The Tour de Force

The Tour de Force

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Country House! Stage 14: Rodez to Mende...Saturday 11th July 2015

Such was the beauty of the scenery during today's stage that I pretty much forgot about the blog and the search for the 'Choon Of The Day': in the event this number from 1995 (and that's very recent by my standards) fits the bill...I saw Blur again recently and they're still a top live turn!

Can't help thinking that there is a much more direct route?
Back-loaded with nonsense after a terrific orangey bit in the centre...
We had quite a few new riders join Le Tour today: these loons have signed-up for either a few stages until The Alps or to stay with us until Paris. This injection of fresh legs always creates an initial buzz: dunno if it's curiosity or whatever, but welcome folks!
No sign of Ribo.
We didn't have an Alex with us but I'll gladly take the well-wishes, cheers.
The terrain was rolling initially, under grey-ish skies. As ever, we needn't have worried about it not clearing: even by feed-stop number one the sun was breaking through and temperatures were climbing...keep drinking, keep eating. Rinse & repeat!

Smile, ya miserable buggers- it's Saturday!
Skies will clear, temps will rise. Or your money back.
Carry On Follow Those Cyclists!
Love these small towns and villages...
The next 'Hollywood' sight was when the Millau Viaduct hoved into into view, just like that! No matter what angle you approach it from, it just takes your breath away. The sheer scale, the ingenuity, the design: all that and it was designed by a Brit too, hah-hah!

Fair takes your breath away.
Homage to Sir Stormin' Norman F.!
That climber is even slower than I am.
Love all this...
Andy and I stuck together until lunch and made pretty rapid progress through many picturesque villages and small towns. At this point we were following the River Tarn: this was the finest scenery that we had enjoyed so far! Just after we passed through a.n.other town, Andy punctured which meant we left the group that we had been with go. No dramas as we were all done and dusted in a Red Bull-esque 10 minutes and we did catch that bunch before lunch. Good work!

Bill, Ben and a Flowerpot Man.
Maybe not 70kmh, but we were cutting along nicely!
Country House part 1. A fixer-upper...
The vans that you're always glad to see.
After lunch we continued as per, and reached the first of the two climbs before Mende: I felt pretty good and passed Pete Bedwell on the way up. I stopped for a photo and Pete duly passed me again: I continued on and passed Pete again: he said if I stop for another photo then that's taking the p*ss, hah-hah! We were glad of the feed-stop at the cannot get enough water, either to drink or dowse yourself in.
Terrific landscapes all around.
Country House part 2, anyone?
You sure I'll fit through there?
Team Pretorius killing it!
Climb all bought and paid for.
Er, not *all* downhill then?
I knew about the horrible climb that was waiting for us in Mende but was happy to give my all to the penultimate climb: unbelievably I led our group up and over was only 2km long at a 6% gradient, but still...if I could frame that, I would, hah-hah! There was a slight nav-faff for me and Andy outside Mende but when the rest of the mini-group appeared then we knew we were least until we wheeled onto the Cote de la Croix Neuve. This climb has been re-named as the Montee Laurent Jalabert in honour of local hero and doper. Anyway, it is appalling to ride up- two miles at 10%? Wouldn't be my first choice but you just sit/stand and bear it! We all struggled up at differing speeds- I was useless but we did get a cool group photo at the summit before sweeping back down into the lovely-looking town. If only we had time to explore...

Peter, George, Dave, Chris, John and Matt. Medium beans being applied.
Good on you Matt for the showboating!
S'pose we'd better go and catch them...
Mende from somewhere up the final git of a climb...
The Mild Bunch at the summit: Peter, Chris, Dave, Andy, Brains Trust and George. Photo taken by Feral Matt!
The view from the washing-line, hah-hah!
We saw a ton of memorabilia concerning the sainted Laurent Jalabert in tonight's restaurant.
After an enjoyable dinner (read: everyone enjoying a well-earned beer or similar!), Andy and myself idled away a couple of hours sitting outside a cafe, ostensibly because it had decent whiffy to allow this bollocks to be compiled, but also because it was terrific just to watch the locals enjoy their Saturday night. It felt good to almost be back in the real world for a bit, hah-hah-hah!

I do have a bit of previous...

2014: 1000 miles solo & unsupported out to France, then La Bicinglette...6 x Mont Ventoux in a day!

2013: 1000 miles solo & unsupported out to Austria, then the worst climbs in The Dolomites!

2012: The inaugural Haute Route sportive from Geneva to Nice, followed by the worst Pyrenean climbs!

2011: 3500 miles across North America...coast to coast!

2010: 1600 miles from Gibraltar to Blackpool!

2009: 1000 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats!

2008: 250 miles from Blackpool to London!

2007: 100 miles around Manchester!

2006: 0.5 mile to corner shop!