And for that matter, my first 'proper' outing of the season too!
Thursday afternoons are the new Sundays! A host of cyclo randonees take place on Thursdays in the local area to attract the many cyclists here of retirement age, in fact, next Thursday the name of the event is unashamedly 'Rando des Retraites' (Rando' of the Retired Folk!).
We are in the full throes of spring just now and it seems that every cyclist is back in the saddle. This is the time of year where Guy and I are spoilt for choice as there is still plenty of snow on the slopes of Alpe d'Huez to cross country ski too. Right now it would be very feasible to ride up Alpe d'Huez, ski, and ride back down again (OK, so there's the logistics of carrying skis on a bike....).
Yesterday I popped down to the outskirts of Grenoble for the 'Randonnee a Saint-Egreve'. Shorts, long sleeves, no overshoes and short fingered gloves a 'balmy' 19'C.
I know that in previous blog posts I have raved about the format of the French cyclo-randonnee, and forgive me for repeating myself, but for Eur 7 you could not get better value for money!
Yesterday offered the choice of 2 routes; 65km or 80km (I chose the shorter distance), all departing from a sports hall between 12h30 and 13h30. Both routes were pretty flat using the plain of Grenoble and some sections of the dedicated cycle path that runs along the Isère river. We were very quickly out of the city and in the heart of agricultural land that sits at the foot of the mountains, notably passing many walnut groves and lettuce plantations all hives of springtime activity. The directional arrows painted on the road for the event were so clear that you could take your mind off navigation and enjoy the scenery.
I took a moderately steady approach for my first ride of the season. That's the beauty of these events, you can choose your pace; there were a couple of triathletes who chose to use the 65km, flat circuit to train on the tri-bars and they left the rest of us for dust!
There is always a cheery, welcoming atmosphere at these events and the hosts, the local cycle clubs, love to showcase their part of the world and take a pride in finding the tiniest and quietest roads to make up the circuits. Yesterday at the feed station there was an unusual note of disquiet. I noticed a small row had broken out amongst a group of 2 local cycle clubs - what could be the cause for such harsh words as ' grand scandale' to be bandied about on such an idyllic day? Club rivalry maybe? No, the issue being hotly discussed was that one club group had ridden through a red light and the other club were worried that their actions would bring the name of the randonnee, of cycling and cylcists into disrepute. I have to say that after 10 years of cycle commuting in London, I found this rather 'quaint'! I filled up my water bottle, grabbed a quick slice of bread and cheese and left them to it!
P.S. Next week http://www.ccvoreppe.fr/
24th May, an amazing choice of routes with a couple of great cols http://www.cyclo-coublevie.org/coublevitaine.html