Sunday 21st February. Nevers - Chablis. 140km. Done: 1225 km. To go: 1663km. Weather: Cold. No wind.
Worst day for me. Joanna flying.
Paul Kimmage back today after a break to write his piece for the Sunday Times which I read on line at breakfast. Very funny. He had fresh legs, good form and orange hair extensions. Yes, fancy dress day again.
A heavy rolling upward grind for the first 40km, with light snow on higher ground. A couple of degrees colder and would have been icy. Then just beautiful flat winding roads. Where is everybody? Deserted villages, no traffic. But I was really struggling. Paul said a 'jours sans'. A day without.
Lawrence and Jonny Nye's groups going well and we leap frogged each other on the road, with me dead weight on the back. At about 90km they were together, some 300m ahead, with Lawrence leading, about fourteen of them in two tight lines, and one of our Range Rovers went past, and maybe they got distracted, but five of them came down hard. I thought Jonny badly cut, but it was only red make up.
Stopped there for lunch, felt weak, so set off first for the last 50k. Pootling but my heart rate jumped to 185 (my max is 174). Decided to stop, and called the doc. This has happened maybe six times in fifteen years.
Last night probably drank too much - including two shots as 'fines' - one for being married to Joanna, which seemed harsh. Dinner hopeless for cycling - no carbs, no salad and no vegetables. And knackered, so the perfect ingredients for my version of the bonk.
Doc Simon took my BP and heart still in 17's - but felt fine. Have been averaging about 110 on long days. So we head to Auxerre hospital, but 15 minutes into the drive it just plummets to 75, and stays there. Some sort of electrical short circuit we think. Jonny's crew did 18km extra - hard to do with Garmins and red balloons, Paul and Michael Lavelle brought Joanna home hard in their group in bright sunshine, along picturesque canals, and through the vineyards. Chablis is pretty but borderline twee.
David Millar just called. He is fulfilling the key morale-boosting role of ensuring no matter how badly it's going for me, he's having a worse time. He crashed heavily in the TT today (see gruesome photo) and had stitches in his hip. He told me Stuart O'Grady gets the same heart thing as me.
So no wine tasting at six, or wine or beer at all for me. Only chance now is no booze, no caffeine, take it dead easy. Free Bosman transfer to the slow group.
Paris tomorrow, 104km. Can cruise that. Then 86-92-105 across the flatlands of northern France. New plan. Need to survive. Very disappointing.
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