Day 3.5 – Another eventful day, 46 °C and a new bike called Betty

That was it I was off on Betty, she was seriously over weight and I was scrunched up as she was too small. I had a couple of incidents where I acutely fell off the bike as I got my foot stuck in the wheel as I turned from a junction.

The next section of 30 miles was at altitude and appeared to be a lovely undulating section. I think it would have been great on Charlie as she would have rolled up the small inclines after gathering speed coming down the hills. On Betty this was another mater. I had to really push downhill as I could not get momentum like I would have done with Charlie, this made the uphill sections a bit of a bind.

The weather had turned and at one point several cycling computers had registered 46°C. It was getting dangerous and we were relying on the support crew traveling backwards and forwards topping us up with water, whilst I was adding salt.

It got to a point where I joined a small ladies group (one I met on other days) and we planned to stop every 5 miles and have a break and take on fluids, it was getting more dangerous as we went. One of the ladies ended up abandoning as she felt ill and four others ended up in hospital due to dehydration.    

At one section on the top I noticed the cycling was getting harder and I noticed the tarmac had melted and I could see the tyre tracks from cyclist in front.

As I went along again, I noticed a large automatic agricultural watering sprinkler that had hit the road every so often, so I waited as the heat was getting more intense but to my disappointment it never came, so after 10 I had to carry on. After I finished the ride I did find a group who was successful… I don’t know what was in the water, but it looked wet!

I never did catch the water !
But this group did….

From the last pit stop there was a steady 5% climb to the summit and then a few miles down hill with stunning views. As I had Betty to keep rolling I did not take any pictures as it even took effort on the downhill section. I road along with a lady raising money for a local hospice charity for the rest of the ride (apart from the last two miles). This was great as it took my mind of the intense heat and got me to the last night stop in Compiegne.

We got to the bottom on the big descent but as we hit the last 5 miles on the flat my legs started to struggl with this heavy bike and I was spent. I kept up with my riding friend for so long and then my water bottle which was nearly empty again flew off the bike as I went across a traffic island in the middle of Compiegne.

I did the fatal thing and stopped to get my bottle, I was done. My legs seized and, in the afternoon, hot sun I had given up and took shelter for 30 minutes under a pavement advertising hording, whilst I tried to compose myself in the heat of 42°C.

I had finished all my water / fluids and after around 20 mins a lady on her own came past and recognised my arm band, we all had the same colour on so we knew we all belonged to the same group. She asked if I was ok and I had told her that enough was enough. She helped me on to Betty and together we completed the last two miles which seemed an eternity.

When I saw the hotel, I felt complete relief and went to my room and just sat on the floor of a cold shower and then laid down with the air conditioning set at 18°C.

I have to say this was the toughest day, not due to the distance or climbs of the ride but that it was due to the intense heat and sun with no shade and the fact I was not riding Charlie was not helpful. On this day I drunk 14 litres of fluid (28 pints in old money) and never went to pass any water from 10 am !

For anyone this would be exceptional but for me as a kidney patient it was incredible.

One thing I know is that I did it and one more sleep before the final day into Paris.

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