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Apologies for the lack of updates of late, but a combination of illness and holiday have kept me busy for a couple of weeks. We popped over to France for a few days and, having got permission to take my velo to France, the chest infection that I managed to pick up following my road race on the previous Sunday put pay to any decent miles.

I did however manage to get out for a couple of short rides and the change of scenery made for pleasant riding, even if the early morning starts were a little chilly! Although I know the area we were staying in pretty well (and I needed no excuse to visit a few roads I’ve wanted to ride along for years), it was nice to use the trip to allay some of my fears about riding on roads I don’t know. The rolling countryside reminded me of our holidays in the West country, so hopefully it was also useful training for what I’ll encounter in the first few days after leaving Lands End (minus the pasties).

There were also a couple of other things that were useful to learn. Firstly, ever since I got whooping cough in late 2012, every cold I’ve caught seems to have developed into a full on chest infection. Not great news for most people, but as an asthmatic it seems to render my lungs particularly useless and leaves me gasping for breath on even the most modest of climbs. I’ve now been prescribed several WADA banned meds by my doctor, which I suspect would be enough to get me thrown out of the Velo Club for life should I get called into doping control after Sunday’s time trial. Unfortunately I’m not quite sure what the solution is, other than to overdose on vitamin C. Answers on a postcard please.

Secondly, you don’t half get cold on long fast decents! OK, ploughing down L’Eree hill at 35mph can get fresh, especially in a stiff Westerly, but the windchill from flying down a long straight descent at 45mph became pretty uncomfortable pretty quickly. Even in a thick spring jersey. And a merino wool base layer. And fleecy arm warmers. (And a little extra pâtisserie induced tummy insulation). Whilst I have romantic images of a team of soigneurs waiting for me a the top of each climb with a copy L’Equipe to stuff down my jersey, I doubt that’ll be the case, so again not quite sure what I can about it other than to make sure I’m properly dressed.

Lastly, I’ve never really encountered proper road buzz before. Having stuck mostly to quieter departmental back roads, I encountered some pretty mixed road surfaces, the worst of which was without doubt that weird rough orangey-pink tarmac that they seem to like over there (although I don’t much care for that gravelly surface they press into wet asphalt). I’ve often found myself with numb hands on rides before, but noticed that loosening my grip on the bars actually helped not only my bike control but also helped with the numbness.

Also, that reminds me, I’d never encountered railway crossings on my bike before and I did get kind of freaked out as the slippery rails loomed into view (we’ve seen those videos on youtube). I must have looked a bit weird to the locals as I slammed the anchors on and tried to hop the tracks – oh well, no change there then.