There can be no nicer way of seeing France than from the saddle of a bike, and there can be no better way of learning French than swapping banter in a bunch of French cyclists. Well that’s how it felt yesterday when I joined the Rochechouart Olympic Club Cyclo on their wednesday afternoon training bash.
Wednesday afternoon training bash? Yes, I’m sure the whole of France stops on a Wednesday afternoon for cycling. About 10 riders showed up at the Plan d’ Eau for the 1:30pm start. Within a few minutes of handshaking and greeting the route had been decided on and we were on our way. Did I mention it was a beautiful sunny day with a bright blue sky? It was 🙂
Rochechouart > St Mathieu > Montbron > L’Arbe > Massignac > Rochechouart. A straightforward route on main roads that would take us over the highest point of the Charente. The pace was effortless brisk as we bowled along chatting about all the usual things that cyclists chat about, bikes, rides, races, the stock exchange! I listen hard, and join in when I can. It’s great practice for me, as it’s the more or less the same stuff we talk about every time.
After a couple of hours we’re on top of the col at Chatain Besson, a high point of the ride. It’s not alpine by any means, but huge rolling hills under a massive sky. Not steep at all, a relentless middle of the block climb of around 7km. Looking out at the panorama it’s green as far as the eye can see, no big towns or cities, just the odd village or farm, just the odd church spire or water tower.
Through Montbron, we swing right, heading for home. All the way up to Massignac and beyond the road surface is super smooth, and traffic free, we glide along. We see a couple of groups of cyclist heading the other way “Salut”…..
As we get closer to home the pace pics up, the chat stops, we sprint for village signs, for fun. Down the last few kms we’re motoring. Down the last descent back into Rochechouart we’re racing, for fun. Up through the town riders start to peel off, “a bientot, a prochaine….” By the top of the town there’s just Eric and me. Eric lives just across the valley from me. We ride the 10km home together.
With 4 hours of riding done. I’m tired, and could murder a can of beer, but I haven’t got any. I put my bike away and shower, while Carla pops into town for a couple of tins.
I love riding my bike, and I love that woman! 🙂