So the Grand Raid was everything Susi said it would be. It was insanely beautiful, super fast and more climbing then I had ever done before. This photo is from the bus I took to pre ride part of the course starting in Evolene. There are these rock/sand spheres all over this certain area and they build the roads right through them.
I had an awesome week hanging out in Verbier with Christine, Patty, Susi and Franti. I had spent a good amount of time with everyone except Patty in Winter Park and Leadville but it’s always great to hang out with the team. Christine even joined me for an ice bath the day before the race but only for her feets.
The race started super early, 6:30am. Unlike Leadville we start straight up the mountain so at least I warmed up quickly, no coasting downhill for the first 10 minutes. By the top of the 30 minute climb we were a group of about 30. It wasn’t a crazy fast start but it wasn’t easy either. From there we were nuking downhill through these gravel roads and little towns. I didn’t get a chance to pre ride the first half of the course and it was like a video game. I was just hanging on for dear life not knowing what was coming next.
By the time we hit the first of the two, last big climbs we were a group of eight. Susi attacked right at the top, blew our group apart and brought Urs with him. I was stuck in the group of 5-8 over the top of the climb until we hit the final big ascent. We swapped positions for the next hour was we ascended up to the 20 minute hiking section of the climb. When we hit the top I had moved from 7th into 4th with just the long 3,000 ft descent left. Inside of 1 k from the finish I got passed for 4th on a gravel quad track downhill by a guy going easily twice my speed on a HT! I couldn’t believe how fast he was going since we were constantly dodging amateurs that started in different towns along the route. He was going so fast I couldn’t even try to get on his wheel. I rolled in for 5th and was happy to complete my first Grand Raid. Of course unless you win you always want to do better but I was happy to complete the race with no mind, body or machine problems.
I rode the Epic with a 32 XX1 front ring(could have easily used a 34). I ran Renegade Control tires front and rear with 25/28 psi. I ran my normal fork/shock pressures 90/135. I drank about 6 bottles of Clif Shot drink along with 2 white chocolate macadamia clif bars, 3 margarita shot blocks and 4-5 citrus clif shots. I didn’t have any stomach problems or energy problems other then not being able to follow the attacks but I think that was more fitness then energy related.
The race finishes in the town of Grimentz and by the time we got back to Verbier after our 6:30am start it was 7pm. Dinner time and off to bed before heading to Meribel to join the XC team for the week getting ready for World Champs. I managed to find time to stop in my favorite town in route for a chococino and a piece of chocolate pain. Chamonix!
I wonder what Coops’ doing right now….