Pilgrimage

It feels all strange as I sit aboard the DFDS ferry back from France to the UK. This has been my longest time away in recent years. It feels like more than two and half weeks away. What will I be going back to as significant times are ahead.

Still before I plunge into worrying about what the future may bring today I had the hard slog back up from the Black Forest in Germany, which was just that. I chalked up Luxembourg on the way, which passed quickly, and I did a large part of the journey through Belgium. This did mean rough roads but I also dodged the tolls of the French motorways too.

Normally I would have gone all the way through France but I planned a visit to the Roubaix velodrome, or as I like to call it a pilgrimage. As I know the situation now, I was cool with rocking up, building the bike and doing a few laps. So with that I applied the plan and wheeled out on to the velodrome.

I was not alone. There wasn’t another cyclist but a group of three Irish lads making a visit and taking pictures. The image with this post is courtesy of them, with me pounding out the beat as I lapped the damp track, (which was quite sketchy).

It was great to ride this track again. So much history and as a scholar of cycling this is my Jerusalem, my Mecca. I cannot really explain the thrill of riding in the same tyre tracks as the legends of quite possibly the greatest one day bike race.

The guys from Ireland though really made it as initially they did not if I spoke English so I got cheers of ‘Allez, allez’. As each lap passed a drawn out conversation took place and I eventually came to rest and stopped for a chat. We sorted out details for the images to be sent to me and had a quick chat.

With a rather important game due the next night for the Republic of Ireland in Euro 2016. They were here to pay homage to the great velodrome the day before their big night in Lille. I wished them all the best and hoped they would endure a prolonged stay in France. As for me my time is up for this year. Time to start planning for 2017 now.

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