She’s back from the land of cheese, wine and duck. The Tour continues to consume her thoughts, she denies this, I see it.. Here’s some insight into some of Mel’s experiences.
Some thoughts from the past few weeks.
I was on the road for 21 stages, plus 2 rest days. I rode my bike every day, but there is a lot more to riding 3,344 km than just pedaling. Our group comprised 11 riders, most of whom did not know each other prior to a brief weekend together in late May.
As a charity ride, the criteria for participation needed to be strict. Commitment to raising a certain target was required. This meant that riders were likely to come from positions that would allow them the ability to raise funds. Those in such positions are likely to be influential, leaders. Throw such people together, away from the natural order of their lives and you will get some interesting results.
Big Brother, Lord of the Flies, no, we all rubbed along. But it was a learning curve. Riders used to positions of responsibility and leadership had to relinquish control and fall into line. The lead car set the pace and the decisions were made by the ride crew, not the riders. This was for the best.
I enjoyed handing over responsibility, all I had to do was ride my bike. There were times when riders found it hard to take directions from each other. When you are tired and someone asks you to close a gap, it can seem wholly unreasonable. In the cold light of day, you would not think twice before saying ‘certainly’ but under physical stress and the heat of the mid-day sun, a small ask can trigger upset.
The first week saw a honeymoon period, getting to know each other. As we became fatigued, we needed to find some sort of order, not a leader as such, but those willing and able to offer the right words to the group in a timely fashion. Geoff is an incredible leader. The best leaders can lead you without you noticing that you have been led, and I certainly learnt a lot from him.
As we moved into the second and third weeks of the ride, we formed a strong group. People became cognisant of ‘touch points’ likely to upset the balance and we worked very closely as a team. Come Paris, the bond amongst the group was strong. We had experienced highs and lows, fatigue and elation, but we had reached our destination.”
Many thanks to David West @Joolzephoto @lizkreutz for the photos.
Thanks Mel, look forward to your next instalment, Verity