The Tour de Force

The Tour de Force

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Step On! Stage 15: Mende to Valence...Sunday 12th July 2015

This number comes by way of one of the speed-bumps that we crested magnificently/wheezed over today...
Only Lance took more drugs...allegedly.
Various bits of nonsense to be dealt with. Oh dear.
As the profile above shows, we were straight into a steady climb right from the off. No dramas until the first feed-stop after 25 miles or so. The weather was regulation blue skies and climbing temperatures...all set fair.
This was near the top of the first long and steady drag right out of Mende. No cloud anywhere..sensational!
Andy and myself pressed-on after the first feed-stop and fast progress was made through the rolling terrain: I'm now able (read: willing) to do a bit more work towing him which in turn means he gets more of a rest so that he can do more: sort of the opposite of a vicious circle, if that makes sense? Thought not.
And so we have the tune of the day, hah-hah!
So that'll be half-way between the two expanses of water, then.
Rolling terrain. Top work with the bales, there.
This sort of stuff will make me laugh out loud...sheer joy!

Ropey footage but I include it anyway. Tough!
Ah, Dr Johnny unless I'm very much mistaken. Why is Mick Rogers wearing BMC kit though?

The descent was a thing of beauty of great joy: not because I go fast (more like Driving Miss Daisy down the Cols!) unlike some of the loons, it was the breath-taking view...possibly the finest of Le Tour so far? Thereafter I lost contact with our group and sped along to lunch solo which was a pleasant change- not having to worry about pointing out road furniture, civilians or anything else to the rider behind. Basically, you carry some responsibility for the 'wheel' behind you.

It was only after the stage ended that I learned that one of our number (CIA man Tom) had pushed it a little too hard just after cresting the last climb and he went right over the Armco barrier! His luck was in because there was no immediate drop so he 'merely' ended-up with a slashed jersey and some Wolverine style cuts across his chest, but no damage to his bike thankfully. He was ok to ride to the end as well...I'd like to say that he has since taken it easier when descending. I'd *like* to say that...although I reckon it was his dark glasses what did for 'im!

Old fossils all around. Some of them on bikes.
The final 20 miles or so were fairly unpleasant: we were into a 3/4 wind in high temperatures and if you wanted to stop for a cold can you were stuffed: France was ferme, except for a tiny roadside cafe (more like some poor sod's front room) that supplied two Magnums to us. Dynamite!

Such was the nature of the day that it wore down a few riders, unsurprisingly. Even one of the very strongest and fastest guys suffered heat-stroke and had to abandon the stage after the last feed-stop. I was pleased to see the Ibis come into view after 120 miles...even more pleased to flop down in the bar along with quite a few others, hah-hah!
The Ibis bar staff weren't really fit for purpose and a tad overwhelmed, hah-hah!
Sooooooo comfy...
To be fair to Ibis, they were spot-on re the quality of their mattresses...tres comfy, albeit for the 6 hours that I lay on the damn thing...never enough kip...blah-blah-moan. Cheers!

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I do have a bit of previous...

2014: 1000 miles solo & unsupported out to France, then La Bicinglette...6 x Mont Ventoux in a day!

2013: 1000 miles solo & unsupported out to Austria, then the worst climbs in The Dolomites!

2012: The inaugural Haute Route sportive from Geneva to Nice, followed by the worst Pyrenean climbs!

2011: 3500 miles across North America...coast to coast!

2010: 1600 miles from Gibraltar to Blackpool!

2009: 1000 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats!

2008: 250 miles from Blackpool to London!

2007: 100 miles around Manchester!

2006: 0.5 mile to corner shop!