Thursday, 11 November 2010

Mellow velo

Two weeks ago, during the Toussaint holidays I climbed into my car and set off to follow C from the French family and the three girls to the nearest voie verte. Just as in the U.K., many local railway lines were closed down with quite a few now gaining a second lease of life as cycleways / walking paths. Unfortunately although the nearest cycle path is only a few kilometres away, much of the route follows a narrow, twisty, uphill route which has wire fences along one side to stop landslide rocks from hitting passing traffic (not always doing the job successfully).The plan is to eventually extend the cycleway to my town, but how they will manage that is a mystery to me.

The good thing about these cycle paths is that they are flat and mostly travel in a straight line. The bad thing is that this can be a bit monotonous.
The weather was warm and sunny as we set out to join the path, crossing over a viaduct with its intricate wrought iron balustrades still in good order.
The girls disappeared, returned, disappeared as we walked at an unnecessarily brisk pace along the path.
There was not much to see, trees, more trees, but I did find ripe chestnuts lying at the side of the path and there was also a tree with tiny plums, perhaps they were damsons.
We passed behind the centre for the underground river that I visited earlier this year and kept going, maintaining our fast pace.
Unfortunately I was wearing my ordinary shoes, so my feet began to hurt. I was sure to have some blisters the next day. The path was very hard and unyielding.
After about an hour and a half we stopped for a rest. I had been tasked with bringing my thermos containing hot water and a jar of hot chocolate powder for our half-time drink. The girls just love chocolat chaud.
We had been passed by two lycra-clad cyclists on the outward journey. On the way back it was rush hour. Cyclists, people, dogs.
The pace was still relentless and my left hip now joined my protesting feet but being a man I didn’t complain and kept smiling through the pain. All this exercise would be good for my regime is the thought that kept me from hopping over the fence, crossing a few fields and employing “le stop”, hitchhiking. I explained to C that I had been looking at the Decathlon website and that there was a promotion on that if you chose from a certain selection of bikes, they would deliver it to your house free of charge. C told me that this was not a good idea. They had recently bought the middle daughter a bike from Decathlon for her birthday. The assistant had spent half an hour making adjustments to the bike. What adjustments? I asked.I had the oldest daughter in my car as a passenger on the way back. “How did you manage to switch from driving on the left (in the U.K.) to driving on the right? Was it not very difficult?”

C listed the many essential adjustments most of which I cannot remember, even if I understood them at the time. They included saddle height (reasonable, and adjusting the wheel spokes with a special key..........???
If you buy a bike online you will not get all these adjustments C said, obviously thinking, just how mad foreigners are.

I shrugged modestly in Gallic fashion and thought “Yes, I am a frickin' genius.”

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