Pipped at the post

Another sunny day which I kicked off with a ride. I hadn’t gone far when I met up with two club mates and so I rode with them. I hadn’t seen either of them for a while. One was just recovering from a nasty dose of man flu while the other has been kept busy by his 12 grand-children.

We passed a number of club mates, going in the opposite direction, who had been out on that morning’s earlier club ride. Like me these two see no reason to ride when it’s really cold, preferring to leave an hour or so later. They also like to stop for a coffee and a chat on the way back: much more companiable.

Mind you I’d no sooner gotten back home, showered, changed and had lunch than I was off down to the club for our monthly meeting on the forthcoming Brevet Kivilev. Who knew that there were so many small details that needed to be taken care of – not me. For example, as the routes criss-cross 16 communes that’s 16 letters that have to be written to 16 mayors advising them of our plans. We’re also short of around 20 volunteers and while we’ve not yet resorted to press-ganging members and their families, or even strong arming them, don’t put it past us.

Nor have we started to solicit donations for the all-important tombola, the key prize of which is usually a bike frame. I’m donating one of those string vests (wouldn’t be seen dead in it), a Mellow Johnny’s T-shirt and a couple of cycling books. We’re hoping to drum up a few pieces of kit from the locally resident pros and anything else we can lay our hands on. M le President has done an excellent job on the tombola for the last couple of years. After all, if you had a local business, you’d want to keep on the right side of the head honcho down at the fire station – wouldn’t you?

The meeting ran into the regular monthly club meeting for which there was a particularly good attendance. All the better to hear that we had retained our regional championship, 2nd division on account of the number of members. Not only that but we’d come 2nd overall, beating off two larger clubs from nearby Antibes. I think this gives M le President bragging rights at the next UFOLEP meeting.   

Got back home (again) just in time to watch the highlights of today’s first stage in Adelaide of the Tour down Under which was won by Andrei Greipel (HTC-Columbia) who narrowly beat Gert Steegmans (Radio Shack) whom we’ve not seen competitively on a bike for a while – welcome back Gert. I last saw him in the tribune watching the team presentation at last year’s Tour de France in Monaco, where he resides.

Ready, steady, almost time to go

Today I went for what might well be my last long training ride prior to my departure. The weather forecast is predicting rain tomorrow. I was so cold after yesterday’s ride that this morning I decided to put on my winter jacket; a wise move as it turned out. The sky was blue, the sun was out but it was really, really chilly. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t pass another cyclist during my entire trip. 

This afternoon, when it had warmed up a bit, I had my final instructions and practice reassembling and disassembling of the bike. The owner of my LBS is a superb teacher and I’m now confident this will not be a problem although I will have to pop into Mellow Johnny’s to get my wheels inflated, and buy everyone a t-shirt. His assistant helped me secure the case to the car and it’s now resting in the entrance hall ready for my departure on Wednesday morning, bright and early.

I’m slowly ticking everything off on my “To Do List” and have started packing my small case. I am a champion packer. Years of travelling for business and/or pleasure means that I now have this down to a fine art. Everything that I need can be safely packed into a case which is allowed in the cabin. My two sisters, both seasoned travellers, are aghast at how little I take with me without seeming to appear too often in the same outfit.

I’m meeting up with one of my oldest friends in Austin and when I say “oldest” I mean one I have known the longest. She too has packing down to a fine art having worked for many years as a travel guide for an upmarket tour company. I once met up with her mid-tour at a hotel in Nice and laughingly joked at what I thought was one couple’s luggage for a 3-week trip. They had matching red suitcases, the largest I have ever seen: plenty of room for 4 average sized cyclists or my entire wardrobe. Turns out they were both hers! 

My secret is to stick to a very limited colour palette and outfits that can be cleverly accessorized. I’m going to be in Austin for effectively just three days. Wednesday and Monday I’ll be travelling and Sunday I’ll be in Lycra. That just leaves Thursday, Friday and Saturday. So that’s one pair of black trousers, 3 t-shirts, 3 scarves/shawls, one pair of shoes, a small hand bag, sample sizes of toiletries, underwear and a nightdress: leaving ample room for my cycling gear, shoes, helmet and pedals. 

No, the pedals are not going into the bicycle case. They’re plan B. If the bike goes missing in transit, I can hire a bike and put my pedals on it.