Another one from the early days, July 2011, and as Greg Lemond (three times Tour de France winner and twice UCI Road Race world champion) famously said:
It never gets easier, you just go faster
Whenever I watch professional bike racers I marvel at their speed, particularly going uphill. By and large a professional will complete an average stage in half the time it would take me. They’re around 40% faster than me on the flat, 20-25% faster than me downhill and a staggering 3 times faster than me going uphill. This enormous difference can be explained in part by age, sex, power to weight ratio, years spent training and bike handling skills. Consequently, I always come back from watching them feeling inspired and enthused. So there’s only one thing for it, yes, a trip up the Col de Vence.
After a smooth ascent to Vence, I rode up the first steep section feeling positively enthused. Now I don’t generally look at my Garmin as I’m riding along but as I still can’t seem to download the data, I thought I’d check on my splits. I started off doing 5 minute kilometres which wasn’t too shabby as the first bit is quite steep. As usual, this went out to 6 minutes once I reached 6.5kms to go and continued for another 2.5kms. This stretch is always my bete noire. It was a perfect day for a ride: not too warm, not too much wind and hardly any traffic. I gritted my teeth and rode on overtaking a whole bunch of people (don’t you just love tourists!). With 4km to go I was back to riding 5 minute kilometres and once I’d passed the riding school, I was positively sprinting. I rode the last 500m en danseuse (dancing on the pedals) to complete my fastest ascent this year and a minute shy of my best ever. All that altitude training paid dividends. I’m still waiting for the improved power to weight ratio to kick in but maybe it’s being offset by rapid age-related decline. An hour to ascend, then just ten minutes to get back to Vence.
This is my rest week where I’ll be doing a couple of recovery rides and some splashing about in the pool/sea. Over the coming weeks, I’m going to tackle with a bit more vim and vigour “Operation Elimination of Silly Tan Lines” – the bane of all cyclists. I now have my sun bed handily placed on the balcony, outside the office. I could, of course, sun myself down at the swimming pool, but there’s a bit of a bun fight for the loungers during August and I’m wary of frightening small children with my current scary tan lines. In addition, I find any more than a 30 minute daily dose of sunbathing a bit boring. How my sisters manage to spend all day lazing on the beach is quite beyond me.
Having deposited my beloved at the airport this morning, I have a couple of day’s welcome respite before we meet up again in San Sebastian on Thursday evening. Meanwhile, he’ll have held a training session in Boston and given a presentation in London. I’ll have hopefully restored order to the flat, caught up with numerous administrative tasks, rounded up all the volunteers for our club cycle race “La Ronde” and baked a few more cakes to feed the hordes.