[Text by tamarapraderskates.ch]
All the way across Italy, through France into the heart of the Pyrénées.
Trivial Pursuit, beers, snacks, books and a pillow didn’t make the ride any shorter…we dreamed about more of the awesome Swiss mountain pass & gondola run session we had the day before and John, driver for this section, did a great job getting us to Péyragudes in time to pick up our apartment.
There were all kinds of rumours to hear about what shape the road was in. New, super nasty, partly new… We didn’t know what to expect until we’d see. It was definitely a new challenge again! Not mine off the start. But let’s see.
I’ll give you a run down the track:
Push off the start line that is in the centre of the alpine resort of Péyragudes. The first sweeper takes you down through the village and out of it as you go around the first left hand hairpin. The exit of this turn is a gravel parking lot…wide gravel lines are set for that one. The next right hand hairpin is not far away. On the sweeping entrance and through the entire corner it is covered in different pavement patches and manhole covers. A minefield. Foot breaking will be the solution. The next bit would be mental training for me. The exit of the hairpin takes you into an off camber section leading down to a left sweeper. From the Tour the France that arrives in Péyragudes on one of their climbs, the road in this part is completely covered in paint. Cheering paroles, national flags and names of riders. The pavement is rough and as you drop down towards the wide open left sweepers you gain a good bit of speed towards the next lefty. The next righty that is close again, feels like holiday. Fair enough. Than what comes now, is the fastest I have raced on so far. Tuck. The bottom part of the street is fresh paved, holding the tuck over the line where the pavement turns new and smooth and black… and even faster. Just about when you don’t really want to tuck any more, there is the first high- speed sweeper. Righty, and then when you are high on adrenaline because you were just shooting down a sweeper where you couldn’t see the exit, there’s the next one waiting! The one that shoots you down over the finish line!
The shuttle buses did a detour in order to keep the riders constantly going. Only unfortunate thing here, it took a day to make two of the buses break down. It slowed things down a little bit and we figured out that hitch hiking worked quite well. Nice chats on the way up, some information about what we do and some convincing words that we are not completely insane.
The free ride day was over really quickly. The shot down zone turned out to be the biggest trap. Several severe crashes had only happened after the finish line. I was not ready to qualify yet but the program for the next day gave us some more runs before we had to go as fast as possible!
Our team chef Luke cooked a super delicious risotto dinner for all of us! Nice to have a home made dinner after such a long time on the road. The food coma hit me good and thenumerous stars wished us a good night.
Péyragudes was to be the first race on the Euro tour to actually have a race to qualify, instead of two quali runs. Too bad that I blew my one and only quali run… 6th. Oh well, I knew that I could do better in the race here and was hoping for another final. There were 12 ladies at this race and it is great that the average number of women per race this year was approximately 10! Not 4 as it used to be. We are getting there, slowly!
The second and third day involved a lot of waiting, checking the schedule, figuring out when to ride and such. Surprise of the repechage was definitely Jolanda Vogler! While I was too much girl to pass a wobbling Italian kook at about 90km/h, Jolanda just kept sneaking her way around all the guys and made it in the final of the repechage race which bought her a ticket into the race to qualify. The Saturday was fully booked for that one. I didn’t realize that the ladies should have insisted on a second quali run in order to have a proper race order. My Saturday turned out to be… lazy, long and skateboarding was not part of it at all. Many injuries slowed down the racing considerably and I started asking myself if a racetrack like Péyragudes was the right place to hold a Race to qualify. Not all of the riders were familiar with the race to quali. What everybody knew was that they were in the actual race if they survived the first round. Some of the half broken, sore riders or hung over lazy men decided to not go any further than they had to. And one or another rider would have raced this race a little differently if we had known what expected us.
I was excited for the race Sunday! My bracket looked manageable and I wanted another good result. Up at 8 for some breakfast…the look out the window showed how foggy it was. The fog that was in the valleys beside had rolled in over night and covered the racetrack in a thick, grey curtain. At some point I decided to jump into my leathers and go to the startling to see if I could sneak in for a warm up run with the juniors.
Not happening. Instead, we got the announcement that we had riders meetings every hour to see if the fog would lift up and roll out. But nothing moved and in the early afternoon, the race was cancelled. Péyragudes died in the fog.
In the award ceremony, the quali winners were honoured. The party had started a while ago. Naturally. The party on Sunday showed how skaters party when they can’t skate for a day. All the race energy that was saved on Saturday was put into partying now. A lot of T-shirts, a pair of jeans and some battle rash later, the heads were big and it took us a while until we were ready to load the cars and roll down south.
Barcelona! Jamón, Turrón, Tapas y Cerveza.