Saturday afternoon off to Lavelanet -a village in the Cathare region of the Pyrénées in the Ariège région to be exact. Once a hub for various textile markets with several factories….only one factory remains. My challenge was to see if my legs had recuperated from The Black Mountain race 10 days earlier over a 40 km course with 2000 m of climbing.
Another challenge was to see if I’d Wake up as we were changing to summer time that evening which meant my alarm would ring at 5 am, 4 am previously….
Seemed like I had just had dinner, so I opted for 2 strong coffees before heading off in, yuk, the rain ! I had about an hour to drive and eventually the rain stopped but the ‘damage’ was done on the course creating huge mud trails…
After a quick brief from the organisers off we went ! I once again forged ahead to try and catch the ‘wheels’ at the front. After about 10kms we attacked the climb up to the mythic Montsegur-an age old Cathare castle built in 1206…there were steep steps leading to the top, some dirt and some carved into the mountain-once at the top we ran around the castel and back down the same stairs allowing us to see where our compétition was….I assessed the différence and encouraged my pals forging on down the steep descent and once again trying not to plow into anyone coming up or take myself out ! I kept up the cadence for a good 20km though the sections that should have been fast were deceptively slow because of the mud….The last climb was a brutal pièce of work and followed by a steep descent that took us into one more little oomph. Out of nowhere a mate of mine came along and asked if I needed anything as he was racing as a long training run. We chatted a bit and out of nowhere heard someone screaming their head off ! We both looked up and there on the hill in front of us was a man dressed in full Cathare viking gear with horns and all doing his own version of the HAKA to encourage us ! After a good laugh I powered up the last climb, fatigue was kicking in. The last 6km were the toughest with loose rocks, roots, and off camber descents finishing with a super steep descent assisted with a rope for those who wanted. I could at last hear Michel, the race announcer calling my name…..aaahh the finish at last ! Caked in muds I finished and won the women’s race, a superbe évent with once again amazing volunteers all along the route !