The 2006 Etape is less than a week away and - in the Apollo 13 sense - I have a problem. The concept of tapering your training is logical. You ease off in the last days before your event to ensure you're as rested as possible, without stopping practice altogether. With this in mind, I duly 'tapered' from a 120 mile Audax run in Kent and a 60 mile club run the next day, down to a very gentle 30 mile spin round Richmond Park. But this last session was the camel's back-breaker.

Within 12 hours I could feel a familiar twinge in my right foot. Two hours into my night shift at work, the foot was throbbing and on fire and my walking was becoming increasingly laboured. It got so bad that I signed off sick for the second shift and sat watching tennis and World Cup football on the TV with a large block of ice wrapped around my foot with a dish towel. I've had tendonitis before and it has kept me out of circulation for a week at a time. I put it down to age (sadly) and over use of the foot. Going that extra 30 miles for glory was 30 miles too far.

At least my tapering regime is now enforced and not so much a taper as a dead stop. If the foot holds out, I should certainly be rested if I make it to the start line in Gap on Monday 10th July. Whether my muscles will then sustain me for the next 191km remains to be seen. I thank the organisers for mysteriously upping the route distance from 187km to 191.1km. Don't you just love that extra 0.1? As it looks like I may have a good 20km ride to get to the start as well, I'm in for hell on wheels. Can't wait.


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