The Complete St Ybard Geriatrica Summer 2013
Friday 28th June – Away shortly after 0400 in two cars. Paul Martin & Norman Luhr with Trevor Hughes; Mick Ayliffe & Martin Shaw with Dennis Peacock. Rain all the way to the Chunnel where we met up only an hour early! Dry in the tunnel but raining all the way to the Correze. Once on French soil we separated again as Trev disappeared over the horizon at 200mph. They probably got to St Ybard at lunchtime while we clocked in at supper-time. Lunch taken at the Chinese by Den’s lot and at the Routier’s by Trev’s. Still raining on arrival.
Saturday 29th June – Still raining. No bike riding but stacks of sport on TV. Denbo spent all day preparing the best spag bol we, or anyone else for that matter, had ever tasted – again. In the afternoon we settled down to watch a very eventful finish to the first stage of the Tour de France from Corsica. What is now being referred to in L’Equipe as “L’Affaire BusGate” occurred when those Aussie chaps contrived to stick their team bus and thus their sponsor’s name across the finishing line with 198 racing cyclists bearing down on them at 60kph. The advertising value to Orico Greenedge was estimated at 200,000 Swiss Francs. After dinner we inaugurated a post-prandial stroll around the block to keep Trev’s DVT moving. We’ve got to look after each other haven’t we? And the average age of the six of us is over 70!
Sunday 30th June – Hurrah, it stopped raining and was quite warm so it was into the lycra and out on the roads of the Limousin at the crack of 11 o’clock. Well you mustn’t rush these things at our age. St Martin of Shaw devised a bike hanger out of a spade and outside staircase and deftly bent the gear mech to fix Mick bottom gear which had been unobtainable and Mick will be forever in his debt for that. He’d remembered that the road to Masseret was flat so he thought he could get there and just to make it more probable Denbo took him in the motor to the top of the first hill out of St Ybard. Trev, Paul and Martin set off for Lubersac and together with Den and Norman we all met up at Masseret. Mick had already negotiated a lunch for himself at the hotel which was sort of shut and five beers were added to the order for the big hitters. Unfortunately Mick’s memory of the road being flat was erroneous, it was sort of flat but not flat enough, so we arrived back at HQ separated by some considerable distance and in various states of distress. A few handfuls of Paul’s Peanut butter Pretzels washed down with some surprisingly powerful 7.9 beer from the local Netto supermarket soon put us right and we settled down to watch an excellent afternoons racing from Corsica with a very worthy winner and first time yellow jersey for the 27 year old Belgian Jan Backlandt. All power to your elbow my old son!
Monday July 1st – Another good day beckoned so Mick tried Lubersac. “Downhill all the way,” they said, “And not too difficult coming back.” And so it proved thank goodness. Denis and Norman chased him along and we spent a pleasant sunny lunchtime at the Belgian snack bar with the chatty waitress. Meanwhile the big hitters were storming down the gorge to check out the plastic gnomes and going on for a good ride in hot weather. We were all back cleaned up and sitting comfortably to see Simon Gerrans pip young Sagan to the line at Calvi. Another Antipodean coup; thank goodness Mick Ward isn’t with us, we’d never hear the last of it. Sad to see Stannard and Thomas so incapacitated by their wounds so early, that could make things difficult later.
Tuesday July 2nd – Up for another good day in the sun. The big hitters set off on the hilly roads to the east of Uzerche. Norman left with a map to wander around here on his own (would we ever see him again, we asked?) Denbo dedicated his day to anointing his roof rack with black Hammerite. Mick set off to Uzerche direttisima to buy his Equipe, see if he could persuade a Pharmacist to sell him some doxycycline off-prescription ‘cos he’d left his at home and to make his pilgrimage to the Bowler Hat. He’d barely finished his sneaky sarnie, green salad and beer before the sweaty big hitters arrived to slake their thirsts with copious quantities of the Amber Nectar. An hour or so later we were just resigning ourselves to organising a search party for Norman when the Old War Horse lone-ranger appeared safe and well with a smile as broad as the Vezere Valley below. We gave him a cheer and all the other customers at the cafe joined in which was rather nice. Another nice touch was the wild-life-friendly removal of the grill over the vent leading to the cellar next door which must make it easier for the rats to get in and out. Then it was back to the TV for the short TTT in Nice where the Aussies shone again by narrowly beating the field and putting Gerrans in the yellow jersey to crown a great start for them in this year’s tour. Sky looked a bit smug with their 3rd place; they’d avoided getting the job of defending the jersey and put a few seconds into all Froome’s serious rivals for GC. Another excellent meal of barbecued duck prepared by Denbo, Paul and Trevor who have produced succulent fare every night. For which much thanks!
Wednesday July 3rd – Weather changed overnight to heavy rain which persisted into today so it’s a day of odd jobs, lounging about, reading and lunch at the working man’s cafe at Espartignac which took two and a half hours for 5 courses, coffee, wine ad lib. and all for 14 Euros! Waddled back to collapse in front of the TV for Tour and Tennis until bed time. Can we take any more of this pressure?
Thursday July 4th – Denbo and Mick had a day off to drive to Limoges to visit the martyrs village of Oradour sur Glane. One of those visits you feel you ought to do in life but a very uncomfortable experience to be faced by such evidence of man’s inhumanity to man. The rest of the lads spent the cloudy day riding the roads to the west of here, some never previously ridden by Clarencourt wheels, Lubersac, Pompadour, Troches, St Martin la Perche. Cav’s demise at the hands of Greipel was witnessed by Den and Mick while visiting Limoge’s Decafflon to buy tent pegs on the way home and the full story was revealed on their return. The tour saw it’s first South African yellow jersey as the Orica-Greenedge continued their roll. Spag Bol II for dinner. Denis and Mick had a duet night of musical woodwind with Denis snoring on basoon and Mick weezing on oboe
Friday July 5th – Mick hadn’t felt too good last night so he accepted the counsel of the years and stayed around here writing postcards and the like. The rest of the boys celebrated the arrival of the hot weather to the east of here. Trev and Martin did about 50 miles, Meilhards, Surdoux, Mont Garnac at 2,400 feet, Rilhac-Treignac, Eybourie and back to the Bowler Hat. Paul, Denbo and Norman pro rata. At the same time to the Southwest the Cannondale team were giving a masterclass performance in getting rid of the sprinters and finally giving Peter Sagan a stage win and what looks like an unassailable lead in the green jersey competition.
Saturday July 6th – Hot,hot,hot! Mick went solo to Maseret, Lubersac and back, about 30 miles that took him all day. All the others went to the lake as the omens looked good for scantily clad maidens and the hills en route could be tolerated in a good cause. Glued to the TV all day to see the first real show of Sky’s GC intentions that ended with Froome in yellow and Richie Porte second. Excellent racing. The womens final at Wimbledon was a poor contest but the French were pleased with Marion Bartoli their new champion. In the evening it was into clean togs and larey shirts for an excellent meal at The Charmant in Uzerche on a barmy night.
Sunday July 7th – Another blistering day in the Correze. Martin, Trevor, Mick, Norman and Denbo took one last trip to Lubersac by various routes for a long lazy sit under the shade for beers and coffee. Paul stayed at base camp to collect the roasted chicken from Sylvie for tonight’s supper. All back to Trev’s by 2 o’clock to watch Chris Froome handle a tricky last day in the Pyrenees for Sky. Great headline in l’Equipe this morning about yesterday’s team performance, “First round knock out. Contador and the others saw only the Sky.” Even so our lads were pushed off the front page by some French girl who won a tennis match somewhere yesterday. So back to Rue de la Verite to watch the first British men’s champion at Wimbledon since Fred Perry; none of us could remember him though we did wear his polo shirts. Beddy byes early for return to UK tomorrow.
Monday July 8th – Up betimes and back in hot weather to meet up at the crowded Chunnel in the evening. More bike riders there than ever, many returning from L’Etape. Denbo’s car load had started out early and had several stops including lunch at the Chinese and afternoon drinks by the Seine at Pont de L’Arche. Trevor started later, picnicked for lunch and got to Boulogne first – now there’s a surprise! We all arrived home just after 10 o’clock at the end of another good week riding our bikes in “La France profonde”
Our thanks to Trevor and Denbo for the driving, Paul, Denbo and Trevor for the cooking and above all to Trevor and Suzanne for the accommodation – much appreciated!