The day after my epic 200km ride I woke early to the sound of heavy rain hammering down on the roof of my cabin. I was intending to wash clothes, do food shopping and write a blog so the nasty weather would make sure I didn’t feel like I was missing the opportunity for more enjoyable cycling. While out shopping for food I stumbled across a pair of chic, retro string gloves (with a leather palm) which seemed a bargain at 9 Euros. My current gloves were originally bought for lifting weights and aside from breaking a number of cycling style rules they had also become very ratty. Less than 5km into my first ride over here I had changed the units on my speedo to kilometres as it just seemed wrong to be cycling in France in miles. Likewise, it seemed very wrong to be pedaling away in bodybuilding apparel.
By mid-afternoon and with food shopping complete, clothes washed, breakfast and lunch consumed, blog written and the sun breaking out of the clouds, I was faced with a decision: start drinking beer or go for a short cycle. Drinking beer seemed a very attractive option, but I reasoned that if I went for a two-hour ride I would then have 5 hours of guilt-free beer drinking to end the day. So I lycra’d up and headed out. Today I went up into the hills and along the winding country lanes through the vineyards of the Loire Valley. It was a pleasant ride at a relaxed pace. By the end of the previous day’s riding my ‘derriere’ was giving me a certain amount of discomfort; however a good cyclo-tourist always brings two saddles on holiday and I was pleased to find that my stand-by saddle was not putting the same pressure on my discomforted bum. After half an hour the lanes spat me out at the fairy-tale-looking Chateau de Saumur where I stopped to take a few snaps.
From here I descended quickly to the town and then out West along the northern banks of the Loire. The road was bowling-green flat with a continual, generous bike lane and not a pothole in sight. It seemed rude not to put the hammer down and show my appreciation for such an excellent road. There was a slight headwind but I managed to maintain a speed above 32km/h for the 20km to the first bridge where I crossed over and enjoyed an equally excellent road back, and with a tail-wind to boot.
My speedo was between 34 – 36km/h for the return which was great, but when I saw a sign saying 2km to the campsite I ramped it up further. For the last section I was riding between 42 – 45km/h which was both exhilarating and shocking as it was like nothing I’d experienced before. At two roundabouts it was a fairly big effort standing out of the saddle to get back up to speed, but once there it was maintainable without feeling like I was about to explode. Plus it made it difficult for the following cars to overtake and the thoughts in my head were of them exclaiming “Zut alors, c’est un cycliste professional!!” rather than the nonchalant ambivalence mixed with mild irritation that was almost certainly occurring. I arrived at the campsite entrance and despite thoughts of carrying on I decided to stop and savour what I had experienced rather than keeping on going until the likely imminent, catastrophic explosion. As I was cooling down I heard my phone ringing in my jersey pocket so I pulled it out and saw my wife’s name on the display. I answered.
Ms BikeVCar: “hey, how’s it going?”
Me: “great [pant pant] I was just going really fast [pant] really fast!”
Ms BikeVCar: “um, are you out cyling? I thought you were resting today?”
Me: “yeah, I was resting but then I went for a cycle. Just a short one. And I was going really fast!”
Ms BikeVCar: “hmmmm… you are ridiculous”