As guidelines have changed recently around who you can meet and where, Ben and I decided to meet up for a ride this Sunday just gone. It is the first time that I’ve ridden with anybody since the original lockdown period started back in March (aside from those inadvertent times where you meet someone who is just going the same direction and pace as you!). It was a breezy day so it was good to have someone to share the work with and the kilometres ticked by unnoticed as we chatted our way around the lanes of Surrey and Kent, both of us enjoying the forgotten dynamic of riding with someone other than our own thoughts.
85km and 1,000m of elevation later and I was home with that satisfied feeling that comes with a good ride out (Ben would go on to complete his century before he got home). I was even more satisfied as I managed to keep up with Ben on all of the testing points on our ride. Ben is a cyclist that I have the utmost respect for, he has completed the Etape on a couple of occasions as well as some big old rides including Mount Teide and Cap de Formentor so his level of ability is something that I aspire to get to. Keeping up with him on Sunday was a real boost for my confidence and a vindication of all the time, effort and hard work that I’ve put in over the past few months.
We had a lot to catch up on, having not seen each other for a while. From home schooling the kids and tattered holiday plans to work and trying to stay away from the temptations of kitchen cupboards or booze, there were plenty of topics covered but there was one that took up a fair chunk of the conversation time – the Etape du Tour.
The organisers of the Etape have committed to running the event this year if at all possible, with the revised date of 6th September (falling in line with the new dates for the Tour). The route is planned to remain the same, a tour of the Nice hinterland with the Colmiane, Turini and Eze providing the climbs to test the riders. Ben had confirmation from LoveVelo that they would move all of our original booking elements to the new dates unless we told them otherwise, our EasyJet flights for the original dates had already been cancelled. We chatted through all of the elements; the possible quarantine/isolation implications on return, the fact that the new weekend would coincide with our kids returning to school and the concern that is still very real over a mass participation event. While the hearts said do it this year after all the hard work we’ve put in, the heads prevailed and we concluded that the sensible option would be to defer our entries to next year. Disappointing, but in the long run I think that is the correct choice.
So to next year, where will it be? What climbs could we face? In some ways the anticipation of finding out the route will lift the excitement all over again!