Fin – Monday evening we transfered to the small town of Chatel and closer to the start of Le Tour in Morzine the next day. The mood was a little lighter Monday evening. The five of us, Topher and photographers were gone now, had a traditional French dinner. Erin and I shared a Raclette, a huge half wheel of cheese that you stick under a heat lamp and scrape huge globs of rich creamy cheese onto your plate and pair with potatoes and meat. Man that was rich. I still feel it sitting in my stomach like a rock. But it was good though.
Tuesday morning we drove over to the Tour start in Morzine and with some Columbia connections got a VIP entry to the village and the start line. But not before almost nailing Lance when he pulled out of a parking lot as we were driving in to park. Lance, if you read this, be more careful man. It wasn’t that close but he was right in front of the van. We were given access to the start line where they were introducing all the riders so we got some good shots and a great experience. It was pretty cool. The tour is a huge production. Miles of fencing, tents, stages, buses, team cars, helicopters, dozens of police, hundreds of volunteers and this was just the start line. And then as soon as the riders are gone, the crowds disappear in an instant, and it all comes down. Amazing to watch. We hung out at a pizza joint and watched the tour before having to get back to Geneva.
- Lance’s backside
When you spend a few days together with people you get to know them pretty well, but when you throw a few people into an experience like this that tests limits, patience, and organization you get an intimate picture of your compatriots. Through time spent on the trail you can get to know someone’s personality, time spent around a dinner table you get stories and a picture of their life. Physically demanding situations serve up an interesting social dynamic between the participants. It’s cool to watch and experience. Thursday morning I had never met these people before, now I know Brian likes trains, Lisa is closterphobic, Leslie does just about every sport known to man, Erin is cool under pressure and really likes French cheese, Topher’s switch is permanently “on” and takes the hard way, that’s just part of the experience in a trip like this.
Dinner with the gang after the Tour
Viva le Tour du Mont Blanc
Here are some gear reviews from the equipment I used while on the trip.
Fluid 10 – the fluid 10 is a small lightweight running pack that has a large central pocket, water bladder pocket, sinch cord, water bottle pockets on both sides, and waist strap pockets for gels…or a camera. This is the pack I used for the majority of the miles on the trip. It performed really well. I carried a jacket, a long sleeve shirt, food, camera and a water bottle. I was typically just carrying one water bottle because of the abundance of fresh water on the route and used the pocket on the side. With just one water bottle the pack didn’t feel lopsided like some might. I had it sinched down pretty tight and the shoulder straps were soft, comfortable and wide enough that they didn’t chafe my neck. Actually I didn’t have any chafing anywhere even wearing the pack with no shirt. Even had two of these packs on for quite a bit of the trail, just one over the other, and that worked out pretty well too. The pack is unusually spacious for it’s size. I have a camelbak I use that is similar in size but the Fluid 10 can carry more stuff. My one beef with it was trying to retrieve my water bottle without taking the pack off. It was pretty much impossible. The few times I ma
naged to get it out and back in I tweaked my shoulder out and had to take some time to work out the cramp. Not ideal. Running with it was a breeze however and there was minimal bouncing and no chafing.
Fluid waist pack – I tried to run with the new Fluid Waist Pack for a good section of the second day but it was lighter than Scott’s camera equipment so I was saddled with that for the remainder of the trail except for when we were shooting photos. During that it was great. Didn’t bounce with a full water bottle, had a few pouches for food and a mesh pocket that held a lightweight jacket easily which would be great for longer runs in the mountains where the weather is variable. I’ll probably use it for Transrockies where I want to go super lightweight but still have to carry a little water, jacket, tights, hat and gloves.
Geist – Still in love with the Geist series. The jacket is my fav. I don’t usually go anywhere without it and I even got to test it out on a stormy section of the second day. It kept me warm and dry in a light rain and felt at home under a pack without pulling and riding around under the pack. The best fitting, lightweight breathable running jacket I’ve ever tried.
Shorts – I used the lightweight Refueler Advance Short. The fabric is a nice light fabric that doesn’t inhibit movement at all, which is crucial for running. The thing I still don’t care for is the waist band. It’s comfortable but I have to tie the drawstring to keep them up. They just feel loose when I’m used to having elastic waist bands. If you can look past that, they are a great running short and have a couple little zip pockets that have come in handy for holding a gel here and there.
Shirts – I used several shirts on the trip. The wicked lite tank and tee, Elmoro zip tee, and the Singlet coming out. One thing I have to say is that the fit of all the mountain hardwear tops are spot on for me and are the best fitting most comfortable shirts I have. Why? because when I’m running I like a shirt that has a close athletic fit and doesn’t flap all over the place but at the same time I don’t want to feel like I’m being smothered by a boa constrictor.
Shoes - Montrails of course. I did two days in the yet-to-be released Rogue Racer which performed flawlessly on all trails from buffed single track to rocky double track. At 8.5 oz I was feeling light on my feet all day. The third day I decided to give the new Badrocks a try on th
e super rugged and rocky Bovine climb. Honestly, I did it for a little extra protection because I’d been having a bit of a nerve issue in my foot and I was expecting to notice the extra weight of the shoes. I wasn’t too optimistic that I would appreciate having an extra 2 oz and a lot more shoe on my feet. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised and don’t remember even noticing which shoes I was wearing that third day. It was nice to have that bit of extra underfoot protection and flying up the last climb of the day I didn’t notice that I had a different shoe on than normal. So, good shoe, yup.
Poles – Like I said you have to have poles for racing over here. Note to self though, don’t get the ones that have anti-shock springs in them, they’re just annoying.
Lastly, I need to say thanks to everyone involved. Erin for the impeccable organization and interpreting. We would have been totally lost without her. Topher for the invite and a trail buddy along the way. Scott and Seb for the amazing camara work. And Brian, Lisa, and Leslie for the companionship along the trail and for putting up with a high maintenance athlete. You know how we are.