It’s Friday evening and the first day of a cheeky last minute weekend trip to the Alps, I find myself out of energy on the final few kilometres of a climb. Maybe it was the travelling, the previous few climbs, the poor lunch on the flight or just old age but I was feeling tired. Now gadgets are all well and good, and it’s great to race up a climb against the clock knowing that a cloud based system is clocking your every move but some days I wish I’d left the stopwatch at home. It’s an out and back climb to finish the day and as I glance down at my Garmin I see my virtual partner, going at my predicted pace, has already summited and was descending back down towards me. The virtual dot on the route was travelling faster than my icon and getting closer to me on a collision course. Would I feel a rush of wind as it flew past?……no just a slight sense of dejection that I was having to play catch up with an unseen virtual entity. But as the sun was setting and I approached the top I managed to relax and enjoy the moment. The joy is being here, tired legs or no tired legs. At the top a few families in camper vans were also enjoying the sunset. One woman was dancing and singing with her small daughter to the Depeche Mode song 'Enjoy the Silence'....... ‘’all I ever wanted, all I ever needed, is here in my arms’’.
Forward to Monday and the last day here, after the busy climbs of the previous two days, (lots of motorbikes, cars, camper vans and of course cyclists were pounding the popular routes), I decide to seek some solitude. Villard Notre Dame was the perfect solution. I’d been here a few years back and hoped it was still the tranquil place I remembered. I would dearly love to have ridden without the Garmin to feel freer, but I’d only get lost as a lot of the day’s route would be new to me. Kilometre after kilometre I saw no one, in fact one cow and a lizard were the only other living things I came across. No virtual partner today to up the heart rate, just alone with my thoughts. The irony of a phone call from an automated PPI claim line just made me chuckle and focus more on the things that are really important and beautiful in life.