Rest Day 2: Le Puy-en-Velay

Cycling summary

None, thank goodness! The first proper day off in two weeks, with half of the first rest day having been spent on a coach. Not complaining though – “the Tour is the Tour”!

Breakfast: 07:00. Transfer: none. Start time: started pottering after breakfast. Distance: 200m to the launderette. Terrain: steep climb to the Notre Dame de France statue (we were debating what gearing we would need if doing this on a bike!). Climbs: up to the top of the statue itself. Finish: back to the hotel room to rest up by 4pm. Time resting up: 3 hours before dinner, otherwise the change today was as good as a rest.

Local lowdown

So much to do around here. The choice includes visiting lace manufacturers, canoeing and rafting, playing in the international pétanque competition (but I left my boules at home). Or, of course, none of the above! A small bit of sightseeing after lunch only.

Tale from the Tour

Before a quick summary of the day, and as I am lying comfortably on my bed, I thought I would do a bonus “Director’s cut” post with a few stories and anecdotes from the last week which did not make it to the original blog either because I forgot or because time ran out. There’s a time when enough is enough and I need my sleep to cope with the rigours of the next day! So in no particular order:

I was behind three riders who were discussing why cows have bells. Incredibly none of them knew that it was because their horns don’t work! You can imagine that I was delighted to have a new audience for that old chestnut which is probably as old as the mountains we were in.

The horns must have been working on these cows

One day I passed a sign that said “Think of the farmers – eat a vegan”. While I was trying to figure out how that could work, I realised that the sign had said “mangez au vegan” – a plea to eat a vegan diet rather “mangez un vegan”, which is entirely different! On second thoughts, maybe the farmer in question is dairy, not arable and I was right first time…(no offence intended to any vegan riders or readers).

“Have you stopped feeling human yet?” “Mate, that happened days ago.”

Of special mention is the gang from Cranleigh Cycling Club, particularly Rob and Andrew K who are also here for the whole tour and Jenny who joined us on stage 8. Alex and I have ridden with them every day and together we have shared a lot of good moments on and off the bike. Thanks chaps, it’s been great so far and we will soon be celebrating in Paris.

Andrew K, Andrew S, Iain, Rob, Neil and Jenny – our adoptive family!

In fact I feel like my blog is a joint effort to a degree because I have picked up on comments made by others as well as making my own observations and we are very efficient at sharing photos, so you can never really tell who took which shot.

So on to today. By 11:30 kit was laundered, cleats changed, bike cleaned (more or less), new brake pads fitted and legs massaged. That was all the “must do” activity taken care of and it was time to relax.

After a Caesar salad (green stuff really welcome!) and steak and chips, we took a short walk up to the Notre Dame statue that we saw from afar yesterday. This sits impressively on top of a rock and was made out of 213 cannons that had been used in Napoleon’s victory in Sebastopol.

A 30 or a 32 cassette for this climb? Mountain or road bike?

View from inside the very top of the statue

It was good to be able to do something more normal this afternoon, just as my good friend Hugh W said it would be. This sort of thing just was not possible last week. Hugh – I am now getting close to matching the achievements of you and Gary and I am sure it will be emotional.

I am now in a more relaxed frame of mind, my saddle sores are thanking me for respite and the prospect of what should be an easy day tomorrow is appealing, once I get an early night to consolidate the benefit of having a day off. After that the madness starts again. What is wrong with us that we should want to do this, though in fairness Andrew has wanted to take a shortcut to Paris since Düsseldorf!

A demain.

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