A flying visit from Supawal

Yes, a flying visit from Supawal – the bringer of new bikes and good weather!

Supawal, he’s my brother, he came out for a flying visit on Friday to bring my new bike. Amazingly it was cheaper for someone to fly with it than it was to pay a courier to bring it. I was gonna travel home to get it, but Wal insisted on bringing it out.

Of course Wal had an ulterior motive. To bag some quality mountain bike time on the trails out here ready for his first attempt at the GTL. So, he brought some nice weather with him, and we headed for the hills. Wal rode his Cove Handjob, Carla rode her Spesh Hardtail, and I rode Big Bird. What a combo.
Carla the Supawal down emerald alley
Our plan was to do a couple of hours, then break for lunch, then do another couple of hours. This would give Carla the opportunity of pulling out for the second half. She’s in training for a two hour race, so doesn’t need slow and long. We parked above Boscartus, and headed towards Le Chimes.

The weather has been wet wet wet through March, and there were some muddy sections, and maybe the going could have been a little firmer, but with half a day of dry weather things were improving to the point where they were dry.

Thrashing along the tracks that contour the North side of the hills I could tell that Wal was enjoying it because each time I gave him a route option he chose the longer, and each time he got on the front he’d go haring off like a nutter. Meanwhile Carla, sporting a meagre 75mm of travel on the front flew up the climbs but found herself visually impared on the rocky descents.

With two hours done we raced down from the high point at Puy Grenier, crossed the Cieux – Blond road and dived into the switchbacks down towards the lakes. We rode ragged (well I did!), but made it to the bottom in one piece. Just the long haul back to the van to do. I planned it like this knowing that Wal’s empty belly would drive him on to the sarnies at the van.

I had this idea that I’d push on, and take some pictures further up the climb. Wal must have seen it as a challenge, and Carla was determined not to get dropped. I struggled to get my camera out, and when I did it magically hooked it’s leash around my bars. Too late, SuperWal had gone through with Carla in hot pursuit. Back at the van with two and a half hours done.
Wal and Carla battle it out on the climb
Following our snack, Carla decided to sit the next section out. I was sort of hoping she would, and asked her to meet us at Arnac. This meant that Wal and I could have another couple of hours with more downhill than uphill! Meanwhile Carla had a snooze in the van!!! 🙂

Wal was up for it, and rode hard at first, but with an early flight, and getting on for four hours of riding under his belt he was starting to fade. Then you have to factor in the Birthday celebration that we’d planned for him (he was 50 on 1st April!!!). He’d still got a long way to go. We finished of with our customary sprint to the van. He won, of course. Tired and weary we packed the bikes away and went home.

That evening Carla cooked a bumper meal, we toasted Wal’s birthday, and by 9pm he was a goner, couldn’t keep his eyes open. Next day he had to be up early to fly back. We had just enough time for a recovery ride around the village and he was jetting home.

Next time I spoke to him it was Monday night. He told me that by 8pm, which was really 7pm on Sunday evening. ‘cos the clocks went forward, he was already in bed, Eleanor had read him a story, and he didn’t wake up until 7am the next day!

Thanks for bringing my bike out bro’, see you in four weeks for the GTL 🙂

A long Limousin weekend – The return of Supawal

When my brother Supawal and I get together it’s always the same – excessive! We drink too much, eat too much, play music too loud, and ride our bikes until we can hardly stand. Why? well it could be because neither of us will admit to being tired/full/pi55ed, or it could be because it’s tradition, but actually it’s because we just do.

Supawal builds his HummerThursday afternoon – we picked Supawal up from Limoges airport. Within a couple of hours he’d eaten, put his bike together, and we headed off towards Congnac le Foret in the autumn sun. Mostly tarmac on the way out, then trails to the top of the forest. From the high point to St Cyr is about 5km, slightly downhill all the way. On through to St Auvent where we went down the rocky descent that leads to the pont ancien (old bridge). A bit tricky in places as the dappled sunlight on the autumn leaves hid the rocks. Carla decided that she’d done enough and set off for home. I pursuaded Supawal that we should do a quick loop in the forest of Rochechouart. We’d done two and a half hours by the time we swooped back through L’Age and onto the final climb. Naturally, we rode it hard.

Supawal rails it!Friday – With a big ride in the Monts de Blond planned we were up early. Van packed, breakfasted, and gone. Just the two of us today. The route I had in mind would take us down the north side of the hills, along a shelf, and up to the old chapel above Vaulry. However, as we drove up to park near Boscartus we found ourselves driving out of the early morning sun and into the mist. It was cold! A quick change of plan, and we were rattling down the rocky desents back towards the sun.

Supawal was riding his Hummer with Rock Shox Revalations set at about 120, he was hoooooning effortlessly down the descents. I was riding my Epic, doing my best to keep up in a ragged sketchy sort of style!

We’d been out for a couple of hours before we climbed back up to the van to eat some lunch. By now the mist had lifted, and it was glorious, not too hot, just perfect riding weather. I was gonna save some of my lunch to eat after our ride, but in the blink of an eye I’d scoffed the lot!
Back on the bikes, down the north side, and along the shelf. It’s fairly straight forward in a rocky rollercoaster sort of way, but it’s hard. By the time we reached the old chapel I could tell that Supawal was tiring.

We raced down the hillside towards Rousset. I’m on the front, I know the trail a little. Supawal is banging on my back wheel. I know there’s a tight left with a huge rut and rocks hidden under the leaves. I’m fighting hard to not fall into it. Supawal can’t see it, and just hammers on. I make it around the corner, but only just. Supawal manages to miss my back wheel, but only just! We laugh.

Traversing now, up and down along the south side. Supawal is spent, but with four and a half hours done we’re back at the van. We’ve had a great day out.

Supawal gets his legs zapped with the CompexLater that evening I put the Compex on Supawal’s legs in the hope that a miracle will happen.

Saturday – a gentle ride around the chemins south of Rochechouart. It’s one of my favourite rides, it goes straight from home, and takes a couple of hours. There’s no big hills, it’s easy riding, and is best taken at a fairly brisk pace. Supawal seems to be going fairly well at first, Carla is out with us, and we’re both sitting on his wheel. Carla has had enough by Rochechouart and loops back home. With Carla gone Supawal’s strength deserts his and we’re crawling along. I believe that Supawal believes that chewy bars can fix any amount of fatigue. He eats all that he’s carrying, then starts on dodgy crab apples! We’re home in three.
Champers anyone?

Sunday – It’s 8am and we’re a little hungover and signing on at the 12th Randnnee des Deux Eglises at Champiniers et Reilhac. It’s 48kms for us. The terrain is a little gentler in this area, and I’m expecting an easier ride. Supawal is just looking to get round. Carla is the only woman doing the 48km option. There’s no ‘grande depart’ as such, but we’re on our way just after 9am, it’s chilly, but looks like it’s going to be another glorious day.

Not long after the start Carla gets cross rutted, hooks a bramble, and crashes. It’s a soft landing and she’s back on the bike straight away. She doesn’t crash very often. The last one I can remember was on the Malverns in 1993!

A couple of French riders come through. “See you at the finish”, says Carla in a sort of ‘Off you go and leave us in peace’ sort of way. I do as I’m told. Given free rein, with the bit between my teeth, I gallop off (prrrrppp), and in no time at all I get myself into a battle with some other like minded idiots. It’s great, and we hammer along as if our lives depended on it. Stopping only at the second Ravitalment long enough to fill my bottle and take some kit off, I hammer on. The circuit is a lot harder than I expected, but it’s got some excellent whoopee stuff. The last few kilometers are pure agony/bliss and I’m back in two and a half hours. Carla is next home, Supawal arrives some time later riding a bike with a very short chain and carrying a pocketful of chain links.

Stream crossing in the Monts de BlondMonday – We’re pretty much biked out now, but it’s Supawal’s last day, and the sun is shining. Monts de Blond again!!!?? Yes, of course 😉 A loop of the lakes near Arnac, a visit to the Rupestre Oratoire (cave paintings, chapel), a rock of the rock (huge megalith that can be rocked). We stop at the restaurant in Blond where we’ve never been served yet ‘cos it’s always busy, we ride on to ‘La Belle Equipe’ bar in Montrol Senard where we have excellent coffee, and the lovely waitress gives us a free cake (pour vous forte) for our strength.

All to soon it’s time for the last blast of the day from Peyrelade down across the rocks and on toward Arnac. Supawal takes the lead, and despite being totally biked out manages to launch himself into the air at every available opportunity down the final descent. That evening we recount the highlight of the weekend whist drinking too much. Because we can 🙂

Supawal by the lake