What goes up must come down, and it transpires that my incapacitating fear of heights transcends to being 3 foot up on a bike, travelling at great speed down a mountain. Rusty Bob gathers pace, the wind howls past my ears, my helmet strap bitch slaps my face relentlessly, cows become fuzzy blurs and each slight variation in the road surface becomes a gargantuan obstacle designed to cause me grave harm. Crazy thoughts of Bob flying apart or me just flying off with certain painful consequence fill my head and my hands cramp with the effort of squeezing the breaks. I do not like it one bit. If I can't get my shit together it's going to make the descent from The Alps into Nice a very harrowing affair.
But terrifying descents and ruined knees (every other pain, and there are many, pales in comparison to my knees) aside, we had a brilliant morning's ride passing through gorgeous medieval villages and rolling countryside. 3 significant climbs challenged us but I found my mojo today and enjoyed them. The rest of my lovely group - there is a fast group, we are not it - may leave me for dust on the descents but I can catch them up on the climbs ... for now!
The riding after lunch was not as charming. It should have been a breeze after the morning's hills but it was blighted by miles of mind crushing dual carriageway, spent trying not to get sucked under the wheels of a juggernaut whilst cycling through a thick fog of post chilli and beans after burn. Another pitfall of bringing up the rear, alongside having the support van crew staring at your arse all day. My gag reflex is so overworked it might be broken.
The ibuprofen took a while to kick in post lunch and the knee pain actually caused the first tears of the trip. At least until I gave myself a mental slap and pulled myself together.
As always, there were synchronised wees, jungle poos, groin lube stops, slipped chains, flapjack breaks and spills to accommodate. The ride through Lyon, whilst dicey what with playing chicken with rush hour traffic and going Maverick with traffic lights rules, was beautiful. The 1.5 mile tunnel which played soothing music to us and projected video of dancers onto its walls was superb. The ride out the other side of Lyon, what with a spot of road rage and altercations with traffic, was neither beautiful nor superb. After a horrible ride through what must be the meth suburb and a barren industrial estate we arrived at our amazingly awful hotel. We believe it's fabricated from shipping containers stacked 2 high and 30 across. The towels are the size of a pillow case, the communal showers and toilets smell bad and we suspect bed bugs. But, it's a bed in which to lie, groan and feel sorry for ourselves for a few short hours. Joan has inflicted great pain on me to fix my knees, and the crew rustled up a great BBQ in the car park.
Tomorrow we hit The Alps. I may need more jelly babies.