Big Ring Racing's remedial training camp in the Rhone-Alpes region of France is well underway. We, in the first person singular sense, are stationed in Saillans, in the Drome valley. Monday's ride was a 150km loop that included one HC and two Category One climbs.
This is the second time in 8 months I've had the pleasure of riding in France, the last time being in the Nice area last September.
I'm riding a bike I rented from a fellow in the nearby town of Crest. Found him on the internet of course. He's got a small bike shop where he rents cheap bikes to tourists. Fortunately, he's about my size and I persuaded him, through the magical act of handing him a mittful of cash, that he should give me his personal all-carbon, dura-ace road bike for the week. I believe he was holding back tears when he passed it to me. If anyone is wondering, nice bikes ride better than bikes they are nicer than. I can tell. It's like having an extra gear.
I was a bit concerned about having a 12-25 in the rear after struggling up some of the climbs around Nice using my 12-27, but even the 3km long climbs at 7.5% have gone okay. The 15km at 5% wasn't too bad though I was a bit concerned when the snow started appearing and the fog rolled in. Good thing I have a lot of experience freezing to death on bicycles.
Today's 70k "recovery ride" took me to the tiny town of Bourdeaux (not Bordeaux) which has the remains of some Roman walls running across the knolls around the town. The wind funnelling through the gap at one of the mountain passes hit me so hard today that I almost went over the edge. I can think of worse ways to go.
Tomorrow I will tackle the Col de Chaudiere which locals tell me is a bit of a challenge. Thursday is a day off (going to Grenoble) and Friday will be another six hour day, mixing road and mtb rides together.