Monday, 22 November 2010

3 new years and 4 seasons in a day...

Fri 02 Jan 2009 12:04 GMT

Happy new year!

Without leaving the house yesterday evening we managed to celebrate 3 new year's eves, not a bad effort really!

All a bit tired from a day ski-ing and a big meal, we and our guests were flagging at around 10:30pm. Realising that we were unlikely to hold out until midnight we did some research and found a country whose time zone suited us, that just happened to be Finland, one hour ahead of France. So, at 11pm our time, midnight in Helsinki, we popped a bottle of champagne and let off a few very tame fireworks to see in 2009 (celebration number 1). Nick became out 'tall dark stranger' and performed the 'first footing' ritual, being the first person crossing our threshold with offerings of flour, firewood, salt and a coin - hopefully bestowing good fortune on us for 2009...

I doubt it was the excitement of the fireworks, but after that we all got second wind and did in fact manage to stay awake for that extra hour and celebration number 2 at midnight French time, even mustering a rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

By the time Guy and I had cleared away the glasses and done a bit of washing up, it was nearly 1am UK time. I called my Mum and shared the excitable noises of Uckfield in East Sussex seeing in the new year; fireworks, church bells and singing (slurring?) revelers who seemed to have much more energy (and booze by the sounds of it!) than us here in France!

Waking up on the 1st was pretty grey and misty here in Le Rivier d'Ornon, but by 11:30am the mist had lifted and we had a beautiful bright day, not a cloud in the skies.

According to our neighbour, Yves, a very keen cyclist, the tradition on the first day of the year is to dust down the bike and ride. He tells us that all good/keen cyclist in France do this. It's like opening up your kilometre account for 2009 having set all bike computers to zero (for an expalantion of this habit see 'Bourne Again Cyclist' blog from Dec 2006 click here). I thought it debatable that many people would be donning lycra on a day when the maximum temperature was 5 degrees C, but, to be honest, any excuse to get back on the saddle was fine by me!

Guy sensibly stayed at home, as seemingly did all other cyclists in France - we did not see another soul on the road carrying out this supposedly common ritual ride.

Despite the temperature, they should have made the effort as it was a glorious day and a beautiful circuit. We took the snowy sting out of the start of the trip by driving over the Col d'Ornon, heading south of all the ski resorts and to an area obviously having had less snow and more melt than us. Given that we still have a good metre of snow outside our door, I was amazed to see grass again just 20km from here.

Halfway through the ride we stopped above a beautiful aqua marine lake, Monteynard, (see photo top left) to take in the view. If I hadn't know that it was the 1st January, I would have struggled to tell you what season it was; the trees direclty around us were still holding on to the last of their orange/brown autumn leaves, the fields in front of us were grassy and deep green, the lake below us reflecting back the blue sky and sun and all of this backdropped by huge, pure white, snowy mountains. 4 seasons in one view.

We only rode 52km but it was enough to make me feel very energised and excited about being back on the bike again after nearly 2 months and although I was sceptical about this particular French cycling tradition, I did not regret my participation one bit!

We wish you all a happy 2009 full of lots of great riding!

Helyn & Guy

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