I have the overnight bag, I have the Randonee stickers on my bike, and I’ve joined an Audax club, and have done excessively long bike rides, so I must be a Randonee now.
Last week I did a 320km ride over two days. It may not have been a huge distance but the gale force headwinds told me otherwise. It was so hard that I was losing my vision and almost blacking out from the sheer exertion. I couldn’t even use my big chain ring in the whole distance, when I turned into a different direction so too did the wind, I only had a tailwind for the last 35kms. I have decided I need a lighter bike for randoneering, so I am looking at turning my carbon fiber bike into a randoneering bike, by making it more comfortable for long distance and changing the wheels from lightweight racing wheels to sturdy wheels that can take the knocks.
I am undeniably getting stronger, a 200km ride seems quite easy now, and I am looking forward to doing my first official Audax event in January or February.
Actually I have been going over my previous trips in earlier years to reacquaint myself with the memories for my book. I thought you might like to see and hear about our first time we saw the Tour de France. It was so exciting I will never forget it.
My trip diary – Tuesday 16th July 1996
Wow what a day; the Tour de France was fantastic / amazing, I’ll never forget it. We got to the right road and there were Gendarmes stopping traffic and masses of people walking and riding bikes heading towards Hautacam Col. The closer we got, the more people there were, as they converged from all directions. Then we started up the hill. The sides of the road were filled with spectators and the road itself was a mass of cyclists (some riding, lots pushing their bikes) and walkers. We were determined not to walk no matter how hard to got. Just passed half way up, I was streaming with sweat – it was running down my arms and legs, and I saw Niel waiting for me. We decided to stay at that spot as it was perfect; we could see down around several corners and even further down, we could also see up past us uphill. It turned out to be the perfect spot, as the riders looked right through us and up around the corner, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.
We sat there for 2 hours in the heat watching everyone come up. People were draped in flags and singing. Then the promotional vehicles came throwing worthless stuff to the crowds. I got a little flag with ‘champion’ on it, and a blow up thing (I have no idea what it is). Everyone was grabbing for things, waving, and touching the cars. Then came the cars with flashing lights – warning the crowd back and following them came the vehicles with rows of wheels and spare bikes on their roofs, and more flashing lights, the helicopters were overhead. When the helicopters got closer, we knew the riders were getting closer. And then we saw them, it was so exciting, the crowds were cheering and clapping and shouting and the riders passed within half a meter of us – looking right at us – although they were probably looking around the corner. And then Miguel Indurain looked right at me – what a thrill – I’ll remember it forever. Even Niel was bright eyed and bushy tailed at being looked at by such a cycling legend. It was definitely worth the long wait. It showed us they weren’t supermen and suffered like anyone else.
|Miguel Indurain in full flight.|
Not many people have seen Indurain in full flight, and have photo evidence.
We have seen and done so much by bicycle, and we have so many more adventures to come. I am pleased to have made the transition from racer to tourer to Randonee; life it full of possibilities if you just reach outside of your comfort zone and grasp them.