Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Up hill and down hill!

I've been thinking - yes, dangerous is the word that comes to mind - I know! But it has come to my attention how seriously many people seem to take exercise in the countryside here.
I suppose it is a combination of observing middle aged and older (mainly) men cycling up our local hills  - which are long and sometimes steep, not on mountain bikes, but racing bikes like you see in professional road races,lycra and padded shorts as well as helmets much in evidence but also because my lovely husband Joe, has recently joined the Randonees Clunysoises - the local area ramblers. They go out in all sorts and conditions - for example on Monday last week it was heavy rain and plain miserable, but 15 of them met at the local disused railway station for a 3 hour "ramble" around the countryside.
Joe says that he finds out new things each time he goes, and he loves to walk and is happy that someone is leading so that he doesn't get lost - and there are other bonuses too. He hears French constantly for 3 hours so he is really exposed to the language; he does not need to take a map as someone leading the walk has planned it all out; he is getting exercise and seeing more of the area. He does walk more stiffly for 24 hours afterwards but he is really enjoying this opportunity!
When the weather is lovely there are over 50 ramblers of various ages - but mainly retired people, although meeting on a Monday means that people who have Monday as a day off can join in too. At the end there are sometimes refreshments, or a little degustation en route!
I've mentioned the voie verte before, this is the dedicated route for roller bladers, cyclists and walkers that is mainly flat and vehicle free and gives the great feeling of being in the countryside. So often when we cross it there are couples and families using it - a sense of getting out into the fresh air and being together. In fact this is where I've taken my bike for a ride in the past and it is so safe (and mainly flat!)
Now to be honest I started this blog because the attitude to exercise interested me, but then we had an information sheet through our letter box asking us to move our car between 1pm and 6pm on Sunday because an important bike race was taking place. The points gained by the riders went towards the championship of Saone et Loire. It began at Bray, the next commune to ours, and the route took the racers through Toury and on a circuit of the area.

Here they come - the Bray road race begins!

Now it was a hot day on Sunday and I had not realised that the route was in fact a circular route so after watching bikes whizzing past at speed for quite some time, my interest began to wane. But through the open windows throughout the afternoon we could hear groups of bikes continuing to speed past and I realised the commitment of those taking part.

On they went, and obviously placings were very important!
Each race, and I think there were three - with youngsters, veterans and the very athletic and younger men, was preceded by a race car announcing their imminent arrival through the village.

What I did not realise  - and it was only afterwards that Joe told me, that at the rear of the race was a van with a brush attached to the back of it - literally the sweeper up! When you are busy doing work in the garden a neighbour will offer the expression - "bonne courage!" - it means all the best, well done, take courage - well I wish that too all those courageous people who peddle the hills of the Clunysois!

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