Consequences

Preparations are well advanced to make sure that nothing, absolutely nothing interferes with my viewing experience for the next three weeks. My beloved’s absence for the next two weeks will considerably assist. Yesterday evening, down at the cycling club, the committee tried to arrange a meeting for next Tuesday afternoon. I was having none of it. Call yourself cycling fans? Instead, we’re having it on Monday morning. I then got an email from my cycling coach, suggesting we ride together on Monday morning. I told him I wasn’t available on that morning but I was on the others.

Yesterday’s weigh in went well, my blubber is slowly dissolving however I’m still retaining water. Yes, I can validly use that excuse. It ranks right up there with ” It’s just puppy fat” and “I’m big-boned.” My nutritionist’s scales break down your body composition. I suspect it can also tell her what I’ve had for breakfast. On my last visit, she suggested some homeopathic pills to aid water elimination. What she didn’t tell me was how often it would want to make me pee: like every two minutes. Short of placing a bulk order for some Tena Lady, I wasn’t going to be leaving the house anytime soon, particularly not on a bike in bib shorts.  I’m famed for my bladder control. I’m not taking the tablets.

I’ve now been on my new regime for 9 months. It’s working well, aside from the water retention which I blame on the heat. If we subtract the extra liquid weight, I’m 3/4’s of the way towards my goal. At which point, I’ll weigh less than about 50% of the professional peloton, but still more than the one’s who’re my height. This, as we know, is because men have a lower BMI than women, particularly one’s of my age.  I’m making no comparisons with female pros, they ALL weigh less than me.

Yesterday, I reluctantly took off all my rings as they keep sliding off. Who’d have thought you could carry so much podge on your fingers? I’ll be taking them to the jeweller’s to have them made smaller. My beloved bought me my “engagement” ring after we’d been married for eleven years. A bit late I know but, when he asked me to marry him, I suggested he defer buying a ring until he could afford one I might like. I have large hands, anything less than a rock looks ridiculous. Yes, it’s another instance of where size matters.

When my mother decided to upsize her solitaire engagement ring, my beloved bought it and made it larger by surrounding it with diamond petals. With her advancing Alzheimer’s, my father now only allows my mother to wear a few things from her extensive, and very lovely, jewellry collection fearing she will lose or misplace it. As a result, he’s decided to pass on some of her pieces to his girls. He’s very kindly given me her upsized solitaire, a beautiful stone which always looked huge on my mother’s dainty hands. When she flashed it we would say “reach for the shades, you’re dazzling us”. Despite it’s size, it doesn’t have quite the same allure on my hand so I’m probably going to have to indulge in another redesign.

Ironwoman

No, I’ve not taken leave of my senses. It has never, ever crossed my mind to partake in any kind of triathlon event. Not that I know much about triathlons, other than knowing I wouldn’t want to do one.  Just thinking about what’s involved in an Ironman leaves me feeling weak at the knees: 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and a marathon. To contemplate undertaking such an event, I would require at least four days: one per event, with a rest day between the ride and the run. More wisely, I’ve been helping out a friend (a former triathlete herself) by working on her stand at the Expo during the Nice Ironman, one of the major sporting events in the Nicois calendar.

After only a few hours on the stand, I began to appreciate that there’s a look for triathletes: shaved heads, tattoos, t-shirt from another prestigious tri-event, below knee. baggy cargo shorts, compression calf socks, crocs. The female competitors tend to forgo the shaven heads and have fewer tattoos, or should that be fewer visible tattoos? I don’t know, you tell me. I met people who had come from all over the world to take part. Most of those coming from further afield were combining the event with a holiday in Europe. It’s clearly an event for the entire family, as I saw plenty of people with their own support crew, mostly in buggies. Obviously they don’t spend all their spare time training.

It was feast or famine on the stand, as it is at so many exhibitions. I got to use all my linguistic skills but sadly we didn’t  achieve as many sales as we would have liked. I would have expected more interest in the t-shirts but maybe the significant outlay to take part in the event mitigates against spending too much during it. In any case, it’s at least spreading brand awareness and one lucky competitor who entered our draw will win a gilet. My beloved and I will try to spread the word, and brand awareness, during the Tour. We’ll be wearing our matching Tour de France themed t-shirts when we’re Skoda’s VIP guests in Gap on 18 July. In addition, my beloved will be airing his new cycling outfit while scaling some of the same cols as the professional peloton during the 3rd week of the Tour. The range is designed by a current French professional cyclist. It’s a shame he can’t guarantee that buying the kit will enable you to ride as fast as him. If he could, he’d have a surefire hit on his hands.

Sunday dawned warm and sunny with very little breeze. I eschewed the club outing to view the Ironman ride. I rode, at speed, to a good vantage point, overtaking a number of club cyclists en route. I was perspiring heavily by the time I arrived. I was in good company as the first competitors hove into view. I didn’t envy them their ride. It’s a scenic route but I doubted whether many would have the time to appreciate it. I was hoping to catch sight of my friend’s husband, and I did. He looked to be riding well but, most likely, he neither heard nor saw me. I watched for an hour or so and then continued on my way.

The podiums

The event starts at 06:30h in the morning and you have to complete the swim before 08:15h. Top competitors are out of the water in under an hour. There’s also a cut-off time for the bike ride. You need to be back on the Promenade des Anglais, ready to start the marathon, before 17:15h and complete it before 22:30h. The winning time in the men’s event was 8:28:30secs and for the winning female 9:34:31secs. Truthfully, I would be delighted to post that time just for the ride. A significant number of the competitors complete the event in over 14 hours. That’s a mind bogglingly long time to be out in the hot weather.

I arrived back home with enough time to prepare lunch ready for my beloved’s return. Thereafter, we subsided on the sofas to read the Sunday newspapers and watch the French national cycling championships.

The following day I noted many were walking around Nice wearing their finisher’s puce polo shirts and the obligatory calf recovery/compression leggings. A bit like the Tour de France, where I regard anyone who gets to Paris as a winner, the same has to be said for anyone completing an Ironman.

All hail

This week end I have been watching the French National Road Cycling Championship’s from Boulogne-sur Mer. The Women’s 19km Time-Trial was won in 29min 45 secs by the evergreen Jeannie Longo, a formidable competitor who continues ( I’d love to know how) to maintain her motivation. This was Jeannie’s 58th title. She’s the most successful French cyclist, ever. Most of the girls she competes against were just a twinkle in their father’s eyes when Jeannie won her first title.

She was born in 1958 in Annency,  in the French Alps, and began her sporting career as a downhill skier.  After winning the French schools’ ski championship and three university skiing championships, she switched to cycling at the urging of her coach (and later husband) Patrice Ciprelli. Within a few months, Longo had won her first (of many) French road race Championship. She was just 21. In addition to her numerous sporting achievements, Jeannie has also distinguished herself academically with a degree in Mathematics, an MBA and a doctorate in sports management.

She competes both in both road and track cycling events, is an Olympic gold-medalist and twelve-time world champion. Her impressive palmares includes:

  • Olympic Games road race: Gold Medal (1996); Silver Medal (1992)
  • Olympic Games individual time trial: Silver Medal (1996); Bronze Medal (2000)
  • 5 x UCI World Road Race Champion Champion (1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1995)
  • 4 x UCI World Time Trial Champion (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001)
  • 4 x UCI World Track Championship:
    • Points Race: Champion (1989)
    • 3 km Pursuit: Champion (1986, 1988, 1989); Silver Medal (1984, 1985, 1987); Bronze Medal (1981, 1982, 1983)
  • UCI World Mountain Bike World Championship: Silver Medal (1993)
  • 15 x French Road Race Champion: 1979 to 1989, 1992, 1995, 2006, 2008
  • 10 x French Time Trial Champion: 1995, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
  • 3 x winner of La Grande Boucle: 1987, 1988, 1989
  • 2 x Woman’s Challenge: 1991, 1999
  • Set Hour Record (45.094 km/h) in 2000 in Mexico City (14 years after setting the best hour performance record)

This is a woman who wants to win every time she gets on a bike, whether it’s the Olympic Games or a local bike race. For the past two years she’s taken part in our “gentleman event” and kindly handed out the trophies to the winners. Last year she and her husband were easily the fastest team. In a two-man event, Jeannie’s speed is limited by that of her husband. They beat a couple of lads from our club who were the French amateur Champions at this discipline. This year she was third, largely due to a problem with the traffic. She was not a happy bunny! This is a woman who hates to lose, at anything. Given that, if she were to retire, she would ride in my age group, I’m hoping she never does.  Jeannie, thanks. You’re an inspiration to thousands of women, everywhere.  It’s worth noting that on a course which didn’t suit her she finished second yesterday in the road race!

Christophe Kern, continuing his great form from the Dauphine, won the Men’s time-trial and Sylvain Chavanel won the Road Race. An impressive performance given that his only support was Jerome Pineau and a Quickstep Teamcar. This augurs well for the start of the Tour next week where Sylvain will be riding as aggressively as ever and hoping for a stage win and maybe, a couple of days (again) in yellow. A man with similar ambitions, Tommy Voeckler bravely defended the tricolour jersey to finish third.

Maybe next year

Today’s the start of London-Paris 2011 and there’s a tiny part of me that wishes I were doing it again this year. A bit like childbirth (or so I’ve been assured), the pain’s long forgotten and just the great memories remain. I have promised myself that I will do it again, probably with my beloved, although I’ll let him cycle in a faster group. Having taken part last year, I’m still on the newsletter distribution list so I get to live it again, albeit vicariously. There’s a couple of  innovations this year, one of which I would have welcomed last year. Haribo are one of this year’s sponsors and they’re going to be handing out sweeties en route. What I wouldn’t have done for a few gummi bears last year!

The other innovations include live tracking of the individual groups. This is somewhat embarrassing for those of us in the slower groups. I’m not sure I would want anyone knowing I’m travelling twice as slowly as the fast group. However, there’s worse to come. Hot Chillee send you a slickly edited video compilation of the ride well after the event is finished. It’s a really nice memento. This year the compilation is going to be shown on Eurosport. Remembering that a camera adds 10lbs, I would need to be well below my ideal weight before making my debut appearance on television. Of course one can hardly claim to have been tearing through the French countryside when Eurosport has the evidence of you rolling sedately along in what appears to be slow motion.

Places for London-Paris sell out incredibly quickly and while there’s a number of organised events of this type, IMHO, the one organised by Hot Chillee is in a class of its own. Everything is taken care of  so that you can just concentrate on  riding your bike. It all started in 2004, with just 13 participants. Today, it is recognised as one of the world’s most exciting Cyclosportives and is the closest the amateur rider can get to the Tour de France experience. It has rolling road closures, outriders and professional logistical back up along the entire route, from Hampton Court to The Eiffel Tower. It’s one of only two events that finishes in the centre of Paris with rolling road closures, the other’s the Tour de France. The peloton with its 45 motorbike outriders, rolls along the famous Parisian streets to an emotional finish. The 365 riders in five speed groups are supported by HotChillee’s 100-strong crew, which includes mechanics, sports therapists and 14 Ride Captains.

The Daily Telegraph listed The London-Paris as one of the world’s top 25 mass participation events, along side  the New York and London marathons. I’ve done two of those, does this mean I’m going to have to do the NY marathon?  The event has an impressive list of sponsors including London 2012 sponsor adidas, Mavic, DHL and (our club sponsor) Skoda, 20 corporate teams and a variety of high profile individuals from sport and business who greatly add to the ambience of the ride, along with the Ride Captains. Have fun this year!

School’s out for summer…………..

Well not quite, tomorrow’s the last day for most schools but this evening was our last English class until October. My pupils now have a 3-month break: well, not exactly. My two twelve-year olds have a project which should recap most of what we’ve done over the past three terms. They each have to write about their country’s of origin: Kazakhstan and Morocco. Two countries not as diverse as you might at first think. To help them with the structure, I’ve given them a number of topics from which they have to choose at least five of which two, cuisine and sport, are obligatory. This project has to be written in English and illustrated. At the start of next term they have to present their countries to me and one another. There’s a prize for the best project. Of course, there are two prizes, one each, but they don’t know that yet.

They’re going to be spending their summer’s quite differently. Sadly the one is going to be doing lessons all summer thanks to some mischief at school. I understand there’ll be no time off for good  behaviour and he’ll only be able to ride his bike at the week ends.  I have sympathised and said, on the bright side, this could leave him well placed to top the class next year. He looked unconvinced but tried to put a brave face on things. The other, who’s no less of a mischief maker, is going to be hanging out at the swimming pool, working on his tan. I think of them as two adorable little boys however looking at their facebook pages, which they were only too pleased to show to me, I see they’re a couple of babe magnets. These two boys, who’ve recently cornered the French market in hair gel, are bombarded with messages from pretty, pubescent girls wanting to be their friends. I don’t know about “lock up your daughters” it should also be lock up your cute sons before some Lolita leads them astray!

On the last day of school, it’s evidently custom and practice to bring something edible to share with your teacher and class mates: sweets, chocolates, biscuits. I’m sensing that this is fairly competitive as one of them said he wanted to ask me if I’d make him a cake to take to school. If he’d given me enough notice, I’d have been happy to oblige. Both of their mother’s work and one of them is a superb cook, I know I’ve eaten and greatly enjoyed some of her cooking. I suspect that the other one may not be, hence the shy request. Of course, not all French woman are excellent cooks. I drew the short straw with my pen friend. Her mother was a worse cook than my mother-in-law, and that’s truly saying something. She had two modus operandi: burnt or raw, nothing in between.

I think my pupils might need some encouragement during the summer month’s so I will organise a picnic (so beloved of the French), ostensibly to check on the progress of their projects but really to give them some added encouragement and, of course, to check on their tans.

One woman’s rubbish……..

Yes, it’s that time of year when every village has a “Vide Grenier”, the French equivalent of a car boot sale. However, my rubbish is just that, rubbish. So this week we are having a couple of trips to the local dump to dispose of those things that neither of us (or indeed anyone else) wants, any more. My husband is a hoarder while I’ll happily discard anything that is no longer pristine. My first port of call is always the local charities who gratefully receive any of our no longer wanted clothes and shoes. Books and magazines that have been read, multiple times, end up at the Domaine library for someone else to enjoy, probably during their holiday, while lounging around the pool.

Trips to the dump are rare, largely because there’s a limit as to how much or what you can get in a Smart. So, on those occasions when we do hire a car, like now, for our trips on the past three consecutive week ends, it’s also an opportunity to dispose of unwanted, and generally irreparable, items and garden rubbish. Yes, the dead and decaying remains of my beloved’s citrus garden have now gone to the big tip. I’m hoping that our recent purchases: herbs, lavender bushes, impatiens and geraniums aren’t facing a similar fate. So far, he’s been enthusiastically watering them most mornings. He’s very keen to acquire some tomato plants but, before he does, I want to understand what’s required in terms of care and maintenance. Once my beloved loses interest, I’ll be taking care of them. Guess that’s why we’ve never had children or pets.

I usually spend Monday’s up to my elbows in paperwork but I’ve postponed the less urgent stuff and continued with my Grand Spring Clean which has spilled over into the summer. The cupboards on the balcony, intended to house washing machines and space to dry clothing, provide homes for my kitchen overspill (bakeware, saucepans, spare fridge, cleaning products, vacuum etc) and my beloved’s booze overspill and bodge it yourself stuff. I know he rarely (thank God) does any DIY, but it’s useful for me to have access to the correct tools so that I can do it myself when he hasn’t, doesn’t or has but hasn’t done it right or hasn’t finished it. The cupboards have been restored to a pristine state.

I am of course building up a bit of head of steam ahead of the Tour de France. Yes, this is the talking point on everyone’s lips at the moment and I’m not going to disappoint. With 6 stages being broadcast from start to finish, as well as the usual splendid daily coverage on French television, I’m going to be spending quite a bit of time indoors in the first two weeks in July. My third week will be spent following the Tour with my bike and my beloved.

During the Tour I like to feel that my time is being well spent. The Tour ironing mountain is developing nicely as is the pile of mending, easily my least favourite task. I’ll also be giving the silver a good polish, changing the displays in the cabinets and tidying all the drawers and cupboards in the lounge and dining room. The last no mean task, but wholly necessary as it was scheduled for last year’s Vuelta.

All this cleaning and tidying absolves me from hours spent watching the peloton ride through some of the most gorgeous scenery on this earth. I’m always jotting down details of places I’d like to visit. Maybe that then should be the “Ride of my Life”. While others head off to more dangerous parts of the world, I’d like to cycle all around l’Hexagone. If you fancy joining my support crew, drop me a line.

Postscript: Domaine’s having a “Vide Caves” this week end. We all live in flats, hence no attics or basements, just store cupboards.

Relaxing week end

Starting point

We had planned to spend the week end in Manosque and ride two of the sportifs in La Sisteronne but, sadly, the organisers (Stephen Roche and Lucien Aimar) didn’t receive prefectural permission, no idea why, so we cancelled the trip. At least they found this out 2 weeks before the event, we only received a copy of the prefectural permission for La Kivilev on the Friday before the big day, nonetheless costs will have been incurred and it makes it much more likely that they’ll abandon attempts to hold future events. Instead we rode a randonnee in the l’Esterel, just up the road in the Var.

This is a lovely area to ride. A far less dense population means very much less traffic. The very rolling parcours and attractive terrain make it an interesting and picturesque ride. We elected (thankfully) to ride the shortest course which was nonetheless taxing as we were either ascending or descending. There was hardly any flat at all on the parcours. Sadly, and despite it being a well run event, it only attracted about 70 entrants. I only knew about it because I received an email directly from the president. Probably because the club is a member of FFCT (one of the few federation of which we’re not members), it’s not on our radar. We also tend to be highly insular and promote only those events in the Alpes Maritimes. I’ve made a mental note to look out for more events like this. I also gained another cup for my ever expanding collection. I’m not sure what it was for and didn’t like to ask as it might have  been for “La Doyenne”, oldest female participant. More likely, as there were so few of us, they gave a cup to every female entrant (all 3 of us) to encourage us.

En route

Yesterday’s exertions meant I fell asleep on the sofa only rousing in time to see Peter Sagan bag another stage win in the Tour de Suisse, this time a sprint. That boy is a phenomenal talent and I’m going to be looking forward to see how he fares in this year’s Vuelta. Today’s stage is an individual time trial which, barring a major accident or major mechanical, will be won by Fabulous Fabian. Cunego’s not renowned for his time-trialling prowess but the leader’s jersey, rather than Red Bull, often gives you wings. If not, Levi Leipheimer is handily poised to pounce and wrest it from him.

This morning’s pointage was close by in Sophia Antipolis. I rode with the club and discovered how the boys often manage to put 10 minutes into my time – they cheat. Yes, the entire peloton took a short cut and eliminated over 5km of undulating road. I was reported as having “gone the wrong way”. No boys, I write the route remember: you’ve taken a short cut. It left me wondering how often this happens. I follow the prescribed route, one minute they’re in sight, the next they’ve gone. Gone down a short cut more like! This left me free to follow the route at my own pace before rendezvousing with my beloved for a coffee over the Sunday newspapers.

Postscript: Spartacus won the time-trial and Levi leapfrogged  Damiano by 4 seconds!

Place your bets please

There’s always a lively debate about whether it’s best to ride the Dauphine or the Tour of Switzerland and what one can read into the form of each of the participants.  Personally, I feel it’s unwise to draw too many conclusions. History is rarely an accurate predictor of the future, just ask any actuary. It’s entirely possible that the eventual winner of the Tour participated in neither race (Alberto Contador). It’s a question of which race best fits the ambitions of the respective teams and their riders.

Bradley Wiggins win in the Dauphine is to be applauded. Was that Sky’s ambition before the race? Who knows? Or, having seized the opportunity, and the yellow jersey, did Wiggo and Sky merely do what needed to be done to stay atop of the podium. I often feel that you’re in a much stronger position when you’re in the leader’s jersey. You get a huge confidence boost and someone then has to try and take the jersey away from you. You just have to defend it.  No doubt this win, the biggest of Wiggins’ career on the road, should not be taken lightly, nor should one assume that Wiggins is battling for no better than 3rd. Shorn of Riis’s strategic and tactical support, I feel the Schleck’s will be at more of a disadvantage. In addition, it looks as if Andy has kept faith with his mechanic – was this wise?

Of course, it’s not so much whether it’s easier to win a one week tour than it is a three week one, more that the pool of riders capable of doing the former is greater than the latter. Nor should one make assumptions about the form, or lack thereof, of those who finished further down the GC, such as Schleck Jr, Basso and Samu. There’s still a couple of weeks for riders to find their form. Some find it easier and quicker to find than others. Again, we don’t know what their ambitions were going into the respective races. Was it just a training ride, were they sand bagging, fine tuning their form or were they going for the win?

Generally, the two races give those on the teams’ reserve lists an opportunity to prove their worth. Riders want to be at the Tour, it’s the largest, global, annual sporting spectacle and an ideal opportunity to conclude a deal for the following year, particularly if you’re in the last year of your contract.  Again, speculation is already rife as to who’s going where. But as the UCI’s window is closed, neither side can officially confirm the rumour mongering.

This year will be the debut Tour for a number of riders, including some who have already invested a number of years in the professional ranks. Nice Matin today featured an interview with a rider who lives locally and rides for Cofidis, Tristan Valentin. After breaking his elbow in Paris-Roubaix in 2008, he’s had a torrid time of it over the past three years.  I’d like to wish him good luck for this year’s Tour and I’ll be rooting for him to at least get in a breakaway and snaffle some airtime.

Postscript: Get well soon Juan Mauricio Soler

Long tale

Sometimes stories in the press catch my eye and make me smile. No, I’m not referring to the French police forcing Alberto off his unlit bike on the Galibier and into the team car. In yesterday’s Nice-Matin there was a report on the exploits of a member from the largest cycling club in Nice. He had cycled 5500 kilometers from Vence to Jerusalem in 60 days which translates into around 92kms a day. I felt this was pretty impressive for a man of almost 70.  He’s recorded the trip on his blog www.vencejerusalem2011.fr, taken 2500 photographs and around 6 hours of film.

This wasn’t his first adventure on the bike. In 2006 he rode to St Jacques de Compostelle and on arrival promised himself that his next trip would be to Jerusalem. Looking at his blog, he’s taken a very scenic route through Italy, Greece and Turkey. He wasn’t authorised to traverse Syria, nonetheless the guards invited him over the border for dinner and offered him overnight accommodation. He continued through Jordan, Palestine and into Israel. On the one hand this sounds like a rather pleasant vacation but frankly the realities of cycling that distance with everything one needs on one’s bike, plus the daily search for sufficient supplies and a place to rest one’s head, must make it very stressful. I would love to do something like this but without all those additional worries. I would like to be provided, as a minimum, with the following:

  1. a detailed map for the most scenic and varied route from A to wherever
  2. suitably comfortable accommodation (4 star minimum), a sustaining breakfast and lunch, plus a delicious dinner every day
  3. someone to transport all my luggage and do my laundry (I like fresh kit every day)
  4. an accompanying vehicle to attend to my needs en route
  5. my beloved to accompany me.

I’m quite sure someone would be prepared to do this, at a price. I just need to decide where I want to go and when.

Staying at home

I’ve been oddly silent these past few days and you might (or might not) just be wondering what’s happened: absolutely nothing. I’ve been out riding, lots. Yes, the weather’s been fine and I’ve been out on my bike, with my beloved, over some testing terrain and I’m now feeling in really good form. It was a good decision to stay home from the Tour de Suisse.

Friday morning a quick check on the weather forecast help make up our minds: sunny here, stormy at intended destination. We cancelled our trip. The 2012 Tour de Suisse prologue will also be held in Lugano, the town struck a 3-year deal, so we can always go next year. I was more sorry to have missed the prologue challenge which gives amateur riders an opportunity to ride the course in the morning. The winner however is not the one who posts the fastest time. No it’s the rider who best guesses the difference between his or her own time and that of the professional winner, obviously one Fabian Cancellara.

One of my Swiss friends went round the course on his motorbike, to better imitate Spartacus’s time and trajectory, and rode the course numerous times before Saturday morning which dawned fair and sunny, quite contrary to the forecast. On the day, he hung around too long at the start and set off in effect “cold”. As a consequence, he altered his estimate. Sadly, his original one would have won him the competition.  I confess I like this concept and wonder why more organisers don’t adopt it.

As I said, the weather here’s been fantastic and the temperature ideal for cycling. Although it’s been a Bank holiday week end, there’s not been too much traffic and, on those days when it’s been very cloudy on the relief,  we’ve ridden along the coast roads. The combination of sun and storms has left the countryside still relatively lush with bright splodges of colour provided by the blooming  fuchsia bougainvilleas and the pink, white and red blossoms on the oleanders.

I’m coming nicely into form for this week end’s La Sisteronne, or I would be were it not for the fact that it’s been cancelled. I was advised last week that they’ve not received approval from the Prefecture for the road closures. Fortunately, I was able to cancel our hotel booking without any penalty, others may not have been so fortunate. It’s rather a shame as I enjoyed doing this sportif two year’s ago and was looking forward to riding both courses with my beloved. Instead, we may ride a sportif in the L’Esterel on Saturday. It would be a shame to waste my excellent form, I even overtook riders going uphill today, practically unhead of……………………………..