After Thursday’s excitement, Friday was a really relaxed day. The bike was mended and worked very well, save for the chain coming off a couple of times, but no drama. Two cafe stops, gorgeous weather, a climb to start with, but an easy day thereafter.

The climb was not without interest. It was a very scenic one, but more importantly, it showed how much stronger I’d become (unlike last year, when I was suffering at the end). I set off just keeping up a nice steady pace, and was passed by one of Garry Palmer’s young lions. No problem – just kept going and, after about 2 miles, I saw aforesaid young lion ahead of me. Amazing what a target can do……. I reeled him in and, just as I passed him I put on a spurt (‘cos I felt like it, OK?) Very satisfying to hear him say “Look at him go!” as I shot past. Hee, hee……

Decided later on that I wasn’t going to do the timed climb up Rat Hill – just sat and enjoyed the sunshine. Headed back to the hotel and, in the sprint for home, my chain came off, unfortunately. Lost all momentum and, of course, the group disappeared into the distance. No problem again – I knew exactly where I was and just decided to cruise back. However, one of the guides (Scott Macrae) came all the way back to find me, just in case I was in trouble – really nice of him and much appreciated. He accompanied me all the way back and he gave me one or two of his training tips, plus his ambitious plans for the upcoming season. I’ll never be in his league, but it was very decent of him all the same.

Spent the afternoon packing the bike back in its box before we went out for a nice Italian in the evening. Food was really good, but I did feel that, when we divvied the bill up at the end, that I had to pay more than my fair share. Pity – it took the gloss off a nice evening, but hey…… Back to the hotel far too late for a really early get-up tomorrow.

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