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Rain in Rouen

The still air and golden mist that lifted to reveal warm autumn sunshine for the Rouen ride in October 2007 was nowhere to be seen this year. Somebody had obviously got the weather order wrong and booked blustery winds, grey skies and pelting rain instead, for that was what was delivered and that was the way it stayed. All day.

But were any of the Sutton riders deterred? Probably, but as the wimp- out- protest- option was never on the cards, they all duly took to their wheels regardless, no doubt privately hoping that Le Meteo might have erred on the dismal side and got it wrong. They hadn't of course, so it was just a case of grin and ride the strong tail wind out, hoping that it might have changed direction by the time they returned. Even we were cold in the support vehicle, but somebody had to occupy it, and anyway, I had a camera to operate.

First to rue that pesky wind were Mo and Hollie; had it been a still day, they might have only gone five miles instead of eight before they punctured (twice) had to abandon. and then trudge back, pushing their bikes against the elements. Still, nothing is ever wasted though and it did give the men in the Broom Wagon a great opportunity to teach them the French word "crevaison". It's just a shame that they didn't give them a lift or any help.

As for the rest of the Sutton, well, it was a long old day. The French countryside can be quite spectacular, particularly if you can see it, but that Sunday in early October was not a day for rustic delights. Standing water, mud and a dark green sky can't have made for pleasant riding conditions, but on they all battled, refuelling at the feed stop which they did well to find, given that it was so well hidden under a tarpaulin where even the marshals were sheltering. The final 10km was apparently the worst bit, with that same strong tail wind now presenting an equally strong headwind so forceful that it blew most of the finish cordons into neighbouring fields, and took a few tired finishers off their bikes and into the gutters.

But after a warm drink and a baguette filled with what looked suspiciously like Go Cat, initial rumblings of hanging up wheels had turned into suggestions for next year. After all, it can't get any worse - or can it? And who knows. even I might dust off my pedals for 2009.

To see a selection of photographs from the event click here Gallery

All images remain the copyright of Belinda Sinclair and are licensed to Sutton Cycling Club to use for Club promotion. They may be supplied by Sutton Cycling Club to a third party for single print media use but if used MUST carry the photocredit: pic:Belinda Sinclair 2008.

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