Monday, 2 June 2014

Troise hommes sur les v'elos - Or how it began

It's just over a week since we complete out trip, this morning I looked through some photos that have been put onto Flickr, which bought back great memories of our ride:

I've also been thinking about what we can do next and also looking back on where it all began. With that in mind I thought readers might be interested in an article I published in Baywatch, the Stokes Bay Sailing Club Magazine, in 2012.

Troise hommes sur les v'elos

At the start there were two of us, George and myself, standing by the limp sails of our dinghies on yet another windless day at Stokes Bay. What we need to do said George is try another activity that doesn't need any wind. What about a cycling trip to the continent I suggested and the die was cast. Neither of us could speak any French of course, well not quite true, I know how to ask for the door to be shut, and anyway as we planned our adventure Harris the inveterate Cidre dinker decided he would join us. Harris, it turned out, didn't speak French either, but he could speak English with a convincing French accent, and he was familiar with the local brews. Torrential rain the week before our trip had us packing waterproofs and devising a wet weather plan. I say plan, we were just going to sit in cafes drinking coffee and only venture out if the rain stopped. As it was we had four days of blistering sunshine, which saw George, Harris and myself meander along the Normandy Coast to Colville, via Ouistreum, Courseulles and Arromanches, wearing just shorts and Tee shirts, and stopping regularly to sample the hostelries and cafes and look in the D Day museums. I can tell you that one of us had a puncture (in his specially purchased puncture proof tyres), one of us had a broken chain, and another fell off his bicycle. I am not allowed to tell you who, for the same reason I am not allowed to admit the existence of a photograph of George and Harris pushing their velocipedes up the hill outside Arromanches. We had a great trip and returned to the shores of Britain in time for another week of torrential rain.

As I took photographs throughout the trip I was repeatedly told by my companions they didn't want their names and pictures appearing in Baywatch, to which I was regular contributor, hence the style of the article and the pictures. It gets better though, the week after the article was published John read it and asked if we knew who the other Club members who had been cycling in Normandy were?

At the time we were proud to have ridden 100 miles in four days, the thought that 2 years later we would do a 1000 mile End to End ride couldn't have been further from our minds.

And the forbidden picture:

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Post Ride Commentary

Well we've been back for 5 days now and it seems strange not riding everyday. My bike arrived back from JOG this morning and the rest of my luggage came this afternoon (thanks Jane). I've had a day off work as I'm working at the weekend, so I've been busy sorting out my kit and my bike.

 After re-assembling the bike it was given a good clean and treated to new wheels, cassette and chain and pedals. I also fitted a Brookes B17 saddle which I bought s/hand before we went but didn't have time to break in.
 While cleaning the bike I noticed the middle chainring was missing a tooth, presumably its lying on the road somewhere along our route. Anyway a new chainring is also on order. I also managed a short ride this evening to check everything was back in order (for me and my bike).
If your reading this and contemplating doing LeJog or any similar ride yourself there are lots of Blogs and sites out there which give tips and advice and are well worth reading but I thought I would add a few of my own:

1. The more miles and distance you cover in training the easier the trip will be.
2. Train in all conditions to test your kit and acclimatise yourself.
3. If you plan to use a GPS on the trip use it during your training and learn to use all its features including the mapping and routing options.
4. B&Bs will often do washing for you but it may be a communal wash so either mark your kit or make a list of what you have. If you put a Peak Tours top in a communal wash you probably won't get the same one back again.
5. Eat plenty, especially at breakfast, consider additional food breaks between the official stops on long legs. Five miles to a lunch or brew stop may not seem far, but your sugar levels can drop quickly and then you start making mistakes and navigational errors.
6. Sealzkin socks are great for keeping your feet dry in wet cycling shoes, consider taking 2 pairs.
7. On a supported tour put as much extra dry kit and layers in your day bag as you can. You're not carrying it so the extra weight doesn't matter. If you don't need it you've lost nothing, but if you're cold and wet, being able to add an extra layer or two the last leg of the ride could make all the difference.
8. B&Bs often leave several small packets of biscuits on the coffee tray in your room. These are an ideal size for slipping in jersey pockets and are a convenient and tasty snack for those mid point breaks (see 5).
9. B&B hair driers can be used to dry out wet cycling shoes, gloves and other kit.
10. Read as many blogs and web sites as you can for hints and tips.

Overall enjoy yourself. Cycling, whether End to End or any other ride, is a great sport and an ideal way of seeing towns and the countryside.

The 14 days we spent riding from one end of the country to the other was a truly fantastic experience, we cycled through different places and landscapes each day in the company of a great group of people and finished our ride with a real sense of achievement.

What we'll do next I'm not sure? I'd like to go back to Normandy in 2015 but a Coast to Coast also sounds interesting, either would be great but we'll be hard pushed to top LeJog as a life experience.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Photos (3)

Day 10 riding alongside the River Clyde through Glasgow
Day 10, Aled, Graham (guide), Dave and Jane in the centre of Glasgow
Day 11, Aled, Niv (guide) and Jane at Glen Coe
Day 12, Graham summits Fort Augustus Climb - 398 metres
Day 13, about to descend to Bonar Bridge for lunch

Team Lanterne Rouge at the Finnish Post

Marj addresses the Haggis at the Celebration Dinner

Photos (2)

Day 5, 3 mile forest track detour into Clun!!!!!

Day 6, The new Cycling sandals and bandaged leg
Day 7 Jen and Steve at the afternoon brew stop
Day 8 arriving in the Lake District

Day 9 Crossing the border into Scotland

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Some More Photos

Preparing to set off

Dave (Mountie) Varga, Cremyll day 2
Jane and Jen, Cornwall day 2
Crossing the Avon Gorge on the Clifton Suspension Bridge Day 4

The last 75 miles

Team Lantern Rouge, Aled, Jonathon, Jane, Phil and John, passed the Crask Inn on Friday evening and rode a further 7 miles in wet and windy conditions to Altnahara. We had a normal 7:30 breakfast and were on our bikes and pedalling by 8:15. This head start meant we were first to arrive at the morning brew stop and the first sign for John O'Groats.

The tandem finally caught up with us at our 28 mile mark while we were sat at the side of the road having admiring the scenery, the rest of the group started cathching us when we stopped for lunch and by the 68 mile mark the group had resumed normal positions at which point everyone stopped and waited so we could complete the ride together.

Setting out as a group Rick and Matt led, skilfully holding the pace to keep us all in position, then as we reached the final turn John took the lead and headed us along the finale 1.3 miles to the Finnishing Line and the John O'Groats sign post.

The feeling of finalling arriving was absolutely fantastic; 14 days of riding, 1012 miles, 15048 metres of climbing, and loads of brew stops. Everyone in the group has been great company, and the support of the guides has been invaluable.

One final thought: I've had a full cooked breakfast nearly every morning and have eaten continuously & copioiusly throughout the trip. I started out weighing 80Kg. Have just got on the scales and I weigh 80Kg.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Tour completed, bikes packed away ready for courier to return to portsmouth for us.
Just had celebration group dinner, complete with speeches and thank yous. Feels great to have cycled from one end of the country to the other. Haz been hard at times, especially when weather has been not so good, but overall a fantastic experience and cant speak highly enough of Peak Tours.

Sent from my iPhone