Tuesday, 1 September 2015

6%, 2 pizzas and a man-bag.

On facebook recently, someone postulated that ultra distance cyclists lost 6% of their grey matter over the period of the event. Sounds a bit drastic, but then as I sit here trying to recall the details of day 2, I realise that I cannot and wonder whether it should have been 6% remaining!

I do know that I was up and cleared of my bivi-bag and back on the road whilst it was still dark. It had remained dry overnight and the mosquito net that my daughter had helped me sew into the mouth of my cocoon had kept the beasties at bay.

I started the morning with the noodles part of my chinese from last night, washed down with water. At this point I am stalling.

It turned into a warm day and the start of what was to be something of a heatwave across central southern Europe.

The target for today was Lyon, 200 miles to the south, heading first through Dijon, Chalon-sur-Saon and then Macon. After the damp of the first 24 hours, I recall little beyond the development of some soreness from the saddle and a change of shorts relieved the greater discomfort at least for a while. The scenery was open, the skies huge and the traffic light. As you can see from the picture, there are also superb hard shoulders on these relatively small highways, for cyclists. Maybe it's a space thing.

I looked at circumnavigating some of the bigger towns to reduce the delays from France's love of red traffic lights, but I took in Dijon anyway, stopping for coffee and a late breakfast.

I would like to have deviated into the city centre, but I just did not have time. I shall need to learn to cycle harder and faster, to buy myself more stopping time. A trip for another day.

By late afternoon having covered about 170 miles, I happened across a mobile pizza van in a large lay-by. Ordering two 12" vegetarian pizza's, I was asked to put my name on the little order slip and told that they would be about 40 minutes.

I wrote, 'The sleeping man' and lay down on the bench next to the van, asking if they would wake me when the food was ready.

At 20 past 8, I rose from my deep slumber, to be told that the pizzas were in the warmer. I don't think they had the heart to disturb me and I was grateful.

So began the rule of thumb of the TCR. TCR riders never buy one pizza! 

I ate the first one, folded the second in half, in half it's box and placed it into my Musette. Now then, if I haven't introduced you to the best man-bag ever invented, then now is the time.

This simple food carrying device, should never be empty. Preferably there should always be at least one pizza in it, and any other food that you might think you need in the next 12 hours. Since it rests on your back, in the full view of the sun, pizzas never go cold, so that breakfast pizza the following day is as fresh as...well 24 hour old pizza and tastes just as good as the first one. Needs must.

I left the lay-by suitably encumbered and headed for Lyon. I was seriously tired and was strangely glad of the dark and the cool evening. I have no idea what the best way through, or around this city might be. I just know that I took in some serious inter-city climbing, before eventually battling a myriad other red traffic lights heading for the southerly outskirts.

Unaware that the city gave way to countryside 5 miles farther from where I stopped, I hunkered down behind an old petrol station in downtown suburbia, sheltered between someones garden fence and a line of trees.

At one point a late night reveler appeared about 50m away at the end of the tree line and I lay there ears pinned back , eyes barely visible feeling as much like a hunted rabbit as it was possible to be. It is an unnerving experience, knowing that discovery would force upon me an early departure. The fox slinked off, none the wiser and I went to sleep.

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