Another early start. Tony and Fiona (The docs) were not happy with me starting from the hotel – so I started from the first feedstop about 40km into the stage. This was a blessing as it rained unexpectedly for the whole time I was on the van and the sun came out as soon I started riding (much to the annoyance of the other bedraggled riders who had risked riding without a waterproof).
The docs, physios and mechanics had done a fantastic job and everything worked well. A lovely ride through the Ardeche and then the Alps hove into view. From a distance they looked fine but the closer we got the more I started to think about how on earth I was going to negotiate them. Gareth – the lead rider for this trip – invited me to ‘take a wheel’ and I drafted behind him for an hour or so to the finish – fast and fun.
That evening I felt pretty pleased and was even more pleased to be awarded the daily ‘chapeau’ for ‘going beyond the call of duty’ when I was on helping out at a feedstation. Riders were turning up literally shivering as the temperature had dropped to 8C (the previous day was 32C) and it had rained. I took it upon myself to issue blankets and when they ran out I lent out dome of my clothing which I happened to have with me in a bag. It was a good feeling to at last feel that I was contributing something positive to the group after so many people had been so supportive to me when I was unable to ride.
Little did they know that I was high on opiates (tramadol). The Chapeau is usually awarded to a rider who has done something out of the ordinary to help other riders. As someone who had not yet completed a whole stage, I felt very honoured!
Next stop The Alps…