Well the snow has gone, the sun has come out, and today we went out minus the double set of gloves, minus the winter booties, minus the 5 layers on top and even minus the legwarmers. It was magic actually, Limoux is a beautiful place to train, and after being on the road the last couple of weekends as part of the cycling traveling circus, it is pretty nice to get back to what is home for now.
Since I last wrote we have ridden a couple of races, the first one a 180km one day race called the G.P Lilliers right on the Belgian border. This was a mission and a half to say the least as it involved two 7hr days in the van just to get there so it was no surprise when my legs weren't exactly feeling like Jan Ullrich on the start line. Muddy one lane roads, lots of jumping out of corners, and cross winds were the story of this race and as I soon found out, bunch position was critical. At the 90km mark the bunch split to pieces in a long cross wind section after a 1.5km climb and riding 80 guys back did me no favors. 30-40 guys formed in the front group including the 8 man strong Rabobank team and the race was over for me. We had Rob and Marc up the front, but today was frustrating as the whole team were strong enough to be up there but riding poor bunch position cost us any chance of getting a result.
We decided to sprint for the hell of it in the 2nd group even though we were close to 10 minutes down, Dream gave me a massive lead out and I rolled in for 2nd in the bunch kick. 5 minutes later it was back in the van and two more days of driving to look forward to.......
Bordeaux-Saintes was next up, 175km long, and after having a bit of a talk with the fellas the aim was to ride good bunch position, stick together and see what eventuated. Well this turned out to be the craziest hardest race I have ever done, the first 50km was cut out in an hr, a max of 91km/hr down some dicey decent with crazy frenchies on either side of me, I put my life on the line more times than I can remember trying to ride at the front and still missed the break along with the rest of the team! There was no easing up this week though and for the remainder of the race we busted our balls trying and trying to bring the break back (or in my case trying to hold on!) but it was to no avail. Apparently the front group split into two at the end and I ended up coming in with the 3rd group of about 10 guys to finish in the top 30. 175km in 4hrs, today wasn't exactly slow and to be honest I was pretty happy just to make it to the finish, it was a hard day.
We are on the road again on Thursday back up north of Paris. The N.Z speed machine (Ford Transit Diesel Van) has been kitted out with a CD player so no more French radio and now we are just working on the coach to get some fat 18inch mags and we will be set! The N.Z girls have arrived and are taking our mechanic and soigneur (aka happy and hands) to their races, it will be interesting to see who comes along for the ride this week.