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FEATURE I AVEYRON


Michele Coeurveille. I couldn’t wait for the following day to arrive with the tantalising prospect of exploring the glorious surroundings on a bike. So after a rather a sumptuous gourmet meal and the effects of an early start I fell asleep in no time cuddling the Michelin maps I had purchased before my departure.


THE FIRST DAY OF RIDING WAS TO BEGIN


I awoke the next morning with half of the Midi-Pyrenees stuck to my forehead, thankfully the map had not been decimated by the mass of dribble and fidgeting. After a hearty breakfast, I was more than ready to pedal, the weather was rain free, actually the sun was vibrant and the temperature was comfortable. We had both agreed the previous evening over dinner in the hotel that we would cheat and utilise Claudia’s


range of Electric Bikes. She also animatedly explained that she had devised an extensive network of routes for cyclists which immerse the rider in the numerous nearby medieval villages and towns. The plan had been lovingly detailed by Claudia, cycle to the medieval town of Albi via Ambialet, following one of the stunning cycling routes. We would have lunch in Albi centre before returning to Plaisance via Phillip Andouard cycle shop and then followed by a Gourmet dinner at Les Magnolias that evening, simple and tantalising in equal measure. However, a drastic turn of events only 20 minutes into the ride would have us both questioning the use of helmets and the unfortunate consequences of not donning the appropriate safety attire. Whilst on a gradual descent into the Tarn Valley, I lost brief concentration as I fiddled with the


unfamiliar battery and the bike fell beneath me dragging me along the tarmaced road. Within a split second Claudia (who I assume had to deviate to prevent a collision) had also been unseated from her bike. Time had stopped, the peacefulness of the surroundings were eerily apparent; my immediate concern was for my companion who by this time was sat in the middle of the carriageway with blood gushing from a head wound. Claudia was dazed and her phone was shattered but thankfully a local appeared and rang for some medical assistance. The next few minutes seemed like hours as we anxiously waited, I was in shock, the realisation of what had just happened still vivid and fresh in my mind. Why hadn’t we both been wearing a helmet? The cycling was no longer a priority, Claudia’s well-being was paramount. The sight of poor Claudia the next


January 2015 I Cycling World


87


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