13 March, 2010

Pierra Menta Stages 1-3

I've been unable to find a good time to put up a good post, due to the amount of time recovering between stages, massages, eating, and sleeping, but here we are.  Team Canada arrived in Areches Beaufort, France, just a few days ago, almost all of us having an epic trip just getting here.  Many of us spent days in the car, and stuck in traffic, others had time in Chamonix, and more planes, trains, and automobile action.  (Photo Right:  Team Canada's Stano Faban and Alex Wigley at the Finish Line.  Credit:  Jocelyn Chavy)

Stage 1, the test stage for all of us, was a fairly fast slow day.  We used it as a way to figure out, how fast we could go, and how long.  The answer?  Go hard, go really hard, you'll recover.  Stage 1 had around 3000m of elevation gain, a bit more than what was proposed on the races elevation profile, as well as adding our cool down too it as well.  Everyone, went out and had a blast, moving through an unbelievable amount of terrain in a very short amount of time.  Plus nobody bonked.  Our main goal was to slowly build our speed, and learn what we need to do to not blow up, and continue to get faster.

Stage 2, we used as a test stage to see if we really could go really hard, and still recover.  It did work.  We did start the day at an easier pace, then exploded out of the skintrack, and passed 20 teams breaking trail to a better position in the first climb.  Our biggest learning experience from the past few stages was building our strategy of when to pass, and at what terrain allowed us to keep the lead.  The course itself was unbelievable again.  Through big mountain passes, knife edge ridges, thousands of switchbacks, good skiing, and every racer pushing you harder and harder.  The runs through the villages, with the town folk screaming and clanging cowbells, stoked the fire hard as well.  This race has been so much fun so far, we almost forgot it hurt.  Again climbing around 3000m.  (Photo Left:  Starting Run through Beaufort.  Credit;  Jocelyn Chavy)

Stage 3, the most infamous of stages which climbed up Grand Mont (2686m), and through some of the most technical terrain of the race.  The courses knife edge ridge, complete with 3rd class climbing, via ferrata, and a few solid rock moves was awe inspiring to see a race course go through.  Skimo Racing in North America has a lot to learn and take from the race.  (Photo Right:  Competitors on Grand Monts knife edge ridge.  Spot Canadians Alex Wigley & Stano Faban.  Credit:  Jocelyn Chavy)

We started off our day with a big 1153m climb, through lots of specators, and yet again hundreds of switchbacks.  Pierra Menta is such a big event, that we saw people skinning up the mountain passes at breakfast at 5:30am to get a good spot, Areches even opened the chairlift in the wee hours of the morning to shuttle spectators to the tops.  Getting up to the tops of climbs there were hundreds of people, cowbells going off, screaming, mountain tail gate barbeques, and tons of people specatating in race gear too.  (Photo Left:  Grand Mont crowd.  Credit:  Jocelyn Chavy)
At the end of Stage 3, we are now at ranked 80th.  Canadian Teams Melanie Bernier/Andrew McNab 70th, Billie Velisek/Reiner Thoni 111th, and Jeff Colvin/Julie Matteau 116th.  Congrats to Team USA Brandon French/Ben Parsons on their 36th position ranking!  Everyone is now preparing for Stage 4, a shorter, but incredibly hard course due to the fact that most people will be sprinting.  With the last massages in, big meal, and a good nights sleep we're all stoked to hammer tomorrow and are ready for more!

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