19 eme edtion – 12 Heures à vélo de Flavignac

A 12 hour relay road race organised by UC Flavignac.

I rode with my buddy Eric as a team of two. It is possible to race with a team of three, but we couldn’t find another rider of the right age so that we could race for the over 50s category.

Anyway, we came 2nd in category, we were 12th scratch (overall), and 3rd team of two.

12hrs Flavignac avant departIt was very very tough, as the majority of teams had three riders. Plus the afternoon temperature was 36 degrees! Quite warm and sunny. I was first out, at 06:30, and after a neutralised lap the racing started. I just could not believe how fast we were going. Average speed for the first few laps was around 37kph. During my first stint I never got off the drops, and didn’t have a chance to take a drink. It was fast.

The circuit was relatively flat, though as the hours went by it seemed to get a bit hilly. There was a tight “S” bend followed by a short rise on the back of the circuit. As you came out of it it was a short sprint every lap to stay on. Tough. Changeovers took place in the “Zone de Relais”. Protocol was that the lap before you wanted to change you raised your arm as you passed the commentary position, the commentator would then announce your number over the sound system thereby paging your team mate. This was great as it meant that you could relax a little when you weren’t racing.

12hrs Flavignac zone de relais

It was strange riding with a team mate that you didn’t speak to and hardly saw all day. It wasn’t necessary to pass a baton, or touch hands. As your team mate entered the changeover zone you could leave. The changeover zone was about 50 metres long. It worked really well, though it was best to stay alert as there were a lot of attacks here as riders with fresh legs tried to inflict damage.

We started out riding an hour a piece, but later in the day we switched to 45mins. We ended up riding in the same group as our nearest rivals. Every time they made a move we were there and vice-versa. It came down to the last lap, I had nothing left, and it fell to Eric to try to win the sprint. He stood up to go, and his legs buckled. After 12 hours of racing we got beat by a few metres.

We were more than happy with our ride, and although we didn’t win we got the better reception on the podium. The commentator asked me to say a few words in French. I thanked everyone for such a great day, and finished by saying, “Il est chaud, mais il est beau”. The crowd seemed to like this couplet, and I got a cheer and applause!
12hrs Flavignac podium avec Eric
It really was a superbly organised event, in a gorgeous spot next to the lake – “Lac Saint Fortunat”. It’s the 20th birthday of the event next year. Highly recommended. A must do.

Thanks to UC Flavignac for a great day out. Thanks to all the riders for a tough sporting race. Well ridden Eric (we shared a couple of cold beers after the race). Finally, well done to the “Chef d’equipe” Carla who looked after us both all day. Not an easy job, but she was fantastic.

It was a cold dark moonlit night…

It was a cold dark moonlit night, three men in a boat on the open sea, Captain, First Mate, and Cabin Boy. The Captain shouts, “Mate, tell us a story”. This is the story he told…..

It was a cold dark moonlit night, three men in a boat on the open sea, Captain, First Mate, and Cabin Boy. The Captain shouts, “Mate, tell us a story”. This is the story he told…..

Actually, it was a cold dark moonlit night back in April. I was trawling a few pages on ebay when I spotted a Gibson Explorer that I liked the look of. It had very little interest. I put in a half-hearted bid and thought no more of it. A few days later I got an email to tell me it was mine! Great, just the slight problem of how to get hold of it.

I asked my buddy JW at Pearce Cycles if he would collect it for me from the seller in Cheltenham. JW knows a bit about guitars so he’d know if it was OK or not. I bribed JW by telling him that he’d have to look after it for me until I could collect it, and naturally it would need playing. JW agreed. JW duly collected the guitar, and reported back to me that it was a little grubby, but apart from that was solid, and played well.

So, I’m running through all the scenarios of how I could get it to France, some of them involving it being sent part of the way, and ending up missing or broken. Plus trying to factor in the cost of fetching it. Weeks turned into months. Then I got an email from an old friend. He was driving down through France on his way to the Picos de Europa in Spain for a cycling holiday. He asked if I needed anything from Pearce Cycles as he would be calling in there a couple of weeks before leaving the UK, then driving down right past our doorstep.

Last weekend Duncan and Trish arrived with my guitar. Not only that, but they thought we might be missing a few things from the UK so they’d brought us some Marmite, some Heinz Baked Beans, some proper tea bags, Marmalade, and Famous Grouse whiskey. Flippin super heroes or what? They stayed for a couple of days, so I dragged them all over the trails of the Monts de Blond by way of a thank you.

Back to the guitar. Just like JW said, she was a little grubby, but she played well. I gave her a birthday clean up and a new set of strings. She plays just great. Now in case you don’t know, white Gibson Explorers are different, they have an ebony fingerboard, assuming that they’re not a refinished guitar, which this one isn’t. Explorers are great, I love them, your just 10 times cooler as soon as you strap one on, and they’re so much more than just a ‘Metal’ guitar. Though if you do a search on youtube that’s what most ‘players’ tend to do with them. So to redress the balance slightly I’ve posted a few bars of Santana’s “Samba Pa Ti” to show her gentle side. Here she is…

Trish, Duncan, if you’re reading this I hope you had a great holiday, and many thanks again for bringing my guitar.