Summer Road Trip 2017

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  • chris
    Post count: 13352

    I think that is good news about the L’iseran which is one big climb.

    In respect of tools/spares/energy bars/gels, I will be bringing a comprehensive tool kit, which includes 2 spare cassettes, a 10 speed and 11 speed chain, saddle, 2 x BB, gear/brake cables, 2 tyres and a spare set of disc and non disc wheels (as long as they fit in the van) suggest everyone brings at least 2 spare inner tubes. I have got a couple boxes of both gels and bars as well as some protein /recovery bars which will be available at trade price.

    See you Thursday.

    Post count: 13352

    French Trip 2017

    The introduction
    The long awaited French Alps trip is about to start, as always I will try to keep a blog going to remind everyone of what we achieved and to give people something to look back on to remind themselves of the pain, hardship, comradeship and fun (delete those not applicable to you) they had .
    As in previous years any report from myself will be totally accurate and subject to verification by myself and will be as accurate as any government budget figures in their election manifesto’s as misquoted by Dianne Abbott. Due to logistics, as clearly when I am in my usual position at the front I will have to rely on other roving reporters, these reports may not have the same standards of honesty and integrity as my own and I can not completely judge the accuracy or inaccuracy but as always prior to print will seek confirmation from 3rd parties before making any slanderous comments although if there are any minor insignificant errors in the editorial print then I will whole heartedly apologise. As always any reference to me being top of any Col will be completely accurate and could be proven in any court of law in India as long as the correct payments had been made to the correct people.

    All nicknames given out to people have been as a result of previous trips or from my passengers in the van who on the long trip over have had their thinking hats on while lumbering me with driving and I can claim with hand on heart,obviously not my heart that any new nicknames are/were the sole suggestion of those occupants, “Wheels” Tom and Rubber side down Gosia.

    But first we start off with saying we are going to miss a number of people that have had to pull out for a myriad of reasons, big Matt B who has had a hernia and no is it not from lifting up his wallet after the number of excellent building jobs he has done for club people and his recent work on Henrys place, quick plug for club sponsor, M Property Solutions for all your building work. Darren and Kasia, AKA Tweedle Dee and Dum who have a big foreign wedding on the same week, they assure me its not their own, although I know Darren is desperate to pop the question and settle down. SSS aka Sam Edwards who was muttering about running out of leave when we all know he was concerned about some old boys giving him a hard time on the Col D’liseran. Jodie the Kiwi, having to save her leave to celebrate her sisters forthcoming birth and lastly Roy who has had an operation on his leg. They will all be missed and hopefully they will all be back in the Red train next year.

    So the nicknames have been finalised until more suitable ones come up.]

    So the players are as follows

    Nick “the Boy” Try always entertaining and still the youngest rider on the trip, although a bit of a tour veteran, this being his 3rd epic with the club, hopefully 3rd time lucky and he will stay upright for the whole week. Big things are expected from him as being less than half the age of most will no doubt be aiming to dish the pain out on the mountain climbs.

    Dave “Dad” Try , Once again will have to go some to keep tabs on the boy, renowned for saying he will ride with the slower riders and then hanging on to the wheels of the fast boys, this years route is a bit hillier than last years Spanish trip but I am sure the challenges will be met by a fitter, leaner Dave this year.

    Tom, “wheels” Porter, I am going to have to manage his disappointment to begin with, after failing in my mission to update the club van before the trip to go with the new driving gloves he has bought. Keeps muttering under his breath about Turbo;s , BHP , super chargers, 4 wheel drives and how fast he should be able to drive an aging Ford Transit up the Alpe D’Huez and is itching to get back into the driving seat of the club van and even more loking forward to a week away from my sister. As usual if you want a space reserved in the van keep the Red Wine flowing in his glass, believed to be on the pay roll of Neil by plying some of the faster riders with a continuous top up of their wine glasses at dinner, if you might need a lift in the van keep his Vin Rouge flowing but just don’t mention how the scratches on the side of the van appeared.

    Wayne “Q” “Mary” Mr Gadget Cook, the top man will have got all Neil’s routes on SD cards for those like me who are non techies, having lost some weight over the year despite his protestations to the contrary is set to try and ruffle some feathers on the climbs. However keep on his good side as hopefully he has been busy baking provisions for the trip.(No ginger in my chocolate flapjacks please)

    George ”Wayne,Buster” Somnea , a tour veteran, Mr Reliable no Garmin, no Maps , but this time having given up his nicotine cravings will not be rolling up at the top of the cols, although may be hampered a bit looking after his Beau, Evelina a tour novice.

    Evelina a nickname for Evelina have to work on that one, nutter comes to mind having just started to ride a bike last year and already signing up for this gentle week of riding in the Alps, or that is what George has told her it is , think George might be done under the Trades description Act as he must have dumbed down the ride some what to convince her to come but then we all know about his smooth talking charms.

    Clive “Nails” Evans, did enough last year to get his old nickname back, able to suffer although don’t mention the Covadonga climb from last years trip although clearly I will refer to it on a daily basis. Because of my modesty you may not have heard that I was in front of him on that climb the biggest climb of last years trip.

    Simon “CRS” Slater has been trying to take the pressure of himself by telling everyone he has got a bad back but after the recent race at Black Park he is kidding no one, especially me , no doubt will be another who will be dishing some pain out on the climbs and is likely to best of the rest and head of the supporting cast behind the main players Roger, Neil and Paul M

    Graham “G aka Charlie” Lane, our very own G, tail end Charlie for a lot of the time over the last 2 years and known to be a very social rider, forsaking some cycling to keep Tom company but will add another couple of major cols to his growing palmares and will be one of the faster descenders just don’t let him unwrap his own bike and keep all sharp implements away from him.

    Gosia “Miss G, rubber side down!” McPherson A rider now on her 2nd tour, luckily manages to stay upright on her road bike infinitely more than on her MTB . Another competitive soul who will not be falling for “Dad’s” smooth patter about riding with the slow group. Think she is going to be shocked by the amount of climbing but has got to remember what does not kill you makes you stronger.

    Will “BNG” Blackham Another rider who has grown in stature and has come on leaps and bounds over the last year and big things expected from him as he will be trying to keep with the Lithuanian machine, if we can develop his mean streak likely to be close to the sharp end and with the TLM could be the new Tweedle Dee and Dum partnership in Darren and Kasia absence.

    Agne -The Lithuanian Machine, some of us are in for some pain! No one likes being beaten by a woman but I think a fair few of us will, here hoping she ignores all my advice and goes for broke and burns all her matches early. Known to have been racking the training miles up in preparation, known to half wheel as soon as she sees weakness as witnessed this year in the Willesden Sportive.

    Paul “Specialized” Solbe a moving advert for the Concept store, will no doubt be attired in Spesh kit from head to toe, certainly will look the part but an unknown quantity this year having hidden himself away taking part in triathlons, hopefully will not be braking to hard on those downhills as we don’t want any further warranty claims on those dodgy Carbon wheels of his.

    Chris “The Guvernor” Denman-As always, as tour leader will be moving up and down the groups purely to make sure everyone is having a good time and if this dropping back coincides with being on a steep col this will be purely incidental and out of good manners and respect to your elders will not be mentioned.

    Neil “Boy Scout” Ellison, The man who who can unfortunately tell you exactly what is coming up in both mileage and altitude and will have checked every section of the route , having lost a bit of weight, his bag is likely to weigh more than him, one who is definitely going to be at the sharp end

    Paul Strava Miller. A techno man who will be seen sans ride analysing his power output and how many KOM he has taken as he pours over Strava figures, could be a bruising battle between him and Roger as to who will take the Polka Dot jersey, but will certainly take the honours for most impressive bike.

    Grahame T Having been so traumatized after the trip to Italy and suffering a bit of Hypothermia it is only now that the physco counselling has worked and 2 years later he has been able to be to put the pain behind him and commit to another trip. His fitness levels have raised since Italy so big things are expected.

    Hannah, A virgin, sorry a road tour virgin but so non plussed about the trip and confident in her ability to smash it although it is rumoured she will be smashing the early  stages as is going to give the main Ventoux day a miss as she needs to be back in Blighty Saturday to get her hair done that day or was it a wedding to attend, all I know it was a fairly weak excuse for missing the iconic climb.
    Vaughan the Kiwi, hats off to Vaughan all the way from New Zealand for the trip and even more Kudos he got his ex wife to pay for it, think we all need lessons from Vaughan, another one though who has a Pinnoccio nose as he has been muttering about not being fit then telling me he has only got a 25 tooth  sprocket on the rear, don’t believe any of it he will be close or at the sharp end

    Peter Manley the smiling assassin aka the Ghost , known to lull people into a false sense of security by bigging them up on the bottom of a col and dropping off the pace then making a bigger comeback than “Take that” and pouncing like a Python at the top as he Ghosts past nonchalantly smiling just before the Summit

    Jolly Roger Fowkes, this man who will be more enthusiastic then a 5 year old at Christmas and having done a number of the climbs will be no doubt gaining from this knowledge to put the hammer down on and is bound to be at the very sharp end. Think we need to put him next to Wheels at the dinner table and get the Red wine flowing freely

    Shaun Higgins A tour newbie but built for climbing another likely to be at the head of the also rans, will he enjoy his 1st club soiree or wish he had never signed up for the trip, only time will tell?

    Well the first hurdle was overcome on Thursday night as we got 21 bikes into the club van, a number of spare wheels along with luggage, then early Friday morning the journey started fir Wheels, Gosia and myself with the drive to our overnight stop in Chaumont a mere 430 odd miles. As usual when we got to Folkestone the van was once again randomly selected for he X-Ray machine, this the third time in the last 3 trips, think we need to get Henry to get that new van purchase initiated. Then it was onto the open roads of the French Motorways, the Kms clicked off quickly as the van smoothly and quietly made progress under my tutelage, with less than 150kms to go I could not hold wheels back and he donned the driving gloves and took over the piloting duties. Taking advantage of a little rest it was time to rest my eyes. A little while later I woke to be told we were now only 35 miles away Gosia consulting her Apple technical device as she told me proudly showing me the Red Dot for the van and the blue dot close below it for the Hotel., confident in the thought that I would soon be sipping some Red Vino I decided to doze off once again, awaking once again some time later it was clear things were not quite as they should be. Tom in his excitement of unleashing the power of the 2.4 diesel engine for the first time for over a year had his foot to the metal and was in full race mode, heading South and did not appear to be wanting to stop until he hit the Mediterranean sea, Gosia was muttering about Bill Gates fallibility as her phone had gone wrong as the Red Dot that we were was now the other side of the Blue dot of the Hotel , so she turned the phone around, question from me is everything ok, yes my phone is not working properly . It was now time for some strong stable leadership in the best Teresa May way. So me to G and Wheels ,it is clear something is wrong so lets just turn round at the next junction, yes you have guessed it we had overshot Chaumont in Tom’s Excitement at being let loose at the wheel, to save any embarrassment I will not say how far we had overshot or as we later conceded that we had merely checked the next days journey, I just apologise for the extra fuel costs everyone will have to meet.
    Once back on track the Hotal Royale was found and then it was time for a few relaxing beers and a meal before sitting down with the patron speaking pigeon French and trying to manage his disappointment as we witnessed Sweden score a last minute winner in the footie.
    Hopefully today’s shorter road trip to Thonon where we meet those that are flying over will be be quicker, look forward to seeing everyone later.

    Post count: 13352

    France Day 1

    Well everyone made the hotel in Thonon, the van 1st to arrive which was not surprising as we had set out a day earlier, as we had left our hotel in Chaumont, our Friday night stay Gosia clearly having been paid off decided to spill my home made granola aka Le rocket fuel onto the pavement knowing I had been hoping to eat this instead of those fancy croissants that we would no doubt be fed up of in 7 days time, our last 236 miles got rattled off at a great speed, Wheels was certainly up for it as in contrary to the usual Scottish traits of saving money he had gone for Super diesel in the van rather than the normal run of the mill stuff only being sussed by me when the woman next to us queried which fuel she should be putting in her diesel car. My suspicions were confirmed when wheels took over the driving, he had clearly had a few refresher lessons under the tutelage of Henry’s Lake district school of motoring as I saw the vans speedo hit the 90 MPH mark for the first time in 8 years it did not last long as the speedo soon flat lined but luckily the van did not.
    Once at Thonon after the van crew had done the hard work unloading and taking the bikes to the store room the rest of the clan arrived who no doubt had been having a sly coffee around the corner waiting for the job to be done.
    Bikes were soon put together and it was no surprise to me that Jolly “BK” Roger , Kiwi Vaughan and Strava Paul were soon out, rolling the wheels on the tarmac as the thermometer hit scorchio heights of 27degrees, as they had a spin prior to the 1st stage. For accuracy I will also state that myself and Gosia also sampled the tarmac and went for a gentle spin purely to test Gosia’s new climbing block which had just been fitted pre trip which later in the week I was very jealous off.
    As athletes we clearly carbo loaded during the evening which for the majority was large pizzas or Burgers and Frites, I am sure the Sky team follow a similar diet. For most of us it was also time for the 1 relaxing beer before eyes shut time, however Wheels captured his first victim, as he lured “Q”aka Wayne into sharing a bottle of Vin rouge with him overlooking the harbour as this is not a romantic novel I will stop there.
    A pleasant evening, before the pain to come? There were a few nerious faces at the petit dejeuner bar in the morning, the sun was already out and temperatures of 28 degrees forecast, I gave people the usual pep talk of let’s at least stay together for the 1st hour but as the terrain was going to rise more less straight away I knew this would fall on deaf ears, my prediction for the people most likely to ignore this was “BK” jolly Roger, Wayne aka “Q” although this may be dependent on the amount of Red vino sunk the night before and Strava, my predictions for who would be taking bragging rights for being top of the 1st major col the Colombiere was “BK” with the podium likely to be Strava followed by Neil but only time would tell.
    The planned leaving time for the group was 9.30 now with 22 people to get ready. Would this happen? However, first it was our first French breakfast, think Will BNG has to be be re-named Boy Scout as his motto of Be Prepared exceeded new heights as he dished out plastic sandwich bags to all and Sundry as everyone sneaked a few more French baguettes off the breakfast bar for their lunch time sustenance
    So the Cols to be climbed today were the Col D’Cou, Col de Teramont , Col Djambaz and the Col de La Colombiere close to 2500 meters of climbing over close to 60 miles or thats what the itinerary said. Despite the faff factor of22 people and the fact we all wanted some pre ride pictures we left close to 9.30. I lead out with Neil trying to keep the pace steady however once the firsr slopes of the Col D’Con was in proximity is was clear Neil’s steady pace was not the same as mine,however looking back it was clearly not the same steady pace as a number of others.As predicted thee 3musketeers, Neil, Strava and BK pulled away but Simon CRS and Kiwi Vaughan were in close attendance and both looking impressive,I was clealry worried about Gosia held back and was soon passed by the Boy, Nails, then Q followed by Will Boy Scout and TLM Agne. Having stopped and checked using the Binoculars that she was making steady progress behind me, I started the rest of the climb with renewed energy,and suddenly Q was in front of me then behind me, clearly he had been knobbled last night by Tom, BS was next to fall victim and then I rode up to Agne and we crested the 1st Col together, at the top no sign of anyone and no sign of anyone behind we cracked on and in the valley regrouped with Nails,the Boy, CRS and Kiwi who had decided he did not have enough powder to stay with the big boys. The next 2 Cols came and went quite quickly then it was time to head out of Cluses and up for 17km on the Col De Colombiere, by this time the temperature was hitting 34 plus and although not the steepest or the longest climb, we were going to suffer, on the way up race radio informed me that Strva had taken the KOM on the Col followed by BK and then Neil, Our group soon split with CRS dancing on the pedals and riding away from the rest as the group splintered completely with me bringing up the rear however with about 6 Kms to think about 40 minutes riding at the speeds we were doing I suddenly spotted Nails who was stopped and having to take more water on board, a power surge ensued and I was soon up with him, was this to be another Covadonga scenario , fortunately for Clive it was a no as after riding side by side for 2 kms he went forwards whilst I went backwards however with 3 kms to go I noticed another red jersey this one was pushing the bike, yes that’s right you have read it correctly the Kiwi was cramping up in the heat and was questioning his foot wear as he faced a long trek to the summit, not ideal in cycling shoes avec shoeplates. Although by this time I was also fully enclosed in the hurt locker, however I just about made th top where we saw the impressive sight of the Dauphine Pro Race come up the Colombiere from the other side with Dan Martin and Chris Froome at the very sharp end . At the top it was clear the boy was suffering and even though we waited close to 2 hours he was still not ready for the descent and there was still no sign of the grupetto. With the van unable to go back down as the road was closed for the Pro Race the decision was made to crack onto the hotel however not before Wheels in his excitement at trying to park up quickly to watch the Pro race he forgot all he had been taught by Henry’s school of motoring and managed to have a coming together with another object, apart from saying that you will be hard pressed to see the damage to the club van we will have to just say what goes on Tour stays on Tour.
    The descent of the Col was superb even though a few people were giving it big licks down and Grand Bornard was soon reached, all I could think was if this was the easy day I am in for another long session in the hurt locker tomorrow.
    As soon as the hotel was reached it was bags out of the van and then a much needed cold shower, when I felt I had recovered I wandered down to find Graeme, Wayne, Shaun, Paul, Agne and Will had arrived, then some time later the grupetto of Hannah, Gosia,Dave and Peter arrived, Peter looking like he had just ridden down the local shops. Only 3 more to count in G, Eveliana and George , the question is would they make the 7.30p.m dinner spot, would Evelina still be speaking to George That will have to be revealed in tomorrow blog as it is now time to sink a beer, The question also to be answered would someone try and keep up with wheels on vin rouge consumption,(where is Henry when you need him) Ok just a mere 20 more miles tomorrow as we climb the Col Aravis, Col De Saises and the Cornet de Roseland sweet dreams.

    Post count: 13352

    France Day 2 A Col to Far
    Today’s ride was a mere 77 miles with 4 Cols, now most of us having had a fair amount of time in the Hurt Locker yesterday up the Colombiere and having only done 50 miles a number of us did not sleep well as we contemplated another day of pain.
    However we have to ask the questions which remained open from yesterdays blog, did G make the dinner cut off time, I am afraid that was a No but came in soon after having been on the road for an impressive 10 ½ hours and having added a few more Cols to his palmares. Was Evelina still speaking to George, that was a yes.
    The group gathered out side the Hotel for the big off, but numbers were rather down on what was expected, it appeared a number of people had sneaked off early to avoid the heat of the day and to get a head start, so we were without George , Evelina, G, Peter, Dad Dave, Hannah and surprisingly Nick the boy.
    The main peloton left and a good pace in the valley ensued the 1st major climb of the day was the Col St Mary Jault, that famous Tour De France climb, I have to inform you that the editor took the honours on this one relegating Clive to second-was this an omen for later events?
    However despite my good form my team orders from Gosia was to ride with her so I let the peloton ride away and onto the Col D Aravis, this was quite a nice climb and halfway up I caught G looking very continental with a Tinkoff jersey on and racing cap. As I got to the top the trusty Ford was waiting with a number of the peloton just about to or leaving having refueled , Wheels was going to have his work cut out today with riders spread all over the road clearly , Myself and Gosia had a leisurely ride until we got to the bottom of the Col De Saises, with my team leader having a slight off day I cranked up the pace to try and make up some lost time At the top I had caught Paul Solbe who had been nursing a bad knee and Wheels informed me that Gosia had told him she was going to get in the van at the top and join Evelina and G who had abandoned at this stage, Gosia;s version was she told Wheels she could not go on and wanted a lift to the top. Left with no choice a few tears were shed and she MTFU and carried on.Tough these Polish
    At the top hearing the news I put my head down and on the run into the Cornet D’Roseland picked up Hannah, Peter and Dad, as we got to the climb a few more people came into sight Paul Solbe once again suffering with his knee then Wayne clearly on an off day or perhaps saving himself for later in the week, With about 5 kms to go the mirage of the van appeared and all but the 3 Muskteers, Strava, Big Kid and Neil along with the boy were at the van once again refueling.Then the shock news Nails had also abandoned and was not in a good way with what appeared a bit of heat stroke. At this point having regained the peloton it was bridge to Engine room “More Steam” as I looked to stay with the rest for the last few kms to the top,As this is family blog I won’t say what the answer was from the “Engine room” other than to say my speed dropped faster than Teresa May’s support after the General Election. How long can 5 kms take you? When they are up the Cornet D;Roseland and you are down to 5MPH a very long time. At the top the descent which is 20km all the way to Bourg St Maurice makes up for it and once again in true Hare and Tortoise style I managed to get back with Simon and , Vaughan, who had been delayed by a little bit to much testosterone leading to Simon hitting the tarmac, luckily with only a flesh wound as well as Agne TLM who was clearly back on form but only on the up hills and Gosia. Once into Bourg it was just a mere 27 kms to go (Note the change from Mls to Kms to seem more impressive) that was the good news the bad was that those 27 were mainly up hill, Simon and Vaughan crept away well perhaps not quite crept more stormed away and then at some stage Agne caught me just when Gosia was exploring the fauna and flora next to the side of the road, despite knowing her 2 years I had been unaware of this keen interest in nature She assured me she was not just resting
    Eventually after an hour of grovelling the welcome sight of the hotel was reached, At the hotel already were the three muskteers who had spread the KOM honours out between them during the day with Neil clearly finding his top climbing legs, the boy, who had benefited from his early start and Agne, with Will arriving shortly after. Gosia was next in, waxing lyrically about what a great day she had, had or if the truth is to be known she was muttering “I am to old for this” wait till she reaches my age” Then a little while later the trio of Scouse 2, Paul Solbe and Graeme Taylor made it
    Apres Shower and write up and with 20 mins to go to Le Dejeneur no one else had arrived, the trusty Ford was obviously going to be the sag wagon big time and once again made the trip back to Bourg St Maurice, to rescue , Hannah, Q, Peter, Dad and George. Luckily the answer was yes and although they did not quite make the anticipated Dinner time we were were not to late
    For a number of people today it had been a tough hot , hot day in the saddle, for me close to 7 ½ hrs of riding and struggling to get the heart rate up due to tired legs, for others it was going to be close to 11hrs . The good news is that we are already halfway up the Col D L’Iseran and it will be an easier day tomorrow, Honest!.

    Post count: 13352

    France Day 3

    So we resume the blog at the halfway point up the Col D’liseran, having stayed overnight just short of Val D Isere, another good breakfast and everyone was rearing to go, ok perhaps not rearing to go more worried about their respective legs as walking down the stairs for breakfast for me had been painful enough and I am sure I was not alone. Today’s start was like a time trial rather than a group ride as people set off as soon as they were ready, just a mere 20kms to the top which would be at 2750 metres Nails had clearly recovered as he soon started to distance me, clearly I was re building his confidence after his blip yesterday, then TLM Agne came past clearly she had been well serviced overnight, perhaps fine tuned might be a better choice of words as this is a family blog, then Neil came storming past, but where were the other 2 muskteers, Neil had clearly cracked them as BK Roger and Strava Paul crested the Col some time after the editor, eventually everyone got up the climb with Hannah being very impressive as she took a number of scalps at the top with a finishing sprint Pantani would have been proud of. Then the fun began as we started the long, long descent, with the wind and road surface making it a bit sketchy in places, once in the valley we unfortunately were faced with a head wind which nullified the downhill some what, having all regrouped in the warmth of the valley it was a big peloton that rode onto towards the Telegraph but before that we had the Col D Madeline to conquer , being very modest refrains me from saying who took the points in the KOM on this epic climb. The pace was for once for me was comfortable as we headed out of Modane with about 15 miles to ride, albeit 8 of them were going to be uphill. However there was a Bouchon (note my command of the French language) and the road we wanted was being laid with new tarmac when we tried to ride on we got the French equivalent of sex and travel as we were told the road would not open for at least 4 hours and No we could not walk on the freshly laid tarmac. Options were to go back and ride down the motorway, walk along the narrow hard shoulder as there were no other roads going our way. Luckily wheels was at the end of the phone and started to ferry people along the motorway to the next junction, however after 2 journeys the road miraculously opened , although Roger “BK” had managed to grab a lift with a French motorist along the motorway before this. For me having set out after the second journey and having slogged up the Telegraph thinking most people were behind me it was a surprise that there was a number of people already at the top including TLM who had powered away from my group, it is a real shame Kasia has not been present as there would be a serious battle royal between them for Queen of the Mountains award, for the men it was clear as day follows night that Neil has now found his climbing lags and was the King of the mountains. A few people were in the hurt locker big time on the last Col the Telegraph, but big respect to all that that did as once again the temperature was scorchio.Ewelina who has been a revelation considering her lack of previous cycling experience called on her womanly experience and had smartly managed to blag a lift up with a French Truck driver. So after Cokes and Ice Lollys it was time for the descent down to the Hotel Noir in Valloire where once again there were a number of tired, sun suffering teddies.
    Now all there was to do is to was to find a decent place to eat and we hit jackpot as for most it was Burgers/Frites and a beer and boy did both drink and food go down well.
    Once again depending on who you were it was likely to be sweet dreams or nightmares with both the Galibier to climb along with the Alpe D Huez, with the second climb likely to be in the mid day heat.

    Post count: 13352

    France Day 4

    For a number of people a combination of the heat, a little bit of noise and the dreams or for most night mares of riding the Galibier and the Alpe D’Huez meant that the conversation at the breakfast table was a bit muted as most would rather have been still in bed.
    Having ridden both climbs previously and suffered on both especially on the Alpe D’Huez in the Marmotte I was very apprehensive about the days ride with 3 days riding already in the legs. Luckily Neil gave me a good pep talk and informed me that the Alpe was not a hard climb!
    A couple of people wisely decided that it was unfair for Tom, Wheels to be on his own for the day and sacrificed their ride up the Galibier to keep him company, the passengers being Gosia, Ewelina and G. Once again it was a staggered start with people starting at various times as we left the hotel, myself and Clive were riding at a nice pace with TLM until BK Roger came past and once the speedo hit the 18 mph mark on the climb I lost this small select peloton, it was case of grinding up the climb at my own pace, some time The Best of the Rest “Simon” came past as always spinning along and looking good. Up ahead TLM and Nails were clearly having a bit of a ding dong but Simon was making inroads into their lead. And I could also see Peter not far in front. Neil who had started last from the hotel swept past me like a Henry Howe driven Audi would pass a Trabant driven by an East German Peasant.
    Unfortunately as we neared the top Clive once again started suffering with the heat , altitude and his efforts to stay with the leaders and with his pulse rocketing had only one option and that was to stop. Having made sure he was ok as he could be I resumed my climb, The devil in Peter came out at this stage soon after as he stopped about 1 kms from the summit and let me close t within about 30 metres to him before he jumped back on the bike and sped away to crest the summit before me.
    At the summit the rest of the group came in, in dribs and drabs apart from Will Boy Scout who won a sprint to the 2600 m summit from Paul Solbe and Hannah. A few tears were shed at this stage at the harshness of the mornings climb but to protect the innocent no names will be mentioned with a Once George was up G, Gosia and Ewelina left to enjoy the descent, now Ewelina can descend and her and G were soon flying down the descent with George and Gosia behind, Gosia has always wanted to go to Nice, so rather than turn right towards Bourg she turned left to follow the Route Des Grande Alpes, I commenced my descent and turned right and it was some 25kms of downhill catching Ewelian and George and anticipating seeing Gosia soon however before I did spotted Simon, Vaughan, TLM and The boy now renamed as “Two Shorts” having a coffee stop, see it is a very social trip with coffee stops! Unfortunately at the stage I was informed no one had seen Gosia and so after some phone calls it was down Wheels to once again come to the rescue, I am sure Gosia did it deliberately to cheer Clive up and keep him company in the van.
    After the long vally descent it was time to start the climb if the Alpe Dhuez, my nemesis, with Neil’s pre ride words ringing like a mantra in my ears I kept a steady pace, unfortunately Vaughan and Simon’s steady pace was faster, however 2 Shorts and TLM were only just in front of me and after a couple of Kms TLM started misfiring and I went past her .of course this will never be mentioned again The climb became a pursuit between me and two shorts with the gap at about 50 meters. At some stage we caught G who was slowly clawing his way to the top. With about 5 kms to go to the top, Simon, Vaughan and Two shorts were grabbing some extra water and I slipped past them, it was not long before 1st Vaughan and then Simon crept back past me, but would two shorts catch me? Unfortunately for me and fortunately for him the answer was yes with 2 bends of the 21 to go as my speed dropped as quick as a prostitutes knickers on a Saturday night.
    Once at the top it was the customary photo’s and then the fun began as it was down , down , down, having to stop a few times for TLM who does not do downhills. As we swept down it was good to see that a number of others were still determined to make the summit of this iconic climb including tail end Charlie Graham who was going to add another Col to is collection
    The Gite were staying in tonight was just off the Alpe alas the ride to it was back uphill. On reaching the Gite BK Roger was once again as enthusiastic as a 5 year old at Christmas having taken top honours and crested the Alpe first and was sharing this with all and sundry. Although Neil who had certainly taken the honours on the Galibier looked like he had done a 1 hr recovery ride rather than a long day in the Alpes and both him and Roger finished there day off with a bit of weight training carrying the bags up the stairs for everyone, ably assisted by Clive, Gosia, Wheels TLM and Peter who clearly paying for his big effort on the Galibier decided to save his legs for tomorrow and miss the Alpe
    Eventually everyone rolled into the Gite some unfortunately having a shower earlier than anticipated as the heavens opened, once at the gite there was a slight lack of anywhere to eat or drink with no bars or cafes in the village that were open, however due to some smooth talking in a French accent and personal charm from myself 22 hot drinks were rustled up.

    The good news, not long to dinner the even better news we are past halfway! Roll on day 5

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    France Day 6

    So after a very pleasant stay at Vallard eating Alfresco, watching helicopters and skydivers land as we did followed by a good nights sleep along with a good breakfast today was another one of those alleged easy days, not sure why but people seemed hesitant to leave the air conditioned hotel which had a swimming pool but eventually the peloton got going some time after 9.30.
    Neil the metronome had clearly been warming up in secret on his turbo trainer because as soon as we left the pace was well over 20 MPH with him stringing the bunch out. I had taken a mid position on leaving but after about 20 minutes this mid position was now the rear position as I looked back any no one was in sight. As the road dipped and rose Neil’s pace kept constant and 22 miles passed within the 1st hour. At this point I thought it was time to just test Neil and put a big attack, trying to drag two shorts away with me, well perhaps not a big attack more a sniff of the front to see what the wind was like. It was clear that a few people had not eaten their three shreddies for breakfast because as I found my way to the back again a glance around 2 Shorts who was immediately in front of me and I saw the peloton going away from us, for the next few miles it was time for some interval training as I kept closing gaps as Paul Solbe and then surprisingly the best of the rest Simon dropped off the group, then Scouse 2 wass the last to succumb to Neil’s metronomic pace with Strava interjecting for short periods whilst Vaughan, TLM and BK Roger hung on to the group, Eventually like a pair of cheap underpants the elastic broke and I fell back and joined Scouse 2 and we rode steadily together until the major Col of the day, the Col De Perty , a mere 1302M at mostly 6% which I gave full beans on, on the way up, just check my Strava time out! Taking in the rays at the top I watched the rest of the group come through, Simon best of the rest having a slight off day for him was next up followed by Shaun “Scouse 2” , Will BS and Peter M the smiling assassin even put a sprint in at the end of his climb, George was also looking good smiling as he crested the top Later in the day the watching crowds ok Tom “Wheels”, Ewelina and Wayne who were keeping Tom company and G who had jumped in the van halfway up were treated to another sprint with Hannah, Graeme and Nails sprinting to the top after having a pact to ride up together. I can tell you that it is probably the first and last time Hannah will take Clive’s Scalp. Then Gosia came in though in the lanterne rouge position but she had kept going all the way in what was another scorchio day.
    Some of the scenery was superb although Strava probably missed most of it as he took a fastest segment going down the Col, not quite sure what exactly that means other than he was going fast?
    Myself and Gosia had a pleasant ride in the sunshine from the Col De Perty spinning our legs in the close to 40 degree afternoon heat although when we saw a sign for the Col D’Aulan
    an unexpected climb I had to call in the mobile shrink to keep Gosia going, but at a mere 2 Kms long she did not need long on the couch to get her to overcome her wish to stop and crested the summit shortly afer.
    Once into Sault it was ice creams and drinks all round as everyone tried to rehydrate, luckily there was no dope testing as even after gallons of fluid people were still struggling to have a pee.
    Having checked with the fast boys it appears that they were all worried about getting dropped by an impressive Agne, “TLM” and so to save any embarrassment decided to have a pact and all ride together all muttering about saving themselves for the last day the big one, the Mont Ventoux, Over dinner hopefully I have managed to convince Neil that we have to ride the long way up from the valley rather than the short route from our overnight stop at Sault, the choice being 32 miles to the top or 16? which would you choose knowing the temperatures are likely to be close to 38 degrees and secondly who is going to take the major kudos tomorrow? I know it will not be me!
    Sweet dreams that is if you can get off to sleep in the heat!

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    France Day 7 The Finale

    So it was Mont Ventoux time, now those who know there cycling know that this is a mystical mountain and one that the great Tommy Simpson died on whilst competing in the Tour De France and is on every cyclists bucket list to do. There is a choice of 3 routes all of them hard , as were staying in Sault we had two real options, the first to ride 16 miles to Chateau Reynard and then come out of the woods and climb the last 7kms or to ride 32 miles down to Bedoin and start the climb from the valley floor which rises at 10% for some 20 plus Kms.
    As we left Sault people made their own minds up as to which route they were going to take. The 3 Musketeers, Vaughan, Simon, Agne, Shaun, Two Shorts, Paul Solbe , Graeme T and Agne along with myself opted for the long route whilst the others went short. Just before I left the smiling assassin came up to me and handed me a load of shrapnel to pay for his extensive drinks bill from the night before and in order to detrimentally effect my power to weight ratio knowing I would have to carry the extra weight up the climb, I am sure one of the others had put him up to this but who?
    As normal the metronome Neil was setting a not so steady pace so the group soon splintered with Neil, Roger who was clearly up for it today, Strava and Vaughan pulling away and I found myself riding on my own until passed by TLM Agne who waved good bye to me and set off after the fast boys. A glance behind and it looked like I was in no man’s land on my own so onward I kept going to Bedoin and the star of the climb. Now the day we had picked for our ride up the Col coincided with a number of organised rides, a memorial ride for Tommy Simpson along with at least 2 other charity rides, the advantage of this was there were always targets to chase or stay in front of, the downside was that a number were either walking or zig zagging across the road. Out of Bedoin on the long route up the heat was starting to rise but luckily a lot of the first part of the climb was in the shade I seemed to be going well which was a relief and only a few people had passed me before about 10kms into the climb I spotted a Club jersey come into view, funny how this inspired me to press on the pedals a bit harder and even with my eyesight I managed to work out it was 2 shorts who some how had been behind me but was now in front of me. Gradually he came back to me and we exchanged pleasantries now last time tis happened 2 shorts had gone back past me to claim bragging rights up the Alp D’Huez so not wishing a repeat of this despite hearing heavy breathing behind me which was just louder than my own I just pushed the pace a little, eventually when I though I would have to concede to 2 shorts and pull over to let him through I looked behind to find it was a random Belgium who had latched on and 2 shorts was some distance behind. Eventually I got the turning at Chalet Reynard and then it was out in the open and searing heat for the last 6 or 7 kms, at some pint depending which direction you were going you were benefiting from a tail wind that raised the speed before turning a corner and hitting the headwind, as day follows night eventually the top came and another surprise Shaun aka Scouse 2 was also in front of me, another who had not passed me and there was no sign of Agne, at the top were the group who had done the shorter climb and it was good to see everyone revelling in their achievements with Clive Nails being top dog of this group. Eventually all of our party made it up and lots of photographs were taken, for me this was pinnacle of the trip as I was the one climb I had not done and it was now in the bag. After re grouping t was a 20km decent back down to Bedoin for refreshments before the trek to our last night stop in Avignon, Catching up with the war stories in Bedoin, they dont come much bigger than this, Roger “BK” Fowkes was the fastest rider up the Col over the whole day with a time of 1hr 19mins having done Neil, Strava and Vaughan, Strava had then gelled up before setting one of the fastest times down the climb. The ride to Avignon was wind assisted for a lot of the ride but hot, hot hot which has really been the flavour of the week. Luckily the Hotel we were staying in had an outdoor swimming pool, so putting etiquette aside it was jerseys off and straight in in cycling shorts for a well deserved cooling off session.
    A number of beers were then sunk, a big thanks to M property solutions for all your building requirements for getting the 1st round in a great meal and lots of Red Vino and more beers before retiring and the journey home.
    Another great trip and a big thanks to the real star of the trip, Tom Wheels Porter who without we could not have done it.

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    Hopefully we can announce details of next years trip in the near future, there are a couple of ideas being mooted at present, in the mean time can people get the balances up to £500 please and e-mail when you have. Think the overall bill will be more than this as nearly all of the evening meals also went on the club credit card, anyone with any issues let me know, as soon as the credit card statement comes in I will breakdown the costs for everyone.

    Simon Slater
    Post count: 49

    I hope everyone has recovered from the trip which was for me the best yet. Amazing scenery, great climbs and awesome descents!! Most of all great company.

    I have taken the liberty of ordering Tom some wine as a thank you for all his hard work in transporting our gear around which I am sure was very stressful at times. The cost per person is around £9.00 each. I hope you are ok with that

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