Playing hookey

Sometimes it doesn’t matter what’s prescribed in the training programme, the weather just beckons. It did today. The last few days the weather’s been steadily improving and today was positively balmy. Break out the sun-block. I could no more take a rest day than I could remain indoors.

I headed out with my beloved around lunchtime for one of my favourite circuits: Vence by way of l’Ara, returning via La Gaude. Regular readers will know that my current record for ascending to Vence, set last year, is 51 minutes. This early in the season, I’m not aiming to get close to that figure.

There’s something very uplifting about being out in the open air, bathed in warm sunshine, without a care in the world. Not only that but my traffic light karma was working well. I coasted through 5 out of 6 sets of lights: always a promising sign. On the way up to La Colle sur Loup, the weather was so warm I was beginning to regret wearing my windtex jacket. But I was sure I’d appreciate it’s thickness later on when descending. I did.

As we wended our way ever upwards, to my right I caught glimpses of the sea through the trees, always a calming influence. As I glanced ahead, I could see the walled village of St Paul de Vence. It’s usually on this particular stretch of road where, in the spring and summer months, I encounter hoards of Japanese tourists, heading towards St Paul, having just disembarked from their coaches. They usually become quite animated when they see me and, inevitably, take my photograph. I often wonder how they explain me away when showing their holiday photographs to friends and family on their return. We didn’t have to dodge tourists today, only the school buses.

I made good time up to the base of l’Ara despite having to stop several times to blow my nose. I am getting better at doing this one-handed while continuing to pedal, but it’s a job best done with both hands, and that’s still beyond me. A glance at my Garmin revealed  it was unlikely I would beat my best time, however I would at least be close to it. And I was: 52mins 23secs.

We rode through Vence and along to St Jeannet. The road was surprisingly quiet, bereft of both cars and cyclists. We stopped to enjoy a coffee in the sunshine and lingered over the newspaper.  I noted that my beloved boys in claret and blue had been bought down to earth 3-1 yesterday evening, at the Theatre of Dreams. The Red Devils, courtesy of Wayne Rooney, had scored in the first minute of the match and we were 2-0 down (Rooney again) at half-time. Darren Bent got one back in the second half, but then we conceded another. It read as if we put up a spirited, but ultimately doomed, defence.

You might be wondering why we didn’t watch the match on my beloved husband’s all-singing, all dancing, new, oversized HD screen in the office. That had been the plan. However, he has had problems accessing the connection via the internet. Meanly, I have left him to sort it out. He visited the Orange Shop yesterday afternoon where he learned that, thanks to an administrative oversight, he was given the wrong access code. As a consequence, the connection was cancelled and it will now take 7 days to be re-established. We’ll get there eventually.

The lack of traffic facilitated a swift descent back home where I quickly rustled up some lunch before sitting down to plan this evening’s English class. After last week’s session translating song lyrics into French, I’m going to find an article on travel to discuss and translate. I find it’s always better to pick topics which will hold their interest.

Postscript: Got back from the club to discover OGCN had beaten Drancy 0-1 to advance to the quarter-finals of the Cup.

Good news comes in threes

Yes, I’ve had three pieces of excellent news this weekend. First up, my cycling club has retained its departmental championship (2eme series). We were 3rd overall, just behind the two much larger local clubs. Seventy-three team mates turned out for the pointage, just over 75% of our cyclists.

Second, I have reduced my percentage  body fat with the 6-week challenge, despite the blow-out meals in Paris. I will, of course, be continuing with the works outs over the winter months. 

Man U 0 - 1 AVFC

Best of all, my beloved boys in claret and blue became the first team to win at the Theatre of Dreams this season. A header from Gabi in the 21 minute secured all three points. Both teams had chances and it was an exciting match right to the final whistle. The last time we beat Manchester United, Becks was a promising young player. We won 3-1 at home in 1995 at the start of 1995-96 season. Conversely, we haven’t won at Old Trafford since 1983.

It was a key match for both teams. With Chelsea drawing 3-3 at home to Everton, winning would allow Man U to draw level on points, albeit with an inferior goal difference. While, AVFC’s nearest rivals, Spurs lost at home 0-1 to Wolves, Villa’s neighbours – thanks boys! Villa  now go 3rd and will stay there if Liverpool beat Arsenal tomorrow.

I spoke to a friend’s husband before the match and he revealed himself to be a supporter of the Red Devils. Since he doesn’t hail from Manchester, I just had to call him a glory hunter, though he claims to have supported the team from boyhood. So he’ll remember when Villa beat Man U in the 1957 FA Cup Final, the very last time we won it.