Breakfast: 07:00. Transfer: None. Start time: 08:00. Distance: 216km. Terrain: flat if you’re a pro, else lumpy (1,920 metres). Climbs: two Cat 4. Finish: 19:00. Time in saddle: 9h15.
Suffer scores: John 6.5/10, Alex 7.5/10
We’re still in a less well-known part of France here where both the start and finish towns are described as “children friendly towns”, whatever that means. On hot summer days in past cycling trips to France I’ve appreciated friendly children aiming water pistols and hoses at us as we go through, but they won’t be expecting us today. We often whizz past Troyes on the autoroute on the way down to the high mountains of the Alps. But this place is more than just a road sign, as we find out today as we continue through what the Tour de France organisers call beautiful countryside and into the champagne region.
Tale from the Tour
At the start I was chatting to another avid blogger, Ben, who told me the broad outline of what he was planning to write about on what turned out to be an otherwise fairly featureless day. I replied that I was starting with a blank canvas and would see what happened. In the end I didn’t paint anything but I did write two songs, which sort of work in my head if I take liberties with the scanning so here goes!
First one, to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas:
In June and July the Tour de France gave to me:
12 hay bale sculptures
11 flattish stages
10 days of mountains
9 towns with bunting
8 riders riding
7 brake pads squealing
6 bellies rumbling
5 FE-ED STOPS, with dinner
4 tight quads
3 calf strains
2 dodgy knees
And a bicycle propped against a tree
This was written on a long, wet and uneventful section. We subsequently went through the town of Blaisny, so to the tune of “Daisy, Daisy”:
Good to be riding through
I’m half crazy
But I guess you know that too
Your part of the Tour de France
It’s great to have the chance
Life is sweet upon the seat
Of a bike with a D i 2
Make what you will of the above! I was riding with Barry who said that people in lighthouses go mad because there are no corners into which the mind can retreat. I think the same must be true of cycling on long straight roads!
Otherwise the morning was characterised by lots of lorries going past as we were on the busy N19 (before the mind started wandering as per the above), so concentration and discipline was key.
At one of the feed stops there was a memorial to Charles de Gaulle.
I think suffering was about the same for me as yesterday on account of the long distance and the fact that the headwind made cycling downhill difficult even at 3% or a bit more. Alex went for a higher score because he had had enough by the end, as did I in fact.