Companionship

I habitually ride on my own. Even when I ride with my beloved, or my club mates, I inevitably end up riding on my own. You might conclude that this was because no one can hold my wheel but, sadly, it’s the other way around.  However, from time to time it’s nice to ride along, shoulder to shoulder, chatting with someone who rides at the same pace.

I got back last night from dinner in Nice to find a message from my friend, she wanted to ride with me today. When I left the Domaine this morning it had just finished raining and the sky was not looking promising. However, my traffic light karma was in overdrive. There are twelve sets of traffic lights between us, over a distance of 5kms, and each one turned green as I approached. I covered the distance to the meeting point in record time and, on account of the dark clouds, we opted for a number of circuits of Cap d’Antibes – quicker to get back home, should rain fall.

As we navigated our first circuit of the Cap, the sun started to break through the clouds and began dancing on the waves. We didn’t need to say anything to one another, we just smiled. It’s just one of the many reasons we both chose to live in this beautiful part of the world and why neither of us likes leaving it for too long.

 There weren’t too many other cyclists on the road but we bumped into one we both knew and who rode with us for a while – the owner of our LBS. He’s recovering from a recent accident (contretemps with a bus) and man flu, so we promised to be gentle with him and ride at his pace! He has a new toy, a power tap. Every time we ascended, he kept telling us his wattage and, since we kept pace, ours too.  

We were making plans for the forthcoming season: which sportifs we were going to take part in, which live races we were going to watch and how many kilos we were going to shed. We had a coffee together before I headed back home. She’s coming round tomorrow evening to raid my extensive library of cycling books for something to keep her company over the Xmas period.

I shall be adding to this collection in the coming weeks as I’ve received a number of Amazon vouchers as Xmas presents. Some think vouchers are a cop-out, but I love them. It means I can justify buying some expensive tomes that I’ve been lusting over.  Remember, I’ve got another big book case to fill.

Smart

One of my last preparatory acts is to break down my bicycle and put it into its hard case ready for transporting all the way to Austin, Texas. I intend to practise taking it apart and putting it back together again, several times, under the watchful eye of the owner of my LBS and his able assistant, one of my former club mates who has moved to a club which better supports his racing ambitions; Sprinter Club de Nice.

Yesterday, in readiness for today’s exercise, I transported my hard case down to the LBS. No mean feat in a Smart car. It did fit into the front seat, or should I say seats, of the car while leaving no room for me. It wouldn’t fit into the boot. So that just left the bike rack on the back of the car. While not a wholly satisfactory way of transporting the case, it was my only option.

The Smart bike carrier is triangular. Cupped holders secure the wheels and a separate arm secures the bike frame. I have happily transported the bike afar on this contraption, though I must admit to nervously glancing frequently in the mirrors to verify that a) it’s still there and b) it’s still in one piece.

In order to attach the case, I had to dismantle the arm, but it kept slipping off the cupped holders and listing to the right-hand side of the car. Undeterred, I tethered it with yards of wide white rope. The end result was weirdly sado-masochistic but not even Henry Houdini would have been able to escape. I will have to use the same method to transport the case containing the bike back home. Wisely, I have decided to book a taxi for the 10 minute trip to the airport early next Wednesday morning; far less stressful.

I took the bike down this afternoon and, after a quick espresso, work started in earnest and, as is so often the case, was nowhere near as difficult as I’d thought. I watched carefully, visualised the process, took notes and am going back on Monday afternoon to reassemble and disassemble it once again. In the meantime, I need to acquire a No 15 spanner to deal with the pedals. I’m now feeling quietly confident. Let’s hope it’s not misplaced.