It's been wet out there on the bike, the trails are muddier than they were in January. The only bright spot it any videos still to watch from the Tour de France. No stage winner got expelled for failing a drug test, so you don't get to watch a race like the Landis Columbiere/Joux-Planes stage or Vinokourov in the Pyrenees...knowing that the winner of the stage is now serving a two year ban from pro-cycling for EPO, steroid or testeosterone abuse. We can look at the alps, and think, it would be great to go out there.
Of course, fitness aside, there is the small problem of surviving cycling round the French towns. Their priorite a droite rule that gives vehicles to the right priority isn't too hard to deal with, as we are used to cars ignoring UK right of way rules. The cyclist-driver communications may consist of French words they don't yet teach in school, but a bit of UK swearing seems to work, and if not the old nose-blow into the open window is still an option.
No, what's hard is learning how to cycle properly on the wrong side of the road, so when you jump off the pavement onto traffic, you do it into an empty lane, instead of going head on into a french bus. You need to develop the instinct to fall to the right instead of the left, and you need to look out for traffic off your left side. Skills that are hard to learn in Bristol.
Until today. Because, with the opening of the new Temple Meads/Eastside Bridge Crossing, there is a new bike path joining Temple Quay with the ibis hotel. A French hotel, by a French chain. And look what they have given us, a new french style bike path, with pretty little cobbles.
With pretty little logo cobbles to gently show cyclists which side of the path to cycle on.
Logos that are on the mainland europe side of the path. Yes, we now have, in Bristol, a bike path that is officially for cycling on in 'mainland' style. So even though the Alps are a distant dream, we can head down here and train for it. We can cycle along on the right-hand-side of the road, looking ahead for the next patisserie, dreaming of our next pain-au-chocolate or mille-feiulles. Yes, with this path, Bristol is slowly becoming a continental city. [Photos by TerryM and SteveL]