Last one back buys the drinks

High, strong winds woke me at 04:00 and I found it difficult to go back to sleep. Thanks to my tree pollen allergy my lungs and head felt very congested, not an auspicious sign. Our plan had been to set off ahead of the scheduled 07:30 start but my beloved was feeling tired, jet lag. I let him sleep a bit longer.

We have these early starts now down to a fine art. We get absolutely everything ready the night before so that we can be up and out of the flat in less than 20 minutes.

We set off with everyone else at 07:30. I sat on Vino’s wheel, he was riding at what for him must have been a very leisurely pace. The main bunch stayed pretty much together until the climb to Gattieres where I dropped back through the peloton like a stone. Yes, my congested lungs were giving me problems and I knew straight away that I’d have to settle for the 100km parcours. Not even my Stars’n’Bars were going to get me out of this one. Despite that my husband kindly rode with me all the way.

As we climbed up to Bouyon, the wind appeared to have died down. The weather was pretty idyllic, as was the scenery. It’s a lovely route and there’s very little traffic. After a fast descent into Roquesteron, we topped ourselves up at feed zone manned by my clubmates who were duly supportive of my efforts and, as usual, had put on an excellent spread.

In fact, if there were a cup for “Best Refreshments” I’m sure my club would win it hands down. Considering that there’s a trophy for everything else, I don’t see why not. In addition, it just might encourage those clubs, whose refreshments generally leave a great deal to be desired, to make more of an effort.

Catch me if you can

Having crested the leg sapping rise to Gillette, we descended and made our way to the finish along the Var valley into a strong headwind. You may be thinking that at this point I was sheltering behind my husband or at least we were taking it in turns to pull on the front. But no, he took my wheel and stayed there until the finish. I was quicker than last year, but not by much.

We finished just ahead of Vino, who had ridden the longer route. Apparently, he’d rung M Le President part-way into the course when one of the lead riders had suffered a mechanical. M Le President had to break the bad news to him that the nearest support car was the broom wagon. Undeterred, Vino chased down the car at the front of the peloton for assistance. Not quite what you might expect from a soon-to-be-again pro-tour rider. But suffice to say he’s a very kind and generous individual.

Everyone had finished by 15:45. If I had done the longer course, the latter stages of which were very windy, I might have just gotten back in time for the eagerly awaited tombola. Then again……………………..

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