Adam Tranter learns what professional women?s cycling involves on the Swift Racing training camp in Limoux, France.
I?ve cracked. I?m broken. Well, that is according to the girls, who have seen my choice to abstain from today?s training ride as a clear example of chickening out. Truth is, I had stuff to do. I couldn?t possibly have passed the opportunity to got to my second favourite place in France again; Decathlon. This time our mission was to change some pink tracksuits for different sizes.
It was then a further five minutes up the road, to petit Carcassonne airport, as a girl from Nottingham University has come to do some ?Health & Fitness? articles on the team for Cycling Weekly. After spending five minutes staring at a person sitting outside of the airport, trying to decide if they looked English or French, we decided it would be a good plan to ring the mobile number we had to see if it was her. It was, bags in the boot and back to Limoux. Stefan and me tried to resist talking about food urges such as McDonalds and Curry in front of a nutrition expert, but our success was limited.
The majority of the group had been out riding for an hour and a half already by the time we were back. We met them all at the rendezvous point in Limoux and most went back out for two more hours. This time with Stefan, Rebecca (the nutritionist) and me following in the luxury Peugeot estate. I think this car deserves a few sentences of its own, it?s probably about five years younger than I am, it has done around 350,000 kilometres and still shows no signs of giving in. It?s also quite good for hanging out of to take photos of cyclists. Funnily enough, I?ve found that my legs don?t hurt as much today.
Sigrid Jochems, pictured definitely not holding on to the side of a car
Someone mentioned to me that I should go and check out the famous Limoux Friday market. I?ve since learned that just because something is famous or renowned, it doesn?t mean it?s any good. In that sense, I guess Limoux is the Kerry Katona of markets. Advanced apologies if you?re a fan of cheap shoes, fake sunglasses or smelly fish. Oh and while I?m at it, there?s a village nomad, who walks around all day with braided hair and a donkey. My initial reaction to him was that he was quirky, but after almost treading in the small brown deposits from his donkey (or quite possibly him) ? I?m not feeling quite so positive.
I?m glad to report there have been no reported cases of queasiness or food poisoning after my cooking encounter earlier. My roasted vegetables with pasta and mozzarella went down surprisingly well. My cooking partner, a generally nice but slightly crazy Dutch guy, took charge of cutting peppers, onions, tomatoes and other vegetables in a slightly obsessive compulsive way. I took charge of the delightful fruit salad, a succulent mix of strawberries, apples, bananas, oranges and pineapples with a combination of apple juice, pineapple juice and some fine red wine. I was going to do bananas and custard, which would have been quicker. But the custard in France is imported from England and is consequently rather expensive. Apparently Continental-types don?t seem to understand the concept of custard either. I didn?t risk it.
Bad points about the cooking experience: I cut myself on broken glass while washing up and have discovered I have a phobia of food that floats near the plughole in the sink. A team effort between ?Emma DJ? and me ensured the kitchen area is now clean and ready for re-use. Success.
Back home in Coventry, I think Friday night will be a little different to here in Limoux. The most exciting thing that happened tonight is the bi-weekly car parking turnaround. Basically, all the cars parked in the narrow roads have to switch sides of the road to free up different entrances. A big lorry comes around at 9pm and warns the owners of parked vehicles, it then comes around again at 11pm and removes any vehicles that haven?t complied. I wish they would do the same with chavs in Coventry city centre.
I?m back out on the bike tomorrow. It will probably rain or something knowing my luck. It was 20 degrees today, so we?ll expect gale force winds and snow for my return tomorrow.
All pictures courtesy of Adam Tranter