Les 3 Ballons - hot, humid and fantastic!
Survived the Medio Fondo of Les 3 Ballons! 6 hrs 3 mins for the 125 kms and 2,500 m of climbing.
Warm temperatures and high humidity had to be overcome as well as the climbs. So often hydration and nutrition are seen as something less important than physical training but without the correct strategy on days like this one a peak of physical fitness would count for little.
It was a fast start for the Medio competitors and the first 20 kms at 32-35 kms/hr was pretty hectic as riders tried to find a group. Lots of big groups formed and we were able to settle in a nice rhythm taking it easy and letting others do the work. Then we hit the first climb of 3 kms which was narrow and twisty before descending down to another fast section taken at 38-40 kms/hr before turning off for another draggy climb around 3% to 4% that was about 6 kms long before descending a wide sweeping road to Plancher-les-Mines. Typically, Grand Trophee cyclosportives don’t count the smaller climbs if they’re only a few kms but focus on ‘proper’ climbs 😂 So the first recognised climb was the Ballon de Sevrance. 18.5 kms averaging 7% for the last 11 kms followed by an amazingly bumpy and fast descent which flowed into a wide road where speeds around 60-70 kms/hr were easily attainable.
Next climb was the Ballon d’Alsace a mere 13 kms averaging 7% but with several kms averaging 8+%. The descent was incredible and fast. Long stretches of straight roads with ‘see-through’ bends but some technical hairpins. Exciting riding with others who all new what they were doing so a real confidence boost.
At the bottom we gathered as a small group to ride up the valley to Plancher-les-Mines (again) and the bottom of the most brutal climb I have ever climbed. La Planche-des-Belle-Filles made famous by Chris Froome when he won here in 2012. OMG! 5.5 kms averaging 8% to 9% with significant ramps of several hundred metres at 11+% before the final 200 metres at 20% and the finish - brutal!!
I placed 18/43 in my age category and 312/665 finishers. The attrition rate was huge bearing in mind my bib number was 4591 and the total number of finishers across both races was 2,410 (there were only 1745 finishers in the Gran Fondo 210 kms).
Fab day though!! 💪💪💪👍
BTW, winner of 210 kms, 4,400 m was timed at 6 hrs 35 mins - he rides for Bio Racing Team who all placed well. Winner of my race timed at 4 hrs 1 mins.
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