Haute Route Dolomites Stage 1: Geneva to Crans Montana
A days rest does wonders. Having had all of these grand ideas about seeing Geneva, I was too fricking tired. I needed rest and I really didn’t leave the hotel, other than for food and the briefing.
Having done all the back breaking carrying of my bike bag to the registration desk the day before, we caught the tram down to the start line. It was only 5km away from the hotel. But in the dark, and promised precipitation, Mark and I chose the safe way. We both arrived with plenty of time for a last minute piss and to settle to butterflies.
It was now 7 O’clock and we were away. Right on cue the rain started to fall. We were faced with a fairly slow 20km neutralised section out of Geneva. Some didn’t even make it this far. Remember what I said about the first and last days? Well this was my case in point. Within the first 2km people were looking like pros putting on their rain jackets, until they weren’t. A rider next to me managed to get his rain jacket caught in his front wheel. Bang, he went over the handlebars and came down heavily on his shoulder. There was his Haute Route over. He could have just signalled and pulled over, stopped and put his jacket on. People get very excited, and rightly so. This is an event that people have trained so hard for. It consumes your life, it consumes your family’s life. Then in the blink of an eye it can be over. The rain continued until the end of the stage.
We left the sterile nature of Geneva for the hills of the surrounding area. After having come down the Col de Cou at the end of the Alps, we were now facing the prospect of going up it. It’s a tough little leg stretcher. I knew we had 180km until the end of the stage and decided to take it easy. The first 3 climbs were not that taxing. What was, however, were the descents. Any descent is tricky, but when you add rain you add another dimension. A dimension that not everyone heeded.
Dropping down the Pas de Morgins, which is is a high mountain pass in the Alps between the canton of Valais in Switzerland and France, a rider came sliding past my back wheel. He decided it was a good idea to take the inside line on a switchback, in the rain. Boy oh boy, was he wrong. With the touch of brakes he lost his front wheel and slid over the side of the hill. I never did find out what happened to him.
From the Morgins we entered an extremely long, and windy, false flat for the next 60-80km. Then there was the bitch from hell climb, the climb into Crans Montana. Not an overly attractive town, or ski village. The climb was full of aggressive Swiss drivers, big trucks, and at 20km long it was tough. Even the last little bit was a ball breaker.
The day ended with pretty average signage. The village was too spread out, and the idea of having everything in different places left me feeling bemused. This added to the fact that my hotel was also a good distance from everything else, and had no lift. Guess what, yeah, I was on the second floor! I had to try and lug a fricking 30kg bag up and down two flights of stairs. #FirstWorldProblem
Stage Position: 164
Overall Position: 164