FAUGÈRES, FRANCE — Having been on the Bianchi only one time since arriving – and that one time getting walloped by the new-to-me heat of southern France on a “gentle” 42km spin (as described by Simon “Crusher” Coulshaw of Domaine des Trinites) – I decided to inflict just a small amount of pain upon myself on a very windy day.
Choosing my route carefully based on the direction of the wind, I headed off into the hills. Climbing, especially when I’m going to be slow anyway and it’s a long-ish grinder, is psychologically more pleasing to me if there’s a headwind. But the real planning here is the return climb, where a tailwind will do wonders over the last 10km or so back to the house.
This was a cooler day, only about 20C. That sort of temperature in Dublin would feel practically oppressive; not just because of the humidity, but also because of the shock to the Irish system. But here, it is a cool breeze in mid-May, and a welcome transition in my attempt to acclimate.
Also part of my planning was making this a shorter spin. 42kms for my first spin was actually quite nice, but being out of shape meant I was struggling to keep up, and I need to build some strength in both my legs and lungs. The increase in temperature means I need to carry & consume more water than I’m used to, and there are really no local shops to pop into for a bottle of water if you find yours are empty.
So shorter this was, by a good margin: only 26kms. What it did give me was a couple of quick climbs, good for the ridiculous gusting winds, and not too much time away from Millie who is left at home while I fulfill my selfish biking needs.
Along the way there was this cute little mid-60s Renault 4. As iconic, adorable and oh-so-French, I cannot imagine driving one would be anything but a frustration. Loud, unable to go, stop, or turn, and probably not very waterproof in a downpour, I would probably prefer just about anything else. But they make for great photos and are a constant reminder of where you are and puts a smile on your face – which is priceless.
I’m making progress: only one water bottle required, and I didn’t feel like I exploded at any point. My heartrate monitor didn’t work the entire time (looks like it needs a new battery), but I can feel myself getting a little stronger. Once I have a better overall mental understanding of my chosen route, I will be able to attack climbs, push my limits and have a bit of fun.
I might even be able to keep up with Simon.