Blog Index
The journal that this archive was targeting has been deleted. Please update your configuration.

Day 2 - Epic Camp France - Vaison La Romaine to Embrun 

For the second day in a row I’ve had to extend the 12hr training window. It was another big one!

Run – 35mins easy group run

Bike – 170km Vaison La Romaine to Embrun + 40km tack on = 210km (bike file is up on Strava)

Swim – 3km very easy open water. 

As they say in the tour de France today was a transition day between one big mountain climb across to the Alpes for the rest of the camp. Mt Ventoux, which we rode yesterday, is a bit of an anomaly being all by itself in the middle of Provence.

We opened the day with a very gentle 35min tourist run around Vaison La Romaine before back to our hotel in the medieval village part of the town (The hotel was La Fete en Provence – I’d recommend it).

After starting day one mostly as one large group the athletes had quickly identified their riding partners and a number of grupetto’s shot out the door early. Today’s profile looked up and down for the most part with a descent climb at the end however when you looked at total elevation of over 2600m within 170km it was a big day.

We rolled out with my garmin course taking us through the centre of the town which normally would be fine but today was market day and the stalls were all setting up as we came through. We were on and off our bikes, walking, riding on foot paths but we got through OK. If you ever want to ride in France you must get a garmin edge 810 where you can plot your courses on websites like then import to your garmin (remember to turn off rerouting and turn on turn guideance). It’s near on impossible to get lost but you need to check your routing does not take you off on any side roads!

After yesterdays epic climb where most athletes struggled like hell it seemed the feeling was today was going to be an easy day in terms of intensity. Whilst I didn’t really want a hard day I did not want a super easy bunch ride so I got on the front and rode ~ IM effort for 1hr to set the mood for the day. I wasn’t really sure what to expect on the scenary front today except I knew there was some sting in the tail as we got to Emrbun where we had been once before on camp. Again we were blown away by the roads going along side rivers, through gorges and over low gradient climbs. It was another stunning day.

With 30km to the hotel we turned off the main road and started a tough climb then traverse along the side of a mountain that overlooked a massive lake. I suggested we all hit the cruise button and take in a beautiful section of riding which is part of the iconic Embrunman triathlon. There were no complaints and with hardly a car in sight we enjoyed the vista’s on a country road.

By virtue of being in the yellow jersey I’m somewhat obligated to defend and make the challengers have to work to get it off me. Adam is obsessed with getting yellow and decided that given we had made good time today he would tack on bike miles. You accrue a point for every 30km and if you go above 200km you get 2 bonus points. We had 170km on the clock so the thinking was that today might be the only chance to get in 200km and if you are going to 200km you might as well go to 210km given the extra 10km will gain another point. I was a reluctant starter for the tack on as I’m here to enjoy the camp and whilst I do want the yellow jersey we are only at day 2. It was not a particularly enjoyable 40km with myself Phil and Rob Mohr taking 5min turns to get the job done. We were certainly in worse shape for the extra 40km and had to turn around straight away and head to the lake.

We closed out the day with a 3km lake swim which was quite possibly the slowest  swim of my life but nice recovery all the same.

It was another big day but I’m feeling OK. With all the climbing in and out of the seat and the smooth roads your butt does not get as beat up over here. Day 3 tomorrow see’s us hit the Alpes with the Col D’Izoard which I’m really looking forward to. 


Day 1


We didn’t have internet access yesterday so here is the day 1 report. No files yet either. I’ll add these as soon as I can.

Swim 3km sea swim incl 2km race

Bike near Aix en Provence to Vaison la Romaine ~170km with 3300m climbing incl Mont Ventoux.

Run 10km cruisey run at Vaison la Romaine. 

Holy crap that was a big day at the office. As Lou DiGuissepe, who has been on multiple camps, said “that was the hardest opening day ever”.

This morning we met at 5:30am in the lobby for a 30min drive to a beach for a 2km race then tack on until you reach 3km or 50mins (whichever comes first). After swimming at the beach on Friday for 1.2km sans wetsuit in calm conditions I’d told the troops it would be pretty straight forward. However the water has dipped by at least 2c (was probably ~16c) with some really sold chop. We had buoys conveniently to give us a 1.2km lap however due to the chop I couldn’t see a bloody thing. So much so that on the first lap I went to the wrong buoy at which time Shannon got the jump on me after sitting on my feet. About 700m later I caught back up and it was a drag race to shore. I got about a body length but then made another navigational howler and had to chase again. The final 100m was side to side stuff and without a clearly defined finish I stupidly stopped at the beginning of the stones but Shannon pushed out of the water to take the win. Adam K, who’s gear has not arrived, braved the waters for a brief time but is was not to be and hyperthermia would have ensued. John Ballard looked like he did have hypothermia with his sleeveless that I had incidentally said should be fine. Finally it turns out those buoys were markers for some fishermen who turned up towards the end of the swim with tail ender Zarnia Morrison taking an earful for being in their space.

Everyone was nervously excited about today’s ride which included Mont Ventoux. The course profile showed the huge lump that is Ventoux but did not really give credit to the 112km approach which included continuous up and down including the Col du Mars @ 600-700m .

I opened up the ride at a tempo that was too hard for me and probably too hard for many in the group. But it is epic camp after all not easy camp. With today being navigationally a difficult stage I had my garmin permanently on maps so was riding by feel but when I did look I was seeing Half IM power. That would come back to bite me later in the day.

This riding in the approach to Bedoin which is the base town of Ventoux was spectacular. Loads of beautiful villages, some great climbs and smooth roads. Adam K, myself and Peter Mills (who is celebrating this camp as his 50th birthday present to himself) were doing the lions share of the work - as we should have being the stronger riders.

It was bloody hot (at least for us kiwi’s) and we were battling strong head winds most of the day. I was actually a little concerned that Ventoux might be closed. In retrospect most of us did not drink enough as the wind was drying us off all the time. When we rolled into Bedoin I was feeling pretty spent but still optimistic of a strong climb. My plan was to start conservatively on the easier grades at the bottom, steady through the forest to the 13km mark (of 21km) and then ideally bring it home well in the final 6-7km above the tree line.  Based off my training I was thinking that if I started ~260w and built to 270w that would “easily” be doable – that’s around Half IM effort.

The opening km’s are low grades before you hit the forest. The total climb is around 21km at an average grade of just under 10%. Given the opening ~5km is much less than 10% we had very long periods of 10%+. Everything was going to plan on the power front but my HR was too high due to the heat. I passed Adam K to hit the lead midway through the relenting grade of the first. My god it was tough, there was no respite to recover, it was 9-12%+ all the way.  Towards the top of the forest the wheels started falling off. I was praying Ian or Julie our support crew would be there and they were. I wanted to stay off coke but I knew if I did not get sugar fast I was not going to make it. So I stopped and Adam came past. The rest of the climb was torture. From sitting at 270w earlier I was struggling to hold 200w, it was pure survival.  My guts were a mess, my legs were full of lactic acid, I had impending cramps and was beginning to weave over the road. Walter passed me with a km to go and I did not have the fight to go with him.

When I made the summit I was a total wreck and had to sit down for a long time. I had overheated and my stomach had shut down. I was in a dark hole and had been taught a good lesson on  how to deal with a long, hard hot day.  I think my time was around 1hr40 with the best time on Strava being 1hr flat I think. Had I rode a strong ride I think sub 1hr30 is doable. As usual with mountains I have a new respect for the Tour riders who “race” up there.

I was so smoked I did not enjoy the descent as much as I should. I was almost falling asleep on the bike at times. It was incredibly fast but great smooth roads.

On arrival Adam and I did a bit of a Zombie 10km run around town. We were sitting ~4:45/km when not sight seeing and we finished the run by checking out the medieval castle about out spectacular hotel. I have a bit of a rule of not running slower than 5min/km and will stick to that as long as I can.

It’s 10:30pm now and time for sleep. I’ve only been averaging 4-5hrs a night since leaving NZ 5 days ago but I don’t think tonight will be a problem getting some more. 



Prologue Epic Camp FRANCE - Alpes 2.0

With Scott steeping aside after our last camp in Canada 2014 it’s time for me to uphold the Epic traditions this time round…….. I can’t wait. As you will see as each day unfolds the camp route is BRUTAL, especially the opening few days where just finding time to write a blog is going to be a challenge.

Why France and why now?

There’s lots of reasons to come back to France but the seed for this camp was that I’m turning 40 in a few days and I wanted to be doing something I enjoy on the big day (not that I don’t enjoy being at home with the family though!). I also enjoy having projects to work towards to ensure I get my butt moving most days. Whilst Kona 2014 was a debacle of a race the journey getting there was rewarding. Much like that build up I have spent a good 6 months specifically preparing for this camp. There are no races hanging over me to hold back for so this is a real chance to see how hard/fast I can push up these mountains.

From an organizational and financial point of view France camps are not a “hard sell”. I mean who does not want to come over here and see those amazing mountains we see every year in the Tour.

One challenge for all of us on this camp is not getting too carried away with the numbers. On our past European camps we haven’t really had power or strava to match ourselves against like we do these days. It has just been the crew going head to head largely running on instinct. So whilst power meters might help us with pacing it does take out some of the fun.

Hopefully many of the other campers are going to blog for bonus points and share what it is like on the inside of the camp. We’ve got a great mix of ages and abilities on this camp with more females than ever. That, I think, will have a positive impact on keeping some of the boys in line.

The red jersey will be hotly contested amongst a number of keen and able 50+ year olds sadly without Molina leading the way. The yellow will be interesting with some new young blood and experienced campaigners locking horns.

Our route will unravel as each blog comes out. We start in Aix en Provence on Monday with a swim race in the Mediterranean before racing up Mont Ventoux. To try to even things out on the climb we’ll have a power to weight ratio race on the climb to give the big boys a chance. After checking out the swim location and riding the riding the first 20km of the day 1 route this morning we are in for a good opening.

What do I want out of this camp?

I’m really looking forward to “competing” on the climbs I don’t think I will be at the front but hopefully not too far back. Most other camps like Canada and Italy I have used the camps to gain fitness. This time the camp is my main target for the year and I want to test myself pretty much to the limit.  I’m in “good” shape, not the same great shape I was before Kona but on the bike I’m not too far off. My swim is well under par and my run is always OK.

With the help of the awesome Ian & Julie from Pyrenees Multisport I’m hopeful that I’ll have less to stress and think about each day.

It’s time to do and get my first glass of French wine for the camp. It was bloody hot today, garmin said 36c which might have been a stretch but I easily got through 2 bottles of water in 40km.

I’ll be reporting back once day one is done and dusted. 


10 Days to Camp

I'll be posting my daily Epic Camp France reports here so check back.

Camp starts on Monday 27th June with Mont Ventoux!

Page 1 2 3