Day 189. Etape day.

Today is a big day and a massive challenge, not only for me but for everyone of us. So for a something different, I’ve asked everyone to write a bit about there day. First from Dunc and Westie who started in an earlier pen, so they set off first at around 6:56am.


Memories of L’Etape 2018

1-Witnessing first hand a Dunc-Bomb being dropped along Lake Annecy, travelling at 50kph on the flat

2-Spending most of the first descent trying to work out why I couldn’t get into top gear, before finally realising I was still in the little ring

3-Eating a banana while riding one handed at 65kph

4-Railing every descent

5-Being motorpaced by a race motorbike to catch the group in front

6-Suffering like a dog in the heat of the Romme and Colombiere

7-Hitting 51mph on the last descent

8-Seeing the red fork of a Factor slide past me on the last climb and realising I could do nothing to respond to Duncan’s pace

9-Mrs Watson finishing her first Etape in style

10-The Gorillas getting faster (again)

11-Getting a gondola back at the end!


Today started of witnessing Steve multitasking on the toilet. After that, the views improved for the better on an epic bike ride through the beautiful French Alps. 🚴

Then back in pen 12 was me,Rich,David,Tris,Emma and Amy. We set off at 8am.


A year and a week to the day since the Marmotte, what a year it’s been. Turbo training, weekend rides, mid week rides, welsh hills, Peak hills, and the odd ride for fun! After a week of warm up rides and Col scoping in the France with the Gorilla crew, the big day arrived. How did it go? Hot, steep, fast decents, fresh tarmac. Jam packed with stunning scenery which made it even more special. The Gorilla Train was the perfect lead out before the ascents hit. After a 4am wake up call the final run into Grand Bornand appeared far sooner than expected. Despite the hard day of climbing and watching power figures and sweat drop down, it was totally amazing. What was even better was sharing the Etape tales with a bunch of gorillas over a beer at the end. Here’s to the next adventure.


What a day! The usual mix of nerves before a big ride knowing that you want to do your best. I knew it’d be hard as everyone was in good shape and the weather was forecast to be HOT🔥☀️. And hot it was – blazing was a better description. The ride started fast and once I’d fallen off the ‘gorilla train’ I had to work to numbers. Soon I was on my own. The first climb was long but ok. After a good downhill I was refreshed for the col du Glierers. This was hard mostly as it was packed with riders who wanted to walk. I had to shout at them to get out of the way…Skip to the last two climbs; the Romme. This was so hot and very sapping – I was praying for it to end. When I got to the top I bumped into the Beagle, who looked fresh as! After making it down I started the last climb. I knew I was cooked but had to carry on. I stopped a few times for cramp and fell off my bike🤪 – idiot. The end felt like it would never come – but I got down and who was there for a celebratory (man) hug but my mate Stevie Burton. After seeing Amy the day was complete. An Epic ride with an awesome group of mates. 👍


The Etape du tour for 2018 was a great event, 5 ‘hills’, 105miles in 30deg heat. We left for Annecy at 5am, parked up where planned and made our way to the pens. 2 guys (Dunc and Mark) started in pen 3 and the rest of us started as a group in pen 12.

The first part of the ride was around lake Annecy which from what I saw if it was very beautiful (as a cyclist in this type of event traveling at 25mph just 10cm from the person in front demands high concentration levels are not conducive to sight seeing). Once we left the lake and entered the first climb there was just Tristan and I working together and we hatched a plan to ride until the bottom of the 4th climb working together. (When riding on the flat on a road bike the person following saves 30%, it doesn’t really help going up hill but it still helps riding together.) Being as both Tris an I are bit analytical we agreed the power levels we were going to ride each hill at and stuck to our plan.

We were chatting away on the uphills with plenty in reserve knowing that it is ‘a big day out’. Then riding the descents with a huge grin on our faces, regularly hitting speed in excess of 50mph.

When we got to the Col de Romme (the 4th climb) it was clear that the heat was causing a lot of stress for many of the riders but we still hit our planned numbers.

Neither of us were obviously stronger than the other so decided to ride to the finish together. Cresting the final climb hitting slightly better than the planned numbers but trying to go as hard as we could up the final climb knowing that the 10km descent to the finish wouldn’t need any pedalling other than to accelerate out of the hairpin bends.

We finished with a time of 7:19 which was 11mins faster than our goal, so great result and a good end to a hard day? Will I do the etape next year???? I hope so 🙂


L’Etape du Tour today, our now annual sabbatical Gorilla trip away. Another great location, another great group.
It was going to be a big one, the forecast showed sun all week, and today was no exception.
Having given up triathlon to focus on cycling for the first half of this year, I was well trained and hoping for a good time.
After the obligatory 5am start and sone faffing, followed by some drama at the start pens, we all agreed to start together in Emma’s pen so that we could get the ‘Gorilla train’ going for the first 25 miles around the lake.
This worked brilliantly, we love riding together, and work well as a group – and the kit looks brilliant in numbers!
We set of as targeted – fast and set a strong pace early. The group naturally split at the first climb, and Rich and I were left working together trying to catch Westie and Dunc who had a 1hr head start on the road due to the start pens.
Rich and I were well matched, we hit the same power numbers on the climbs and work well on the flats – this would prove to be a great combination as we were thanked twice for pulling a much larger group along.
The heat, and some exuberant riding on the transition section between the third and fourth climbs meant I was suffering a bit as we approached the 4th climb and had to throttle back for that whilst my food kicked in. I told Rich to press on as he was looking strong at that point, but he very kindly eased up and pulled me through my dark point. I was very grateful as I felt good at the top again and we could attack the descent. I was able to repay the favour on the final climb when Rich had his dark moment, nice to know he is human!
Highs of the day – not being passed by anyone on the descents, and smashing a tough course with great friends in a brilliant time. #notbadforatriathlete


My ride today. Loved it. Beautiful landscape. Powerful mountains. Friendly supporters. Helpful gendarmes to help me start on a hill. Excited children filling water bottles from “Fontaines”. Thousands of determined cyclists turning themselves inside out in sweltering temperatures. And 8 Awesome Gorillas. Well done everyone xxxx


Really surprised myself today and rode really well and absolutely loved it. It was a brilliant route and really well supported by all the locals. It was so so hot though and proved to be too hot for a lot of riders. Not the Beagle though, I kept picking away at the miles one by one. See some fantastic scenery and some massive birds of prey. We all did amasing, especially the girls. well done all.

After a well deserved beer or two. We cycled over to the cable car, to get a lift back. Westie treated us to the tickets, thanks mate 👍. Then a ride down the hill to the chalet.

Dunc and Tris sorted some food, which was spot on lads. Then we drove to Annecy to fetch the cars. I went along so I could get my run in. Westie dropped me off up the road, a nice steady down hill for a mile. Felt so knackered and my food was giving me a t of indegestion. Also i had a slight pain in my right knee, understandable after today. Annecy is bouncing with life, loads of people enjoying the sunset and the bars and restaurants. Definitely somewhere I want to take Babs. I aslo got to run with the water glistening next to me, while watching the sunset over the mountains.

Rich picked me up after my two miles and we headed home. Got showered then packed and ready for an early leave tomorrow. Then we all chilled in the living room, all writing this blog.

21.2 miles ran this week with 4,681ft of climbing and 241.8 miles cycling 32,762ft of climbing.

Day 189 done 176 to go.

2 miles.

1137.4 miles total.

3 thoughts on “Day 189. Etape day.

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