I went cycling again, yippee! It was the perfect day for it and pretty exciting as it was an off- rather than on-road adventure. I figured when we moved here that I’d be riding on the road for the most part for the first half a year or so and that DB (that’s my hardtail) would only get the odd airing when riding easy trails with DD, pulling the trailer, but as luck would have there are other mountain bikers here. Not just that, there are other female mountain bikers, which is really cool because something I knew I was going to miss was my girly nights out on the trails. It turns out a couple who moved here at about the same time as we did – currently living in a caravan while they build their straw bale house – are also a bit bike mad. They also have a baby that’s of a similar age to my DS, meaning one of my new friends just happens to be in exactly the same position as me when it comes to bike fitness. It’s like hitting the new friend jackpot, frankly.
On the day of the ride, by three in the afternoon the sun was still pretty high and it was warm. No, scratch that, it was hot; hotter than many of the hottest summer rides I ever did in the UK. I’d been hiding in our place all day as we were detoxing from caffeine, so I’d mostly been rolling around on the bed groaning and clutching my banging head, and the outdoor temperature had been lost on me. Thinking I’d need something warm – just in case (well, it is nearly November) – I set off wearing my leg warmers. Hah, silly me. It was scorchio! I was so hot by the time I reached their place I was also regretting my other clothing choices, which even though “summery” by UK standards, were still pretty warm. As we were planning to hit a trail, I also had one of my flourescent windproof gilets on as The Hunters (literally, middle-aged men with guns roaming the countryside taking pot-shots at wild animals) tended to be out and about on Saturday, so we wanted to make sure we were visible. Not a good look, frankly, and also not the coolest getup!
We set off, whizzing down the hill. It was great fun. My new buddy is fast too, which was nice; I basically had to chase her down the road! After a short stretch on the road we wiggled our way through the village and up towards the trail. I had a rough idea
where we were going but had been too busy feeling sorry for myself to consult a map before we set off, which turned out to be a mistake. I had planned for us to follow a route that I’d walked from the other direction but when we got to the fork in the path I noticed there was a VTT marker with an X on it, which I took to mean it wasn’t a mountain bike trail. In hindsight I think that was more about it not being the mountain bike trail, as in one of the waymarked routes, and that we could have gone that way, as I don’t think the French as concerned with segretating walkers, cyclists, and horse riders in the same way as the Brits; so that’s a route for another time.
We followed the VTT signage round the corner, up the hill and, at the next fork, decided to branch off to the left. It had another one of these VTT signs crossed out on it but we were both a bit sick of climbing by then and it appeared to be going down, so decided to chance it! By now we’d already been gone about 15 minutes and since we said we’d be gone for no more than an hour (actually, I think I said 30 minutes, but really – hah! fat chance!) Luckily An’s fitness is about as terrible as mine, so after crossing a ford we got off to push up the slightly rocky path (normally rideable but NOT on the first post-pregnancy ride in over a year!) then got back on when it flattened out. Not long after this – now 20 minutes into our adventure – we stopped for a rest before carrying on. It was turning out to be one of those climbs that just keeps going; the one where you think we’ll just go to there and it will be the top but it never is the top because there’s always more climbing hidden away over the other side. We stopped to admire the view, now nearing 30 minutes from our starting point, and decided to turn back. It’s never a good idea to return to screaming babies on your first adventure away from them. We whizzed back down the hill we’d mostly just pushed up and it was really good fun!
Back at base, with Strava uploaded and after having a little sniff about online I discovered there are no Strava segments on any of the trails I’d just ridden. Absolutely nothing! There are few segments around but they’re all on road and all of a fairly decent length, certainly nothing like small segments for all the cheeky little climbs and descents on favourite local mountain bike routes I’d been riding back in the Peaks. Well, that’s about to change with the first of many new Strava segments that I’m sure will originate from my rides. They’re not the most inspired from a mountain biking perspective as they’re both on tarmac and both climbs but we didn’t really ride a full off-road descent and I don’t like using tarmaced segments for descents, since you’re likely to encounter cars on such routes; cyclists hurtling head long down the hill on routes shared by motor vehicles is just an all round bad idea in my book. Climbs on the other hand are fair game, so my first contribution is to create two new Strava segments for short sharp climbs. You’re welcome 🙂