Dernier sortie de l’année 2008

Riders meet at the Chateau in Rochechouart
The last Saturday ride of the year for my local club the Rochechouart Olympic Club Cyclo (R.O.C.C.). It’s a bright sunny day, but very cold. There’s an easy 50kms circuit on the cards, though I wouldn’t be suprised if that doesn’t get extended. A good sized group of around 25 riders gathered at the meeting place. Handshakes and greetings all round, and just after 13:30 we’re rolling out of town in the direction of Vayres.

Along the valley road the sun is on our backs, and it feels warm, there’s the usual jovial banter. It’s nice just bowling along easy in a big group. As we start the long climb out of the valley SuperMax takes off, here we go! Those that want to chase do, those that don’t pretend they haven’t noticed. There’s four of us hammering up the climb. We catch Max just before Vayres, the pace eases, and we ride through the town together.

All regrouped again the next 10kms are steady. Through Champsac, then Oradour. Now we’re on the main road heading towards Chalus. It’s a super smooth roller coaster of a road, and SuperMax is on the front winding it up. The kilometers fly by as Max turns the screw. But it’s too much. Max takes a bollocking from his dad, and the pace eases.
SuperMax dishing it out
Through Vayres, on towards St Cyr. It’s a long climb, and it’s tough. It’s one of those long straight climbs where you seem to pedal and pedal and not get any closer to the top. I’m finding it quite tough. I’m just staring at the cassette of the wheel in front of me.

According to the published circuit we’re supposed to go left here to St Auvent. But we don’t, we ‘disrespect le code de le circuit’, and go straight on. There’s talk of Chaillac then Saillat, which is much much longer than 50kms.

Along the top road towards Chaillac, with two and a half hours done. This is a road that I know well, every twist, turn, rise, and so on. It’s also a road that I love to ride. All of a sudden i’m feeling great. I find myself on the front. With the responsibilty of keeping the group moving I work hard. I’m doin’ good, and I’m motoring. As we hit each rise I dig in a little to keep my gear rolling. I must be doin’ good because a detour is announced!

Our detour takes us within a stones throw of home. I could easily pull out and take the early shower. I decide to burn some calories. We cross the main Rochechouart to St Junien road and begin the long descent to Saillat. There’s quite a few riders gone missing by now, but we are still about 10 men strong. I take the sprint into Saillat – yeah ‘cos i’m the only one sprinting! 😉

We turn for home. Just the 3km climb back up to Rochechouart left to do. The pace is steady. Now we’re on part of the circuit that was used in the departmental championships. We chat about last years race, and about our hopes for the coming season.

Through Rochechouart riders peel off. There’s just four of us left now. Heading back out of town on the Cognac le Foret road. Almost home, just one last drag, a final opportunity for SuperMax to inflict pain. I chase after him, not because I can, but because I can’t stop myself. 🙂

Last ‘sortie sur route’ of the year. First time i’ve been on my road bike for ages. Enjoyed every minute of it.

Meilleurs Voeux et Bonne année.

Our gig at the Lawrence d’Arabie…

First Friday of every month, down at the Lawrence d’Arabie in Chalus, there’s a musicians night. Thought it might be fun to go and do a few numbers. So Peter (Beta Biker), and me worked up a blinding set of 5 songs…

  • Drift Away – Dobie Gray
  • Can’t get Enough – Bad Company
  • Teenage Kicks – The Undertones
  • Try Me – Ry Cooder
  • Swing Low – Claptonesque version

I put some backing tracks together with bass and drums on my trusty old Roland VS1680, and stuck ’em on a mini-disc. We also recruited a second guitartist from the Correze to help with the twin lead bits in Can’t get Enough (thanks Carl). We were ready to Rock!!!

We invited just about everybody we could think of along, and by 9pm the tiny bar was packed. Here’s a picture of us rocking!!! 😉

Rockin at the Lawrence d'Arabie

We went down a storm(ish). It was a great night. We were first on. After us there were a string of musos performing acoustic and electric. Towards the end of the night, none other than Wreckless Eric along with Amy Rigby got up and stole the show. When we left, at around one in the morning, the place was still heaving.

It’s not all bikes y’know….

When I’m not biking, or boozing, I like nothing better than playin’ me geetah! Been playing a long time now. In fact, I first started playing after a motorbike crash put me out of action! What a suprise. 😉

Anyway, before I moved to France I stoopidly sold most of my small collection of guitars. The only electric I have left is the one that nobody wanted, a Fender Big Apple Stratocaster. Here she is…

My Big Apple Stratocaster - Blue on Black

A beauty eh? In the right hands such a guitar could make a grown man weep, and make a young woman go weak at the knees.

So, with a gig coming up i’m getting some practice in, wringing every last emotion out of her when my B string snapped. It’s nearly always the B that goes first. Ever tried buying guitar strings in rural France? Not easy, especially when I’m fussy about what I play. So instead of treking into Limoges and supporting the local guitar shop, which I know I should do, I went online at Strings Direct and ordered some of my all time favourites – Fender Super Bullets. Thanks to Rick at Strings Direct for the rapid service – they arrived within 48hrs.

GHS fast fretWhile I was on, I ordered some new Fast Fret. It’s a String and neck lubricant. That…

lets fingers slide freely, keeps strings clean and is good for wood. Glides on wipes off, specially formulated for stringed instruments.Fast fret cleans strings, lets you play faster, brightens sound, prolongs fingerboard life, long lasting, won’t damage your frets…

Last time I bought Fast Fret it came in a tin! If you’re into guitars you’ll know how long ago that was. 😉

UFOLEP 2008 season prize ceremony…

All the prize winners on stage together
A Friday night deep in the heart of the Haute Vienne. More than 200 cyclists and friends are gathered for the prize ceremony for the 2008 season. There’s roadies, and mountain bikers, national champions, regional champions, young stars of the future, and old veterans who are still kicking ass! At the end of the ceremony all the winners are called up on stage for a group photo. Right there in amongst them, standing proud, there is an Englisman. Yep, an old veteran mountain biker with a dodgy shoulder. He’s won the VTT Challenge Competition. 🙂