just as the light was beginning to appear in the sky.

Dropped down through the woods and then began the long and steady climb up to the next control at the top of the Col du Festre, not a particularly hard climb and as it was now light I was able to enjoy the views rather than the beam of my front light. There was a little mist on the top of the climb as I went in to the restaurant which doubled as the control.
There were two Germans and Benoit from Belgium already at the control and they had almost finished their food. I joined then and we swapped tails of our journey so far. Everyone seemed in good spirits knowing that we only had about 300km to go. Benoit had ridden the Highlands, West Coast and Glens event so we shared some stories of the weather back home in Scotland. The guys headed off and I worked my way through a large baguette and plate of fries for breakfast. As I was leaving a couple of French riders arrived ready for breakfast and I wished them well as I mounted up and headed down a long decent in the chill morning air.
After a few kilometres the decent was over and the route turned on to a quite valley road, so it was time to stop and remove all of the cold gear and back to the warm kit.
The run along the valley was very enjoyable, quiet road nice views and not too hot yet.
A final secret control at the top of a small climb saw me being serenaded by one of the helpers who had written a song just for the event called the ‘lonely traveller’ very apt considering I had been riding on my own since around the 400km mark.
As I headed towards Tallard I had been on some of these roads before when I had done a little bit of touring in the region several years ago so it was nice to feel the familiarity of the surroundings.
Once past Tallard it was back on to the main road for a bit just as the midday heat was beginning to build so again time to get toasted. There was a slight change in the route due to a landslide which meant a bit more main road before the turn off for the Col des Fillys. This turned out to be the toughest for me with almost 900km in the legs, a baking midday sun, beginning to suffer from hot foot, rough road surface and average 9% gradient all combining to make this a rather unpleasant experience – still got there in the end (just).The decent off of this to the next control at Seyne had the roads department out again throwing loose chips at what felt like every corner on the decent so it was a meagre reward for all of the climbing.
I reached the control rather hot and bothered but saw my two German and Belgian friends seated at a restaurant. I remarked on the previous climb and Benoit shared my feelings about it saying he had cried for his mother on the way up to which I replied I cried for yours mine and anyone else’s who would listen!! I pulled in ready to joined them but the waitress said that they had stopped serving food so I crawled off to a tabac for a coffee, a coke and a cool down.
I did not hang around long as I know the next big town of Digne les Bains was only just over 40km away and I could get something more substantial to eat there. So off up the main road for the rather easy climb to the Col de Maure then a long downhill, part on the main road but the bulk on a minor road , but lady luck was not shining on me today as it was a rather stiff head wind all the way down the valley. My hot foot was really beginning to bother me, so close to the bottom of the valley I hopped of the bike and climbed down to the river bank – off with the shoes and sock and in to the river for a cooling dip…ahhh
After the refreshing dip in the river it was time to get back on the bike for the run in to Digne and some much needed food. No pizza this time just the local bakers for some coffee and cake and a seat out of the sun. A few chocolate brownies for the back pocket and off on the road again, I moved from the busy evening traffic of the town back on to quite roads within a few kilometres and continue to head in a southerly direction.
After a while the route joined the main N85 heading in the direction of Nice, the road was fairly busy with evening traffic but nothing that bothered me as I pushed on along the road .After a while the route turned off the N85 on to the N202 for the final control at St Andre des Alpes before the finish.
I caught up with Benoit again on the road and we cycled the 10kms or so to the control together. A little drag and then decent in to the control town and the first signs of rain on the whole route so far, the skies above looked pretty threatening and the forecast was for some thunderstorms – fingers crossed I would miss them.
I was stopping for some food but Benoit had already eaten further down the road so it was just stamp and go for him. A farewell wave and we parted, me heading to a restaurant across the road and he heading out of town.
This time I had an omelette rather than pizza – living dangerously or what! A local stray cat decided to come and join me for food so I shared some of my food with it. Seems it was the only thing willing to come too close to me and my ripe smelly self.

With the final feed over it was back on the road with maybe about an hours’ worth of daylight left, It was a fairly fast section of main road with a little bit of a tail wind. The sky above was still threatening but the road was dry, with my pace I was managing to stay ahead of the weather for now. Turning off the main road and skirting round the Lac de Castillon still with a favourable wind and keeping it tapping along. Once at the end of the lake it was another climb out of the valley, with the slowing of pace the rain started to catch up with me and by the time I got to the top it was raining hard enough to put on the rain jacket. After a bit I dropped back down and as I did so I was again ahead of the rain so back off with the jacket, played this game with the weather for an hour or so before eventually moving away from the weather and back to dry roads.
As with most long events the last part can often be the hardest as you know you are almost there but still got a bit to go. Benoit had indicated that when I got to Tourtour with about 30km to go it was all downhill from there, to be fair most of it was but the few drags up were a bit of a shock to the legs at this late stage of the event. Earlier I had been hoping to finish before midnight on the Friday but the closer I got that finish time drifted away from me so I just eased back and enjoyed the last part of the event with a blood red moon in the sky.
I finally joined the main road where I had cycled in form the train station on Tuesday, last few kilometres and then there it was the delightful sight of the control in front of me.
A warm welcome form the organiser and riders who had finish earlier and were still enjoying some food and drink. ”Well how was it?” someone asked – an easy answer to that question …”Fantastic”!!!!!
In summary this really was an amazing event, not for the faint hearted you really do need to be on your game to get round on time, no room for any mechanical issue etc. However Sophie and her team are more than willing to remain at the finish control for any rider who wishes to finish out of time. The recognition is in taking part which I think is a great ethos for such a demanding route.
Distance covered – 1015 km
Total Ascent - 15470m
Moving time - 46:42
Total time – 64:20
Moving Average - 21.7kph
Max speed - 77.7kph
Compact chainset - 50/34 with 12/28 (never used the 28 tooth)

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