Another beautiful days cycling. But the legs felt heavy early on…. REALLY heavy. No day on Le Tour is easy!
Day 21 Stage 19 Fri 18/07/14 Moubourguet Pays du Val D'Adour - Bergerac 208km
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Garmin tells me... Hours riding = 154hrs 32 mins. Total Distance 3,569km Total height climbed 48,945m
Stage 19. The Ride to Paris begins.
Today started slowly. Very slowly. We were expecting a nice flat and easy 200km, but the first 60km we climbed over 1,000m !!! “Lumpy” was how it was described….. “Damn steep” would be a better description. My legs were so heavy I really struggled up the hills. It wasn’t painful like the steep inclines of La Planche des Belles Filles or the long Alpine/Pyreneen climbs, but the legs were heavy, I felt weary and I “just didn’t want to do this” !! Hill after hill after hill, all short but 7%..... not nice.
But we plodded on. And the scenery was great. Pretty French villages, rolling hills (!) and finally vinyards. Initially it looked like rain, then it got humid and a thunderstorm was imminent, but somehow we missed it. For once we were lucky with the weather. Hoorah!
After 80km I got my second wind. Joined up with a different peleton from normal, some lads who had just come for the Pyrenees and today. And then for the final 35km I rode with Nick (the Russian teacher) who has a house out here in the region and some of his fellow villagers came out to support him (and us!) Fantastic. Great to see them on the route.
An earlier pic of Andy and I leading the Peleton!
We also passed through a quaint little village with decorations for Le Tour (first really well decorated village since Yorkshire to be honest!).
The final run into Bergerac was brilliant. Just Nick and I riding in, feeling strong, enjoying some warm sunshine and a bimble through the vinyards (well, OK a bit more than a bimble… we pegged it! 75kph downhill at one stage and some good aggressive climbing!) Turns out we were 4th and 5th home today. It’s not a race but it was nice to be one of the early ones for a change!
Back in the Campanille and the usual frustrations of rubbish internet, not able to download Garmin etc….. but I was met by my mate SJD who everyone knew was my mate cos he had his Desert Challenge T-shirt on and all my clothes seem to be Desert Challenge stuff too! Great to see you buddy, thanks for passing by! xx
Some great after dinner speeches again. Hugh made some lovely comments about various riders and staff who helped him through our Tour, and the moustache went to Pete.... the man with "the most revealing of cycling shorts". It really couldn't have gone to anyone else!
Phil congratulated everyone for surviving one the hardest Tour de Forces in history (we only had 1 Time Trial - normally there are 2 - a TT day is a day off for us really due to the short distances!) and the weather was either too wet, too cold, both or too hot ! Character building stuff: As referenced earlier.... My character's plenty big enough already, thanks!
Today was mixed feelings. The major riding is over, just a 55km Time Trial tomorrow (plus a 6hr bus ride to the outskirts of Paris) and then a 100km ride into Paris…. And the end. I feel a bit “strange”. I think we all do. Good to be nearly done, but it will take a long time to get used to the real life and out of this bubble of “Pro cyclist taster” !! Hmmmmmmmm…………