Between Auvers-sur-Oise and Giverny, you're in the cradle of Impressionism. You pass through three centuries of urbanisation. You find hills, forests, plains. Enjoy a nice coffee in Vétheuil, or lunch in Monet's garden. From Paris, take the train straight to Auvers-sur-Oise and to come back, if you're in good shape, ride along the Seine and feel Paris' magnetism. Look at the sky, lights are changing every minute and you understand why artists enjoy this inspiring place so much.
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Tell us about your start with cycling
My bicycles have always been my best tools.
Thanks to them, I understand simple mechanics. Wheels, cogs, chains, cables and all the tools that you have to use. Screwdrivers, pliers, torx keys, wrenches, scissors, cutters were all pieces of art on the shed walls. I was very proud to fix my own chain, flat tires or brakes as a child.
Tools for confidence. If I can ride to this point, then I’m able overcome that problem too – this was a kind of mantra I used to repeat to myself as a student. At that time I was paralysed by a fear of messing up my life. I still am sometimes as an entrepreneur. In those situations, I take my bike out very early in the morning, set a difficult goal and then achieve it. Then I arrive at work feeling more peaceful.
And above all, bicycles are a tool for freedom. Escaping home to bathe in the ocean, going to school in the rain, having fun in the vineyards, coming back late from circus training or electro clubs… my bikes and I are a team, each of them even have a name. They are my ticket to happiness.
What anecdote of cycling history do you want to tell us about?
When synthetic yarns were first used to make the yellow jersey in 1947, Louison Bobet, who had taken the lead at the Tour, refused to wear it and asked for natural wool instead.
Some saw it as a whim, but I understand it as staying true to your body, mind and heart.
Never bend with what you want, persevere with what you are, be proud of what you become and never give up smiling to life. In French, we call it panache.
Who is your bicycle role model?
I mostly grew up on the north coast of Brittany. A very simple life, with wind, rain, strong waves, furtive sun, simple fresh food, loving people and a warm bed to sleep in.
I wish I could have met Louison Bobet. He’s part of this land too. I share the same interest for staying open-minded, respecting others and ourselves, nutritional and technical improvements. Bobet is said to have carried messages for the Resistance during WW2. He had principles as strong as granite from our native land.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in this sport?
The best advice I have is to listen to yourself. If you feel confident enough, you’ll achieve much more than what you thought. And the satisfaction you get is so strong that it feeds your progress.
This year, in Poitiers, I founded a little club dedicated to women to encourage them to ride.
Before each ride, I taught them how to breath through easy yoga postures. Feeling the air passing through each part of your rib cage is a very good way to calm down and focus on your needs.
We achieved the Women’s 100 together: I focused on their needs, their rhythms, I encouraged them to be themselves, and I guess I was even happier than they were to see those gorgeous ladies smiling at the finish line.
Coffee ride, paceline, or a three-day epic?
I find my balance thanks to all the three.
I can’t live without my peaceful morning routine. Coffee and a ride before yoga and work. I really enjoy aggressive pace-line with my cycling mates and I adore adventurous trips with my friends.