Today was another hilly stage as we rode the foothills of the alps heading for Lake Geneva. Two Category 3 and two Category 4 climbs before 35 Kilometres of generally descent to the edge of Lake Geneva before a final climb. I decide to ride more conservatively today, yesterday was tough, really tough, and tomorrow will be our second mountain stage, with not one but two Category 1 climbs and a Category 2 as well, so I though it best to take it easy, recover and prepare for tomorrow.
As we rode today, it was without our team captain, Geoff Thomas who, due to a recurring knee injury, and on medical advice, he has reluctantly had to pull out of The Tour 21 ride. Geoff is such an inspiration to us all, his focus is always on making sure we are doing as much as we can to raise awareness and raise money for Cure Leukaemia, helping and encouraging each and every one of us with his experiences of previous tours. His departures will be a massive loss to the team but it makes us more determined to reach our £1,000,000 target, so please donate if you can. Cure Leukaemia is a great cause, the money we raise will go to saving lives. In surviving Leukaemia himself Geoff has gone on to raise millions, if it weren’t for him I would not be writing this blog, and thousands of families would not have their loved ones with them today. The literal meaning of ‘Au Revoir’ is not goodbye it is ‘See you again’ so today all of the Tour 21 team say ‘Au Revior’ to Geoff – we know he will be back.
It was another hot day today, and before Geoff left us his role turned in to being a domestique. Knowing that riding in heat can be draining he was at the roadside taking our empty water bottles from us to refill them. It is easy to ride in the breeze and forget about hydration, if you get to a point where you need a drink, it is too late, so having someone their to not only refill the bottles but to also remind us to drink took that worry away today, leaving us to enjoy the scenery as we progress towards Paris.
It was a good day to take it easy, the sights and the scenery were amazing, riding along rode with high rock cliffs on either side, through the French towns and villages and looking at the country side helped with the disappointment of losing our team leader. As we crested the the final categorised climb of the day, the Col de Petra Fellix, the cloudless sky meant we could see Mont Blanc in the distance, the highest mountain in Europe. On this glorious day it was clear on the horizon, and despite the heat of the afternoon sun, so tall it was covered in snow. In a few days time we will ride the lower slopes of that mountain, but first we have to get there.
Dropping down to Lausanne we rode in to our forth country – Switzerland – and along 5 kilometres of a familiar road. A few years ago Andy, I, my Sister, Brother-Law, friends Loz, Ali and Jim rode around the whole lake in a day – 116 miles. When I rode this stretch before a distance of 116 miles was daunting, but for the last week that distance has been my everyday ride. The weather that day was the same, gloriously hot with a little breeze, so the mountains were clear and the lake calm. But I am reminded how fast things can change, in the last 20 km of that ride a thunderstorm came over suddenly and we had to take shelter in a café, I’m hoping that doesn’t happen on the rest of the Tour, but for today there wasn’t even a cloud in the sky and we were able to enjoy the sights of two countries.
That day I had a fantastic day with a group of friends, today was another fantastic day riding with a group of friends, although tinged with a little sadness, this experience gets better with each day.