L’Ariégeoise: The Dedicated Amateur Cyclists Challenge.
Just when I thought I was getting better at understanding spoken French, along comes Monsieur Vincent, a 45 – 55 year old, an apartment guest for four nights. I’m not sure if his accent was from the Champagne region but that’s were he lives. It was a bit like a foreigner trying to understand a fast talking Irishman or Scott. Both John and I really struggled at first.
I had a call from Colin at the beginning of the week to let me know that two more guests would be arriving Friday, for two nights and should be put in the little bedroom. We didn’t know that room was being advertised, apparently it was still up on Airbnb. (The apartment is on Booking.com). It means sharing our bathroom with strangers, extra cleaning and laundry as well as being on call for more people. I was not pleased! However when Félix Deveraux arrived, he was alone, his friend unable to come. And he was easier to understand, if far less chatty than M. Vincent
Both Félix and M. Vincent were here for the cycle race. As most people are aware, cycling is huge in France. The Tour de France has a stage ending in Foix on 14th July but “L’Ariégeoise” departed from Tarascon-sur-Ariège on Saturday 24th June.
Okay, so it’s not the London Marathon where 50,000 people take part, but it does attract over 5,000 entrants. And like the marathon most are competing for the challenge; racing their own watches rather than aiming to be the first across the line.
This event has at least four variations according to abilities: L’Ariégeoise XXL isn’t, as one might think, for the over-weight riders, au contraire, it’s for the fittest. 170 km and climbing over five Cols (peaks in the mountain passes up to 1570 meters) and a final assent to Goulier-Neiger (1490m). Both our guys were registered for this. Other routes are 158 km, 107 km and 73km and have fewer peaks, or less gruelling gradients.
To see the route of XXL follow this link:
It’s hard to tell, not knowing his personality, but Félix, a guy in his twenties, seemed far less enthusiastic about the whole thing than M. Vincent. When they returned M. Vincent had been pleased with his performance. He said it was cooler than he’d feared but his time and average speed were up were they should be. For his warm-down, on Monday morning he rode up to Plateau de Beille, a mere 35 mile round trip but a relentless climb from 500 meters to 1800 meters. He calls it fun. Félix, on the other hand, had problems with his bike, had come off, and didn’t finish the course. He left mid-morning on Sunday.
Here is an excellent video of last year’s event where the finish was at Plateau de Beille, and the podium celebrations took place in our village square!
This blog is based on truth but for privacy and security many of the names have been changed and some of the story may be embellished at times for dramatic effect.