“I had an accident recently. I was coming down a hill in the Ardennes on this 20 percent grade and and a stick went into the back wheel and my big, fat body went rolling down the hill and I ended up with a tree stopping me. I bruised some organs badly and it hurt. This is my first time out for a ride since then. I am here on holidays and I choose this as the first ride. I am killing myself here.”
Photographer’s notes: I was looking at yet another gorgeous scene from the Gorge d’Ardeche when this man came puffing up the hill. Snapped a couple of shots and he used it as a rationale to pull over and recover. He was smiling from the first moment he stopped hurting, so the suffering could not be that bad. It took us a few exchanges to realise neither one was speaking the same language. I was in France, speaking French. He was still in Dutch. We went over to English. All Dutch people seem to speak the two (I know I am wrong – but only a little).
It was a chance for the pair of us to compare bike rides, the idiocy of demanding terrain when our physical condition is not ready, gorges and the delusion they will be easy, and just a chat about how impossible it is to lose weight. Why do men insist on riding iconic courses as proof they are in recovery? I have met a few of these men this year (including me).