Millau, Coupe du France 2015 #3

A bridge, a city and some extreme sports. Yup, Millau Natural Games 2015.

I re-read last week’s blog on Val d’Allos, and it was shit. Nothing to say, and said badly. I suspect this is because I had a great time and was pretty happy. Happiness does not create art.

Edvard Munch and the Scream: Not happy
Ian Curtis and Closer: Not happy
Sylvia Plath and The Bell Jar: Not happy
Pharrel Williams and Happy: Shit.

Therefore, this should be a cracking post. (Don’t get your hopes up).

Liaison to Special 1. Looks like what the Mendips do in Mint Sauce cartoons.

Round 3 of the Coupe du France was down in the Midi Pyrenees in Millau. You’ve probably not heard of Millau but it’s where Norman Foster got to make a bridge that everyone seems to like. It is quite a good bridge. I took a lot of photos of it. I probably should have taken more photos of the race.

Special 1 with yon bridge in the background. This is probably the flattest bit of the course.

With no expectations of what the trails would be like, it was a surprise to ride four technical tracks, each of which could easily be used as a DH course, demanding and hardly any pedaling.

No, all the pedaling was saved for the liaisons.

In themselves the liaisons weren’t too bad, spinning the pedals up hills on black, black tarmac. No the problem was that it was apparently 35 degrees on the Sunday and, well, Scot’s don’t do heat. Anything above 25 is a bit warm and once you pass 30 it’s a write off.

This is my main memory of the weakend.

Back to the specials. A huge amount of work had gone into creating these tracks, many thanks to the organisers for it. Quite loose and dusty, but beyond that a mix of very fast to slow and technical, tricky rock slabs, river bed toboggan runs, some pretty big drops. Not sure what order all these features were in but…they were all there. Special 3 seemed to be the stand out, I think. I do at least remember the excited chat at the end of each Saturday practice run as everyone recounted close calls and railed turns.

Nico on one of those cursed e-bikes. He later lifted it above his head.

Anyways, I’d love to write more about just how great the trails were, but I can’t really remember much at all. For each stage on the Sunday I would be sat waiting for my run trying to recall anything, ANYTHING, I could to help my time. But nothing.

Given this, I was fairly happy to be teetering along, riding safely, and sitting in the mid 60s position. Alas, it all went wrong on special 4 where I finally succumbed to the heat and lost the ability to ride a bike.

Sam Gerrett reaching the finish arch. About a third of the entrants didn't make it this far!

Completely lost it. My first crash came on a flat, straight, pedaling section. The next 4 followed on what was a steep loose trail anyway, nevermind riding it with the motor skills of a groom on his stag night. Somewhere along the line I managed to split my helmet down the middle. No idea which crash of course.

Sandy checking his stem. I don't think Froome has done much enduro.

I wasn’t the only one struggling mind. I’ve never seen so many walking wounded at an enduro race before. Of the 340 riders who started practice on Saturday only 227 made it to the end of special 4 on Sunday. A sign of how good the trails were I guess.

The legend that is Anne Caroline Chausson, on probably the only boring bit of the trail. My photography suffered as much as my riding in the heat.

So if you’re hoping for a detailed report on Millau, best check other media outlets and the official video. If you’re looking for art, then no matter how grumpy I get you’re searching in the wrong place here.

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