Monday, 16 July 2012

Electric Assistance

As previously mentioned, I'm up the duff. And at now 5 months preg, our long-planned holiday of cycling up Cols in the Alps & Pyrennees was starting to look less idyllic. Yes, I'm still cycling to work, but my stamina and fitness are no longer what they were. Indeed they are now rather more like my mother's.  Rats. And much of the advice around exercise in pregnancy says :
1) do not get overheated
2) do not let HR get over 145 for extended periods.
The likelihood of me being able to get up Cols without ignoring either / both of those bits of advice was looking somewhere between slim and bugger all. So we left my bike at home. SOB.

The views of mountains were lovely. I hiked some small trails. I swam in the lake (brrr...). I read some books. All good standard holiday fare but I got very gloomy looking at all the cyclists going up glorious cols. And THEN I saw a "Velo a Assistance Electrique" for hire in the local Intersport.

Now THIS, I thought, would be the perfect answer. I had visions of sitting, feet on handlebars, teasing  and chivvying the boyf as he sweated alongside as we went up a Col. I would beat him to the top, comfortably, for the first (and only) time in our relationship. It'd be brilliant.

Only, of course, the reality didn't quite live up to my dream. The man in the hire shop explained that :
  1. It's "assistance electrique" i.e. it assists you, it doesn't replace you. Bang went my dream of feet on handlebars and smart remarks a go-go.
  2. Whilst the range said 98km, it would reduce depending on how much assistance I required. 
  3. The bike weighed 25KG and thus I would be wise to never run out of assistance. 
We set off. I faffed around playing with the various levels (power level 1/2/3 and within those Eco / Tour / Sport and Speed) and discovered that on a nice 10% stretch, me on power level 3, with Speed Option, the boyf was seriously, seriously, sweating to keep up (and he's a Cat 1 racer). But I would only have a range of 8km and thus wouldn't get to the top. Rats.  I had to resort to much less assistance than I would have liked, to ensure that I actually got to the top (which ended up being power level 1, Eco or Tour). It was a very tough Col. I was absolutely, properly exhausted and had to stop twice on the way up for water and sustenance. It took 1h15. No records were broken and I didn't beat the boyf. :-(

But I did make it to the top of the Col des Saisies. :-)

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