Stage 19 – 194.5km from Limoges to Issoudun (2009. Stage 10)
Before I cover todays stage, one of the first responses I’ve had when I’ve told people that I’m riding the Tour Challenge is ‘you’ll get a sore bum’, or ‘apply lots of cream’. But luckily I’ve not had any problems, I put that down to having a firm saddle that I’m very used to, wearing good quality clean shorts which I apply chamois cream to pre-ride and applying Sudocreme in the evening – yes the stuff used to stop babies getting nappy rash. There are 2 other contact points with the bike, at the peddles and handlebars, I have been getting lots of pain in my wrists as they take the brunt of potholes, cobbles and bumpy/stony road surfaces – having broken both wrists in the past doesn’t help matters.
I’ve also been getting lots of lower back pain, particularly in the mountains, but I expected this as ultimately that’s the injury that restricted my football and led me to give up. So each morning I layer myself in deep heat, it’s great stuff for backs, however as my food is also in my jersey back pocket, I’ve had to get used to the odd Deep Heat flavoured Jaffa cake.
Todays stage started in cooler autumnal weather and for the first time I kept my light weight jacket on for the full day, however come 3pm it had really heated up.
The stage has been another long one at 195km, it’s the last really long stage of the challenge and I’m now starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The day started with a 93km transfer from the Hotel in Brive to the start town -Limoges a very attractive town with lots to see, but it was only a fleeting visit.
The stage started off with a climb up onto a plateau which I believe to be the Massif Central (mentioned in my Stage 14 blog). After ascending from Limoges the first half of the stage has been relatively high up on the plateau roughly 340-480 metres. At no point did any of the climbs get really steep but they were just enough to build up a light sweat and knock the average speed. The area is very sparsely populated, with a few small hamlets, and places that sound grand and magnificent were passed by in a minute, so it’s not been the best of days to get pictures for you – but I’ve tried.
Using a football metaphor, it really has been a ride of 2 halves today, not only did the weather improve in the later half, but the landscape flattened meaning I could maintain a relatively constant speed. Going back to the game of 2 halves metaphor, I started to think on the bike how pundits would rephrase it should the game to go to extra time, they couldn’t break it into quarters as extra time is only 30 minutes, so if extra time was evenly matched I went for: it was a game of 2 3/8ths followed by an even quarter, then I remembered penalty shootouts and that there’s no stated time limit so feasibly that could be infinite -I gave up at that point as I was starting to lose concentration, but if any bright sparks have an answer please send it via postcard to…
As I neared Issoudun a town I passed though on stage 6, I could see how the landscape had changed. Farmers have been very busy with the harvest, hay bales are stacked 10 metres high in fields, the sweetcorn has gone and fields have been ploughed ready for future crops.
Here’s todays stats:
- Distance: 193 km
- Time: 7 hours 24 minutes
- Average Moving Speed: 26.4 kmph
- Total Ascent: 2,492 metres
Tomorrows a time trial day, and for logistical reasons I’m also taking on the first part of the final stage, more on that tomorrow.