The warmth of the sun has brought them all out. Best bikes, best wheels, best shades. Looking around the group it’s like those who are on steel or aluminium are the minority. There’s carbon everywhere, a couple of riders are sporting carbon wheels. With all the best bling out I’m hoping for a blast of a bash. By the way, I’m ashamed to say my bike is not looking it’s best. I haven’t washed it in a fornight, it’s filthy.
Off we go along the valley road towards St Laurent. We’ve only gone about 3kms and I realising that I’m overdressed, I remove my skull cap, not enough, I remove my neck warmer, and gloves. My pockets are full now, so I festoon my handlebars with neckwarmer and gloves. I stop to tie them on tight, I don’t want them dropping into my wheel, or anyone elses!
On the rolling climbs towards St Auvent a few splits appear as Maxime and Jean-Francois sprint each other for crests. It looks like fun, I go to join in. They’re young blokes, I can’t match them, but I can have a good go. Through St Auvent, then right towards St Cyr, we cross the river then start the climb out of the valley, it’s probably about 1km to the village, Jean-Francois is on the front working hard. Max comes flying by, Jean-Francois clangs up a couple of gears and gives chase, I’m chewing on my handlebars trying to hang on.
We stop at St Cyr to regroup, riders arrive in twos and threes some look like they’ve been trying hard. All back together we’re off towards Cognac le Foret. Steadily climbing up through Vedeix, the sun on our backs, it’s a corker of a day. From Cognac it’s mostly downhill all the way to St Victurnien. It’s a super sweeping roller-coaster of a road, and by the time we reach St Vic we’re flying. Crossing the river Vienne we swing left towards St Junien, and this is where the real action starts, I dunno why, or who said it should, or who or how it’s decided, it just does.
Maybe its because we’ve turned onto the circuit that is used for the St Junien road race, and the racers among the group get a surge of adrenalin, or summat, but now the pace is high, and there’s no let up. Whatever happened to tempo base training? It’s like a race, by the time we reach St Junien there’s 5 off us. Back over the river Vienne and onto the climb out of the valley once more. Maxime and Jean-Francois are dishing it out again. I chase after them, I’m being shadowed, but can’t see who it is. Max is coming back to us, Jean-Francois goes again, as we reach the top of the climb my shadow comes flying by. “Merci pour le taxi Steve”, says Eric.
We’ve almost completed the 70km circuit as described in the ROCC’s ride calendar, but we decide to add another loop on to bring us closer to 100k, and of course everyone is up for it. I’m quite tired by now, not that I’d admit it 🙂
Jean-Francois is still pushing the pace, we’re going up a long drag, all of a sudden I’m suffering, i’m starting at the block of the bike in front of me, sitting tight on the wheel waiting for the pain to end. Now I’m training. This was exactly what I wanted. 🙂