Tuesday, 7 June 2011

La Tour

Ok, back in front of a pc, so a proper blog entry.  Well, as proper as I ever get.  First, a couple of things before I get to the main point of this.  Sportives - I'm feeling vindicated (but hopefully not smug) about my decision not to do any this year.  Actually, I am going to do one in October, but I'll come to that later.  The Dragon Ride last Sunday seems to have been a really disappointing experience for a lot of people, including Mendip Rouleur and The Cycling Mayor.  It's a little invidious to compare entry fees, and in any case the cost of an event is way down the list of factors when it comes to deciding what to participate in, but I can't help contrasting the typical £30ish it costs to do a sportive with either the fiver for an audax, or the £40 I paid to do the duathlon in April.  That event only had 200 participants, there were active marshalls at literally every road junction on the bike section, there was security protecting bikes and equipment in transition areas, everything worked perfectly, and the goody bag was actually worth having, and there were no queues for anything.  Superb - as a competitor you actually felt quite special.

I've forgotten the other thing I was going to mention, so I'll press on.  As I said in the last entry, three weeks this weekend we're off to France, we being myself, Conrad (who I still consider my cycling mentor as it was he who introduced me to this noble pastime), and Neil, these days my main mountain biking buddy.  In fact, it's not the first time the 3 of us have done a French road trip - when Conrad and I did the Etape du Tour in 2004, Neil acted as driver, directeur sportif, DJ and soigneur.  Not masseur though, no sir, there was none of that.  We had a good time then, and I'm hoping we'll have a good time now.  It's not one of the events mentioned in the blog title, but it's the next notable event on my riding and running calendar, so it's gonna get a bit of coverage I'm afraid.

However, some training is required between now and then.  Not because we'll be riding at massive speeds over the 200 or so miles we'll do over the course of the week - we'll be finding our way and enjoying the countryside - but because there will be a few hills on the routes, and the heat will be on between Conrad and myself to see who can ride up with the most nonchalance and the least apparent effort.  No disrespect meant to Neil, who's likely to not be quite as rapid up the inclines, but (and I can say this in the safe knowledge that Conrad doesn't read this blog), both Conrad and I have a latent competitive streak, but an equally strong sense of what's gentlemanly.  Which means that we'll both be wanting to get to the tops of the slopes first, but neither of us will want to seem to have actually expended any sweat in doing so; that would be most ungentlemanly.  And I'm not going to be able to pretend to shepherd Neil up the hills all week.  And Conrad's going to be all pumped up, having opted to do his company's Paris to London charity ride next week in the "super elite" section of riders.

I'm having a day off today, but I've been out on the road or on the turbo in 7 of the last 8 days.  I'll give it another couple of days, then I'm going to start putting a bit of resistance on the turbo to imitate those hills, whilst simultaneously practicing to not have that "tongue-lolling-about, face-screwed-up" look that normally accompanies my big physical efforts.  On a bike, I hasten to add.

I was at our house in Brittany for a week recently, and did some serious route planning from the house to the Tour starts and finishes in the 3 days we'll be riding out to them.  I planned them with a detailed map, then went and drove a decent proportion of the roads, and it's just made me even more excited to go out there.  If we get there safely, only heavy rain will spoil the riding.  Let's hope not hey?

OK, it's good to be back online, but there's not a lot else to report at the moment, so I'll leave it there.

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