Any fool can ride a bike…

Oh yes, any fool can ride a bike on a nice day when they’re feeling good, fresh and fiesty.

But when you’re shot, just hanging on to the wheel in front, every last half pedal turn is agony, and the bunch engines are turning the screw. That’s different…

Or when you’ve made it into the break to find out that you’re the weakest there, you either go through, or they take it in turns to take you off the back. That’s when it counts…

Like when fate has forced your hand and you’ve taken it on with 5kms to go. All of a sudden it’s like your tyres have gone flat and your riding uphill in porridge against a headwind going no where. That’s when you ask yourself…

Maybe you’re climbing, right on the limit, just staring at the block of the rider in front. Almost at the top, you know there’s gonna be a surge. The rider in front clangs up a gear, gets out of the saddle and kicks. Then you just know…

Any fool can ride a bike 😉

Hinault suffering, or maybe he’s not…. Certainly he’s no fool!

“if you suffer enough you suffer the most, then you will win. That doesn’t only mean the pain in sport, it means the things that you give up in life generally. You have to make sacrifices to be that successful, whether it’s not going out to parties, not drinking, not eating certain foods! Suffering is definitely there, but it may not always be physical soreness, and pain, it can also be heartache. But I think if you can handle it, push it and give it out and take the most pain then racing is easy. And the more you can suffer in training, sometimes you will experience more pain than competition, and if you can do that, it makes competition even easier.” – Article in sports journal by Dr Phlip Moore

ROCC Rideout

It’s sunny, but cold, a great turnout, officially there’s 70kms on the cards, but that’s always a rough guide. On the main road towards Vayres I do a quick headcount, we’re about 40 strong. On the long climb into Vayres the group splits, the fast group go clear, there’s a medium group, and a cyclo-touriste group. I’m in the fast group today. On the long climbs towards St Mathieu the Chalus rider with the chrome handlebar tape sets a tough tempo, though over the tops the tempo eases so everyone gets back on.
The ROCC meet at the chateau in Rochechouart every saturday.

On the main road towards Marval our sprint training is dished out by Maxime. Basically, he shouts “Allez” and takes off, those who want to give chase, we hammer along for a few kilometers before easing. It’s good training. I need to do this stuff with big races only 5 weeks away. Not everyone is happy though, as there’s a few slackers who object to not being towed along gently. 🙂

We might be on main roads, but there’s hardly any traffic. Plus any traffic that there is treats us nice. I reckon it’s because most of the drivers have someone in their family whose a cyclist. Such is the popularity of cycling in the Limousin region.
From Cussac down past the Chateau

From Cussac we race down past the chateau somehow empasizing the Frenchness of our ride. We should be heading home now, but this is where the ride variation starts. We’re going to tag on a loop of the Lac’s de Charente, dropping down through Pressignac, on to Chassenon, and home via Saillat. Down to just a hardcore of around 10 now, and the pace is much more serious.

We follow the finishing kilometers that were used as a stage finish in last your’s Tour de Feminine, a fast sweeping road that crosses the lake on a causeway. We sprint for the line on the road, we hardly slow down. From Pressignac to Chassenon it’s downhill all the way apart from a 1km ramp leading into the town. From Chassenon to Saillat it’s mostly down hill. In Saillat we pass the huge paper mill, I must post a picture of it soon.
The Causeway across the Lac in the Charente

Climbing again now, on the steep climb out of town. Eric tells me that this climb is the one used in the FFC cadets road race, they’ll climb it 6 times, it’s tough. We’re now into the second part of the ride variation, and we’re down to four. Actually this part is like the taxi home as riders peel off when we get near where they live. Time for one last burn-up along the super smooth road from Saillat to St Junien.

We ride easy now, along the banks of the Vienne before crossing the river at St Brice. On the climb towards Le Berthe there just three of us left. At the main road I thanks Eric and Max for the ‘entrainment’ and wish them ‘bon apetite’. I ride the last kilometer home on my own. Not sure how far we’ve done today, but it took four and a half hours, I’m tired and starving hungry. 🙂