A French Affair

Last week I packed my running shoes along with my passport and headed to Plaisance in France, for a week of indulging in cheese, catching up with family and perhaps even fitting in some cycling between the running sessions I had planned.

Most of that went according to plan. We took a leisurely train to the Aveyron region via Toulouse, settled into the holiday mood and arrived at our destination suitably relaxed and full of french pastry. And as a result I was itching to get some mileage in to hopefully balance the butter intake and ease out the stiffness that comes with long train journeys.

I needn’t have worried, it didn’t take long to get ourselves sorted out with top-of-the-range bikes, creative itineraries, maps and Garmins, from the wonderfully effervescent  and knowledgeable Claudia Koch who owns and runs Cycling Magnolias, a cycling tour company based in the beautiful Les Magnolia’s hotel in Plaisance who we booked our holiday through.

Les Magnolia’s Hotel

One or two long bike rides wouldn’t mess too much with my running plans, I thought, I can include in my ‘cross training’ days and perhaps one or two meandering trips around the country side on my recovery days. Surely? Best laid plans and all that….

I have to admit, the running was forsaken in favour of the beautiful bike I found myself in possession of for a week. It wasn’t the easiest first day, I fell off four (!!)  times while I got used to the straps on the pedals and I earned myself some spectacular bruises, but after that it was a match made in heaven. Beautiful countryside to explore, minimum traffic and breathtaking views.

My lovely hybrid for the week 

My trainers were almost left in my suitcase, I just wasn’t planning on having such fun on the bike and the running sessions were quickly forgotten.  Of course I was suitably punished by finding new and interesting muscles that ached like nothing I have ever experienced having hit the hills or trying (stupidly) to keep pace with my uber-fit cycling-guru father.

Dad and I on top of the hill en route to St Izaire (75km round trip)

So, by the end of the holiday I had clocked up (almost) 200km on the bike and a very disappointing 10km in actual running, one session on an early Tuesday morning post thunderstorm to shake out the stiff cycling muscles. Of course I am blaming the heat  and the fact that those hills can only be conquered with bikes. My legs on their own just couldn’t cope!

I also blame the cheese. I can’t run on a full stomach. But I can cycle.

Cheese. The overriding theme of the trip

Back in London and I am contemplating buying a road bike. But like any affair, I can’t quite see how it would fit into my ‘real’ life in London just yet. To much traffic to contend with, the issue of storage, the expensive kit that comes with it. So I’m back with my first love, simple straight-forward running and hitting the pavements back in training for the Royal Parks.

But there may be a triathlon in my future… wear did I store my swimming cap again?

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