ToA Stage 2 – County of Grande Prairie

Oh today is cold one. It is like one of those really cold mountain days with condensation on the inside of the fly dripping onto the tent above our heads. Inside the tent is actually quite warm from our body heat all night but I get bundled up knowing outside will be a shock.

Sleeping is good. The place we are staying is close to a secondary highway but a really busy one and the traffic noise is loud and continuous. The fresh air lets us sleep very sound. Regular camping routine. Get ready for breakfast. Stove, dishes, food and water. We are really good with time. Yesterday we scouted out the race route and where we wanted to be and when. We missed one road so we check it out this morning and end up exactly where we want of be. The start area is rather jammed with race equipment. We find a place to park facing our predetermined escape route and chill.

The start was at an exhibition grounds was rather uneventful. It was a small festival and it was Thursday, a work day. Five or ten bus loads of kids showed up for an all day field trip. They had a good look at a rolling neutral start and were going to wait all day for the finish. I’m not sure there was enough there to keep them entertained but it was a good thing to take them to a big community event as a world class bike race.

At the start line

At the start line

From here it was over to the KOM hill and wait. You have to be good at waiting when following a bike race. Things progress slowly over long distances. Today we make lunch and chill for about 2.5 hours. The chopper appears on the horizon. They are coming. The first riders start up the hill and 15 minutes of action ensues. There is a break of 4 riders and they sprint like hell for the top. The few minor KOM points left are picked up by the remained of the peloton. One more half hour and it is all repeated.

Climbing the KOM hill for the first time.

Climbing the KOM hill for the first time.

Climbing the KOM hill for the second time in the rain.

Climbing the KOM hill for the second time in the rain.

From here on we partake in an amazing comedy of errs that sets up for the the biggest coup in some time. We intend to watch the group go by the bottom of the hill we are on and then as they pass head straight to Grande Cache. On the way down I suggest we should drive part way up the final hill and watch from there and then proceed down the road. When we get to the appropriate elevation I make a snap decision to make a u-turn on the highway and park facing in the direction we are to head. One of the other spectators informs us there is a huge line at the top of the hill waiting to get on the highway in the direction we are going. When the bikes pass we jump in the car thinking we need to stay ahead of the line up at the top of the hill. As we pass the broom wagon we see a massive line up following and we realized if we had parked facing up hill we would have had to wait upwards of an hour before we could have got onto the highway. Last we went by the place we first were going to stop and saw that we would of had to make a left hand turn onto the highway we wanted and it would have been hell. We were on the road with clear sailing ahead and it was only serendipity that had us there.

We have never travelled Highway 40. It’s up and down and back and forth with forest as far as one can see. Really interesting and far better than Highway 43. The vegetation is a variety of greens and the terrain is constantly changing. The road surface is everything from horrible crumbling mess to brand new dark black smooth asphalt. Pretty much uneventful trip except a teenage moose standing about 10M from the road quietly munching on grass.

Another night in the tent. Hopefully on the closure side of the Miette road. And they say it’s going to a snow tonight.

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