The Etape’s real hero

On (my) last climb of the Etape, the Col de Notre-Dame des Abeilles (which I think translates to something like the mountain pass of Our Lady the Queen Bee) I passed a woman slowly riding to the top.

I noticed her for a number of reasons …..

It’s a male dominated sport, so you tend to notice when someone of the opposite sex is cycling. As a side issue, I have to say I was quite disappointed to find out the Las Vegas Lesbians were in fact from Vancouver .. It’s not at all alliterative, but regardless of where they were from, they were great bike riders – I rode & chatted with Nicole (the short one) for a couple of hours during the Etape, until she dropped me on the climb into Sault;

This woman was wearing an all red outfit, so even amongst the peacock parade that is road cycling, she (sort of) stood out; for what’s it’s worth, my wife thinks all cyclists are either colour blind or can’t co-ordinate.

At the start of the day, I was mixing it on the road with 9,500 other lunatics. When I passed her, maybe half way up Abeilles, we were at the tail of the ride, so there weren’t many people around.

Mid 40’s, sort of attractive (I wonder if she thought the same about me?), and doing it tough on the climb.

I didn’t really think about her again until a couple of hours later.

There I was, on the laughing bus, somewhere in the traffic jam between Bedoin and Chalet Reynard (which is just after the road passes the tree line for those of you who watched the stage on TV) when, still plodding along, she slowly cycled passed the bus.

When we eventually started to move we passed her, but soon after we had to stop again, and she passed us. We overtook her a second time, then the traffic cleared and we were on our way to the top of Ventoux.

I didn’t really think about her again until I passed her while I was descending (like a lunatic) to Malacuene.

It had taken me 5 hours to get from Bedoin to that point. Three and a half of them sitting on a bus, 90 minutes or so watching trucks being unloaded (and I had a beer while I was waiting). I don’t know if she stopped, I don’t know if she got off her bike and pushed it in the steep sections (lots of people did), I don’t know if she had a beer at the place near the top of Ventoux (it was very good beer) but do I know she got to the top, maybe very slowly, but under her own steam.

Well done!

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