Plugging away

After the storm, the sunshine
After the storm, the sunshine

I’ve not written much about my own training programme in recent weeks. I am, of course, still faithfully following the advice of my cycling coach but the various breaks have made it feel as if I’m, at best,  constantly treading water. October  turned out to be quite a benign month weatherwise and I tried to profit as much as possible by racking up the kilometres. After a cracking mid-month storm, I noted there was a dusting of snow on the hills and a decided nip in the air. Yes, it was official, autumn had well and truly arrived. I packed up my summer cycling wear and donned my long sleeved mid-season shirt and  3/4 bib-shorts – the latter unlikely to be forsaken much before May.

Possibly because this period was so wet last year, we’ve had a dearth of organised pointages (Sunday club association rides). Instead these have been replaced not with club rides but rides with friends. We had a final trip of the year up to the plateau at Thorenc for a picnic lunch complete with support and chow wagons. I really like this route but it’s not one I’m allowed to do on my own as there’s no mobile phone coverage on the plateau.It was an enjoyable ride up but we came back by car after a delicious repast.

My coach and I were proposing to go for a long ride in Italy but thanks to numerous cancellations this oft expressed desire has been shelved until next year. Honestly I was beginning to think the idea was jinxed especially after my car broke down. The coast road will do just fine for whatever exercises he has in mind.

Last week I had a severe case of cabin fever. We rode Sunday morning returning just in time to avoid the heavy rain shower. This continued all day Monday followed by the most amazing electric storm in the early hours of Tuesday morning. It continued to pour down all day Tuesday. At this point I was thankful we live in a flat on a hill. Wednesday morning the sunshine returned briefly for an hour or so lulling us into a false sense of security. The downpour started again just as we were attempting to leave the Domaine. My beloved, who was going to be spending the next few days at an exhibition in Paris, decided to brave the downpour, while I beat a hasty retreat, so returning just over an hour later totally drenched.

Thursday dawned brightly on the coast with the menacing black clouds lingering on the hills. I wasted not a moment and went out for a longish (100km) ride along the coast, recording one of my best times for the ride. It only started to rain again later that evening as I was leaving my English class. It continued to rain on Friday, so much that I expected Noah and his Ark to put in an appearance.

It’s now stopped raining and the sunshine – thank goodness –  has returned. But it’s much colder and there’s a thick dusting of snow on the hills. The mid-season jersey has been replaced with the winter one and I’ve gotten out my woollen socks, although I’m still wearing half-fingered gloves, but probably not for much longer. It’s at this point climbing hills is restricted to the shorter ones. It’s not the ascent I mind, so much as the bone-chilling descent which can often be slippery too in the winter months.

I have a well-honed selection of winter routes which include shortish climbs where I can practise any number of fiendish exercises set me by my coach. I like the sprinting and endurance ones best and often provide a few moments of amusement for those labouring away on the maintenance or renovation of some of the fine coastal properties. This is supplemented with sessions on the home trainer – hour max – a spot of jogging and the occasional session in the Domaine’s gym. Though I note with some horror my coach has suggested a spot of swimming in this month’s programme. I’ll soon disabuse him of that idea.

Of course, with Xmas and temptation looming, I feel the need to step it up a bit. If I don’t all my clothes will start feeling snug!

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