day four

As far as the trip was concerned, I had mentally arrived at Paris. The three hardest days were over. Today was a “short” ride: only 55 mile” to the finish line, which is 25-30 miles less the average daily distance we were covering. The terrain was relatively flat compared to the days we had just finished. My muscles had stood ground well and I had proven to the pack that I was a strong, consistent cyclist. So my goal for the day was just to cruise along and soak it all in.

The first 10 miles of the day was along the canal, so we had lovely views of the river as our muscles warmed up. And then a few undulating hills (as Danny called me) paved our way to lunch. Lunch was 25 miles in today, and you could feel people were a lot more relaxed after eating knowing it was all almost over. Interestingly, shortly after lunch, I didn’t clip in or clip out as smoothly as I intended and this set off my right knee immediately. Whether it was the sum of all the days of cycling, or my muscles cooling down during lunch and not quite ready for the afternoon ride, or simply the fact I didn’t clip in properly, the pain I wasn’t expecting on getting now after I had done all the hard work kicked in. Luckily, it was on the last day and the last 20 miles so I knew all I had to do was endure it. But for those last 20 miles I humbly pedalled at the back, popped a couple of pain killers and waited for the effects to kick in. Team Sky happened to be at the back as well, as they were busy chatting and preoccupied with taking as many videos and pictures while they cycled as possible, so I felted that I was in good company anyway. 😉

We covered a significant amount of big roads after lunch that were busy with cars, so the ride wasn’t anything to write home about, but the feeling of excitement building up as you pass through all the Paris signs with the distance in kilometres counting down was great. And as Danny took all the back roads when we did arrive into Paris to avoid all the traffic, the Arc de Triomphe really hit us by surprise when we turned around what we thought was just another corner and we could see it there in all it’s Tour De France glory.

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Our celebratory dinner was probably more a dinner of torture than of celebration: we were disallowed entry to our hotel restaurant because we were too many, we ordered delivery pizza as an alternative which took at least 2 hours to arrive,  and when it did arrive to 25 of the hungriest waiting customers a delivery man probably ever did see, everyone agreed that, despite their hunger, it was the worst tasting food. One rare example where hunger is not always good sauce! Sanjeev, Bernard, Luke our driver + bike mechanic + chef extraordinaire and myself decided to go on a night out to properly celebrate the occasion. And that we did!

To bring this little adventure of mine to a close: Along with the sheer amount of things I’ve learned about cycling and the memory of this amazing event that I will undoubtfully carry forever, I will also keep with me the reminder of what the body can do when the mind is willing.

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