This weekend I was mostly...

Discussion in 'UK and Europe' started by Terry, Jun 2, 2003.

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  1. Terry

    Terry Guest

    Cycling in France.

    A short (early morning) ferry crossing from Dover to Bologne followed by what was supposed to be a
    gentle ride of 26 miles to Wimeraux. This ended up being a bit of a race with a friend of mine who
    rides for Sigma Sports quite often and meeting the remainder on arrival at Wimeraux. This was
    organised by the local CTC and was less than £30.00

    The same afternoon I took part in a 30 km gentle ride with tandems and such, good fun and very
    pleasant company through some glorious French countryside.

    Sunday AM: Up at 0600 and sign on for 0700 start. 90km ride (race). The rest of the pack (bar one
    other) was full of French club riders and were the superfit skinny looking types. As a more portly
    person (still 2 stones too heavy) I was somewhat a wee bit worried (except for the other
    non-skinny one)!

    We set off at a 17-20mph pace which was dead easy as I sat on other riders wheels (let them do the
    work). All went well until the first climb which was called Gravel Hill (in English). The road was
    covered in Gravel and had hair pin bends due to the steepness. The French set off up at a moderate
    pace which I did not like, I decided to up my tempo which was mistake number 1. I began to spin the
    wheels and lost traction half way up (aggghhhhhh) and stopped. Bugger, it was hard enough without
    stopping. I had to let them all pass so I could turn my self so I was facing across the road to
    propel myself along to enable me to get moving. I then struggled up the hill as this stop and start
    took a little effort to get going again. The hill went on for another 400 feet winding up this
    gravel path. I eventually got to the top and took a few breathes before speeding up again to catch
    the bunch who had now disappeared. I caught them a few minutes later.

    The pace remained the same up and down some rolling countryside. Then along came big hill number 2.
    The French guys didn't think I would make it (my friend translated). I was up this hairpinned hill
    ahead of about 4 or 5 of the skinnies this time. Back to the rolling hills. This continued up until
    about 45 miles then the gits upped the pace, I got dropped. Even their fat guy was kicking my arse.
    I thought to hell with it and rode at my own pace, they were always in view. Slowly but surely I
    caught a few of their guys and passed them.

    With about 3 miles to go I spotted a young guy of about 20 years of age and took him, he took me,
    and this repeated until the final 200 metres when we both approached the final very short climb of
    about 30 metres. We both stood up and bloody cramp set in in my left thigh (ouch), he got to the
    end before

    At the finish all the French guys were cheering me and clapping which was nice. My thoughts were,
    hey I've been riding for just a year, 3/4 of a stone lighter than this time last year, still 2 to
    lose and I didn't come last, I was about 20th out of 22 or 23. I had a craving for salted food
    after which was amply rectified by the French club who plied us with some beers, food and very nice
    local red wine.

    My friend won the race which would have been good for the English except he's an aussie! Mind you he
    was in out group so that was good.

    That same afternoon we had to ride back to the ferry (26 miles) which was hard work. The French were
    superb, ALL drivers gave way to us (a Sunday market moved everyone out of the way as our 'peleton'
    roared (ok, rolled) through). Wish it could be like that here so I do.

    Roll on next year I say, only cost £30 all in as well! :)

    BTW, the remainder of those that travelled (about 20) all took part in a slower 60km fun ride
    instead, they left the fast stuff to us!

    Terry Sore but happy!

    Don't be shy, click on the link below.

    L'Etape du Tour 2003, rider number 3295, I must be mad!

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