Sunday is ride day in La Reunion

From the first day when I got the bike, I was told ” Sunday is the day if you want to test your legs with the locals” and so, even though we had a busy schedule, I was ready.

Ready actually meant ” be on the bike at 5:30 AM and head down to the next town in to the meeting point.

I must give credit to the local drivers,they give respect to the cyclist. Imagine. 5: 30, really is the time when clubs let out and boisterous, fairly inebriated bands of youth head to where they plans to end their night capers. I saw and heard plenty but , mostly, they did not trouble my pre-dawn riding.

At the meeting point 10 miles from my house, I quickly met the local crews. About 50 riders or so, excitedly head out on 40 miles ride that would include a 9 miles climb.

Riding with the group along the shore was not a problem. I knew from experience that half the group included racing level riders and the rest pretty much equalled the type of riding I am accustomed to handle.

Even the terrain was not unfamiliar since I had covered these road before. The group organizers who invited me to join the ride described at the start where and how the trip would take place and I knew that for sure I would not be able to keep up with the climbing pace. I was right. Just before the road turned to head up the slope, half the group decided to return along the shore. The rest took a nature break and I alerted the leaders of my intention to do the climb, and went ahead.

I started climbing at my usual pace, I knew that soon enough the group would come blasting by. I heard the swoosh of the pedals before I felt their presence: three riders, climbing smoothly at an harrowing pace, passed me like if I was standing still. Fast, for sure, but was humbled me was the gears they were pushing: huge. The rest of the remaining group eventually passed me, albeit more slowly. At time I had the illusion I might be able to keep up with some as they swept by me, but soon would realize the futility of such presence and settled for watching them disappear at the switchback further up.

Eventually, the “Voiture Balais” ( AKA sag-wagon) drove by, driver honking and staff guy hanging out of the front window, shouting encouragements, while at the same time inquiring on my state. I am sure i probably looked ghastly, breathing heavy lumbering up the sharp slope. I refused their offer to ” help me , a little” and watch them drive away to catch up to the group.

At the major intersection I knew I had to make choice: right, the road continued up for another 4 miles to swing south away from my final destination. Left the climb was short, although a little steeper, but in the general direction of the hours. The car was there position to let me know some had gone right, others had pressed on for the longer ride. I let them know what my choice was, thanking them for a most enjoyable and stimulating event before heading home by myself..

I waited all week for this chance to ride with the locals. The club ” Les Rois de la Pedale was a treat for me

As fast as I could, I headed home where Sue was waiting because we had planned a rest of the day long tour of the shrines illustrating the history and mores of the island Tamil community on their ” Tamoul Nadir ”

I will write more about that later

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