|Team Green (in blue) go to Paris|
We say a quick goodbye and ride off out of town. Crossing the Seine is a treat, but it's nice to see the city slowly turn to countryside. Once out in rural France we realise how well Iain and Toby have done regards route finding, they get us out far quicker than the now ex guide got us in.
We are now rolling along and the day is shaping up to be a scorcher, it's all really great except I have a bad pain in the knee caused by the traffic lights of Paris. It means I have to watch every pedal stroke making it a double pain. Still the great weather is making this a joy. Even with knee pain we're chomping up the miles. Then we hit this stunning road, the sun is now really going to work and there's no wind at all it's just fantastic to be riding here. There's no point getting on a wheel, up here it's cycling heaven....you pedal you go.
We ride for a good few hours like this, but realise we will need a stop to put back what the heat and roads have taken out. Iain has this covered, and we pull into a little town where we sit in the shade of some trees in the local churches grounds. We get treated to real food, loads of it. It's tempting to stay here, but we have to move on. We give Joe an hours notice, which gives him just enough time to get dressed and creamed up and then roll out.
It's now peaking at 33 degrees and the roads are going skywards. We are meant to stop for a briefing, but Vince and Jason have gone on and are now just dots on the horizon. Craig has the bit between his teeth, and myself and Rob are in pursuit with Joe storming up behind us. It's not long before we are all strung out, a long long drag has split us up and my knee is killing me. This bit isn't fun, I'm not used to being the weakest rider it hurts my pride as well as my knee. I've been here before so I dig in and ride my own ride. Just as I reach my lowest ebb the terrain settles down. At the next town I catch up with Vince, Rob and Joe. Robs pushed hard in this heat and needs water, so he and Joe stop for supplies. I carry on with Vince and I'm really glad of his wheel.
From here the riding hits the first proper hills of the whole ride. These are epic and I can't even get out of my saddle to enjoy them. I'm experiencing a strange mix of purgatory and joy! Vince zig-zags at the tops of the climbs to let me know he is waiting for me. I tap away like this for what seems miles and miles. Then out of the blue we hit one hell of a descent, it's as if we are going to lose all that ascent in one kilometre. Passage dangereux as they say. Actually it's not 'as if' we are, we're not descending off the hill we're falling off it.
After a few whoops and wave to Iain and Toby we hit a tough road, one of those roads that never seems to get you any nearer to where you're going? I really need Vinces wheel know. I have to save some for day four. It's a very long haul before I see Tom and Rick who wave us into the next town. Here we meet Jason and Craig and sit down at a café for coffees.
We're here for quite a while before Tom joins us to tell us somethings wrong. It seems that Rob and Joe have gone off piste since our last sighting. The support crew spend the next few hours searching for them and we sit tight. Our thoughts range from 'they'll be alright' to when do we call the hospitals?
Then the gurning duo appear. Just a simple case of mistaking a bend for a turning. We regroup and decide what to do. We calculate that in the time we've been waiting we could have reached our destination. but quite frankly sipping coffee and watching madmoiselles passing by has been better than the last few miles we rode. A decision is made to ferry some riders to the finish, whilst Vince, Joe and Craig ride as much as they can before leaving it too late to arrive.
The support car swishes us to our hotel in Montreuil-Sur-Mer a beautiful pavé ridden classic of a French town.
As we unload and secure all the kit the trio turn up. Something has happened on the road, but what happens on the road stays on the road. All I can say is that Craig isn't wearing socks on his arrival?
|I will say this only once|