Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Hubris I and II

A few days in the old stomping ground of Allos, and I take the opportunity to get my cycling legs back with a climb of the Col d'Allos, down to Barcelonette, and back. It's 12 km up to the col (which is the penultimate of the five that did for Eddy Merckx in the 1975 Tour). Then 25 km down to Barcelonette, then reverse the route for home.

Any sportsman, of any stripe, knows to beware of hubris. I know to beware of hubris. Nonetheless I expect to manage this beast of an afternoon, near 40 km of relentless climbing, without having ridden a road bike for 2 months. The idiocy of this is brought home about 2.5 km from the top of the col, coming back. Suddenly, I start to feel like Dorando Pietri, the Italian marathon runner who was so exhausted that it took him 10 minutes to cover the last 350 metres of the 1908 Olympic race. I push on the accelerator, but the vehicle doesn't really move much.

I eventually grind over the top too tired even to pedal one more stroke, and coast all the way back to Allos. Tomorrow is declared a rest day.

Two days later, more trouble. My friend Hammy and I decide to explore the woods around Allos on mountain bikes. We grind up out of Seignus, where in theory the Tour du Verdon bike route should take us all the way down to Colmars for a coupe. In practice the Tour du Verdon bike route only makes infrequent appearances, signposts even fewer, and we very quickly get lost.

Six hours later, we roll down through Seignus again, bloody, battered and weary. We've manhandled our bikes further than we rode them, at least it feels like it. Having rekindled my love of off-road riding in the first hour, I now never want to see a set of suspension forks again.

It'll wear off, though.

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