We had a beautiful ride from Aniane over the medieval bridge at Pont de Diable (everyone has a hells canyon, I guess) through the vineyards, under the freeway and up an insanely steep switchback on what I would call a roughly paved wagon trail to Lake Salagou. The warning signs about no swimming gave me a laugh when I saw people fishing, but apparently it wasn't about water quality but the siphon of the dam! We rode to the far side of the reservoir, checked out the view and decided to head south from there. It was hotter than blazes, the cigale were singing loudly and I thought we should ride down and scout places to watch the Montpellier to Castres stage. Great idea in theory!
We passed through Canet, across the long suspension bridge and were riding the rolling hills along the tree lined road and I realized that I just couldn't keep up. I stopped at a shady pull-out to catch my breath. When Mark returned I thought that just maybe I'd had enough for the day and we should head back to Gignac and Aniane. It wasn't but another 5 km out that I realized I was in trouble.
It seemed that every little incline, he gained another 100 meters. I felt like I was pedaling backwards, pedaling hard but getting nowhere. Very frustrating... Mark had wanted to make a longer loop home and take on a couple more big climbs and I was wishing he had, at least I wouldn't feel so slow if I wasn't following anyone! I would really know how slow I was going and could suffer all by my lonesomes. But as I climbed into Gignac, along the stone wall at the Marie de Ville I had to laugh; he was so far ahead of me (and oblivious to my sad sorry state) that he was up on top of the wall filming my ascent. I let my tongue hang out and loll about like the tired puppy I was feeling like but laughed the rest of the way to the top.
The laughter fueled my engine enough to get me back to Aniane and into a cool shower, I felt fine after eating and then poured myself a Pastis and laughed about the whole thing.
2. Training makes such a difference!
Okay, so who knew that working 80 hours a week is not the same as training? Amazingly, as the week has gone by and the kilometers have added up, I am so enthused to see how much more quickly I recover. My knees are stiff for a while, but I'm sleeping SO well and I just feel great! I still use 'short legs' as an excuse and goodness knows I am not a quiet breather when I'm climbing a hill but I love the feeling of reaching the top of a climb and feeling like I still have more gas!
3. Pain au chocolat, Pastis and pavement
There are so many reasons to travel to France. I can now add smooth country blacktop on yellow roads to my list list of favorite things. Other things on that list (it stopped being a Top 10 years ago, there are too many things!) would be Canard du Confit, oysters, escargot, foie gras, dry Rose' from the Languedoc, accordian music, chats and chien (it's the dogs and cats that really populate these cities!) new vineyards, old vineyards, windmills, unbelievably beautiful new bridges and stone buildings that pre-date Rome that are still used everyday!!
4. Fromage is not just another word for cheese:
The caravan (200 vehicles long) that arrives before the peleton is like Mardi Gras - without beads - but the vehicles pump out the rock and roll, the beautiful young people are strapped in with harnesses dancing on the floats and throwing out trinkets and samples to the crowd....including Laughing Cow Cheese!
The schwag was thick at the finish in Montpellier .... it was a blast! Hats, bags, reflective vests, jelly belly candy, masks for the Simpsons characters, soap, sausages, coin purses -all from companies that we can not find in the states... but it didn't stop us from stuffing our packs with polka dot hats and more. In the village of Canet, the children were fabulous - they were so excited with the little things they caught. We took as many pictures of them as we did the race!
But regarding fromage: we visited the caves of Roquefort a couple of days ago and took an hour long tour in French. We understood enough to get the story of the discovery of the process - a shephard and an elusive girl were involved - and to get in queue for the tasting!
We've had several bleus from the region (d'Auvergne is my fave), Camembert, three different Pyrenees cheeses - all from sheeps milk, the Jura and Comte cheeses, chevres of all sorts and some fabulous little potted cheese that I found in Roquefort.
Enough, it's time to go eat! We are off to Saint Martin.