So much to do, so little time

I know, I know it’s been a while since I last posted anything but in my defence I have been quite busy. With under three weeks to go until La Kivilev, things are gathering pace. I must confess that I’m going to breathe a huge sigh of relief once it’s over and go away for a few days, but more of that later.

The MotoGP season has restarted and while I’ve managed to watch all of the races not all of them have been live. Thank goodness for Eurosport’s endless repeats of sporting events. The football season is almost at an end with barely a comment from me. All I can say is that it looks as if both my clubs will live to fight another season in their respective top leagues. It’s been a season of struggling to survive with the odd flash, nothing more, of brilliance. Bayern play Chelsea at Bayern in the Champions League final – bet no one saw that one coming – and then it’s all over for a week or so until Euro 2012. It’s going to be a bumper sporting summer, but will I have the necessary stamina to survive?

I’m finding it hard to enthuse about London 2012 which sounds as if it’s going to be a logistical nightmare. Now that they’re going to charge spectators to watch the road races from Boxhill and the time-trial in Hampton Court, I’ve decided that this is one live event I can and will do without. I’ll be watching the Olympics from the comfort of my lounge, including the cycling.

I’ve attended another Triathlon, purely as an exhibitor you understand, just thinking about attempting one is enough to leave me fatigued. I’d be happy to do the cycle but I’d never manage the swim with my floundering doggy paddle. I was helping out my friends on their premium clothing stand (www.g4dimension.com) and it’s always interesting to meet a different sporting crowd. TriStar Cannes featured rather shorter events and therefore attracted a rather different crowd from last year’s Ironman event –  less international and less hardcore. Still plenty of tattoos though. It was nice to see the fruit of some of my recent labours as I’d done all the translation work for their re-launched website and new product catalogue.

I may also be doing a stint as a surrogate parent to two teenage boys. Their parents are looking for some quality time together and I’ve volunteered. It’ll be an enjoyable 10 days or so and anyone who knows me well will know that they’ll be no match for me. That’s right, they’ll be returning to their parents happy, but exhausted, after a few days with Auntie Sheree.

An old friend came for a visit last week and it was good to spend some quality time with her and do some much-neglected sightseeing. Yes, my reintroduction of one day a week visiting different towns and places very quickly went by the wayside. I keep thinking, next year, after I’m no longer slaving for the club. As you might imagine, the list of things I’m going to do “next year” is growing exponentially.

I’m back on my bike and training for this week end’s la Vencoise which goes up and over my favourite hill, the Col de Vence, in both directions. I’ve been adding a few longer rides, plus more climbs, to my weekly rides as we head relentlessly towards summer and the possibility of rides up some of the longer local hills. Would you believe I’ve still to climb the Col du Turini! We’ve got the Kivilev ride for the volunteers this week but I’m going to have to dip out – lack of time.

Of course, May’s main event is the Giro and over at VeloVoices we’re having a swell time in pink. I watched, tweeted and commented on yesterday’s stage – the team time-trial in Verona – all the while thinking I should have been there. Yes, the Giro is yet another one for my “next year” list. Yesterday’s stage was doubly disappointing as it would have given me an opportunity to catch up with friends who live close to Verona, a city I’ve yet to visit. The Giro’s start in Savona next Friday was another on my list but is currently under threat from the advancing work load.

Of course, VeloVoices is one of the reasons why I haven’t written so much on the blog in recent months. I’m pouring my energies into that and frankly while it’s very enjoyable it’s also very time-consuming. How my fellow writers manage to produce so much copy while holding down full-time jobs and families just amazes me until I realise I actually have a full-time job too and one very large baby to look after – my beloved.

Crumbs

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.

Slip, sliding away

A bit of a hiatus this week due largely to  pressure of work and not an extended absence, as planned, watching the Giro. And what a Giro it has been. Cloud bursts made the TTT trial somewhat of a lottery and those men in lime green seized the opportunity to occupy the first three places on GC, and hence the maglia rosa, and the young rider’s jersey.

Thursday’s 5th stage to Novi Ligure was won by someone in the breakaway. Don’t you just love that when it happens? I do. Jerome Pineau won ahead of his breakaway companions, Julien Fouchard (Cofidis) and Yukira Arashiro (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) to record Quick Step’s 2nd stage win of this Giro, just 100 metres ahead of the advancing peloton.

And what do you know, a breakaway succeeded on Friday too. Matt Lloyd (Omega Pharma Lotto) and Rubens Bertogliati (Androni Giocattoli-Diquigiovanni) went away after 46kms and stayed away. The former beating the latter to the line in Marina di Carrara by over a minute. Danilo Hondo (Lampre Farnese-Vino) won the sprint for 3rd.

So, here we are, stage 7 to Montalcino and Liquigas are still occupying the podium. Yet another Aussi won today. Yes, Cadel “Cuddles” Evans won the mud fight on the strade bianche which had been turned brown by the rain. Indeed, it was hard to make out who was who as they were all literally covered in mud. The pink jersey slid off the wet, tarmac road taking out a number of his team mates and forcing a break in the leading group. Those ahead continued but, as per peloton protocol, didn’t force the pace. Evans bridged up to this group and, along with Vino, was responsible for finally whittling it down.

As they approached the finish line, Evans was ahead of Cunego with Vino in 3rd place. That’s how it stayed, as Evans rode strongly to victory. He’s really been a different rider since donning the rainbow jersey and now lies 1 min 12 secs back on Vino who’s looking pretty in pink again. Today’s biggest losers were Carlos Sastre and Xavier Tondo (Cervelo). But there’s still an awful long way to go.

We watched today’s stage after getting back from completing La Vencoise: 2000m of climbing over 105km. It’s the first time I’ve done this course which was well marshalled and organised. My beloved kindly kept me company until the final feed point at which point I set him free. I managed to avoid the cloud burst on the climb from St Pons to the top of Col de Vence on the run in for home. Riders faster than me, including my beloved, weren’t so lucky. Amazingly, I wasn’t the lanterne rouge, finished strongly and turned in a reasonable time (for me) of 5hr 48 minutes.  This should stand me in good stead for Thursday’s 175km ride  (2,713m) with the other volunteers for the Kivilev.  I guess I should do a time of around 11 hours which sounds like an awfully long time in the saddle.

Raincheck

My beloved returned yesterday evening, safe and sound. His flight had been delayed. However, I may now be stuck with him as the volcanic ash has drifted across southern Europe closing numerous airports, including Nice. He was due to depart for Poland tomorrow morning.

I let him sleep in this morning as he’s had a few very busy days. Given the state of the weather (70% chance of precipitation), we decided to ride along the coast this morning. Fortunately, it didn’t rain, although it was quite humid and still wet underfoot from yesterday’s torrential downpour.  We returned from our ride, had lunch and settled down to watch Stage 2 of the Giro.

Initially, this was beset by technical problems as there were no pictures from the helicopters, just those from the motorcycles. As is often the case at the start of a Grand Tour, the peloton was nervous and the amount of Dutch road furniture didn’t help. There were numerous spills, including the Stage winner and the Pink Jersey, but fortunately none appeared to be too serious. Though a crash within 7km of the finish produced splits in the peloton allowing Evans, who was in the first group along with Vino, to don pink for tomorrow’s stage. Plenty of the sprinters are within spitting distance of the leader’s jersey so it’s highly probable that Evans will relinquish it after tomorrow’s stage.

The riders may then face a very long transfer (1276km) by road, rather than a flight, to Northern Italy for Wednesday’s TTT. Sadly though not all the team’s buses are quite as well equipped as that of Team Sky. Bang goes their rest day!

Given the very unfavourable weather forecasts, we have cancelled our trip following the early stages of the Giro, though I shall still go to see the TTT in Cuneo. This means, weather permitting, we’ll be able to take part for the first time in La Vencoise which, as it’s name suggests, starts in Vence and heads over the Col de Vence, following a not dissimilar route to that of La Louis Caput but with slightly more climbing, returning by way of Col de Vence.

Postscript: Nice airport has reopened allowing my beloved to depart. Equally, I assume the riders  in the Giro will be able to fly to Italy.