Another tough day on the pedals …

It was another tough day on the pedals, and the raw stats of 115K and 500 or so meters of climb don’t tell the story very well.

Beaune to Macon, with the plan being to arrive in time to see the TdF village, and hopefully some of the riders before today’s depart.

We were going to leave at 6:15, but then everyone decided 6:30 because another 15 minutes would make a difference – it did, but not the way it was intended. And of course 6:30 morphed into 6:45 by the time we got going.

I rode with the big kids again today. I might not have done very well in yesterday’s pissing contest but I felt I could maintain the pace.

The first 35K or so was on an amazing bike path that wound through some of the vineyards that produce the most expensive wines in France. The odd tractor and an occasional farm hand’s Renault were on the track, but otherwise we had it to ourselves.

A quick stop to fix a flat (mine) and we were away again, heading for a paved tow path beside a canal. And as we hit the canal the pace went from a manageable 30Kph to a difficult 35. But I hung on.

We reached the end of the row path – maybe 15K later (I’ve got all this on GPS if you want the exact distances) and we weren’t where we were supposed to be. Thanks to some help from a local and some good map work by Robbin (our guide – nobody was letting me near a map) we worked out a shortcut (it wasn’t) over a couple of little climbs. Which I was happy to do, but I’d like it known that the day was advertised as FLAT.

Climbing out of the way, we found the rail trail we’d been looking for and then things got tough: it wasn’t the high 30’s pace that troubled me, it was the roads we had to cross: at every intersection there was a chicane to slow us down so we didn’t go flying across into traffic.

Except when you’re sitting 4th or 5th wheel, by the time you’re through the front couple of riders are cranking it at high 30’s again. So every Km or so it was slow for the chicane then put of the saddle and CRANK IT to catch up. Interval training. Fartlek. Call it what you like, after 90 minutes I was running out of steam.

We stopped for a quick coffee, which should have fixed the problem, but I just couldn’t get moving and a K or two down the road I was well and truly dropped.

There were a couple of slower riders behind me, but I sort of plodded along in no man’s land for awhile before I caught up: the bunch had stopped to regroup.

I don’t quite know what happened, but a few Km later we rode into a disused railway tunnel – part of the rail trail – that was about 2K long. Maybe it was riding in the dark, I really don’t know, but I got an energy kick from somewhere and powered away to the end of the ride, some 15K up the road.

We legged it though the busy streets of Macon, arriving with about 30 seconds to spare before the Depart. I saw a bunch of skinny guys on flash bikes with team cars following.

Another great day.

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