Welcome to our 2nd installment of French Cycling Jargon, my new ‘winter filler’ for the blog. Also, welcome (hopefully) to my new ad-free blog! Let me know if you see any because I’m paying for them to go away.
Rouler (or être) en chasse patates, literally to ‘chase potatoes’, is something I have unfortunately experienced more than I’d like. It’s a classic French term that you might already know because it’s found its way into UK Eurosport’s lexicon, I think.
Imagine this scene. You are at the front of a peloton in a gran fondo because you are the strongest, or maybe the only one willing to pull at the front. You think that this gang is wrecking your chances at a respectable time and you decide to launch yourself off the front. The trouble is, you don’t know where the next group up the road is, so it’s really a leap of faith. In the end, you never catch the ‘potatoes’ you want and you never get caught by the potatoes you were trying to escape from. It’s just you in an empty field.
The last time this happened to me was in last year’s Haute Route Pyrenees. I had gone to the front of my group on the descent of the Col d’Aubisque and left them behind. I was feeling pretty smug at the bottom because I had even caught and passed more riders on the long way down to the valley. Then, suddenly, I was alone when I didn’t want to be – on the never-ending rolling run back to Pau. I decided to hammer it to see if I could catch whatever was ahead of me. Of course this never happened and 10 km or so from home I was swallowed up by most-likely everyone I’d dropped in happier times on the mountain. The only consolation was that I passed John, who had been ahead of me but had blown up somewhere on that same flat, I guess.
Interestingly (or not), Chasse-Patates is also the name of a ‘rock’ group (we must use quotes with this word in France) in Le Nord. Check out their names and tell me if you get a good chuckle. ‘Guillaume Trainer’ is my personal favorite.