Thursday, 1 March 2012

En France maintenant, avec les bicyclettes!

Well, after a reasonable six hour "bit of a jaunt" (as one of the hard nuts described it, I would have said marathon but, hey, why split hairs?) we reached Folkestone, got on a coach and left for France - I promptly fell asleep and woke up at the Holiday Inn Calais just in time for a beer and oblivious of the Tunnel experience - perfect, well, except for the sore knees, throbbing thighs, heavy chest and aching shoulders.  Flu?  Nope - cycling (for fun!)

Cyclists are a real breeed, I am discovering - and I mean "breeed" rather than breed - they deserve an extra "e"  - nothing is quite as they say initially - a very peculiar trait.   They have a knack for putting you at perfect ease as the novice one moment,  only to immediately remove it with a slight of hand (er, tongue) finishing line - for example - simple question:  "have you done much cycling before" answer "no, not much" followed by the punchline " well, except for the cycle to India last year".   I didn't need to know that last bit and I'm sure that a 5000 mile ride across Europe and Asia has little bearing on a minor 1500 kms for a piss up in Cannes, but I did find that particular exchange a tad unnerving.  Are they all like this?

Another example is the what I call "king of the hills - descent section" exchange.    "There is a an 8km straight ascent on the third day - non stop - but hey that's nothing, the going down is awesome - you won't hear the end of it if you chicken out on that one - last time I reached over 70 km/hr" - excuse me? sorry ? was I talking to the coach driver?   Nope - one of the breeed.

Anyway instructions for tomorrow are to get up at 4.45am (French time - but let's not kid ourselves - that is 3.45am really) have breakfast (thank you very much for the pleasure!) and get on our bicycles at 6.00am for the first 56km stage in France.   Sunrise is at 7.30am. That means one and a half hours cycling approx. 6 inches behind the tyre in front, in the dark, tired, and at approx. zero degrees.   Can't wait.

The jury is still out as far as my abilities go with this.   Today was not easy - it was do-able but not easy.  That might have been due to traffic and the state of the English roads which make for very uncomfortable riding and stop / start Peleton patterns with great big holes in it.  Tomorrow I am told will be very different as the roads are better and French drivers a lot more sympathetic to the cyclist.  That again sounds good and encouraging for the novice but, wait for it, "as a result, we should be able" to "pick up the pace a bit - it was a bit slow today"  Excuse me?    Sorry ,begging your pardon, "A bit slow"?    We averaged over 24km an hour!

Ah, of course, it's that breeed again.    

1 comment: