Breakfast: 06:45. Transfer: none. Start time: 07:30. Distance: 216 km. Terrain: medium mountains (4,200 metres). Climbs: two category 2, three category 3, one category 4. Finish: 20:30. Time in the saddle: 11:02 hours.
In the region of Le Lioran they like their truffade (potato pancake with cheese). I can just imagine tucking into one of those after a day on the ski slopes when you really fancy something that sticks to the ribs. Cantal cheese also comes from this region, another favourite of mine.
In fact today I had both. Result!
Tale from the Tour
And so after four days of supposedly flat riding, today we are coming round to the mountains. But that was after a truly spectacular day that started in the Limousin in deepest France, la France profonde.
Despite being in a cycling “bubble” at the moment, I am aware of the chaos at home (following the EU referendum result), so the above picture is a welcome contrast. I think I will need it as a screensaver when I get back.
We started where yesterday left off, with some beautiful wooded descents. This is why we ride.
Today was huge in terms of climbing, not just the cumulative effect of undulations but the final three categorised climbs. The first two I had done before but were far tougher than I remember, the gradient rarely dipping below double figures. But I could not have enjoyed this stage more if I had tried, despite the lateness of the final arrival.
Now that I am midway through my tour it is time to take stock. I thoroughly enjoyed the first three days and I did enjoy day 4 too. Although that was not a “down” day, the cumulative effort did leave me somewhat fatigued and I was not bouncing like I was on day 3. Today I got my bounce back.
The other thing is that I was carrying a bit of a injury when I arrived. Basically tight muscles in my left leg and the small of my back. The Athletes Angels on tour are awesome and I have been fixed. But at the first feed stop today I said to Heidi that I wanted to show her my left knee. Not because there was anything wrong with it, but because it was a nice knee. I am sounding like my Dad now – I think it’s genetic!
Actually my knee is sore now, but I have some stretching to do and will be fine. May get a massage again tomorrow if there is time. It should be a shorter stage.
One of the logistical difficulties is getting dirty kit washed and dried. I sometimes have to put damp kit in my overnight bag, which is not ideal. However, I have a reasonable amount of kit with me so I am close to the point where the worst case is that although I have clean dry kit to wear, the bag will be stinky when I get home! A bigger issue is shoes. They do not always dry out overnight, and even when they do then they stink too! Life on tour. Not that I’m complaining, just telling it like it is. In fact there is a lot to do at the end of the cycling day: call home, upload Strava, charge Garmin and phone, shower, wash kit (getting it dry is a bonus), eat, sort out kit and bag for next day, update blog, sleep. So if you see the T-shirt that says “eat, sleep, ride, repeat” forget it, it’s a bare faced lie. You would need an XXXL shirt if you wanted to convey the truth!
Penseé du Pédaleur
The Massif Central, the first of the “medium mountains”. I’ve been here twice before. The first time was a South Glamorgan Schools skiing trip to La Bourboule. Never mind just loving France, this is where my love of the mountains first started. For a number of years I enjoyed being able to ski down them in the winter, but now I prefer to ride up them in the summer.
The second time was in 2011 when I rode a stage of the Tour de France for the first time. The course was right up my street, with a series of punchy climbs in the middle of a very long stage (208km). I was told that the views from the various climbs were spectacular, though I saw nothing on account of the rain, hail and heavy mist. I got to see the scenery this time and was not disappointed.