Bit of a roundup

After four days off the bike, it was a pleasure to resume my training programme. I’ve been riding really strongly this week, particularly on the climbs, and feel on track for this week end’s brevet, the l’Antiboise, organised by a neighbouring club. Last year, I unwisely and unsuccessfully rode the 150km parcours, bonking spectacularly after 103km. This year, I’m riding the 100km course which, with the ride to and from the start, will be a 120km round trip. We’ll be setting off relatively early so as to be back in time to watch the Amstel Gold Race. I understand from an article on Cyclingnews that some, as yet unidentified, locals have been sabotaging the course with tacks!

We have friends who live in Valkenberg, just a stone’s throw from the Cauberg, and were fortunate to be in the area on business a few year’s ago and watched the race from a good spot (near the big screen) on that hill which is decidedly leg sapping. I was riding my friend’s “sit up and beg bike” which I would have been hard pushed to indeed push it up the hill, let alone ride. On race day, the hill is thronged with spectators, particularly on the lower sections which are bordered by bars and restaurants, and it has a fantastic atmosphere.

While we’re all awaiting the next monument in the Classics season, those cute boys in lycra have still been racing. PhilGil, last year’s Amstel winner, won Wednesday’s Fleche Brabanconne, so he’s on form for his objectives of next Wednesday’s Fleche Wallonne and next weekend’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Meanwhile, Alberto Contador (SaxoBank-Sungard), Igor Anton (Euskatel-Euskadi), Carlos Sastre (Geox) and Xavier Tondo (Movistar) are the main protagonists in the 5-day Vuelta Ciclista Castilla y Leon, which is chock full of 2nd and 3rd division teams. This isn’t an overly bumpy parcours, indeed, the first two stages have featured the sprinters and have both been won by Francisco Ventoso (Movistar), clocking up his 6th stage win in this race. The French teams have been racing in the Coupe de France whose leader is young Tony Gallopin (Cofidis). In the 4th round, Sandy Casar (FDJ) emerged as the big cheese in Paris-Camembert while Jimmy Casper won his 4th GP de Denain Porte du Hainault.

I haven’t passed much comment on the football of late. There’s not a lot to say about either of my teams whose fortunes seem to mirror one another. OGCN, with one of the smallest budgets in the French first division, generally punch above their weight and are playing Lille in next week’s semi-final of the French Cup and should finish the season a couple of places above the relegation zone. My beloved boys in claret and blue are going through what I hope is a transition phase and, despite the inevitable end of season loss of one of their best players (again), should survive to rebound next season.

My beloved has been away for a couple of days which has enabled me to complete a number of tasks for the club before I leave for next week’s break in Varese. My beloved has decided to take a week’s holiday but if I don’t get him out of the office, he’ll just be working away on his emails. We’re staying in the same B&B I stayed in while volunteering at the 2008 Road Cycling World Championship’s in Varese. We’ve become good friends with the owners and stay a couple of times a year either visiting clients or friends nearby. It’s a lovely area to cycle around; witness the large number of professional riders who live and train in the area. I particularly enjoy cycling around the lakes and covering some of the route of the tour of Lombardy.

By hook or by crook

It’s hard to know what to make of the current situation particularly as I’ve not been affected by it in any way. In fact, I’m watching it with detached interest. As someone who’s previously worked in the reinsurance industry, this type of disaster, low probability/high impact, is fascinating. I’m sure most actuaries would agree with me.

The Eyjafjallajokull volcano last erupted in 1821 and its outpourings lasted for over a year. Clearly, with the airline industry losing hundreds of millions of £/$/Euros per day, this won’t be sustainable for long. As an aside, I’m not sure that I’d appreciate having my beloved home, and demanding to be fed at regular intervals, for over a year. For the sake of my sanity, and the sanity of other women whose husbands travel as frequently as mine, it is to be hoped that a safe solution is found sooner rather than later.

Of course, the news has been full of tales of intrepid travellers who have ingeniously managed to get back to Blighty. Indeed, a colleague of my beloved needed to get back to the UK from Munich last Thursday evening lest he miss out on his week end birthday celebrations.  He took a train to Calais where he found that the only places left on the ferry were those reserved for cyclists. Undaunted, he acquired a bicycle from a local bike shop which he then rode (as required by regulations) onto the ferry. Apparantly, he was not the only businessman who resorted to this ruse.

Professional cyclists, used to hopping onto planes with the same alacrity with which they climb into the saddle, have also had to use their initiative to reach races. The Spanish contingent, including Valverde and Contador, drove over 2,000km to Belgium in time for tomorrow’s Fleche Wallonne. Andre Greipel took 36 hours to get back home to Germany after spending fewer hours racing to 5 stage wins in the Tour of Turkey. Others, particularly if they didn’t fare as well as their Directeur Sportif might have hoped, may still be wending their weary way home.