A day riding the Rapha Prestige Massif Central
The last 24th of September, we had the honour to welcome on our local roads the first French edition of the Rapha Prestige. After the England and the USA, and before the Asian tour, the famous British brand decided to settle the Prestige Massif Central at the top of Plateau de Gergovie, the historical place of the battle between the Gallic troops of Vercingétorix and the Roman legions of Caesar. Rather than its warlike past, the Rapha France crew chose the place for its beauty. From 7:00am, the 80 participants could admire the sunrise on the Monts du Forez, the Chaîne des Puys and the Massif du Sancy. The latter was the place where the day will take place.
The Prestige series pushes into the background the performance : it is not a race. The aim is to bring cyclists to unknown places to ride the less travelled roads. The team format points out the camaraderie and the solidarity : the team mates have to start, ride and finish together. These elements are essentials to achieve the 170K and 3200+ of the day. Despite the beauty of the scenery, the ride will not be a stroll in the park !
We were there with a Team Victoire made of Julien, Matthieu, Nico Joly and Gilles, a friend of us and owner of a Véloce. After we took a coffee and picked up our brevet card and cue sheet, the teams started every three minutes.
The start ©Nicolas Joly
There is a sunny blue sky but a fresh air when we leave the Plateau. We are pretty excited when we start the first downhill to Romagnat : we are happy to be on the bike ! We then climb up to Berzet which is a good warm up before heading towards the Sancy.
Congrats to Franziska and Julien from the Rapha team for the very good recce work : we discovered some unknown roads !
The first check point was at Km50, in front of an old "vin doux Rapha" advertisement. We took advantage of it to take some pictures of the Victoire bicycles : nine bikes made in our workshop were riding the Prestige !
In addition to the four of the team, there were Dirk, Jean-Marc and Nicolas on Versus bikes, whereas Thibaut came with his Veloce freshly built. We also met Eric, the second owner of one of our first Veloce model. Fond of long distance, he rode on Paris-Brest-Paris, London-Edinburgh-London or the 1000 du Sud, but also la 1001 Miglia and more recently the Sverigetempot, a ride across Sweden from the North to the South : 2200 km in 152h !
We then start to climb the first pass of the day, La Croix Saint Robert. We met on our way the German team "Merci Supersonic" with Dirk, one of our customer. They were the fastest of the day in 7:48
Each of us climbs at his own pace , taking the time to admire the scenery. At the top, we just put on a jacket and go down to Le Mont Dore.
It is the start of the wildest part of the ride. While we are climbing to La Stèle where is the checkpoint 2, we start to be starving ! Fortunately, the MCC, the Rapha Mobile Cycling Club, is here. Mark et Matt, the baristas, take care of us : real espressos, brioches and saucisson… it is perfect ! We are full and happy when we keep going to Super-Besse.
We go back on our bikes to reach Aydat and the last checkpoint. Riding on the less travelled roads often means do not take the most direct ones ! We are going up and down before finding familiar faces next to the lake : Claire, Julien "Poney" and Sylvain "Pello" are there to give us our last stamp. We just fill up the bottles and go for the last 30K. They are also the hardest and we finish more with our head than our legs : we are exhausted when we achieve the 172 km !
© Nicolas Joly
The event was wonderful thanks to the Rapha team work. The riders were all happy to be there, as the awards ceremony showed. No podium but original awards, even zany ! A map for the team who did not find the first CP, a depilation kit for those who were afraid of their hairs before the race -sure they should not !- or a special prize for the Paris-Nantes Women Cycling Club, the Lanternes Rouges of the day but certainly the most deserving team !
We were really glad to show our local roads to the cyclists who came from France but also Great Britain, Germany, Italy or the Netherlands. We are also very happy to have been able to open the doors of our workshop on the Friday evening to present our work and savoir-faire.
A big thank to Franziska, Julien, Matt, Mark, Hannah and all the Rapha team for this great weekend !