Saturday, 29 September 2012

Day Nine – Trans Alp Challenge - St Dalmas to Lantosque to Sospel

Day Nine – Trans Alp Challenge - St Dalmas to Lantosque to Sospel

  • Distance Travelled in total – 520km
  • Vertical metres climbed today – 785m
  • Total vertical metres climbed to date – to the top of Mount Everest and beyond now!
  • Beers – 10, Beers raided from Hotel kitchens - 4
  • Condition – Arms are shot to pieces,
  • Men with Berets – Still two!
  • State of mind – Relived now we have seen the sea, surely all down hill from here!!
  • Money raised for St Peters Lifeline - £1,645.00 - Thank you so much everyone -

It’s never over until the fat lady starts singing! Well young lady start clearing your throat, we are on our way, Monaco awaits us! 

We can see the sea - great elation!

From where we had come the day before

Taking a quick breather listening to the calling of the stags in the valley

Another sheer drop, I'm safely hugging the rocks

A very early start saw us with a long uplift up road and dirt track and we are dropped off in the middle of nowhere, again! We are only two days away, silence descends the group and the Alps have, I’m sure, one last trick up its sleeve.

My arms seriously ache from the day before, I feel as weak as a new born kitten and we have 500 metres or more to climb ahead of us and one very log way down to the from . Through farm trails we cycle, Adrian back marking (taking a breather) for a while until suddenly the scariest of rabies infested dogs jumped out of one of the mountain shacks barking in full attack mode. Attached to what looked like a serious anchor chain we should be safe, he charged manically towards us. Adrian jets opened up and he suddenly accelerated off like a rocket fuelled Lewis Hamilton from the Monaco start grid straight into the relative safety of the Peloton, well the all five of us! Which then left me at the back of the pack and too late to be able dive for cover myself and braced myself for the inevitable. How long was that chain? The rabid foaming dog was still the dog snapping at my heels I looked back with huge concern and now pedalling like a possessed lunatic. After what seemed like an eternity the chain suddenly reached its end and dog sprung backwards in mid air recoiling backwards like it had been shot. The anchor chains straining and creaking and the vibrating chalet just about still standing – just. We had survived and sweating even more than I was already were on our way yet again, Adrian breathing heavily but alive! 

We soon are off our bikes and negotiating rock falls and tree felling with giant fir trees blocking our path. We choose soon to carry our bikes on our backs and walk on up the last 150 vertical metres for 15 minutes or so over the steep boulders and steep mountain tracks. When we finally arrived at the top it is with much excitement as way below and way in the distance we could for the first time see the sea, many pictures were taken. This gave us renewed vitality and energy for what proved to be a big and long scary traverse across the mountainside and the followed by yet another challenging downhill section.

My arms were aching from the pummelling yesterday on the rock beds my legs felt like Bambi and I was struggling to do even the most basic of manoeuvres and we were heading for my least favourite of terrains – very steep and rocky traverse with sheer drops to one side and paths barely fit for nimble rabbits! Wary of the steep never ending drop to my one side I picked my way across carefully admiring the dramatic landscape and worried that I might meet a rabbit coming the other way, there was no way I was giving up right of way.

Jacknifing through the forest with great care and attention and several sections that required getting off and climbing down several meters we dropped down the several hundred large smooth and slippery rock roman steppes (many quite steep but good fun) into the village of Lantosque where our very first lunchtime beer was awaiting.

Our waitress was a firebrand red head and very scary who was just full of attitude and body language suggesting don’t you dare mess with me. Meekly we ordered 4 beers (in celebration that we had seen the sea) and ‘9 foot tall’ Christian boldly asked for something ‘off menu’, we all dived for cover as the atmosphere crackled with anticipation of an explosion but after what seemed an eternity she strode off crunching the paving stones underfoot. There are no known active volcanoes in the Alps but the husband must have asked a simple question and violently the top lifted off the roof of the restaurant and a torrential outpouring of hot molten French swear words spewed out soon after. We saw him later looking like withered tree after a raging forest fire. If we were lucky to get our drinks whom was going to brave enough to ask for the food menus. Pizza and well done steaks seemed the best bet as she could cook them with a gentle breathe.

If we could survive this then anything that could be thrown at us this afternoon was going to be easy. Steep deep and rocky held no fears no more, arms and legs revitalised by the beer and the fun at lunch and I followed ‘Carbon’ Fabrice down the trickiest of descents. His route and line did not seem possible but I followed it and surprised myself with ongoing survival and the beginning of a sense of enjoyment. Speed was fun but sudden realisation that we needed to take care as unfortunately 9ft tall took a big fall over the edge. Hitting an unseen object apparently he was projected over the edge with bike still attached and flew some 4 metres or so, somehow he stopped quite quickly but took a blow to the head and both ankles twisted as still in his pedal clips. A sobering moment. 

The blow to head and full on concussion made ‘9 ft Tall’ Christian bike like the devil and he was jumping, cornering with zeal and taking risks like we had not seen before. Go Christian go! When he got off his bike he could barely walk and the realisation of how close he had been to major injury caused him to take stock.
Down to the lovely village of Sospel and onto our mountain edge hotel with views onto the Med, fantastic. An easy day tomorrow, let’s start chilling!

This has been an amazing adventure, without a doubt and great challenge but also hugely rewarding. I am so glad that I found 'Wilderness' Adrian's website - Wilderness Breaks - 


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