The road to Ventoux begins in our dreams

Still not sorted out a place, still not properly organised but I’ll share with you an experience we will all endure.

Riding out to Richmond Park this morning, headphones in, head prepared for three laps (roughly an hour and fifteen minutes of riding), I wondered how many people’s preparation for the Etape begins in the grey, damp, cool air of the British spring. Flecked with a heavy mist that would pass for rain elsewhere, I pedalled into the park and began my session.

Today’s focus: climbing out of the saddle at a steady rate. The Francaise Des Jeux coach reckons that you should be able to do this for three to four minutes when you are in shape. I can ride out of the saddle easily enough, it’s just doing it at a steady rate that I find difficult. The effort increases as I find my cadence and move more quickly, then the gradient increases and my legs resist.

In my head I thought about Ventoux and up the two rises that pass for hills I daydreamed of myself as Robert Millar, dancing his way to the summit, and of the horrible madness that Ventoux seems to summon to riders.

I dreamt on of rounding that corner in the shadow of that white obelisk that marks the summit, looking back down through the lunar landscape and rejoicing.

Then I remembered that it’s a long way off, both physically and mentally.

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