Show me the money

Now you may be wondering, “How’s the fundraising going?” Well, I have a multi-pronged strategy. Family and friends were pre-warned at Xmas to expect shameless emails begging for sponsorship early in 2009 and most responded that they would be happy to sponsor me (yet again).

Fundraising locally is much more of a challenge. Not that the French aren’t generous, they are very generous both with their money and their support. But raising funds for an American charity, fronted by a Texan, who’s won the Tour 7 times, is a tough call, even among cycling enthusiasts. Lance is not perceived as being sufficiently “sympa”.

My Livestrong mentor told me she has faced similar uphill battles raising funds in Germany. I’m not sure how Lance can turn this around as falling off his bike and breaking his collarbone into several bits hasn’t done the trick. Methinks he should take a leaf out of Contador’s book. Maybe something “courageaux” at this year’s Tour de France. Lance might like to reflect on the reasons behind M Poulidor’s popularity.

So in France, I am raising funds for the local branch of a national cancer charity, La Ligue Contre Cancer. I have had an excellent response from my club mates who have enthusiastically embraced the cause. I’m now hoping to spread this fervour to other cycling clubs and, indeed, other sporting clubs.

One or two people have wondered whether I might ape the recent efforts of Romain Mesnil (above) to find sponsorship. Frankly, if I looked as good as he does naked, I might be tempted. But I’m a firm believer in “if you’ve got it flaunt it, if not, keep it covered up”. So that’ll be a no then.

Rain stopped play

I got back last Friday from a cold and wet few days at a major exhibition in Germany, looking forward to a few hours out on the bike. Goodness knows how I ever spent all those years working long hours in an office. I could never go back to it. Me, my bike and the open road: it’s such bliss. I even managed a couple of hours on Saturday before the rain arrived and settled in for the day.

Saturday afternoon, I settled down to watch Pippo Pozzato get the better of Tom Boonen at E3 Prijs Vlaanderen but most commentators failed to appreciate the uber smart ride from Astana’s Max Iglinsky.

Sunday morning I woke at 06:30 to discover it was still raining – game over. So much for setting off nice and early so as not to miss the pointage. Maybe it’ll only be postponed. I hope so, I have unfinished business with the Col de la Madone.

Lanterne rouge

You’re probably wondering how I fared in “The Gentleman”.  That Friday evening I had a call from M le President (yes, that’s what we call him).  He asked me whether I was riding the short or the long course on Sunday. I said I had thought that as a mixed pairing we would be riding the short course. It appears that my partner had also volunteered to ride with one of the youngsters on the short course and therefore we would have to ride the longer one. No problem, I said. Of course, I had been training all week for the short course. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure I could hold my top speed for another 13km, even though I was getting a tow!

That evening I checked out the start list for Sunday and found that there were NO all-female teams! So, if I had managed to find a female partner the trophy would have been ours. Instead, all the girls had teamed up with chaps and were mostly riding the short parcours. That’s right; you know when they say “you should be careful what you wish for? Well, I was riding in the 100+ category with all the two-man teams. Either we were going to be last in that category or first in a category of our own.

My partner had only enough time to change the number on his back after completing the short parcours, where he and his partner turned in the fastest time in their category, before we were off into the strong headwind. What can I say? We finished strongly, my partner was hugely supportive and rode the perfect race, but I could have gone faster. We finished last. I wonder what we might have achieved if only we’d trained beforehand.