The Green Army: Lons to Geneva
The Green Army are a team of seventeen cyclists, completing various stages of the London - Paris - Geneva - Nice cycling challenge. They are cycling in support of their good friend and colleague who has been diagnosed with lymphoma. To date, the team have raised in excess of £30,000 for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research through this event alone!
Day 4 - Lons to Geneva sponsored by Optima Legal
What a mixed bag we faced today. With 65 miles to ride this was the shortest day of the four, but the hardest due to the climbs we faced. Only 10 minutes after we left the hotel at 7.30 we arrived at "Heartbreak Hill", a 3km climb with an average gradient of 12%. The mountain goats led the way, with George and Steve Hutton up the front from the off with Phil, another of the riders with us.
Once the first hill was conquered we continued on with relatively flat terrain, which gradually started to climb. First drinks break was at a picnic site beside the river, with fantastic scenery on offer. The ride continued with the second break scheduled for St Claude at the base of the major climb of the day up to the Col de la Faucille. We enjoyed a cold drink in a cafe, with the sun beating down on us, and then started the climb. The first section offered 14km (9 miles) of 6% gradient. About 3 miles up the rain started, swiftly followed by thunder, lightning and hailstones and by the time we reached the lunch stop everyone was soaking wet and freezing cold. The rain continued unabated and gradually everyone started the descent which preceded the final climb up to the Col. Despite having changed into a dry shirt and rain jacket, I was still feeling very cold and as I started the descent I began to shake uncontrollably. With treacherous conditions, and unable to steer properly I soon stopped, with Carlo keeping me company. We sheltered under some trees and waited for the Discover Adventure van, which arrived about 20 minutes later. I boarded the van, and Carlo continued. Despite heater on full and a hot sweet tea I continued to shake and was still shaking when we got to the cafe at the top of the Col. The ride leader, Andy, ex-military, quickly advised me that I was suffering from hypothermia and would not be allowed to ride anymore that day. Bitterly disappointed, but accepted the advice and rode in the van through to Geneva.
The rest of the riders continued through the rain and hailstones, with Terry receiving a nasty blow in the eye by a hailstone. Everyone made it through, albeit very cold and very wet. For the second year running the official photo by the side of Lake Geneva was cancelled. There is some suspicion that it is the Green Army that is the unlucky element in all of this!
Once everyone was showered, dry and warm we went out and enjoyed our celebration dinner, spoilt only by England losing to Uruguay! Tomorrow is a day off, then on Saturday we depart for Nice. Hopefully the weather will be kind to us!