Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tourmalet ....... eventually

Yesterday I set off to ride up the Col deTourmalet, though didn't get far at all before I realised that the rear wheel on Ann's bike had a big dint in the rim, which made it have it's very own speed bump.

So instead I went for a ride or should I say push bike expedition, up the hill that we are camped below. I didn't make it far, maybe an hour uphill before i decided that pushing up such a steep hill was going to have little in the way of rewards.

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So after an ice cold beer we went to decathlon, bought a new rear wheel for the bike, and joined the kids, who seem more than happy to play on the playground all day long.

Today after breakfast, I set off once again for the Tourmalet. I have ridden up once before though from the other side, so I had an idea what to expect.

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The col at 2115 metres is a regular feature in the Tour de France, a profile of the col here.

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4 hours up from Agos Vidalos, and 1 hour 15 minutes back to base. A round trip of about 84Km or 50 miles.

Ann has been knitting, Skye has been taking pics with her new camera, Tom has been playing at the playground.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Rest Day

Today was supposed to be a day of rest.

Having spent two days driving from Dunkerque down to near Lourdes, we were all knackered either from the driving, or the stresses of being couped up for two days. The driving was beyond boring, and I suppose the kids didn't think much of it either.

The original plan was to stay at a campsite near Futuroscope (sp) for a couple of days, though after racing to get there before 10pm, we found it at 9:15, all shut up. So back to the nearby autoroute, a few miles further done, and a night at the services instead.

The campsite we have found is pleasant, as are the peeps who run it. When we arrived they kindly offered their services for a lift to the nearest villages should we need provisions . Of course knowing nothing of where the nearest bakery was this morning, we set off (albeit belatedly), and walked the best part of 4 miles, before we found a boulangerie, and breakfast, and of course the walk back again.

Once returned it was lunchtime. The hour of day, I knew not, though suffice to say any calories I'd taken on at breakfast were long gone. Whilst Ann sorted lunch, I got the bikes out ready for an afternoon jaunt, and the kids played in the adjacent playground.

We'd noticed a cycleway earlier, which was to be the afternoon's entertainment.

Tom nearly put an end to our plans for the afternoon just then, by jumping off the top of the slide without using the normal route from the apparatus. Only about 4 foot to the ground, but he did have a bit of a limp for a while, and a graze on his nose. Skye told him off, and advised him to be more careful next time.

Our ride started off innocently enough. A pleasant afternoon, the temperature nudging 25 degrees C, and the route a disused railway line. 10 kilometres passed before we reached the disused grand station at Pierrefitte-Nestelas. No far enough yet to turn back, so we elected to head on towards Cauterets.

Cauterets, a quaint French ski resort is not far from Pierrefitte, maybe 10 km, though as we were soon to find out it was all uphill.

I on my Bullit, had Skye on her tag-along. Ann on her Poprad, had Tom in his Burley trailer.

Our route was, great in as much as it ran parallel to the road on the ascent. However it was covered for the most part in a fine gravel, that made progress difficult for Ann and her narrower tyres.. There was one nice steep section that, previously a metalled road, now sported some nice course gravel. Progress was akin to it being surfaced in ball bearings. Bearings of course would have rolled down the hill.

Cunning these French cycle path builders.

We'd hoped to bask in the last rays of sunshine whilst drinking an aperitif in Cauterets at the summit of our route before descending.

Instead a quick visit to the shop aka "SHOPI", some cake, water, and some bin liners to shove up the front of our shirts to keep the chill off on the high speed descent.

What had taken us maybe 1 1/2 hours to ascend, took about 10 minutes on the road to descend.

10 minutes of HIGH SPEED fun though. Skye as always shouting faster Daddy. Daddy being very glad he'd bought the bin liners.

Back home, and I washed the bikes which though no mud today were looking neglected. Ann's looking particularly shoddy since the 3 peaks have passed since the bike had any attention.

Worthy of mention is Skye having walked 8 miles first thing today, and then cycling 40Km this afternoon.

She'll be 5 soon

Tomorrow the Tourmalet.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

All at Sea

Free wireless connection today, courtesy of Norfolk Line Ferries.

Industrial action yesterday with Sea France delayed our departure as all the places on our chosen ferry had been taken. Anyway we are on our way now.

Skye and Tom have developed the art of introducing themselves to other small children, and then heading off to play with them. So Ann and I are getting some occasional peace and quiet.

Long drive to look forward to, once we land in France.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Dusk 'til Dawn on a New Bike

Two days now since the end of Dusk til Dawn organised by

12 hours of mountain bike racing, starting at 7pm, and finshing at 7am. The course, pleasantly undulating, and of all the UK endurance races, arguably the best suited for a fixed gear bike. Certainly no hills worthy of mention, just plenty of lovely singletrack.

I'd picked up my new 29er from Brant on Thursday, courtesy of Brant at , and I'm sure you'll agree it looks rather nice.

The bike rode really well, though I must warn that the best part of 100 miles on a bike is not the place to ascertain if a bike fits just right.

I shall be getting a slightly shorter stem forthwith, to compensate for my slightly unorthodox riding style.

For the record I managed 11 laps and 45th for solo men. Should have been able to do another couple of laps. Maybe riding round the course earlier in the day with Skye on her tag-along exhausted me :')

Congratulations to Brant and family on the birth of their baby boy.

Must go, more later......

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Back to Hayfield.

We had an ace time in Scotland, and were really lucky with the weather on the whole. After Durness, we headed south, overnighting at Aviemore, before returning to Innerleithen for the black route, followed by the red route at Glentress. Both well worth doing.

We spent a couple of days at Hadrians wall, a day in the Lakes, and now we are back in Hayfield at my inlaws.

We've settled into living in such a confined space rather well really, something many had thought might be a problem, though we hadn't considered.

Paperwork and bills that have to be sorted out before we head over to Europe, have forced our pit stop.

Tomorrow going over to Brant's to pick up my fixed gear 29er which will be raced at dusk till dawn at the weekend. This one is an inbred, though in the pipeline is a scandium fixed / ss frame. Also picking up another set of Dinotte lights.

Pics of the new bike to follow.

Going out for a ride with some friends from Leeds/ Wetherby way tomorrow, that I haven't been out riding with, or seen for that matter for a few years. Windmill at Linton, for a couple of beers after. Looking forward to it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


We travelled up to Durness. What a beautiful place. Stayed a couple of days, and did some biking. 2 rides, one with the kids in the trailer, and another with Skye on her tag-along.

Stopping for rations.

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Great little track up to the bealach

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Monday, October 09, 2006

So much to say.

I had written a bit of stuff on my laptop, that I was going to transfer to my blog plus some photos, but this computer, won't read from it's usb port.

So in brief, had a potter round the Borders. Rode at three of the seven stanes. Glentress was excellent, Newcastleton, Mabie and Dalbeattie, were so so.

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We are in Broadford this morning, having spent most of yesterday driving round in the pouring rain on Skye.

Heading north today towards Torridon, and maybe further north still.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


We arrived in Scotland late last night.

It took ages to pack everything into the motorhome yesterday, so that there at least appears to be logic in where things are.

Once packed we went to the local weighbridge, to find that we 're actually 100 KG over our legal laden weight. So back to mums to dump some stuff, to get back down to legal weight.

Met up with Todmorden's premier bike builder just before we left Yorkshire to arrange a bike for dusk till dawn.

Anway this morning we're near Eskdalemuir at the Samye Ling monastery . This afternoon going to ride the bike at Newcastleton.