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Tour De France Gerard

750 652 Gerard O'Connor

Blagnac to Rodez 181km – Flat

There are some days just worth waiting for ….and this was one of them.

2 category 3 climbs (you should all know what they are by now !) were all that stood between us completing a gentle stage after days of gruelling mountain challenges.

Most of the riders took the opportunity of using the day as a recovery ride,if you can class 181km as recovery.

Despite everyone’s thinking to ride gently the pace was steady throughout as we racked up kilometre after kilometre, overcast and warm meant riding conditions were perfect.

No major incidents today, landscape was flat and picturesque and all riders seems to get through the ride unscathed.

A couple of climbs towards the end didn’t deter the good spirits of everyone in the group, and I’ve had the pleasure of riding with Gavin for a few days now, an ex Durham Uni graduate, who is quite frankly the funniest guy I’ve met, you can hear him before you see him and his banter has keep the peloton amused throughout.

We rolled into a quaint French town Rodez and  to a very ‘French ‘ hotel … tomorrow holds a bigger challenge, but a gentle day and rested legs tonight and I’m sure we will all give it go again in the mountains.

750 689 Gerard O'Connor

Saint Girons to Foix 105km

Don’t be fooled by th shorter distance of today’s stage. 3 Cateegory 1 climbs the last ramps up to 20% in places and really isn’t what you want to hear in the briefing on the 2 hour transfer to the start.

Tired legs and minds as we all tried to grab some shut eye on the bus knowing although a short stage was going to be tough once again.

We are now at Stage 13  so nearly 2/3 rds through the tour… has it been as I expected .. No it’s far harder  The lack of sleep early  or late transfers and the fact you e got to cycle 100 mile plus each day means your body is physically drained meaning you’re cycling on reserves and generally on a permanently tired basis… but hey that’s what I signed up for so just get on with it ..Whinger !!

Red hot from the off , after coffee in a local cafe in Saint Girons , which must of wondered what hit it as over 100 cyclists descend on it at 8M !! Remembering to take on plenty of fluids today (as usual) , these mountains were exposed so you were in direct sunlight most of the day, you were soaking riding up those climbs.

Today was about getting through it , legs were really heavy and I saw a number of guys pushing up the final Cat 1 … be strong dont get off or you won’t get back on !!…

The top of the climb had its reward …14miles of pure downhill … exhilarating and great fun .. racking up great speeds as we rolled into Foix.

Here we go again,, another 2 coach transfer to the hotel for tomorrow’s stage.

The next 2 days are a little gentler in terms of climbing … The Pyrenees has certainly shown it has a bite … Ouch !!

750 842 Gerard O'Connor

Worst day ever on a bike ?? Stage 8 Dole to Station des Rousses 197kmes

The worst day ever on a bike ?? ??

Im writing this 2 days after the ride due to late finishes early starts transfer oh and tiredness, but I can still have those painful feelings from this ride.

The start was from a lovely town called Dole where we transferred at 6.30am from our previous nights stop over. It was overcast when we arrived… however within 15 minutes of straying the ride the heavens opened.

It was constant, a mix between light and torrential downpours and at to that this was the first real climbing day it was torturous.

There were a number of casualties, riders who simply were to cold to continue and were packed in the back of the support vans wrapped in foil waiting for a lift back to the hotel.

It was a real shame as the views from the mountains would of been spectacular on another day, instead it was a real focus just to concentrate on what you had to do as all your cycling gear was drenched. Add to that riders were given an option to due a shorter route, reducing the ride by 40km, and as we set off from feedstation 3 I left with a group of 4 other riders not realising that they were doing the shorter route. I ask one of the guys when the split in routes was and he said we split 4km ago… Damn !! For a moment I thought of continuing, only for a moment , I turned my bike and headed back to find the longer route. It was only an extra 8km but it seemed a hell of a lot  longer and I had to ride the next 2 hours on my own cold wet and wondering had a done the right thing … not a good place to be at the time.

Finally arrived still raining to the ski resort of Stauin des Rousses, not much about on a cold wet evening.

Shower, food and bed and trying to get warmth back into me. Yes it was the worst day ever on a bike !!