Usual fare

Sunday dawned damp and overcast but it was fine to cycle. I put the beloved BMC II on my beloved car, Tom II, and headed over to Mandelieu La Napoule for the start of the WTS Classic. Having parked the car, I headed into the hotel opposite to use their facilities. I was keen to take part in the event as it’s organised by my cycling coach and the route forms part of the parcours of other events in the forthcoming months. I spotted a couple of clubmates and popped over to say hello and give them a kiss.

There were to be three groups based on average speed: 28km, 24km and 20km. No prizes for guessing which group I was going to be riding with. We were the last to leave the car park. Our lucky leader found himself with three of the only four ladies taking part and two youngsters, who were the sons of one of those ladies. As usual, I suffered for the first few kilometers until I settled into my stride. I then enjoyed a bit of a purple patch where I was leading the charge up and down the hills. It’s an undulating parcours. The first 20 kilometers were enlivened by passing and then being passed by a number of other groups where there were riders I know and who kindly gave me plenty of encouragement.

It was an untypically grey and overcast day. The only bright spots being the yellow splashes of mimosa so prevalent in this part of the world. The stretch of coast road  to St Raphael is pretty much lined with holiday homes so there was relatively little traffic. The roads were still wet from the rain in the early hours of the morning, but they weren’t slippy. It wasn’t cold, but it was very damp. That damp started to seep into my lower limbs while I felt positively toasty on top.

As we headed towards Les Adrets, my initial enthusiasm waned and I found myself drifting more and more to the back of our small, select group. I plodded on up to the top of the Col du Testanier just about keeping the others in view.

Whatever the distance, I divide the route up into bite sized chunks which I mentally countdown. I find this an enormously helpful distraction. I checked my Garmin, good news, we were still exceeding our 20km pace. 

Once I hit the top of the hill, I knew it was pretty much downhill for the final 25km: always a motivating thought. When I first started riding I used to coast downhill. Not any more, I try to extract as much speed as possible from every meter of descent.

As we hit the homestretch, I sprinted for the finish line. I know it’s not a race but I always have this sudden burst of energy when the end is in sight. I said my goodbyes to the rest of the group, hopped into the car and drove home. My beloved had returned from his club ride, showered and changed. He looked delighted to see me. “What’s for lunch?” he enquired. I had hoped that he might have had a quick forage in the fridge, he hadn’t. I quickly rustled up something promising him more substantial fare for dinner.

I showered and changed into my usual Sunday afternoon attire before relaxing on the sofa with the newspapers. I like to read the papers cover to cover before doing the Sudoku in the The Sunday Times. My beloved fell asleep while I enjoyed watching the ice skating and the handball. Happy Days. Of course, I would have been even happier had both my beloved football teams managed to record wins.

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