It rained heavily overnight but, by the time we awoke on Sunday morning, the roads were starting to dry out. The sky looked menacing although rain wasn’t forecast until the afternoon. The club had a reasonable turnout  and, as we set off from our usual rdv point, I rode at the front, but still got dropped on the rise out of the Port of Nice.

The boys were riding at a goodly pace, presumably in the hope of outrunning the rain. It wasn’t looking good. I had lost sight of even the back markers before reaching Beaulieu su Mer. I usually manage to keep them in view until Cap d’Ail. I consoled myself by overtaking a bunch of riders from a neighbouring club. Clearly my form had declined, but not by that much. I got a second wind after Monaco and positively sprinted up Mont des Mules, overhauling more riders.

When I first started riding, I couldn’t overtake anyone. Slowly, I progressed. First, it was grannies on sit-up-and-beg bikes, motorised wheelchairs and the odd tourist on a mountain bike before I moved in on the octogenarians. Of course, I overtake far more on the flat, and particularly on the descents, than I ever do on ascents. So any scalp, when propelling myself heavenwards, is cherished.

The boys had only just departed when I arrived at the concentration. It looked as if the weather had ensured a limited turn out for both the pointage and the race. Having congratulated one of our members who’d won his age-group race that morning, I went to leave and the heavens opened. I decided to take the least line of resistance and head back home the way I had come.  

Everyone else must have elected to return via the Moyenne or Grande Corniches as I didn’t see another clubmate until I reached Nice. We rode along the Promenade des Anglais together until one by one they all turned off leaving me to ride into the headwind on my own. I caught up with my beloved at our usual watering hole, he’d been trying to warm himself up with a hot chocolate.

We rode home, stripped off our sodden kit and headed for the showers. After lunch, I donned my new Qatar Airways jimjams and curled up on the sofa with the Sunday newspapers  to watch the Moto GP from Phillip Island, Australia.

I’m not a motor racing fan though I could easily identify all the Formula 1 GP drivers and match them to their cars. However, I have become a fan of Moto GP. I initially starting watching it because it’s often on the television before the cycling. Now, I make a point of catching the races and, occasionally, even the qualifying. Mounted cameras on the bikes give you a taste of the action and make you really appreciate their fearless bike handling skills.

Like cyclists, they tend to be on the petite side and are similarly tough guys who readily hop back onto a bike after a spill at speeds of over 150km/hr or with their broken bones barely pinned back together. However, they earn a way lot more than cyclists. I seem to recall that Valentino Rossi ended up paying Euros 39 million in back taxes to the Italian authorities. No cyclists (Lance excepted) will earn even Euros 39 million anytime soon.

Hayden and the Doctor (Rossi, no 46)

This season’s Championship has already been won by Rossi’s Yamaha team mate, the Spaniard, Jorge Lorenzo. Yesterday, Casey Stoner won at a canter for the fourth consecutive time on home soil. If I recall correctly, he won the championship in 2007 and, despite the facial hair, still looks about 15 (he was 25 on Saturday). Yesterday, the real race interest centered around the tussle for third spot between Nicky Hayden (Champion in 2006) and 7-times  champion Valentino Rossi. The two will be team mates next year at Ducati. In case you’re interested, the Doctor prevailed and is lying 4th overall in the Championship, gunning for 3rd spot.