After Friday’s mountainous stage it was a welcome return to the lowlands, meandering past a brooding Atlantic, salt spray caressing the face, a welcome respite from the sweat drenched switchbacks of the local Alpe d’Huez.
On clear Sunday mornings the winding coast is awash with all manner of lycra clad cyclist, (this list is by no means exhaustive) from weekend warriors sporting the latest team kit with matching bike, mountain bikers whose domain is now sealed gravel their bikes long since domesticated from their mountain origins, solo elitists (elite soloists) on their carbon wonders who churn up the miles at ferocious pace completely oblivious to us mere mortals, there are the fast moving marauding packs which ply the coast picking up wayward cyclists absorbing them into the fold then ruthlessly spitting them out invoking images of BBC wildlife documentaries and of course, there is me.
I would have once been able to classify myself as one of the above but I have since morphed into something altogether different…
I ride a 20+ year old road bike with an ever so slightly offset rear wheel, my cycling shorts are slowly unraveling in the most delicate areas, my cycling shirt cost less than the new tyre I had to replace and seems now to be a size to small for my ample, muscular frame. I spent months hunting for a pair of cycling shoes that would lovingly embrace my disproportionately sized feet (if you do need any proof of evolution and that we did in fact come from the oceans my flippers should do more than just convince you…) size 14/49 and how could I forget the quintessential cyclist trait, a right of passage and of which no self respecting roadie should be with but be without, of course, I’m speaking of hair, leg hair, my fertile forests remain proud and erect. I can but imagine the impression I give to my fellow bikers, I’d hazard a guess though, that my appearance would seem somewhat devolved.
I hope I’m not giving the impression that I’m looking for sympathy, no, far from it. I’m more than content to be back on the bike and feeling fit again, it had been too long…which brings me back to the beginning of this yarn…The further down the coast I ventured, the fewer my two wheeled compatriots became. I stopped to take a snap of the old monastery which stoutly guards against the sea and then decided to head back the way I had come with a tailwind in tow. It wasn’t long before a marauding pack had snuck up behind me, was I going to become another statistic on their wildlife documentary? Hell no, game on!