Day 2: Cycling with Shane Starling: Montpellier

Day 2:

At 6:30 am I am woken by cats playing. I lock them in another room but the lock doesn’t work and they squeeze their paw through and pull the door open again. I make coffee, eat cereal, reply to emails, say goodbye to Emma and throw one of the cats into Shane’s room knowing he will wake him so we get on the road. 
At 9am I attempt to sort out the front derailer. It’s not pulling to the big ring. The cable housing has more bends than a river. By 10 the gearing is no better so I give up and get dressed. Have to sort it out properly later. Again down the spiral stairs carefully. Pull the big heavy door open like a cat. A thin strip of sunlight is visible in the alley. I stand there and wait for Shane
We plan a longer ride today. The gears work ok to begin with but about 15km from base they shit themselves again. Lose the nut in the grass. Find the nut. The bike I’ve borrowed has a triple chainring at the front. A novelty to for me but at the moment a pain. We cycle through a cross country running race. Up ahead cyclists and Wolf Peak. Having been off the bike for 6 weeks my back hurts slightly. My legs have no power. My lungs seem ok. We begin a 3km 5% climb and Shane sets a commendable pace. I drop into the granny gear and enjoy the view. There’s little point overexerting for a few days yet. 

Day 1: Riding with Shane Starling: Montepellier

Day 1:

Arrived in Montpellier just before 3pm. First time on a TVG and was impressed at how the train was going double the speed of the freeway cars. Stepped off the train expecting to see my cousin Shane; nuitrion journalist, runner, cyclist, writer, try hard French man. On the upper concourse he was no where to be seen. After five laps I thought, you cunt, you’re late, I don’t have your number and there’s no wifi at the station. Then wondered over to the balcony and realised there was another section to the station and after descending the stairs laid eyes on the man I would be forcing into a world of pain for the next week. 

First time in Montpellier too. Fancy buildings. Tight alleys. Trams. Partial stratocumulus blowing overhead. 
“That’s the Mistral. It’s like the Fremantle Doctor.”
“Ah Yes I remember you saying when you were in Perth.”
The Giro D’Italia was on. An important mountain stage. As I’d been following this tour intently I was keen to head back to Shane’s place, chuck the race on, get the bike ready and go for a belt around the countryside. We stop at an internet cafe to print out the hire car details. This takes 20 mins. Then we stop at a sandwich shop. This also take twenty minutes. There’s a woman in a frog suit in a small square having a fag on her break. We go upstairs. The tour has no coverage because the mountain is fogged out. We watch the final 200 metres as the racers emerge out of the fog. 
By now I have the hire bike pretty much ready. We gear up and descend the smooth marble spiral steps in our cleats. The town gives to countryside quickly.