I guess I have been thinking about writing a post during my trip since I arrived in France, it just hasn’t been the right time for it. We are always about to do something, have groceries to buy, washing to do, food to cook. Places to go, things to see. You know…the life stuff that comes with travelling abroad, bike racing and being self-supported.
After an epic 35-hours flying time, including getting to the gate 5mins after boarding time in Toulouse (thanks goodness it was delayed) then almost being denied entry due to unpaid baggage (which I had just paid!) Briony and I, who met up at Charles De Gaulle, arrived in Toulouse. The next bit of the clusterfuck was playing the ‘where is my bike’ game. I was emotionally prepared for this, being a bit of a pessimist at the best of times, and having played this game before.
After accepting that it wasn’t coming, we filed the missing baggage form and collected our Peugeot ‘Teepee’, but not before getting fleeced for an extra GPS which came standard in the car. This was phase one of ‘I wish I could speak French’.
Navigating out of the carpark was a blast, as we very rapidly realised we were to drive on the right side of the road. Add this to sitting on the left when driving, and having a right-sided gearstick, and you could tell we were having an awesome time freaking out, then laughing about it.
We found our accommodation in Tournefeuille, a loft room in a little southern-french style Mediterranean villa with amazing pool. The hosts were great, there was a cherry tree and we were far enough from a major centre that getting around wasn’t too stressful.
The next day we headed out for a ride, Briony on her race weapon, me in my Purple glitter Converses, Cyclinic kit and Aussie gilet sans helmet on one of the hosts large Trek 4500 alloy MTB, fitted with racks, bags, fenders and semi slicks. A race weapon if there ever was one.
Thankfully the real race weapon turned up that night, it was very exciting.
The next day we daytripped to a little town called Castres, in the Tarn region, to go for a ride. Bri had a fancy GPS that uploaded a map of a ride we were doing, and after getting lost and detouring through the ghetto (legit a bit scary) we headed out into the hills for 50km of sun, a few efforts and some detouring for pictured. I wished that I had a camera in my eyes because I didn’t want to forget how amazing and beautiful the scenery was, alas I will have to rely on a few dodgy iPhone photos instead. We travelled through mediaeval Burlats, climbed up Lacrouzette to the top at Roquecorbe. It’s hard to describe what it was like without reverting to generic terms like ‘next level’ and ‘epic’, but that’s kind of what it was.
The next day was travel day to Rodez. Getting a little handier at the driving business, that decreased on my list of things that were a bit stressful, while trying to converse about our accommodation rose to the top. We got there and there was a problem so we had to stay in a very tiny hotel for one night before moving to our apartment accomodation. Bri had been feeling a bit under the weather the day prior, and it was my turn to feel fucking awful. We called it a recce day but still traipsed around Rodez.
Rodez kind of reminds me of Toowoomba, if it was established in the 12th century. Rodez is actually older than that, but I believe that’s when they started having a decent crack at building the huge Notre-Dame Cathederal-Rodez which is front and centre of the city. Rodez is located atop a hill, and is the city of flowers, hence the Tbar references. It’s a long bow to draw, but i’m doing it. We are staying right in the centre, we can see the Cathederal from the accomodation and more importantly, our favourite boulangerie is RIGHT ACROSS THE ROAD #baguettelyf.
Yesterday we headed on course. The disadvantage of staying in the hotel was we couldn’t cook or do washing and hence we had to wait until the rest of France wakes up (ie: not very fucking early) to get some food in so that we could ride. As a result, we got to Laissac about 1000. On bikes at 1030, and not back until 1330. It was over 30degrees (oui oui, magnifique!) and we had very limited water (non! tres mauvais!).
!) so perhaps took the fatal mistake of cooking ourselves. Coke, quiche and ice blocks against a wall helped momentarily.
We rode about 1/3 of the course and as we were both under the weather it was a pretty glacial pace. It had everything! Boggy euro mud, south-of-france loose rocky fun descents though pine forest, craggy rocky climbs, mud chutes like Offenburg. The fun is in the surprise ‘holy shit I am careering down this muddy chute, should probably avoid the orange trees’, and the race will hold some more surprises as I am taking today off with my sore throat and ears in order to get myself right for the race.
It’s not so bad, the descents I ride were wicked fun, not too crazy technical if you are in the mindset to just hit it and worry about it later. While I am hoping/praying that my health comes good for the race, it’s World Champs; it doesn’t matter where I come as long as I ride as hard and fast as I can and enjoy the pain in the process!