Saturday, September 22, 2012

The last of the Europe Trip

Well it's time for a long overdue catch up on what happened in Europe post Belgium!

After Dwars door de Westhoek, it was time to head to France for my final race, the Tour of Limousin. 4 days through the French Countryside, racing alongside* none other than Marianne Vos and the Dutch National team that were prepping for the Olympics, as well as many other top teams.

Tour of Limousin - Team Ibis - Marolijn, Me, Natalie, Julie & Esther
Thankfully I didn't have any bad luck or muppet like crashes during the tour, I felt good, was climbing good, TT'd like the usual bad TTer I am, but my lack of confidence being in the bunch was my major let down again. Starting these short, but steep climbs from near the back of 100 girls is not the best place to be in, and as such each day I finished in the 2nd group.  

Jo & I on the start line for the last stage

The whole tour was a great learning process though and being a part of Team Ibis Cycles, who were an awesome bunch of people made for a great week. It helped getting the full pro treatment - no filling up your own bottles, massaging your own legs & oiling your own chain here! It was great to ride as a team, and do my bit where I could to help Esther in her GC hopes.

On the start line for the TT

Safety First for Julie!

Graham, our 'sweary bear' mechanic. Doesn't 'DO' photos!

Beautiful French countryside and sunshine!

* I rode alongside Marianne for maybe all of 500m, the rest of the time she was about 5minutes off the front of the bunch...

From there, I palmed my bike off to the For Viored - Escentual team to be carted back to London, and I hopped on a plane from Paris to Barcelona for the start of a 2 week "Real/Non Bike" holiday!

5 days in Barcelona, with a quick day trip to Girona, eating and drinking as much Paella, jamon, fruit, juice, Gelati and Sangria as I could possibly fit in. Barcelona is such an amazing city, and one that I'll definitely be visiting again.
The only bike I touched in 2 weeks

Get in ma BELLEH!

The Boqueria Markets - My idea of heaven!
After Barcelona, a quick plane ride over to Gatwick to visit with Hannah & her parents & Tanya and have a great weekend watching the Olympic Road Races! 

Hannah, Tanya & I roadside at the Mens Road Race
The last leg of the holiday had Hannah & I setting off to the French & Italian Rivierias! We flew in to Nice and stayed in the nearby Villefranche sur Mur. After 2 days there we packed up the little hire car and drove across the border to Alessio in Italy for 2 days. It was another 4 days of amazing food/apertif's/gelati, with not a day going by where I didn't go to bed feeling like my stomach was about to explode. 

Hannah & I looking for rich husbands in Monaco

We swam in the Cote d'azure - which whilst beautiful, was quite painful given the size of the pebbles/rocks on the beach - Hired sun loungers and spent the majority of a whole day on the beach, ate Pizza & Gelati in the country famous for them, drank espresso's like locals, stopped in Monaco to check out how the rich & famous live, and all up had an amazing relaxing holiday.

An afternoon Apertif? Don't mind if I do..
The holiday was over all too quickly though, and after a delayed flight back to London (and a very funny evening at the Nice Airport), I met up with Rene to go reclaim my bike and pack myself up for the journey home.. Very sad to be leaving, but excited to return again next year!