Adam Tranter learns what professional women?s cycling involves on the Swift Racing training camp in Limoux, France.
There?s probably quite a good reason why you don?t see many young drivers in 3-litre minibuses. Today I thought it would be a good idea to take a trip to the outskirts of Carcassonne and visit my second favourite place in France again, Decathlon.
My only available method of transport? Driving a three-litre, nine-seat Peugeot minibus. As you may have read in an earlier edition of my blog, I purchased a nice B-Twin woolly hat from Decathlon on my first day in France. It has since gone missing and none of the girls will own up to moving it, so my trip to purchase a new one was an absolute necessity.
One B-Twin hat and a pair of 15 Euro hiking shoes later, it was time to leave back to Limoux. But my passengers, Sarah Reynolds and Emma Davies Jones had other ideas. Sarah, the youngest member of the team had a sudden urge to go and eat waffles in Carcassonne.
Park this thing? Easy
I didn?t want to be rude at the time but if I?m brutally honest, parking large vehicles in small parking spaces to go and buy waffles isn?t much fun. Not only did the waitress look at us in a strange way when we asked for waffles in our best French, our coffees were interrupted by a phone call. A distressed Helen Wyman rang demanding the minibus back so that they could go food shopping.
After some incompetent manoeuvring and accidental kerb mounting, I negotiated Carcassonne?s one-way system. I saw the town?s beautiful and famous castle, but couldn?t spot any signs for Limoux. Somehow, I ended up on a main road to Narbonne, which is annoyingly in the opposite direction to my desired destination. While getting a tad stressed and desperately looking for a roundabout to turn around on, Emma Davies Jones thought it would be a good time to let me know that she was going to be late for her massage. After turning around and then managing to find some signs for Limoux, we were well on our way.
Once I?d taken some time to recover from my traumatic experience, I joined the girls to go food shopping as I am cooking on Friday evening. I?ve chosen to cook pasta with roasted vegetables and mozzarella (thanks to Andrew Shore, who kindly e-mailed me a detailed recipe after reading this blog).
One of the girls doesn?t like mozzarella and suggested I should add some meat to the dish too, but some of the girls are vegetarians so if I get my way they?ll all be getting toast and Nutella. Well, except for the one who has a nut allergy.
There?s some things that females are just better at, one of those is food shopping. It?s a real art finding the food that is cheapest per kg; I found this out after I was given a grilling for choosing branded products. Except for Milka multi pack chocolate, apparently that?s on the Swift Racing approved list.
The training ride was flat at an easy tempo today, some riders continued with some sprint efforts. Stefan has been providing training tips for those riders who want it and assessing their fatigue day-to-day. There are options for shorter and longer riders; I took the short option.
Pick ?N? Mix addict, Jenny Fay added an extra loop to get the miles in and did some good work behind the car. One of the riders has a broken elbow, so Swift have arranged for a gym to be used by riders if needed.
This evening, we had meatballs and spaghetti for dinner with apple crumble for dessert. I was given the all-important task of cracking walnuts to sprinkle on the crumble. I am starting to think it was some sort of intelligence test from Stefan, as there was no nutcracker in the house. My solution was to use a wooden spoon and a work surface to crack them open; it proved hard work.
After tea, the girls were given a surprise. Matching tracksuits for travelling to races in and to wear while hopefully standing on podiums. The baby pink fleeces look the business. If Mr. Blobby was still around, he would be jealous.
Another journalist is flying in tomorrow. I think I?m going to avoid riding so that I can prepare for my cooking experience in the evening. As the last one in the house awake, one of the girls has just messaged me over Skype to ask me to put her kit in the dryer. I think I?ve done it right, but I?m not really good at that kind of thing. We?ll see how shrunk the kit is tomorrow.
It doesn?t look like I?m going to sleep anytime soon. One of the riders has put the washing machine on and it?s currently spinning on full-blast. Someone?s going to get half-wheeled to oblivion when I find out who it is. The joys of shared accommodation.
Back to the serious business of bike riding.
Adam makes the topping for the pudding. Not realising that a real man would crack those walnuts with his bare hands.
The team calls a meeting to decide who’s going to do the washing up
All pictures courtesy of Adam Tranter