06.10.2012 - 08.10.2012 22 °C
We left the Igloo hotel after a decent night's sleep and a hearty breakfast of croissants, cheese, ham and yogurt. Today's trip started with the decent through the ski town of Les Gets and down off the mountain into the valley below. We then started on our mammoth day of French motorway miles in an effort to get to Provence in time for Jayne to do her marathon on Sunday.
With 300 miles of motorway to ride I thought I'd be bored out of my skull, but the last couple of hours (after Grenoble) were amazing as we skirted the French Alps. The view was what I can only describe as like riding through the centre of the Grand Canyon.
Just as I thought it couldn't get any better we left the motorway and hit a road about 50 miles long that was stunning. It was billard table smooth tarmac and twisty, graceful bends that ran through the mountains. I almost forgot Jayne was on the bike and it was so loaded up as I shot around the corners having heaps of fun. The weather was getting hotter and hotter as we travelled south and each time we stopped for a rest, we removed more layers of clothing until our jackets and trousers had nothing left to shed.
After a short picnic break and a quick Intermarket stop-off to buy Jayne's pre-race breakfast (crossiant, banana and a muesli bar) we headed down the last stretch of motorway. By now the length of time on the bike was taking it's toll and we were both feeling a bit worse for wear and more than a little tired and achy. We arrived in Pertuis in time for Jayne to register for the race and pick up her race number ready for the following morning. The last bit of riding got us 20mins down the road to a pre-booked hotel in a lovely old village with little cobbled streets and alleyways. We opted for a meal in a little pizzaria in the town but the food was bland and very uninspiring compared to the culinary delight we had in Morzine.
Went to bed early as Jayne's alarm was set for 6.30am to get her up, fueled and ready for the race next morning.
We woke up at 6.30am, well actually Chris had been awake all night being a bit poorly bless him. Anyway, I dragged him out of bed and forced him into his motorbike gear as frankly I was NOT going to run to the next village and to the race start. After Chris dropped me off, he rode back to the hotel to continue sleeping/feeling ill. The atmosphere at the race was amazing with a jazz band playing as a precsession of old French cars full of families dressed from the 20s drove past us waving. Then a DJ came on stage as did a team of 10 women dressed as ladybirds doing aerobics to warm up the runners - well, everyone looked on laughing really as the only people to participate in the warm-up where a bunch of men dressed as chefs and a couple of bishops.
The marathon started at 9am and we completed a lap of the athletics track first so that the rest of the competitors (for the half mara and 10K) and specatators could cheer us on. We then headed off into the coutryside and around the first of several hundred flippin vineyards. The route was half roads, half sandy/gravel tracks and although no huge hills, it was a very 'lumpy' course. The 1st feed station consisted of a huge table of food, cups of wine (I mean, who would want to be sober for a whole 4 hours??) and a French man singing kareoke very badly which could be heard over the speakers for at least another 2 miles.
I knocked out the first 15 miles without too many problems, a bit of tightnesss brewing in my knees and hips but not too much to worry about, I was more concerned about not being beaten by the giant carrot running alongside me.
At around 18 miles I had to stop for a stretch as my knees and hips were starting to plan a major protest. I was glad to see Chris waving at me from the 30km point and he handed me my salt drink that I like to have when its hot. The last 8 mile was just a matter of getting as much Coke and water in me as the temperature was soaring in the midday sun and keeping my legs in check with frequent stretches. I had to pick the pace up for the last 2km to get a sub 4 hour time and it was worth the pain as I hobbled in with 3:58 on the clock.
Got beaten by the bloody carrot though!
A bit of stretching afterwards would sort out the legs - no major problems, just tightness from being on the bike for the last week me thinks.
After a shower and a bit of a sit down with Chris at the finish (who was still feeling rough) we started to head off when I decided to have a check of the results as we walked past and was suprised to find my name highlighted in bold - it turns out I have won my category! We waited by the stage for 10mins for the award ceremony. Chris spotted the stage was surrounded by piles of pumpkins and sacks of potatos and he joked that these had better not be the prizes as there is was not a chance on earth we would fit any of that on the bike! The smile was soon wiped of his face when the overall winners where invited up to the stage and interviewed - in French and given 4 sacks of potatos each!! AHHHHHH. I was contemplating not collecting my prize at all and slinking off, when the man called my name out and I gingerly headed for the stage with the other category winner. We where presented with huge pumpkins which we had to hold in the air while everyone cheered!!??
OK, maybe a pumpkin we can tie to the back of the bike, that's not too terrible is it? - then I received a goodybag with a token to collect my 12 bottles of wine - 12 BOTTLES OF WINE - WHERE THE HELL ARE THEY GOING TO GO?? I had already been given 2 bottles just for finishing the race!!! Well, I couldn't say no could I, so I headed over to a bemused Chris to explain the impending dilemma. He seemed a bit bewildered as to how we would fit them in seeing as we could barely carry what we had already! But, seeing as it was wine, we decided we would fit them in somehow. The pumpkin however was gonna have to go, either that or hollow it out and wear it as some kind of haloween helmet!
Luckily we where heading straight from the race for my friends Monica and Simon's place to stay for a couple of nights and a fridge full of wine would make them a very suitable present! PHEW!!
The 150 mile ride to Mon and Simon's was a bit of a nightmare as Chris felt really rough with a monster headache/sicky tum and within mintutes I was starting to nod-off and seriously ache. Plus the bike was stupidly heavy and Chris in his current state was struggling to keep us up-right at the numerous toll stations. We have never been so pleased to get somewhere as we pulled up to Mon and Simon's beautiful house in the gorgeous little old town of Pouzolles just before it got dark.
I had a good catch up with Monica who I used to work with in Bath over 2 years ago and we enjoyed a BBQ meal which hit the spot perfectly before heading off for a very well needed sleep.
The next morning saw no improvement in Chris's bad stomach and headache so he laid in the bed whimpering for most of the day. I opted for a lazy day at the house, doing some sunbathing, some washing, catching up with the blog and cleaning the bike. It was a welcome break and hopefully Chris will feel better tomorrow as we will head off towards Spain and the Mountains again.