Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Route to Nationals

“Straight ahead.”

On the roundabout.

“Oh go right actually.”


“Straight on”

On the junction.

“No left! Go left!”



We were on our way to the French cycling championships.  But put one rather tired and hungover English girl in the driver’s seat, add one rather nervous French man navigating, and you are not going to have the most chilled out road trip.

This was in stark contrast to the night before when I’d tiptoed into bed feeling very well-prepared and pleased with myself, having even remembered to cook his lunch and pack the ‘feed bag’ after stumbling into the flat at 3am.  After mentally ticking off 10litres of water, a rice and pasta salad, 2 baguettes (those were for me), 5 cereal bars, 4 compotes, 3 energy bars, biscuits and a banana I immediately passed out feeling rather smug, well-trained and, obviously, not the remotest bit ill.

However, after 2 hours of convincing him he was not going to come last, whilst also trying to deal with a left-hand drive Fiesta, his late decision making at junctions, terrible French radio and my gag-reflex, it’s safe to say I might have been slightly tetchy.

Fast forward a bit further and I had to deal with guilt as well as a hangover.  Despite him telling me he felt ill, I’d been nagging him to eat something properly (i.e my lovingly prepared rice salad), until he nearly threw the feed bag at me. 

He looked positively triumphant when it dawned on us that I’d forgotten any form of cutlery.


Luckily, he really did feel too sick to eat a bloody thing.

We are yet to decide whether this was a result of nerves or the impressive ‘race-prep’ diet he’s been on for the last week - taking 'carb-loading' to a whole new level.

One single dinner included, among other things, 450g of rice (to give this some scale – a recommended portion for a ‘normal’ person is 60g).  Even after this quantity of carbohydrates for lunch and dinner, 5 days in a row, somehow he’s still managed to lose weight. 

I though, am sporting a fetching little carb-tyre. 

But despite the early start, the hungover and unprepared girlfriend, the numerous wrong turns and arguments on the way there, the lack of cutlery, the nerves, the mental (and physical!) challenge of competing against the best in France and quite possibly the biggest hill I have ever seen (4 kms of 10% incline climbing)...something paid off.

He says it’s last week’s win that mentally prepared him to do well this week ("Nerves? I wasn't nervous!")

I, more realistically, think it’s the months of training and the well-fuelled and well-rested body (he's gone to bed at 10.30pm every night- unlike his unhelpful girlfriend) coupled with the good luck kisses and a familiar voice screaming encouragement every lap, that really gave him the edge ;-)

Whatever it was, it worked.  The Frenchman is now officially the 27th fastest man on a bike in the whole of France.

I was so proud I cried.

And it wasn't even the hangover.

P.s - The Frenchman is competing in a stage of the Tour de France on 17 July and raising money for leukaemia research, a cause very dear to his heart - so if you read this, please, please, please take a little bit of time to sponsor him at http://laurettefugain.alvarum.net/teamrondy2011. Every little helps.

It's the French equivalent of 'Just Giving' and is very easy to donate, even from the UK!

There's only 5 more days to go!!!

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