The Last Stage

Marianne Vos of the Netherlands, right, nudges out compatriot Kirsten Wild, centre, and third-placed Leah Kirchmann of Canada, to win La Course in Paris. Photo: Laurent Rebours, Sydney Morning Herald

You’re right! This is not a photo of the final stage of The Tour de France. But it is the winning sprint of the first women’s race connected with The Tour since 1989. Hours before the men arrived on the Champs Elysées, the women raced 89 km on the streets of Paris. And a Canadian placed third!

It’s Sunday 27th, the final stage of the Tour de France and my @mapmyride LeTour challenge. This last stage of the Tour is always one of celebration in the peloton, with lots of chatting, photo ops and even champagne on the road into Paris. No real racing happens until the sprinters approach the circuit on the Champs Elysées.

I ride my last stage for fun, enjoying the beautiful day and thinking back over the past three weeks. It seems so long ago that I set out on that first stage July 5th, hoping to ride 10% of the Tour distance. I reached that goal on July 24th. The next day, I earned the 250 mile badge with a PR of 25 km/hr average for the whole River Road route, a 3 km/hr improvement in 3 weeks. I also recorded my 100th ride since joining Map My Ride. So a lot happened.

No wonder time seems to have moved slowly.  Thinking ahead, it feels like summer is rushing to an end. The winds have shifted. Already, the trees are hinting at Fall. I need a new goal to make time move slowly again and there are lots to choose from.

Hills, for sure. I’ve been avoiding them because the ones from the River Road rise sharply and I have never learned to stand and pedal uphill.

Teaching my right leg to take as much of the work as the left. Despite all the rehab and physio, my right leg is still quite happy to let the left do the hard work.

Bike handling. Technique in general. After falling off my bike, trying to dismount at the end of tiring rides last year, I’m continually amazed at how smoothly I can come to a stop now.  But I avoid any routes that involve stopping and starting again.

So for the next 3 weeks, I’ll tackle some hillier terrain and hone my technique. Then maybe I’ll make up a Vuelta Challenge. In the meantime, there is LeTour to finish.

I spot a cyclist off in the distance and sprint past them to the finish. 

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