Today is yet another French May Bank holiday. I had planned to drive to Sestri Levante to watch the monster Giro ITT. However, six hours (there and back) in the car and another eight hours standing in the sunshine, getting dehydrated, is most definitely not ideal preparation for Saturday’s 150km La Sisteronne. In my experience, I’ve found it’s generally better to attend such events in pairs, that way there’s someone to keep your place should you need a comfort break, food, refreshments etc. In addition, you need to arrive way before the start to bag a decent spot so it’s good to have someone to chat with so as to mitigate the boredom before things get rolling.
There was also an official club ride today: official, in that it counted towards the Club “Championat du Regularite”. I’m leading the “Categorie Feminine” thanks solely to lack of competition. I arrived at the bus stop this morning, our usual rendez vous point, to find it deserted. Had I missed the email advising that the club ride start time had moved to 07:30am? Just as I was contemplating heading out, a couple of the boys put in an appearance. Clearly, they were all having a bit of a lie-in this morning and by 08:00am there was over 20 of us. I set off at the head of the peloton but the boys were really fired up and we’d probably gone only 5kms before I was off the back.
Not needing a full-bore 100km ride this morning, and knowing that they wouldn’t miss me, I took a left turn up to Gattieres and rode along to La Gaude where I met another club member who’d just punctured. He lives in La Gaude and so I rode back home with him where he swopped his set of wheels and was soon on his way. Meanwhile, I decided to have a cup of tea in the sunshine with his wife, who kindly first encouraged me to cycle with the club over 18 months’ ago. She’s only just getting back on the bike after a 3 month lay-off following operations on both wrists. She’s also been incredibly helpful with my fund raising. She’s put lots of the La Ligue contre Cancer collection boxes in her local shops. As a cancer survivor, she understands.
Heading back home I passed Maxime Monfort, who shares my birthday, going in the other direction. You know that Columbia kit is growing on me. I should add that seeing pro-tour riders out training is pretty much a daily occurrence round here. They’re easy to spot. The give away isn’t their matching kits and bikes; rather it’s the ease with which they handle their bikes: seeming at one with them. Something which I am unlikely ever to achieve but that doesn’t mean I should give up trying.