8% of eternal summer

It’s always a good idea to put a towel under the rollers. No matter how cold the room, a sweaty adventure is inevitable. Drip, drip, gazing at the front hub, hands on the tops, hands on the hoods, it’s impossible to get comfortable. Think about something else.

Sipping air with 5km to go. You’ve got to settle into it.

The tree line is already a kilometre behind, but the top isn’t in sight. It’s hot, really hot, and the bottle is emptying rapidly. The heat addled brain hasn’t yet surrendered to necking the lot, just a taste per kilometre.

The sign at 13km to go only says an average of 6%. A few kilometres under the wheels it climbs to 8%, only 1 in 12.5 and a bit, do the maths, distract the brain.

All those hard winter miles, indoors and out, all the rain and wind and suffering. To emulate our heroes, to measure ourselves, to never surrender. On the short British hills we know 8% is nothing, nothing in the face of 15, 18, 20% ramps we suffer on week in, week out.

Sunshine on the Col du Soulor, 8% but still tough up, so toughen up. Push one pedal down, the other comes up.

Maths tortures the brain, at this speed in mph how long will the next 5km take? 1km = 1.6 miles so then, no, it’s not good for morale. This is where power to weight is weighed and measured, no possibility of relaxation. Around the corner, another, and stretching up and up. The top must come, the top will come, the descent, tomorrow’s cols, just spin and spin, drip, drip, drip.

How readily the cyclist’s thoughts turn to the heady days of summer!