Saturday 1 December 2012

Yet Another Book Review at Pezcyclingnews

'Tis the season to do book reviews as hints for the person seeking the perfect gift for a cycling fanatic.  I am trying to get one done each week before Christmas comes.  This week at we have "Bike!", a more-or-less catalogue of the stories behind the most notable brands in road cycling, covering both bikes and components.  It was a pleasure to read and you can find my review at Pez here.

Saturday 24 November 2012

My Latest Book Review: Guide to the Great Road Climbs of the Northern Alps

The most recent in the Rapha Guide series to mountain riding is "The Great Road Climbs of the Northern Alps."  I previously reviewed the guides to the Southern Alps and the Pyrenees at and now you can find my latest review of the latest volume here.  It is a really beautiful book full of remarkable information.

Sunday 11 November 2012

My Latest Book Review: Merckx 525

Now to be found at is my latest book review, covering the volume of photos dedicated to the career of Eddy Merckx, the greatest cyclist ever.  His 525 victories are noted in the title, which is "Merckx 525."  I really enjoyed it and you can read my review here.

1974 Paris-Roubaix: Eddy Merckx being followed by Roger De Vlaeminck (the eventual winner).  

Wednesday 17 October 2012

The Swiss National Cycling Museum

 During my recent trip to Switzerland I picked up a copy of the Swiss cycling federation’s magazine. Along with a very interesting long article about the Oerlikon velodrome marking its 100th anniversary, I saw a little piece in it about a bicycle museum not so far away. Following some fine cycling in the Gruyère area I was stuck indoors for three days due to non-stop pouring rain.

Determined to make the best of it, I decided to drive to the Biel area, where I met Markus Stüdeli, a keen Swiss cycletourist and the husband of one of the Canadian Embassy staff in Bern. After some coffee in a local hotel, we crossed the street and found ourselves in front of the somewhat rundown Hotel du Pont in Brügg on the outskirts of Biel and the Nationales Velo Museum Helvetia, or the Swiss National Cycling Museum. I have a favourite sweatshirt with an old cycling poster motif, showing a highwheeler bicycle. The poster was issued in 1933 to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Swiss Cycling Federation (SRB).

It was actually in the Hotel du Pont where the organization was founded those many years ago. In mid-2009 a temporary exhibition was set up in the former restaurant of the hotel to mark the 125 anniversary of the SRB’s organization featuring the collection of a passionate enthusiast Edy Arnold and it appears that the temporary exhibition simply has continued. The museum is open on weekends after Easter until November. Entering the museum (for which no admission is charged) brings you to the remarkable world of Herr Arnold, who was present in the former bar of the hotel, where light snacks are available. He is a very genial man, although my German capability was not really a match for his Switzerdeutsch. In addition to his impressive collection of more than 300 bicycles, he is renowned as a racer on highwheel bikes and there were many photographs, posters and newspaper clippings of his exploits.

Markus and I were pretty much alone on the rainy Saturday as we walked through the numerous rooms that make up the museum. It is not a formal place with a lot of high-tech explanations (or any explanations, really) but rather represents one man’s labour of love. The history of the bicycle is covered from a replica of Baron Drais’ Laufmaschine from 1817 to pretty much the current day. In addition to the bicycles themselves, there is much in the way of memorabilia, including some marvellous banners for Swiss cycling clubs.

Ferdi's 1942 racing bike

There were numerous highwheelers on display, including a Kangaroo geared model. There were utility bicycles of all kinds and even a remarkable Velocar, a so-called quadricycle in wonderful condition and with little Swiss flags on it. The Velocar was invented by Frenchman Charles Mochet in the 1930s but the rising popularity of automobiles pretty much killed the concept, at least until fuel shortages in World War 2. Mochet is better remembered as the inventor of the recumbent bicycle.

I was not aware of how active Swiss industry was in bicycle production and Biel in particular seems to have been a hotbed of industry. Many brands represented in the museum were unknown to me: Imholz from St. Gallen; Dressler from Baden; Wolf, Estelli and Cosmos from Biel; Paul Egli from Zurich; and Goldia from Goldach.

A Colnago tandem

Some of Switzerland’s great riders were represented, including an original 1942 bicycle belonging to Tour de France winner Ferdi Kübler. The high point of his career was 1950-1952 and at 93 he is the oldest living Tour winner. Having a coffee with Herr Arnold (who loved my sweatshirt) after admiring his collection was an education in itself. He is a generous person and enjoys chatting with those who share his cycling interest. The museum, as quirky and individualistic as it is, is definitely worth visiting the next time you are in the Seeland region of Switzerland, only about 30 minutes’ drive by car.

On the drive back to Charmey I stopped in Avenches, whose claim to fame is not merely that it is the headquarters of the Nespresso company but was a significant Roman settlement. Excavations of the Roman town were carried out during World War 2 by interned French soldiers who had crossed into Switzerland after the defeat of France. There was an exhibition about this in the charming little Roman Museum, which is in a 17th century tower next to the Roman amphitheatre. There are also ruins of a large temple as well as a theatre.  And on the way back I drove through Switzerland's Worst Named Village:

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Lance Fall-Out: Reflections on the Pro Cycling Doping Scandal

A teacher friend who started a cycling club for the kids at his previous school tells me that as a result of the Lance Armstrong/US Postal doping scandal, two parents have pulled their children from the club and my friend is not sure it will continue at all next year.

Have people no sense of proportion?  By letting their children join a high-school level club did these parents think they were launched into a pro racing career?   A cycling club, where children would learn to ride safely and efficiently in a group, train properly and enjoy athletic accomplishment with their peers has nothing to do with the cheating and corruption at million-dollar commercial teams.  When Linford Christie was suspended for doping were kids pulled out of track and field clubs by their parents?   Did Mark McGwire’s steroid revelations end Little League baseball?  No.  Are professional sports rampant with cheating and corruption?  Yes.  The danger is that people rationalize them as more than the mere entertainment and spectacle they are and when the truth is finally out fans feel used as their loyalty has brought fortunes to people who maybe never were deserving of their support.

Lance Armstrong’s return from cancer to extraordinary athletic success on the road was an heroic story, resistible only by cynics.  He was admirable for his professional approach to the sport, his dedication to training, his control of a powerful, unified team.   For jingoistic Americans he was the Texas outlaw beating the effete Euros at their own game over and over.  Less attractive aspects of his personality were not so visible to those wanting victory.  Sports fans who had ignored cycling forever were inspired now by it and not just in North America: while riding the recent Gran Fondo  associated with the World Championships in Limburg one was struck by how many of the 7,000 mainly-Dutch participants were riding Armstrong-era Treks.  Add in the highly-visible Lance Armstrong Foundation, the rock star connections and the millionaire lifestyle and here was a totally different kind of cyclist.  But eventually the truth will out, as Marion Jones (track) and Dwain Chambers (track) and Nina Kraft (triathlon) and Duncan Spencer (cricket!) and Detlef Hoffmann (canoeing!!) and so many others discovered when they were caught.  And now Lance Armstrong, to deafening howls of indignation.

I began watching pro cycling in the Indurain era and it has afforded me great pleasure over the years.  It was wonderful to stand in a square in Bonn  watching a big screen television and seeing Lance ride away from Jan on the Alpe d’Huez or to see Lance chase down the pure climbers on the Hautacam in the rain and pass them without looking back.  To stand on the Alpe myself as Frank Schleck tore off alone to the summit and stage win.  So many challenges addressed, so many memories made.  Even now I admire the attacking spirit of Alberto Contador at the Vuelta this year or think of Johan Museeuw at the velodrome in Roubaix, pointing to his knee.

People who knew of my interest in racing would say: “But they’re all doped” not because they cared about cycling but simply to deflate the bubble, to diminish the pleasure of watching the riders.  There was real effort-- sweaty, painful, eye-popping, screaming-muscle effort--here on the roads of Spain or France or Italy, even if chemically-enhanced.  Nobody ever won a three week long race by sitting on the couch and eating potato chips and taking a shot of EPO at the start line.  But is seems that an awful lot of cyclists were taking that shot.

The argument that they all did it is no argument.  They cheated wilfully and while entertainment was provided to the fans it was at the cost of authenticity as well as theft from those who did not cheat.  The cheaters should be punished or pardoned and the UCI needs to sort itself out and the sponsors need to rethink what the pro sport is to them.  Sports results are ephemera; they are really yesterday’s newspapers and will be recycled as the next race begins.  In truth, fans don’t actually live or die from the results of a sports match, whether soccer or cycling, although from all the indignation over the Armstrong case you would imagine they did.

Instead, I prefer to think of what cycling really means to me.  It has very little to do with being a wanna-be-Armstrong but takes me back to cool mornings riding with my friends, great friends I would never have met except through cycling.  Or cycling alone across Spain on the path of the pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago.  It is about training hard and enjoying the rewards of that effort spent.  It is about competing against myself on the 15 km time-trial course, aching for that 40 km/h average but not quite reaching it.  It is about fixing a flat tire effortlessly.  It is about planning and riding great roads through fantastic scenery, whether on the California coast, the Adirondacks, the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Dolomites, the Vosges, the Black Forest.   It is that epic ride over the Blue Ridge and through the Fort Valley when you forgot to eat that you laugh about for years afterwards.   It is about pride of possession or admiration of beautiful purposeful machines, whether conceived by artisans working in steel or the product of the highest of high-tech.  It is the joy of speed downhill on smooth asphalt, the tires whirring.  These are the things that those kids in Nick’s cycling club will lose because their parents cannot differentiate between the important and the less important.

Sunday 14 October 2012

Cologne's World Champion

Albert “Teddy” Richter: 1932 World Amateur Sprint Champion
October 14, 1912-January  2, 1940

Today marks the centennial of the birth of Albert “Teddy” Richter in the Ehrenfeld district of Cologne, Germany.  The son of a talented amateur musician, he learned to play the violin as a child but was drawn to bike racing as a teen and was winning local races at 16.  He soon came under the management of a local furniture dealer, Ernst Berliner, and his career began to advance impressively.  By 19 he was the regional champion and his international career began.

Winner of the Grand Prix de Paris in 1932, he had hoped to go to the Los Angeles Olympics but the German federation was unable to pay his fare.  However, in September he won the Amateur World Championship title in Rome and returned to a hero’s welcome in Cologne.

At a Cologne bike shop
Turning professional soon after his Rome triumph, he raced primarily in France and Britain under Berliner’s management.  He moved to Paris, learning French from watching movies, and went on to win the Grand Prix de Paris in 1934 and 1938 again.  The French, impressed by his powerful, fluid riding style, called him “the German Eight Cylinder.”  Riding at the Worlds as a pro, he was on the podium of every race he entered in the sprint between 1933 and 1939 but was unable to secure the gold.  

Opposed to the Nazi regime, Teddy Richter refused to wear a jersey with a swastika, preferring to wear one with the old Imperial Eagle for his races.  As a frequent traveller he was asked by the Nazis to carry out espionage and turned this down.  His close contacts with the Jewish community that was so involved with track racing at the time put him in danger.  His manager Ernst Berliner had to flee with his family to Holland in 1937, subsequently going to the United States, but was still able to manage Richter from outside Germany.

Teddy Richter and Ernst Berliner
Teddy Richter decided to return to Germany for the Berlin Grand Prix before fleeing to Switzerland.  He told Berliner, who advised against the trip, that he would also be carrying out money for a Jewish businessman from Cologne who had fled to Switzerland.  Richter did not want to be conscripted as war had broken out (the Worlds were ended early that year when Germany invaded Poland) and he did not wish to shoot at the French.  After winning the Grand Prix in Berlin, he packed his bag and took the train to Switzerland.

On the night of December 31, 1939, when the train stopped at the border checkpoint at Weil am Rhein, two Dutch pro riders saw the German border police enter Richter’s compartment.  Shortly thereafter he was dragged out unconscious and put into a police vehicle.  His bicycle was retrieved from the baggage car and the tires slashed open, revealing a stash of 12,700 Reichsmarks.  The police did not take his suitcase but clearly knew when and where Richter would be travelling and how the smuggled money was being handled.  It is clear that informers in the pro racing community tipped off the authorities.

Teddy Richter was taken to Lorrach and the Gestapo.  He was never seen alive again.

At first German authorities claimed he had gone skiing in Switzerland.  Then that he had been killed by rival smugglers or had hanged himself in his cell.  One of his brothers went to look for him and was shown Richter’s body on January 2, 1940, his suit full of holes.  Teddy Richter was 27 years old. 

His funeral was well-attended in Cologne but the German Cycling Federation, the DRV, controlled by Nazi functionaries and led by Viktor Brack, an SS-Standartenführer (who probably ordered the arrest and execution of Richter), made good on its pledge to wipe the cyclist’s name off of the record books.  With the war and other concerns, his story faded into oblivion. 

Ernst Berliner returned to Germany after the war to demand an inquiry into the mysterious death of his friend but was met only with hostility and returned to the United States.  Subsequent inquiries by individuals, both French and German, have established who informed on Richter.  The cyclist's, death was never formally registered and the exact circumstances are still not known.  Viktor Brack could not be questioned as he went on to a career organizing mass murder and was executed as a war criminal in 1948.

Cologne was not to forget one of her favourite athletes and gradually the story of Teddy Richter’s life was again revealed.  In 1996 the track at the Cologne Velodrome was named for him.  In 2005 a documentary on his life was shown on the ARTE television channel and a book by Cologne author Renate Franz in German, “The Forgotten World Champion” was published in 2007.

Next Sunday, an organization opposing racism and antisemitism through sport will host a 40 km bike ride in Cologne followed by a memorial event at the velodrome.  A talk about Teddy Richter's life will be given and an award-winning film featuring some pretty ancient former pro racers reminiscing will be shown.  Two of Teddy Richter's nieces will be present, along with Ernst Berliner's grandson.  I plan to go as well and feel it is a fine and proper thing to try and make back some of the reputation this fine and popular sportsman was so unjustly denied.  


This is a milestone on "Travels with a Tin Donkey" as it is my 500th post on the blog.  I thought I would save it for something important and, for a change, not about me.

Friday 5 October 2012

There and Back Again: the Romandie-Verbier Classic

September 2, 2012

My plan to come to Switzerland came about rather spontaneously.  I had considered the Gruyère Cycling Tour as I knew the region was quite beautiful and friends who had ridden it before recommended it as well.  The organizers run a number of other events, including the pro Tour de Romandie in Spring, and they now have come up with a two-fer: sign up for the Gruyère Cycling Tour and the La Romandie Classic from Aigle to Verbier a week later and there is a considerable reduction in the registration fee plus you get not one but two Swiss cycling jerseys.

I looked to see how distant the rides would be from each other and whether I could rent an apartment rather than be subjected to the high cost of a Swiss hotel.  This looked possible and I realized I could drive back to Germany on the Canadian Labour Day (which we have free in the office) the day after the Romandie ride, meaning I could get ten days in Switzerland by only using up five holiday days.  Coupled with a very reasonable car rental it all sounded like a plan.  It was great that Dan from Zurich could join me for the first ride the day after I arrived but it is not always easy to get other people to commit so sometimes you just need to take the opportunity you have.

I found a nice apartment fairly conveniently located near Bulle in Charmey and Sixt came through with a super little car, an Opel Astra with a hatchback and lots of space and, to my delight, an automatic transmission.  The drive down was easy enough, except for a traffic jam near Bern, and I had planned my grocery supplies well.   As I have related here, my Gruyère Cycling Tour experience was very positive and my ride up the Jaunpass two days after and then the Chateau-d’Oex loop the day after that were terrific but Thursday, Friday and Saturday were write-offs for cycling due to the genuinely terrible weather.  I am not sure I have seen three days of continual downpouring rain before, with no break of any kind.  I took as much advantage of the time off as possible to do some reading and quite a bit of writing and on Saturday to visit the Swiss National Bicycle Museum in Brügg, near Biel (report to follow), and the one-time Roman settlement of Aventicum (now Avenches) near Lake Murten.  And I had the chance to watch some good coverage of mountain stages of the Vuelta de España on the French Eurovision channel.

The Roman Museum in Avenches and the amphitheatre

Roman temple ruins in Avenches

Roman theatre ruins in Avenches
The weather reports on television were not good for Sunday, although on Saturday night the rain finally stopped and the clouds began to break up.  I set my alarm for 6:00 and got everything ready the evening before so could do the one hour drive to the start in Aigle early and get my jersey and start number.  I had a moment of panic when I received a text message from the organizers indicating a 9 am start rather than the announced 9:30 one but decided to drive in early anyway.

After a quick coffee and packing two of the world’s toughest Kaiser rolls with Camembert and jam in a bag to eat on the drive, I left Charmey right on time but soon discovered that that my GPS had been extremely pessimistic about my arrival time and it soon became apparent I would be there by 7:45.  Oh well, lots of time to look around the UCI World Cycling Centre, the start location.

UCI World Cycling Centre (Centre Mondial du Cyclisme, or CMC)

As I was driving I was scanning the heavy clouds and saw a few breaks, which became more pronounced as I descended down to Lake Geneva and drove past Montreux.  The CMC (Centre Mondiale du Cyclisme) was very easy to find and I even had a parking space right next to it as one of the ridiculously early arrivals.  When I went to pick up my registration materials, the man behind the table looked shocked that I had ordered an XL jersey.  “You are too small for this size!” he exclaimed in French.  I thought he was joking but it was clear from when he spoke to the other people manning the table that he was very concerned.  A girl pointed out a changing room where I could try on a jersey but I explained that I had ridden the Gruyère Cycling Tour the week before and that they were using the same Santini brand jersey (with a different design) and that XL had worked out fine then.  Everyone looked very relieved and I was happy with my jersey, plus the Vaudois bag it came in, along with a Verbier-St. Bernard baseball cap and some other useful things.

The CMC has an impressive indoor track and is a good facility, having been built a dozen years ago.  There is a lot of storage for track bikes and out back there is a practice area for BMX riders.  The administration of the UCI is housed in the building but I did not see anything else, such as a museum or Hall of Fame.  There were washrooms and, I was delighted to see, showers.  The availability of showers after a ride is a fine practice of organized bike rides in Germany and, clearly, Switzerland.
I returned to the car and spoke with two riders who were unpacking their bikes from a Volvo SUV.  As seems to be the case so often in Switzerland, you keep trying until you find the right language.  The older of the two riders spoke French with a heavy accent, but then he switched to English as he actually came from Norwich in the UK.  Of course he spoke German as well but given our comfort level in English we stuck with that.  We did the usual bike talk and took some photos.  They were going on to Verbier and planned to ride back.

This brings me to the somewhat difficult logistics of the la Romandie Classic, which I had not focused on much when I registered.  The ride, following part of a stage route from the 2009 Tour de France which saw Alberto Contador triumph and take the yellow jersey for the remainder of the race, begins at the CMC in Aigle but actually ends in the ski resort of Verbier.  This is Parcours A, the longer ride of 56.32 kms that features two timed sections, one very short one in the village of Vollèges and a much longer one of 8.14 kms from la Châble to the finish in Verbier.  This would mean a total of 1119 m of altitude gain over the ride.  At the top in Verbier was the pasta party offered to riders, the issuing of prizes and the opportunity to take a bus back to Aigle.  Parcours B ends at la Châble after the short time trial and riders doing this can then take the cable car up to Verbier rather than grinding up the 600 m vertical in 8 kms.

Looking at the profile in June and not wanting to compare my climbing to that of Alberto Contador in any way, I chickened out and just signed up for Parcours B.  As much as I loved the Wintergreen Ascent uphill time trial in Virginia, some  time has passed and some weight has been gained since then and I did not want to ruin the holiday spirit by blowing up in the Alps.  As my intent on these rides is much more touristique than sportif and I don’t care much about my time, I decided that I would simply do the shorter ride and then turn around at la Châble and ride back to Aigle on my own, giving me a 100 km round trip for the day.  It sounded as if other riders had people picking them up in Verbier but since nobody was there for me with a support vehicle and as I had not booked the bus and am not a big enthusiast for pasta parties anyway, I thought I would just go back to Aigle, shower and drive back to Charmey in time for another brutal mountain stage of the Vuelta on television.

At the registration, a chart showed the expected weather.  With the 9:30 departure (the correct time), there would be an 80% chance of rain, continuing to noon.  The weather looked better in the afternoon in this forecast.   But when I was at the car getting ready it looked much better than this.  I jammed my rain jacket in my jersey’s middle pocket, put on my arm-warmers and hoped for the best.  Of course, for the rest of the day there was no sign of rain whatever but lots of sunshine instead.
At 9:30 there was a very civilized roll-out by over 400 cyclists with nobody in much of a hurry.  We were accompanied by escort motorcyclists and UCI cars as well, and as at the Gruyère event, every intersection was manned and we were given priority through red lights.  As the first section saw a few gentle rollers, the group broke up fairly quickly and soon we were in little bunches as we passed through Bex and then St-Maurice.  It was here that I discovered that while there was no rain, there was a brutally massive headwind blowing and as I dug down I worried about how hard this was going to be after all, even if the climbing of Parcours B did not look excessive.

As I was thinking about this, a Swiss rider came up alongside and suggested that we “relai,” a term I was not sure I understood for a moment then realized it was a paceline offer.  There were two other riders along as well and we began what was probably the world’s most disorganized paceline as the Swiss would move from the back to the front rather than work a rotation but it did make the ride bearable and I saw my heartrate drop to sustainable levels again.  One of the riders could not keep up and was off the back almost immediately but eventually we did manage to do the paceline properly and were making excellent progress.  

At Km 30 in Martigny the flat part ended, as did the headwind, and we now began to roll uphill.  To my surprise, I kept up with the others with no difficulty and we were passing people all over the place even though the pace seemed reasonable to me.  Eventually we directed to a side road and began another little climb that took us to the food stop at Km 38 in Bovernier where I lost the others.  Of course, with everyone wearing the same red-and-white jersey this was easy to do.

There was a surprising number of riders stocking up on bananas and water, so I clearly was not so close to the last riders as I had thought.  But the crowd reduced itself very quickly and I headed back out myself.  At first I found two cyclists to follow but realized I felt quite good and powered past them easily.  The grade was such that I actually could switch into the big ring on my compact crankset and set a very steady pace upwards.

We passed the village of Sembrancher, continuing on the main road, and then there was a left turn to Vollèges, where I saw a giant inflated Migros arch.  “This could be interesting,” I thought and suddenly realized that I was entering the time trial area.  As I passed over the timing mat, I could not help but accelerate into a climb.  “This could be really painful,” was my next thought.

I knew that the timed section was only 1.36 kms but there would be some good climbing in that space.  I did not gear down to make it easy as I did not want to lose much speed but almost immediately I went anaerobic and people all the way back in Martigny could probably hear my gasping and wheezing.  There were cheering people in the village, which really helped my motivation, but I did not dare look at my heart rate.

The road became flatter and I thought that the timed section could not possibly be much longer so I slammed it into a much higher gear and accelerated, passing several other riders who were really suffering.   My fans went wild and suddenly I was over the timing mat, which was not marked with an arch.  I slowed down and my breathing returned to normal pretty soon and I was recovered enough to enjoy the next part of the ride, with some very photogenic scenery, and even a nice downhill segment that I could ride at over 60 km/h.

Up ahead was la Châble already: 48 kms and over 600 m vertical completed in two hours, including the food stop!  I was directed around a corner and there was the next timing mat but I explained I was only going this far so the official directed me to someone in the direction of the cable car who took my transponder but let me keep my race number.  I rode down to the cable car but nothing much was going on there except for a few confused riders circling about so I rode back up to the roundabout at the entrance to town and headed back down the main road to Martigny.

With no pressure, I stopped a number of times to take photos but really enjoyed the descent.  Although there are some fine vistas, I preferred the scenery of the Gruyère ride, with its little roads but as a rotten descender the Romandie Classic main highway was absolutely meant for me.  Flawless pavement, big wide curves, not much traffic: I was going downhill at a steady 45 km/h for long stretches.

In Martigny I had the chance to look around and discovered two interesting things I had not seen while riding in the paceline on the way up: the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre constructed during the reign of the Emperor Claudius and the St-Bernard Dog Museum, whose canine inhabitants I could hear barking.  The museum also appears to be dedicated to local arts and culture since the dogs in themselves probably would not make up an entire museum.  There were lots of people enjoying the terrace restaurant at the museum but I decided to keep going.

Of course, the brutal headwind that had hurt so much going into Martigny on my way up from Aigle was now a brutal headwind that would hurt for the next 25 kms in the other direction.  No paceline this time, although I saw the odd rider in the Vaudoise jersey, but nothing to do for it but head down and press on.  I took a brief break near a sign directing me to a 17th Century salt mine but instead of going there sat on a bench, ate some cereal bars and watching the paragliders performing over the airport across the road for a while.

One final push and I rolled into the CMC by 2 pm, with just under 100 kms and just over 800 m vertical on the clock.  I went into the deserted building and had my shower and then enjoyed a leisurely drive back to Charmey.

Checking my telephone later, I discovered another text message from the organizers with my time trial result.  To my amazement, I placed first in my age category for the Parcours B participants with a time of 6:59.3.  I probably did not have much competition since I think most people went on to Verbier but sometimes you should be happy with what you get.

No rain today and now this.  I celebrated my impressive victory with a plate of Swiss rösti fried potatoes, two eggs and a beer.  It is good to be on holiday!