I’ll show you some of my favourites.
Our first live gig at Glastonbury. Some of my flightcases have still got mud on them from this show. Once that stuff impregnates your clothes/gear, it’s not coming off. We’ve tried to clean the flightcases but to no avail, that stuff is like concrete.
I spent a fair few years playing with @natimbruglia. We used to do massive award shows all the time. This one’s from the MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles 1998. Where I told Forrest Whittaker I realised how difficult acting jobs were to find in LA. He’ll get one soon. “Just hang on in there.” I had no idea who he was!
The Robert Kennedy Memorial Concert, New York, 1998. Al Gore & Muhammad Ali were in the front row. That was weird. We had to have our backgrounds checked by the FBI before doing that gig. We even had Secret Service guys on guard outside our dressing room.
And my favourite one of all. I got to see Led Zeppelin rehearse/jam in 2007. They were incredible
Retracing old ground today, but in reverse.
Ignoring all common sense once again I didn’t bother with much of a warm-up, so I went straight up the D80 climb up to Col du Mollard from Villargondran, the one with the lovely hairpins from Day 1. 16km long with 1,100m of climbing, that should wake me up at least. With the temperature hitting 32˚C this morning, the trees on this ascent gave welcome shade from the sun. I counted 44 hairpins in total, there might have been more, I wasn’t really paying attention. 44 seems about right.
Once at the top of Mollard, there’s a 6km descent before another big climb up to Croix de Fer.
Croix de Fer is French for Iron Cross, and guess what? There’s an Iron Cross up there. Here’s a picture of it….
I was told that the descent from Croix de Fer/Glandon down to St. Etiene de Cuines is a must. If magnificent views of Mont Blanc are your thing, then this statement is correct. I enjoyed descending this road more than going up the damn thing. It’s a lot easier, hurts a lot less and takes a fraction of the time! As long as you’re pointing the bike in the right direction, you’re doing OK. This technique works well for me.
Some road graffiti from today’s ride….
The view of Mont Blanc from Col du Glandon (it’s the white thing at the very back) ……
Cycling done: A smidge more than yesterday.
Rocking and Rolling done: I’m still hearing dip, di-di, dip, di-di, dip, di-di, dip etc. What is that song called? Let me know at @perryguitar666. Again, I wish all manner of pestilence upon this artist. (Whenever I use the word ‘pestilence,’ I’d like you to imagine me as the Grim Reaper. Thanks.)
Vertical Gain: 2,141m
Legs: Feeling better
Oh, and here’s a 3m high sculpture of a bike at the top of Col du Glandon. And that’s Col de la Croix de Fer just above the pedal.
So enough of those little first category climbs, it’s time for some Hors Catégorie baby!
Today’s ride took me up to Col de la Croix de Fer via Col du Glandon, and then back up to Col du Mollard again.
This is a section of Stage 11 of this year’s Tour de France.
It began with a 10km spin down the Maurienne valley to Saint Etienne de Cuines where the climb begins.
I took a left up towards Glandon, (taking a right would mean you go up Col de la Madeleine, but more of that in a few days time).
It’s a steady climb averaging about 7% for the first 16km, but it lulls you into a false sense of security. I was taking it quite easy, my legs didn’t hurt too much, so I thought I was doing pretty bloody well. Then I remembered that the pros do this at twice my pace.
On top of the sudden realisation that I was actually not very good, the last 4km the gradient ramps up quite sharply. Great! 10%. 11%. 12%. 13%. 14%.
At this this point I was wishing all manner of pestilence upon the families of the people who built this road. My leg muscles began to burn and my lungs felt as if they were about to burst.
I did feel better when I got to the top of Glandon. Elation and relief were the emotions I felt as I was hunched over my handlebars dribbling onto my front wheel.
After the 2.5 km climb up to Croix de Fer, the narrow descent through the ski resorts has to be taken with caution. At some points in the road there isn’t enough room for an oncoming car and a descending bike. I took the ‘Tour de France’ descent off Col du Mollard as opposed to the one I did a couple of days previously. Very technical but a lot of fun.
Here’s a proper cyclist, Daniel Lloyd, who is about four thousand times better than me, with a proper insight into the climbs.
Cycling done: More than yesterday
Rocking and Rolling done: For some reason my brain is full of those shitty Eurodance pop tunes. Mainly the Numa Numa one, and the one that goes dip, di-di, dip, di-di, dip, di-di, dip etc. Total hell.
Vertical Gain: 2,069m
And to the second warm-up day.
Starting with another ascent up the Lacets de Montvernier.
‘Lacets’ is what the French call hairpins. It’s also the French word for laces, as in shoelaces. Cute.
It’s impossible to take a good photo of the lacets from the road, so I got ‘my mate Dave’ to take a picture from his helicopter.
From the village of Montvernier, it’s a pretty steady climb to the top. There are a few disconcerting sheer drops along the way; fine on the way up, shit-your-pants on the way down. (I think I prefer shit-your-pants).
The last climb of the day took me up to the village of St. Pancrace, then back home to St. Jean de Maurienne.
After two days of ‘warming-up’, I’m fucking exhausted!
Cycling done: Same as yesterday
Rocking and Rolling done: Zilch
Vertical Gain: 1,563m
Legs: Oh FFS!!!
For the first two days I’ve decided that I should take it easy and warm up a little. But my twisted a idea of warming up is averaging about 1,500 meters of climbing a day. (Imagine the height of the Empire State Building, then triple it!).
Considering I haven’t done any proper training since I was in Livigno two months ago, this doesn’t bode well. My good friend, sometimes training partner and pro cyclist Manuel Quinziato is probably shaking his head disapprovingly right now.
Today’s ride began with a quick spin up the Lacets du Montvernier and back down to St Jean. Then a 21km climb up to Col du Mollard.
Surprisingly I was still alive at the top, maybe I should not train more often.
I’ve renamed some local peaks by the way. This one is now called ‘The Frog and Madonna’s Bra’ or in suspect French: ‘La Grenouille et Le Soutien-gorge de la Madone’
There’s a beautiful descent off Le Mollard (via the D80) back to SJDM, lots of hairpins. I reckon it will be better as an ascent though. I’ll try that later in the week, I like hairpins.
Cycling done: Some
Rocking and Rolling done: Jack
Vertical Gain: 1,665m
Legs: Not too shabby
I had a week off, so as usual, I decided to bugger off to the Alps again.
This time in a one man tent. No frills, nature, bike and me.
I decided on St. Jean de Maurienne as my destination.
It’s a fantastic base for a fair few of the greatest and most mythical climbs on the planet.
St Jean is famous for two things….
(i) Opinel Knives
Those beautiful wooden-handled works of art are made here.
They even make a knife for mushroom foraging.
It’s got a brush on the end of it for getting rid of the dirt off the mushroom cap. Handy.
I might buy one for my girlfriend. If she ever wants to go foraging for mushrooms, there will be no stopping her.
(ii) The Tour de France
Ever since the tour started in the early 14th century, it has visited St. Jean de Maurienne 39,524 times. And every time the stage finished in SJDM, it was won by a Frenchman.
Some old guy just told me all this as I was walking to the supermarket, so it must be true.
Little known fact: St. Jean is the patron saint of inner tubes, so there ya go.
Cycling done: Rien (that’s French for nothing, a very handy word here)
Vertical Gain: Rien
Legs: Still attached to my body
…..it’s Tinie Tempah