Para los amigos de Indurain, es por aquí
(kɑˈpʊt, -ˈput, kə-)
1. ruined; done for; demolished.
2. unable to operate or continue; broken: The TV went kaput.
A German word meaning done for, used to mean broken, destroyed, or out of order.
This is the main adjective that summarizes my latest cycling challenge…the Sportive event organised each year by the cycling club Etoile sportive de Villeneuve Loubet cyclisme (ESVL), in the name of the French legend Louis Caput.
Louis Caput was a French cyclist that competed in the 1940’s and 50’s and had a remarkable track record that goes strongly opposite to his name’s Germanic meaning; French road bike champion, Paris-Tours winner or Sport’s director are just a few of his career’s successes.
With such a background, the last minute sportive I got proposed by a friend the day before sounded interesting at least: 146 km and some 2700 m of elevation gain, in an area of the Provence I didn't ride before; I love to discover new areas. Being used to have done more than that in the past, I accepted willingly… but poor me, optimism pushes me sometimes into a delusional mindset…
As with the Paris-Nice Challenge (read it here), these challenges always seem to have one moment where optimism and easy pace get struck by one unexpected and very hard climb or climbs… and of course, same case happened with my first Louis Caput.
In addition to riding from Nice to Villeneuve Loubet, where the sportive started, Armand, the friend who proposed it to me, is one very strong rider, his latest success was 41st at Cannes’ Triathlon last week, out of 777 participants! So dropping me off with his other Triathlete friend Richard, was very easy after passing the beautiful town of St. Paul de Vence and climb to the Col de Vence.
In my (small) defence, I came from 6 days cycling every day and putting all my power into my 40 km commutes, averaging at some points almost 36 km/h and totalling around 280 km. In any case, this new challenge taught me a lot mentally and physically.
The first part of the parcours brought us from sea level up to 1000 m till the Col de Vence through the mentioned St. Paul and what kind of looked like a Lord of the Rings scenery; see it below.
With or without the Ring to rule them all… my physical condition was of complete exhaustion from my 6 cycling days without rest, knowing this, stubborn as I am, something made me go for it anyway. In addition to this, the mental side was taking over and trying to play tricks with me… thoughts of changing plans and do just the 100 km parcours, thoughts of climbing just the Col de Vence and ride back, thoughts of not even climbing anymore and turn around… with around 150 participants in such a large stretch and no joint departure (1h gap to choose), unless you keep up with your mates, you end up riding alone for some larger stretches and that didn't help in this mental challenge.
Adding to this, my impulsive registration made me neglect a deeper study of an unknown route… which is like a violinist not going through his notes before one big concert. What resulted in some very hard and sufferable first 90 km where the mental game mixed up with some knee pain, the whole experience ended finally with one of the most beautiful and joyful rides I've ever experienced!
All the suffering and sacrifice became secondary when I met a local rider, Gilles, who rides a lot in the area. The flat area before the Col de Bleine allowed us to have one very pleasant conversation to which two other riders from the sportive joined; above the km, endurance, or races… one of the best things in cycling is the fellow companions with whom you share the adventure.
But again, that next Col made me get behind to a point where my knee started, at some points, screaming stronger than my determination… so I did shut it up with some water! Managing to finally get over the Col de Bleine and reach the last feeding stop, I started to chat with Bernard, one of the organizers and we discussed about my action cameras and cycling, to a point that I almost forgot to refuel myself. I also met Michelle and Olivier, who are workmates and were doing this sportive for the second time and we were to pass each other again several times.
With the Broom Wagon suddenly reaching the feeding station, we all rushed to get moving and realized we were doing more socializing and eating than actually pedalling... quick shot of coffee and off we went. Taking a bit of a lead, I soon lost Michelle and Olivier, specially in the descents where I like to go hard. Even so, at some points the sheer natural beauty of this region made me so ecstatic that I started laughing alone and crying out loud of joy with the landscapes and towns I was seeing.
I immediately fell in love with Gourdon as soon as I saw it, perched over its magnificent hill, the road seemed to surround it in the same awe I was, giving me the chance to photograph it from almost every angle… what else could I ask? An Icarus-like paraglider making of this one ‘free as a bird’ experience and making me remember that: the best things in this World are out there as long as we are willing to go that extra mile to reach your goals!
Descending through the meandering roads of Provence, the descent back to Villeneuve Loubet was of utmost pleasure and changed my initial perspective completely, bundling up moments of joy, camaraderie, shared passion and making it one of the most happy cycling moments ever!
In the memory of Louis Caput, you have here one very honorable sportive thanks to the cycling club Etoile sportive de Villeneuve Loubet cyclisme!
Merci beaucoup pour cette merveilleuse aventure !