La 5ieme Rando des Trois Clochers

It’s been raining for days, I’m starting to exhibit signs of ‘cabin fever’, I decide that I’m gonna do the La 5ieme Rando des Trois Clochers at St Leger la Montagne whatever. Plus the fact that St Leger is where the Depertmental Champs will be in March, and I want to see what the terrain is like. Carla decides that she’s gonna do it too.

I prep’ the bikes the night before. Crud guards, mud tyres, and slime tubes in my bike, don’t want puncture problems in the wet. We get an early night, and fall asleep listening the the sound of the rain lashing the shutters.

By 7:30am we’re on our way. It’s still dark, and it’s still raining. By 8am we’re climbing up out of the Vienne valley towards Razes. It had begun to get lighter, now it was getting darker! Heavy fog and mist make the going slow. Off the main A20 towards St Leger it’s brightening a little, and we’re in a convoy of cars carrying bikes. At St Leger there are marshals waiting to direct us to the car parking. Some of them use torches.

It’s wet, but it’s not cold. We get our kit on, and dead on 9am we get a few words from the club president and we’re on our way. I’m guessing there’s about 200 of us. A tarmac climb out of the village, and off into the hills.

Considering the amount of rain we’ve had the trails are in suprisingly good condition. There’s a few deep/very deep puddles, but it’s fun. I’m in the lead group, there’s about six of us, that’s me, and five young lads who all seem to know each other. They’re skipping about, and having a laugh splashing each other. I’m breathing bloody hard hanging on. One of the lads is a real lightweight and takes great pleasure in hammering up every rise just for the sheer joy of racing his mates. I’m breathing bloody hard hanging on, just.

Past the first ravitaillment station, we don’t stop. Down a fast rocky trail, we’re almost at the farthest point of the course, and……… see that picture? First time that’s happened to me in over twenty years of mountainbiking. A stick goes through my back wheel and takes my rear mech off.
XTR rear mech torn off!

I move my bike to the side of the track and just stare at it, stare at it so long I had time to take the picture. I’m trying to work out my best plan of action. Riders stop to see if I’m OK, I wave them on “oui, se bon!”. While I’m working out what to do I hear cars below me. They don’t sound far away. I decide I’ll roll down to the road, find out the shortest way back to St Leger, and make my way home along the tarmac. See, although I’m carrying a ‘quick link’ I’m not carrying a chain splitter. I can’t ‘monovitesse’ it. Doh!

At the road there’s a couple watching the riders go through. They kindly give me a lift back to the start in their van. On the way back they proudly tell me that their two sons Davy (19yrs), and Charley (16yrs) are riding today, in the lead group!

Back at the start I wash my bike and wait for Carla. She’s not long, and she’s had a geat ride.
I wash her bike while she gets changed. Did I tell you she’s being head-hunted by a local club who’s president wants her to be one of his girls? I will……

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