At last, the rain had stopped, and a sunny day is forecast. It still gonna be a bit mucky, but judging by the number of riders that show up to ride the 15th edition of the ‘RandonnÃ©e des Petites Forets’, nobody cares.
We had a light breakfast before we set off, then another breafast at sign-on. The ‘Grand Depart’ was any time you like between 08:45 and 09:00 which meant that by 08:40 most had departed. Strange how the randos always seem to start early, but the races always seem to start late. So, we’re in a ‘beaucoup de traffic’ situation. Carla and I are both riding the 36km circuit today. I’m suffering from ‘dog off the leash’ syndrome, so we wish each other a safe ride, and I take off.
The sun is up, and things are warming up nicely. The trails range from rocky super fast blast along to six inches deep super gloop think I might get off and run. There’s many a comedy moment along the way, and thanks heavens some of those electric fences that we’re veering towards aren’t turned on.
I’m looking for some of the riders I know. At the first ravito (food stop) I quicky scan to see who’s there, and ride on. A few minutes later I catch up with Eric, my friend and training buddy from the Rochechouart club. He’s riding brisk steady, and we ride together to the second ravito. We take a 5 minute break, and I use the time to wash my chain off and re-lube it from the little bottle of lube that I always carry on wet rides.
I’m keen to get going again, especially as i’ve just seen Jean-Claude Sansonnet go through. The trail sections now are superb, and I just can’t stop myself, I love goin’ fast on my bike, and I’m hammering like a nutter. Jean-Claude must be goin’ quick too because kilometre after kilometre go by and there’s no sign of him.
Down a rocky desent where the recent rain has washed the rocks clean, then the dirty VTTs have smeared it in a thin film of mud. Using the random line method, on the verge of control, almost over the verge of the trail, sliding around the corner, there is Jean-Claude. He’s punctured! I stop to commiserate 😉 he pulls out the old snake bitten tube and starts to fit the new one. Now, he might have been on the podium nine times in the departmental championships, but today…….. his tube wont fit! He has a presta sized hole in his rim, but he’s got a schrader tube! Doh!
Riders come and go, but nobody, it seems, has a spare tube that they can loan him. I’m not carrying a tube as I’m running tubeless (yeah I know the risk). Eric arrives and offers Jean-Claude a cannister containing latex to use on his old tube, but the snake bite looks to large. In the end we wish Jean-Claude a ‘bon marche’, and leave him! 😉
I ride the last few kms with Eric. We’re home in just over two hours, it’s been a good workout over a tough circuit. We roll down to the bike wash in the village. A rack of about 8 hoses have been set up off the fire hydrant. It’s sunny and warn enough now for some good natured accidental soakings as riders wash their bikes. Back at the van I’m thinking about Carla, she’s gonna be very tired after that loop, just as i’m thinking about her she arrives. She’s telling me about her ride, a few swear words are creeping in, I can tell she’s enjoyed it, but now she’s shagged! 🙂