I joined in a club run in the Ariege recently, looking for company, a chance to get to know some of the local riders and to improve my French.
The Cyclo Club du Pays d’Olmes publish their rides for the year in advance. There are three routes published and they ride them every Saturday and Wednesday afternoon. I rode to the start to find 60 riders assembled on a Wednesday; handshakes all round and then a very gentle start (not at all like here!).
Wanting a harder ride, I followed when a small group moved away on the first small climb. Looked round to find we were well clear and only to notice later that the entire group was made up of English speakers! Having been told by a local I’d met on an earlier ride that this club ‘rode hard and had lots of English riders’ and not sure if he approved of this state of affairs or not, I now saw the truth of his words. Still I was committed now and took my turns.
At the top of the first, 4 kilometre, climb we stopped to re-group, to find that the rest of the club had made up ground and we were now all together; more handshakes to congratulate each other on the climb and off again. The pattern of riders going hard at each climb, no matter how short, continued and we barely rode as a pack for the next 75 kilometres, though we re-grouped frequently. So different to the more disciplined group riding we’re used to here. The result was a lot more effort than the distance and average speed suggested.
Great fun and I can’t wait to join them again later in the year.
One final difference – the weather: cold, but beautifully clear!
Many thanks to David Bright for writing up his recent experiences in France. For all club copy, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org