Stage 11: Albi to Toulouse

Cycling summary

Breakfast: 06:30. Transfer: none. Start time: 08:03. Distance: 167km. Terrain: flat (2,050 metres climbing). Climbs: one Cat 3, one Cat 4. Finish: 16:22. Time in saddle: 7h29. Temp: 30C. Drinks: 4 litres.

Suffer scores: John 1/10. Wim 1/10.

Local lowdown

Toulouse is the home of the cassoulet and the Toulouse sausage, which some may have enjoyed. We are also now firmly in rugby country. But especially today, there has been an abundance of sunflowers.

Tale from the Tour

Post script to yesterday’s rest day – Albi is also home to a museum dedicated to Toulouse-Lautrec which I would also like to visit one day. One of his quotes is on the wall of the hotel where we were staying.

“I will drink milk when cows start grazing on grapes.” Until then, Deano is sticking to wine!

As mentioned, today was really all about sunflowers all the way. It was an easy ride, flat by Tour standards and not as tough as some training rides I have done, so all in all a good day. Temperature was fine, especially with a breeze, though Toulouse was hot at the end.

I was really pleased with a video I was able to make of the peloton whizzing past a field of sunflowers – a classic Tour shot. In doing so, this left me towards the back of the pack but I knew I would catch people up by the first feedstop. I was wrong! I had offered to ride with a backmarker but she was happy to wait for others so I continued. Unfortunately, I failed to spot an arrow straight after speaking to her so ended up doing an extra 6km before retracing my steps and getting going on the right course again. Oh well, nice day for it.

In among the sunflowers

One of the fields of sunflowers I passed while catching up to the group was wonderful, though sadly I could not take a photo to do it justice. A large semi-circle of sunflowers all looking towards a green “stage” in the middle. Glastonbury for sunflowers! It will just have to live on in my memory.

On other occasions I deliberately stopped to take the opportunity to take certain photos. It’s so easy to let opportunity pass and maybe that’s a general truism, not just related to photography. Where there is opportunity, it can be so fleeting that I think we either need to take it there and then or be prepared to accept that the moment has passed, but without regretting it. It’s a choice we make. This ride supports the William Wates Memorial Trust which gives opportunities to young people. Hopefully they will make the most of them and reap the benefits.

Several times I chose to stop when I could have sailed on, and I’m glad I did. Some shots without sunflowers:

Below looks like a green sprinter’s jersey from the Tour de France. It’s actually another field of sunflowers shaped like a jersey. Next week I am sure there will be a helicopter shot showing this as more of a yellow jersey – it is the 100th year of the yellow jersey after all, so something that is being celebrated.

That’s the end of today’s “sunflower special”. I am sure we will see more next week, but for now we have four stages in the Pyrenees to look forward to.

A really easy ride today, as reflected in the suffer scores.

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