Day 10 - Paris to Falls Church - Post Tour
The next morning I got up nice and early, and walked down stairs at the Hotel Stella, where the same gentleman that opened the doors for me the night before at around 12am was still working the front desk at 6am.
I had brought down my luggage, just needing to "lug" it up to the Air France bus terminal a block up the street, and was intent on getting one last pain au chocolat or a croissant before leaving. The front desk "clerk" (and by clerk, I mean he's probably related to the owner and runs it at night) said that breakfast should be ready downstairs, but upon my perusal, the kitchen had just opened and nothing was ready.
So I bid adieu to the Hotel. I figured that the Acadians had left already as their Delta flight left a bit earlier than my Air France flight, and no one was around.
I walked up hill to the Air France bus terminal. Not an easy feat with a heavy bag, and a laptop bag, and a second check-on bag full of dirty clothes. But I made the waiting bus, paid my ticket to ride, and sat down, not quite ready to leave, but facing the inevitable.
The bus finished loading and drove a bit down the street, doing a couple right hand turns, and stopping at the hotel where all the professional teams were staying that night. All sorts of team cars were parked outside the hotel, making the streets a little cramped for the few folks that were getting on, one with a full bike box.
After loading them on, we then left finally for Charles de Gaulle... Airport, not Place.
My ticket said terminal 3, so I made it over to the check in terminals, checked my bags and made myself ready for the long flight, only to realize that my gate was in concourse F, which was all the way back in terminal 2. So a nice long walk, and a clearing of customs, and I found my way over to concourse F.
There were two things Becky wanted me to bring her back. A T-Shirt, and some French Macaroons. I had spent much of the tour looking for the macaroons. At first I thought they were Madelines, only to be corrected from home. I bought her a big macaroon while in Bourg d'Ouisans, but I was expecting it to be stale by the time we got home, and had looked everywhere in Paris. However, the 3 patiseries I came upon had no macaroons. I looked at one of the duty free shops at the airport, and did not find any. They had all sorts of chocolate and candies, but no macaroons. I did ask the store clerk "Avez voue des macaroons?" to which the answear was (in French) that there was a shop avant my gate. What luck! So I walked down to my gate, and sure enough, a boutique "Buy Paris" shop had them. I got a nice variety pack for Becky, and then sat down at a cafe for a coffee and a pain au chocolat.
I was tempted to play the PS3 games provided for free, but instead I started writing blog posts to start to catch up.
Our flight was delayed about 50 minutes, so I got a cup of yogurt with muslix and almonds. About an hour later, the plane started boarding. This time I was not in upgraded economy, so I got to sit in the normal seats. These weren't so bad, but I'm going to attribute that to my decreased girth, and that I had a window seat, with a lot of room between me and the window.
There was no bottle of wine with dinner on the way back, no lavender scented eyemask. Though the inflight map system did seem to think that Cayman Brac was a major spot in the Carribean.
And without sleeping, I made it across the Atlantic again.
We landed at Dulles, made it back through customs, and after picking up my bags, I walked out of the international arrivals, to my smiling daughter and wonderful wife.
It seems the delay on my flight was for "security" reasons, and that before I walked through, Serena Williams walked out, to a warm greeting from my daughter as well.
It was hot when we got out of the airport. Last time it was this hot was at the base of Mont Ventoux. Everywhere else was nice and temperate. It must be that Southern France heat.
Back home, I started unpacking, sorting dirty and clean, and looking at the big souviners I broght back with me:
Each one of those jersies I earned. I earned the Mont Ventoux jersey by giving Le Géant de Provence everything I had just to make it up his slopes. Alpe d'Huez I earned after climbing the Sarenne and experiencing its hair-raising descent, then painfully riding each of its virages, only stopping to change a battery, and to experience the life of a partying Dutchman. And the polka-dot? I believe that I rode the most of anyone on the tour, and climbed the most as well. I may not have been the fastest, or finished first on all the climbs, but I climbed the most, and earned the dots.
All in all I rode 234.6 miles in France, 21 hours, 32 minutes or time in the saddle, and an average ride was 1h 47m. I climbed 29,281 feet, at an average speed of 11.1 mph. Burned 10,270 calories. But the numbers put a frame around the art of the riding I did.
The climbing was hell. Every pedal turn going up Ventoux was accompanied by FailPete. FailPete says things like "You're miserable. You can't climb. Why did you ever think you could climb a mountain. Just give up. You can stop here and rest. When you get home, you're never going to ride any more mountains. You suck at climbing, just stick to flats." And FailPete will always be there in the back of my mind, yelling at me to stop and to give up.
But SuccessPete is there also, with a comforting hand up. "This isn't Coxey Brown," he'd say, or "You rode Ventoux, this isn't as bad as that. It's going to be incredible when you get to the top, remember how awesome Ventoux was? Just suffer through this and it'll be ok. Look, those guys are doing it, you're just as good as they are, probably better."
And so I learned to tune FailPete out some, and to listen more intently to SuccessPete.
I lost 100 pounds. I trained when I could for climbing up Ventoux. And I did. I climbed Ventoux. I climbed Alpe d'Huez. I climbed Les Deux Alpes. I climbed Mont Revard. I got to see Villard-Reymond. I rode the Col de Suzette. I climbed the Col de Sarenne from Alpe d'Huez. If I had more time, I would have ridden more mountains. But they'll still be there when I come back and climb them.
I've been thinking of what to do next. What should I be training for next. What's the next milestone; what should I be focusing on.
I can't answear that one yet. I've got some ideas, and there's things I want to focus on for a season ending ride to be training towards. I'll come up with something, FailPete must always be conquered.
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