I’ve not been feeling my usual perky self. In fact, I would go as far as saying that I’m feeling a bit “run down”. Generally, I’m a hugely energetic person, but I’ve been feeling positively sluggish and my riding is suffering too. Witness my recent laboured ascents of Col de Vence. My nutritionist has made a few suggestions which I’m happy to follow. I sense I need a day’s peace and quiet but I’m not going to get that anytime soon.

I was feeling so tired last week, thanks to my beloved’s snoring the night before that, after dropping him off at the airport, I went and sat on the beach, in the warm sunshine and enjoyed a quiet hour with the newspapers. This is the first time, since we moved here 6 year’s ago, that I’ve just gone and sat on the beach.  Of course, I could have gone home but as I was due down the club in an hour, it wasn’t worth considering.

This general fatigue has manifested as a continuing lack of form on the bike which I’m at a loss to explain. I’ve stuck rigidly to the training programme and the new regime. I’m long since over the cold, and my allergies have been nowhere near as bad as last year. My mileage this year is similar to last, however I haven’t climbed as much. This was partly due to the colder weather in March and April, and completing fewer brevets than at the same time last year. I missed La Charly Berard while we were in Roubaix. La Louis Caput was rained off and I didn’t finish La Lazarides.

My coach, initially worried that I’d overtrained (as if?), counselled building more base mileage and, with the warm sunny weather continuing over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been more than happy to oblige. I’ve stuck to my tried and tested routes, to better enable direct comparison. In addition to which I’ve completed a number of longer rides; specifically, Tuesday’s attempt at La Kivilev’s 175km ride which went well. In fact better than anticipated, so maybe my elusive form is slowly returning.

Saturday, I’ll be riding the 100km course of La Vencoise. Actually, I’ll be riding 130km as I intend to ride to and from the start. You see, I find it very difficult to head up an average 7% climb for nearly 11km with only a 1km warm up. I think I’ll do much better if I start by following my usual route. At least that’s the theory. Sunday’s pointage takes us to Menton and then up and over Col de la Madone. I’m sensing I’m going to enjoy the following week’s rest.

With only a couple of weeks to go until the day of the Kivilev, everyone involved in it’s organisation is pretty busy. The baking is going well, in fact I recently whipped up a trial batch of post-ride cookies. My English pupils love cookies and are willing to eat any of my experiments. I combined a couple of recipes to produce banana oaten cookies, containing both fresh and dried bananas. They were a huge hit and evaporated in minutes.  I made a second batch for everyone at the Kivilev Commission meeting. The older boys gave them the thumbs up too. A number of my available club mates keep asking me if I have any single girl friends who cook as well as I do. Of course not, anyone who cooks that well’s bound to be married I say. They shake their heads knowingly in agreement. So if any of my female readers can cook well, like cycling and are single, do drop me a line.

My LBS rang me up. The man from UPS had tried to deliver the Kivilev t-shirts to the club but there’s rarely anyone there during the day. He was round at my LBS making another delivery and asked the owner for advice on how to contact us as he only had the club’s phone number. The owner rang me. Now while Tom III is more spacious than you might imagine, there’s no way I can cram in eight large cartons, each containing 100 t-shirts. To be honest, I couldn’t even get one of those cartons into the car. My LBS took them in overnight and the Treasurer picked them up the next day. To thank my LBS owner and his trusty assistant, I dropped off a few of my cookies. They too gave them the thumbs up. The recipe is now a confirmed hit.

I’ll have mustard with mine

Yesterday was my first attempt at a local sportif called La Lazarides. I did the shorter parcours (107km) accompanied by my beloved. Or should that be part-accompanied, since he lost me on the way back. I know: careless, foolish, misguided or what? It’s not a good idea to lose the person with the map, the money, the car keys and the mobile phone.

The club was severely underrepresented: only three of us. But when I’d questioned a few of the regulars as to why they weren’t taking part, they all said it was more like a race than a randonnee. Actually, that was true. Fewer participants, generally only the better club riders (me being one of the very few exceptions), police assistance, cars covering the breakaways on both parcours and two pro-Tour riders who kindly just kept pace with the (amateur) leaders.

It was a lovely parcours and we both agreed we should ride more often over this terrain. It starts using the back-end of the smaller l’Antiboise parcours and then heads on past the dreaded Lac St Cassien (again, loads of traffic) before ascending to Mons via Fayence, but thankfully not by way of the Muur de Fayence (26%). Weaving one’s way through market day in Fayence was a little tricky. Thereafter, the roads were quiet and it was a great climb up to Mons and the feed zone where they had real coke, albeit lukewarm, and some delicious ham rolls.

Then there was a fast descent back down via  Callian and Montaroux which was were I overtook my beloved. The leaders of the 150km parcours came steaming past me and I tucked onto the end of the group. Much to everyone’s surprise, I manage to stay with them on the descent. My beloved claimed he was waiting for me at the Montaroux fountain. I never saw him as I zoomed through the town. Of course, as soon as the gradient changed, I was back on my lonesome.

I rode to the control point at the foot of the Tanneron and advised them I’d lost my husband  – careless, or what! – before continuing on up the hill. I assumed he’d soon catch me up. I was wrong, it took him until the final couple of kilometers. But what a welcome when we got back to the Stade Maurice Chevalier, a BBQ no less. Never have sausages, bread and mustard tasted so good. I’m going to suggest this for the Kivilev. Having consumed this feast, it started to rain in earnest, so we skipped the tombola and headed for home.

Once home we had to check our stats on the Garmin: more climbing and a faster average speed than La Louis Caput. Who would have thought it? It was a very rolling parcours with the final climb up the Tanneron coming at just after 80kms. There were even a few uphill stretches in the final couple of kilometers.

My legs felt tired today and I really laboured up the hill to Pre du Lac but after a gentle ride this morning they’re now feeling a lot better. The promised stormy weather held off and, as a result, I’m hoping that the forecast for the forthcoming days will improve. I’ve plenty of mileage on the programme for next week.

My beloved boys in claret and blue went down 3-1 away at Man City, effectively blowing any lingering chance of 4th or 5th spot in the Premiership. Still, with Liverpool losing to Chelsea today, we should hold onto 6th: no mean feat.

Ten minutes before full-time OGCN were comfortably leading 3-0 away at Boulogne, a team heading for relegation. Final score: 3-3! Yes, pretty unbelievable but, sadly, all too true. Goodness knows what happened to our defence – totally MIA.

Over in the Tour of Romandie, as anticipated, Valverde pounced on the final stage to take the overall, Spilak was 2nd and Menchov 3rd. The weather was again truly awful and 56 riders, who were out of contention, got off their bikes. Can’t say I blame them.