Righteous indignation

During the winter months the clubs hosting pointages often award extra points if you pick up a ticket en route. This is generally a carrot to encourage you to cycle a bit farther and wider. I left the flat about an hour after my beloved, who wanted to ride with his clubmates. I had timed my departure to avoid the worst of the morning’s chill and damp conditions and to arrive with time to spare to collect my ticket. Or so I thought.

I arrived at the designated rendez vous point to collect my ticket only to discover no one was there. They were supposed to be there until 10:15, it said so on the announcement which I had consulted prior to leaving. I was not a happy bunny. I whipped out my mobile and took a photograph of the empty car park which handily also records the time and where I took it. I continued on my chosen path muttering about clubs who don’t stick to the rules. I have fallen foul of these a couple of times, arriving exhausted only to find the club’s volunteers have shut up shop before the witching hour: nul points and no refreshments. Of course, now that I’m Club Secretary, I receive a copy of the each pointage’s details so I KNOW when they’re supposed to close or how long they’re supposed to hang around to hand out tickets. Knowledge is power.

Fuelled by anger and still muttering to myself, I was riding really well and overtaking large numbers of cyclists on my chosen route to the pointage.  I was zooming down towards the coast road when out the corner of my eye I noted an oncoming car indicating it was turning left, across my bows. I continued, but so did the car. A collision was inevitable. I applied the brakes and skidded on the wet road only to be knocked over by the car which stopped. The lady driver emerged and demanded to know why I hadn’t stopped. I leapt to my feet and checked my bike. It appeared undamaged. I turned and advised the woman: 1) I had right of way; 2) she should have stopped and would have done so had I been another car; 3) driving while talking on your mobile is dangerous and illegal.  I suggested that in future she keep her eyes on the road. I mounted and rode off to a round of applause from the witnesses. I consigned her registration number to memory.

Finally, I arrived at the pointage ready to do battle for my additional points. The wind was rather taken out of my sails by one of the guys who said he’d seen me at the meeting point but had been unable to catch my attention. I recognised him but didn’t drop him in it. He and his team mates had been enjoying a cup of coffee 500 metres up the road! I got my  precious points. I’m now back home and surveying the damage. Two black knee caps, a sore left hip and shoulder where the car struck. I’ll live to tell my tale again and again.

Monday Postscript: All sorts of aches and pains this morning which I’m stoically ignoring. The worst is my left shoulder which I hurt when I fell over on Saturday and exacerbated when I attempted to hold off the advancing vehicle yesterday. The blackened knees look impressive but will be hidden beneath my 3/4 bib tights.

Not enough points

After a few days back in the UK, I was literally chomping at the bit to get back on my bike. Not long after I’d landed on Saturday morning, I rode for a couple of hours with my beloved. It felt so joyous to be riding along in the fresh air and sunshine. I was glad to be home.

Having gotten up at the crack of dawn on Saturday, I needed a lie in on Sunday morning. My beloved departed to ride with the club and I left home an hour later. It was chillier than I’d anticipated so revised my plans. The pointage was being held in my home town so, after marking my points for the club, and wishing a happy new year to numerous riders, I set off along the coast road.

I wasn’t the only rider with the same thought, there was plenty of two-wheeled traffic in both directions. I rode to Cannes and back by way of Cap d’Antibes, wanting to get home early in order to prepare lunch for my beloved. On the way back I tagged onto a couple of groups but, having spied a lady rider in difficulty, I stopped to assist. She’d lost her chain and I had it back in place in no time. She complained that none of the male riders had stopped to help. I think this was largely because she’d halted behind a car and wasn’t all that visible.

As I remounted I became absorbed into  a bunch of riders from my local club which gave me an opportunity to enquire about their President who’d recently had a rather serious mishap with a circular saw. Fortunately, he had the presence of mind to pick up his severed fingers before heading to the hospital. They’ve sewn them back on and he’ll have to wait and see, but he’s going to be off his bike for a few months.

The results of the pointage came through that evening. My club had held previously both the departmental and regional championships for ten consecutive years, but we’d lost both titles last year to my home town club. It’s no coincidence that the clubs winning the titles have the largest number of veterans, and ladies over 50, in their membership ranks. They score the most points. We just can’t compete.

In total, over 670 riders turned up and nearly 10% of those were ladies. Over 65% of those taking part were over 50 and just THREE were juniors. That’s a really sad number. The club was 5th overall with just 50% of our membership turning out. No trophies for us.

This time of year the various associations, of which the club’s a member, hand out trophies and gongs. One of our members regularly features as having ridden the most kilometres in certain events. Having already made a clean sweep of our club awards, he’s set to do the same locally. I too have been honoured, I’m being awarded a diploma. I’m not sure what it’s for but no doubt all will be explained in due course. It might just be for the best catering at a pointage or for my undoubted organisational skills at our club events or, and more worryingly, the association is hoping to curry favour and persuade me to accept a position on it’s management board. Well guys, it’ll take more than a piece of paper to win me over. I’m not that easy.

Made famous by Lance

Last year I arrived at the pointage at St Agnès  ten minutes after it had closed, thereby collecting nul points. Something which still rankles!

I had cycled almost the entire route on my lonesome. From my map, handily placed in my back pocket; it appeared to be a left-hand turn out of Menton. This pointage was the same day as the Monaco marathon thereby rendering any road in Monaco out of bounds (guarded by hoards of armed police) to everyone, including cyclists. This meant cycling up and around Monaco. Once back on French soil, the police were only too happy to allow me onto the marathon route, ahead of the runners.

I was somewhat unnerved by the general lack of cyclists en route making me check and re-check the map to ensure I had not gone astray. Eventually, I found the road to St Agnès and wound my way up it not realising that this was the famous Col de la Madone. Allegedly one of Lance’s favourite training rides.

On arrival, I was too tired to cycle up the final steep incline to the village. So I walked and once there enquired about the pointage. I was told it was closed. I was too tired to come up with a pitchy retort in any language.

Fortunately I was  rescued by the mother of a club mate (there had been a race there that morning) who put my bike in her car and drove me most of the way home.

This Sunday I will be collecting maximum points. I will be leaving well ahead of the club peloton, the Monaco marathon was held last week end, I’m riding with a club mate and I can confidently cycle the distance.

Sunday, lovely Sunday

My week’s training starts with the Sunday club run. Last Sunday morning (last stage of Paris-Nice) we were up and out early for the Super Cannes pointage (rendezvous for all the local clubs where points are awarded based on certain criteria). As usual, my husband had shot off up the hill leaving me to wend my way up with a small group from another club. We were all labouring under the misapprehension that one of us knew the location of the rendezvous point. It soon became apparent that none of us did but, after riding around in ever decreasing circles, a not uncommon occurrence, we finally chanced upon it.

Since I often get left behind by the club peloton on these pointages, I like to check out the route on a map beforehand, and, if I’ve not been there before, may even take a copy of the map with me. As a minimum, I always take along details of the route. Sometimes, though, the details are so sketchy, presumably on the basis that everyone but me knows where it is (so not true).

Sometimes  I wonder how many points are “lost” each Sunday because individuals cannot find the pointage. The clubs with the most points win trophies and individuals collect points in a season long club competition. I must say I fully approve of the concept that turning up on a more regular basis than your club mates could win you a trophy.

This week, however, I have had a very short-term goal: preparing to compete in a local “Gentleman (two person) contre-le-montre”. Classification is done according to the sum of your combined ages, apart from the ladies, who due to paucity of numbers, are all lumped into a “Scratch” category.

Last year my partner and I finished a very creditable second (out of five) behind a pairing who are young enough to be our daughters. One of whom is the current French UFOLEP amateur road race champion.  Suffice to say, we would have been first (and the only ones) in our age group.

This year, I’m riding in the mixed category with a fellow club mate. He’s made the usual jokes about how he’s just going to be sticking to my wheel but we both know who’s going to be doing the wheel sucking in this relationship. We’re up against very tough opposition notably a couple of French amateur UFOLEP contre-le-montre champions, who have recently joined our club. So they’ll be turning up on Sunday with all the gear: the tri-bars, skin suits, pointy helmets and carbon rear wheels. I may just wear my aerodynamic shoe covers to give us that all important edge.