Beauty and the Beast

I was so excited to get to France, but with the chaos that is the London Heathrow Airport, I was suspicious if my baggage and my bike had made the transfer.  Megan Guarnier (from ProMan) was at the airport to pick me up.  We waited and waited for the bags and they were not to be found.  Being prepared, I did have my shoes and helmet with me as a carry-on.  We made the 1.5 hour drive from Toulouse to Limoux.  We were in a giant Eurovan that is a stick shift, and lacks power steering.  I was glad Megan was doing the driving. 

The countryside was absolutely idyllic.  As we entered Limoux, the cobbled streets and alleys and were dropped off at our house.  The house is labelled the “Kiwi” house since it is the traditional New Zealand National team’s house.  A kitchen/living area down stairs, and three stories of little bungalows with twin beds.  It was perfect.  I was pretty low maintenance for the evening considering I didn’t really have my belongings.  Chris Georges, our team director here, made the call to have my luggage dropped off at a cafe the next morning. 

Here is the cafe that recieved my bags:

 

We went on our first ride today, which was a pretty mellow 2.5 hour ride where we could work on some paceline drills and get our legs underneath us.  My legs pretty much felt like jelly which could be the accumulation of internation travel, and the 14 hours of sleep I got the night before.  It was an awesome ride though, and the scenery here is epic.  Very few cars, and beautiful rolling hills of farm lands and small villas. 

Here is the view looking into the valley into Limoux.

 

When we came back into town, my bags were waiting for me!  It was a perfect ending to a great ride.

Growing up, one of my sister and I’s favorite movies was Beauty and the Beast.  That is what it feels like here!  We step out our door, and we are right into the town square of this beautiful community.  As the people bustle around grabbing their produce from the stands, their meat from the butcher, and their baguettes from the boulangerie, I half expect someone to start singing… “Bonjour, Good Day, how is your family…I need six eggs…that’s too expensive…” 

I was taken back into time today and loved every second of it.  Beauty and the Beast suddenly came alive to me.  All I need is a talking clock and a broom to make me feel more at home…

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