I rode on the front again :(

After being rudely awoken by some numpty from Curry’s, who was meant to be fitting an oven but took one look and said “no can do”, I did actually get out for the club ride. Admittedly, I was a little light on breakfast but I took half a dozen jaffa cakes and a few gels to see me through.

It was warm out but a little less stiffling than last weekend, and for some unknown reason I sat on the front for the first section, all the way out to the first section of the Surrey Hills. This would probably explain why I found myself puffing and wheezing my way up that bit despite trying to rein in my tendency to go winging off and then slump backwards through the group.

But riding on the front did give me a chance to chat to Rusty who had recently returned from doing the Izoard and Alpe D’Huez, as well as bumping into Ivan Basso and a group of CSC riders including former Tour winner Bjarne Riis. You can see some of his pictures at www.roadcyclinguk.com in their report on encountering one of the leading contenders for the maillot jaune this year.

Rusty reports that the Izoard is tough but if I concentrate on keeping hydrated it shouldn’t prove insurmountable and I should survive it. I’m trying to ignore all the scare stories on message boards because it all seems just a bit too much like “fishing stories” to me. No doubt I will change my mind when I’m grinding away up the mountain, much as I will regret ever saying “I could walk up here faster” about Alpe D’Huez.

What worried my looking at those pictures was that Riis was not only clinging onto the team car but also seems to have been turning over a gear that looks like 39/25 or, if it’s a compact, 34/25 or so. That’s former Tour winner Bjarne Riis – who, I think this is right and not myth, once stopped on a climb, got off, let his rivals go past and then remounted and rode up and past them – using a gear I would probably just about cope with. I assume it was a really steep bit.

I battered my way through the remaining hills, including the nasty side of Leith Hill on the 30/27 feeling a bit giddy and confused, possibly due to the weird heat – not outwardly hot heat but just enough to make you sweat heavily. Once I found my rhythm up Ranmore Hill I enjoyed it for once or maybe I was just high on Powerbar sugars.

For once I found my sweet spot on the bottom section of Box Hill and belt up past the first car park and hairpin rolling really easily. But as I came out of the second hairpin it just disappeared and I had to dig in and battle on with that empty legs feel of just not being able to touch on that sensation of being in the groove.

Downed jaffa cakes and coke at Box Hill and felt fine coming back in, again riding on or near the front, even stuck in a lap of Richmond Park to make it up to 120km and managed to get up to a fair old tilt on the final sprint in to Hampton Court.

So all fine until I got home and realised exactly how exhausted I was. I managed to do some stretches before falling fast asleep on my living room floor in front of the football for about four hours. I missed pretty much all of the Brazil vs Australia game and whatever the other one was before managing to stumble into the bath and order a pizza before collapsing on the sofa. for the rest of the day. I was out like a light once bed time came around. And with that I bid you good night.

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