Really excellent, thanks

Every two weeks my cycling coach asks me to complete a small questionnaire. On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), I have to say how tired I’m feeling, how confident I’m feeling about meeting my goal (London-Paris) and my mood. Generally, I score 5, 7 and 10 respectively. I also have to give him positives and negatives about my training regime.

This week the legs are definitely an 8 and I think I’ve a slight groin strain. I’m not sure how I did this. Was it the one-legged pedalling on Sunday or was it stomping on the pedals up the Col de la Madone yesterday? Today the weather was again wonderful, but I felt no real desire to cycle. Stretch yes, cycle no.

Instead, I went with M le President to the AGM of our local branch of Credit Agricole, one of the club’s sponsors. We decided that a show of solidarity was needed to cement the relationship and ensure their continued support. It seemed to work as they’ve agreed to cover the cost of the trophies for the forthcoming Kivilev. This is not an inconsiderable cost as we seem to hand them out willy, nilly to all and sundry.  I did suggest we recycle some of our considerable haul but suspect it was regarded much as a treasonable offence.

Back to the questionnaire. I’m still a 7 on meeting my goal, after all there’s just under 3 month’s of training. Though I did get a bit disheartened last Friday when I was overtaken by a man running up Col de Vence. My husband agreed that he was clearly a top runner and I could have easily overtaken him going the other way ie downhill. 

My mood is still a 10. In fact, it’s hardly ever less than 10. It’s much more likely to exceed 10. Indeed, when people ask me how I am, I generally say “Really excellent, as usual”.

My favourite bits of the programme are the two rest days this week though I’m going to have to get a fuller explanation as to what exactly is involved in Saturday’s “muscular activation including 5 accelerations lasting from 10-30 seconds”. I have checked and this activity definitely takes place on the bike. All this is leading up to Sunday’s cyclosportif La Charly Berard.

Like last year, I have opted for the shorter course (just three hills) but instead of starting at the back I’m going to be leading the charge from the front and trying to stay with the pack as long as possible. Betfair.com have me at 2-1 to get dropped on the ride up to Falicon – what do they know?

Extra time

I’m typing this during the action packed second-half of extra time at Stade de France where the score is one apiece. The Irish started the match strongly and Robbie Keane, deservedly,  fired one in from a Damian Duff pass on 32nd minute.  The match was still tied at the end of full-time.

Govou’s goal in 102 minute was ruled off-side then Gallas scored a minute later, from a double Henry hand ball, much to the disbelief of the Irish present. At the end of extra time cue huge sighs of French relief all-round accompanied by much gallic hugging and kissing. Yes, the French, along with the Slovenians, Greeks, Algerians and Portuguese are off to South Africa.

Obviously, L’Equipe has been building its coverage since Sunday and I’m thinking they’ll easily fill 6 pages tomorrow plus a couple of full-page adverts from grateful sponsors.

I was somewhat mystified to learn that Yoann Gourcuff had been voted (only) the 3rd best looking footballer in France until I learned that it was by the readers of a gay magazine – that explains it. Don’t worry Yoann, you’re still top dog with the girls.

I’ve finished reading Jens Voigt’s book “Man Muss Kaempfen!” (one must fight) and it’s pretty much what one would expect but I was left wanting more. Most of the narrative surrounds his Tour de France rides for firstly Credit Agricole and then CSC, where he’s equally complimentary about Roger Legeay, Bjarne Riis and his teammates. I’d have liked a bit more nitty, gritty. But in Germany, post-Puerto, I guess something anodyne was just what the doctor ordered. Jens comes across as a hardworking, reliable team mate and devoted family man who believes that if you don’t give it a go, you don’t stand a chance of winning – very true.

For a complete contrast, I’ve turned to “Vie et Mort de Marco Pantani” (Life and Death of Marco Pantani) written by L’Equipe’s own Philippe Brunel.

Il Pirato in pink

This’ll be the third book I’ve read on the topic and it appears to give more of an insider’s view than the other two: The Death of Marco Pantani by Matt Rendell and, the compilation, Marco Pantani: The Legend of a Tragic Champion. Shame I never got to see him dance on those pedals.

No show

According to Sunday’s edition of Nice Matin, 142 hardy souls braved the hail and rain to complete “Les Bosses du Soleil”. I wasn’t one of them. My sister’s flight having been delayed the night before, I got to bed at midnight, well past my preferred deadline. When I awoke at 05:20am, my husband was sleeping soundly (ie dead to the world) and the sky looked grey and stormy. So, I switched off the alarm, rolled over and went back to sleep for a couple of hours. My husband slept until 10:30am. We just went for a long, gentle cycle later that day.

We rose early on Sunday as M Le President had issued a 3-line whip for attendance at the official club photograph held, fittingly, on the steps of the Town Hall with our sponsors (Skoda and Credit Agricole) in attendance.

Can you find me?
Can you find me?

This is always a bit of a nerve wracking time for me as I try to stand between two people who weigh more than me. Unfortunately, two of the chaps who do were “no shows” but the end result was quite pleasing. You can actually see me this year, standing next to my husband. 

The photo-shoot completed we set off towards the pointage at St Jeannet. The boys had obviously breakfasted on rocket fuel and I was rapidly distanced, not on the climb to Gattieres, but on the small rise out of the industrial estate. I just let them go.

At the pointage in St Jeannet they traditionally serve an anchovy spread on bread. I made the mistake of having some last year and, though it’s delicious, discovered it’s not ideal bike fuel. I love the descent from the old village: no braking required.

I was looking forward to a relaxing afternoon, watching the Critérium du Dauphiné liberé Prologue and reading Vélo magazine’s excellent review of the Tour de France. Le Grand Depart is only 4 weeks away – I can hardly wait.