Life after work and the trips of a lifetime

"We are judged by what we finish, not by what we start." - Anonymous

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, your body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, "Woo hoo! What a ride!..attributed in this form to either Maxine Cartoon or anon

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Alex's pix from Superbagneres and Peyresourde

Luchon...start and finish location for this year's TdF

cols de Tourmalet and Aspin tomorrow for Alex and a rest day for me with a visit to Lourdes...for a bike shop, not  a miraculous cure (!)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Its a warm to hot day with blue skies

...don't like to gloat ,but.....todays weather has been peachy.  I rode the circuit below going over the col de Ares and the col de Buret..both quite gentle by local standards, just about 10km at 4% avarage

some pix from the area:

Next post i'll add some of alex's ride up the Superbagneres and the Peyresourde..after which he was truly stuffed......riding the road on an MTB with knobby tyres is (so he tells me) not easy.  He also has a damaged wrist from an accident  during the MTBO champs, which causes a few problems too.

Monday, July 26, 2010

So here we are in the Pyrenees

  Today I rode first to St Bertrand castle where there was a medieval festival happening..I was a bit early so not much happening

then back the way I came, passing by where we're staying in Bertren

Bertren is just a very small village and this house is waaaay old.  It's also very close to the church which has an interesting quirk in that it chimes the hours twice with a bit of a pause between.  Apparently  the resaon for this is that the first one was to alert the peasants in the fields that it was  something o'clock and the second one was to let them count which o'clock it was!!!  It doesn't double up overnight, for which we are truly grateful, but it's still very loud

Then I rode over to Louchon, where the TdF was just a few days ago and where I met up with Alex, who'd just ridden the Port de Bales (site of the famed "mechanical").

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Alps to the Pyrenees

Our last day was a thunderous one so no riding and in fact the electricity went off twice so we nearly missed the Cavendish sprint.  since we didn't want to have a rainy ride we went to Briancon to look at its walled citadal and take heaps of pix of old buildings (to follow..if this wifi will let me).

Today we've driven to the we're staying at a group house called Pyractif in Bertren..actually we're self catering and currently there's only 4 of us although this will alter in a coupla days.

The journey over to where we are now was a beast..slow as, since everyone but EVERYONE was on the road moving from 1 holiday location to another.  This trip has made us decide that when we move next we'll do it over 2 days, so well probably leave here a day early and break the back of the journey on Friday. we cant make up our mind if we should overnight...Cannes Nice Monaco!   Truly I dont mind paying for a toll road if it actually allows you to  go fast..however this wasn't the case today and we ended up paying about 30 euros tolls for the prviledge of going really slow.  And then for no reason speeding up and then again slowing down!!

traiteur actually means caterer!

bike lanes around roundabouts are only any good if the motorists understand what they're supposed to do..and they don't and its really important always to look where you're going!

we were right at the base of alpe d'huez, so there were always crowds of cyclists around...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shopping in French

I was within the proverbial of buying goat's milk yesterday....after staring at the word "chevres" for a while I then looked at the picture...phew! 

Alex has ridden up the col de croix de fer and is now moribund.  I've been doing interval efforts along the valley floor, and before you think how easy is that...the max grade  was 10%

It's our last day here tomorrow and then we're off to the Pyrenees, apparently there is free wifi there so I should be able to add some pix. 

Off to watch the TdF......

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The alpes

I'm sitting on the floor of the tourist bureau making use of their free wifi, which is only useable within 150m of this room and since I've got the crap laptop with me I need it to be plugged into the mains.

The pix above is my car and apartment..we're on the first and second floor ie the balcony and porthole above.

It's situated right at the base of the alpe d'huez and is about a 10 min walk into bourg d'oisans..Alex has already gone up that climb, but I'm busy doing some hard training  for Austria and so am not planning to shatter myself  "col bagging".

The weather has been great, so i'm happily working on my tan.

these last 2 pix from my ride to Oz en Oisans

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lyon airport

I had two good rides going towards a village called Venosc and the second after watching TdF to Oz en Oisans..seems like we get everywhere! 

So today I'm here at Lyon airport to meet Alex ..he's coming from Portugal.  I managed to get here with no scenic detours and in passing saw a few fields full of sunflowers. The airport is called  Saint-Exupéry  which is very appropriate since Phil and Paul have been going on and on about Le Petit Prince ( Damien Cunego) during TdF.  And for those unsure of the  connection it's from a book entitled Le Petit Prince  by Antoine de  Saint-Exupéry.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Geneva to Le Bourg d'Oisans

No WiFi so I'm in an internet cafe no pix..sri

I would never have thought i did ANY touch typing at all, but now I'm using a French keyboard I realise i do;;;q is where a is full stop reuires a shift key as do numbers and m is well to the right in the middle...confusing.

I got out onto the bike this morning..about 80 minutes with a bit of climbing up  to 12% at one stage, but I'm not planning on tackling the akp d'huez this early as I'm still coughing and sniffling.

Once I'd got my car I set the Garmin Nuvi  and shot off...god knows where it took me, it was very picturesque but took about  2 hours longer than I'd expected and when it had got me totally lost it ran out of battery!..luckily it chose a spot quite close to a freeway, so i was able to locate where I was on the map and the rest of the journey went without a hitch.  pfft GPS...pfffft

Better stop as i'm running out of time and the waitress is beginning to hover.  Back to the apartment to watch Le Tour on English TV.....

Saturday, July 17, 2010

On French soil again

Thankfully that horror journey is over..all up door to door and  with an 8 hour wait at Changi airport (I booked a room at the transit hotel and at 68 Singapore dollars it was well worth it) it was close to 40 hours.

Geneva airport has a bipolar air to it..I had to wait on the Swiss side for the hotel shuttle bus..when I go back tomorrow I will be delivered back to the Swiss side, but have then to move over to the French side to be picked up by my car lease firm so I have to do the following:  
Access to the French sector via the Check-in level.  Follow the yellow "Destination France"   signs.

In case you've not yet discoverd this..if you're in Europe for >21 days its far far better and cheaper to lease rather than rent a car.  I'm going Renault this time round but there's also Citroen and Peugeot ..motorbikes and motorhomes too.

 Its been a while since I was on French soil..apart from ever so briefly in 2008 while checking out theTrenchee d'Arenberg of Paris Roubaix fame,  I think it must be at least 10 years when, like this time round, it was for a week of exploring the alps and in particular alpe d'huez.   We stayed in a hotel, which is the reason we are now staying in apartments...French hotels are unique with  a sorta character that makes you want to avoid them. 

Today's hotel is one of the international and therefore bland Holiday Inn "airport" hotel that is so far from Geneva airport it took 20 minutes in the free shuttle bus  to get here.  Its definitely NOT French or even bidet! also no fridge but WiFi at 7 euros for 24 hr access. As hotels go its average to ok but they have gained brownie points by agreeing to stow my bike box til i return in 5 weeks time. 

One good aspect is that there is a shopping mall just a 15 min  walk away so I was able to stock up and get some exercise.  Shopping in a foreign language is always fraught with danger..I've already moaned elsewhere about how many different types of shampoos there are in faced with exactly the same choices in a language you are not now familiar with is at the least a time consuming challenge if you're not to walk away with something you really didn't want or need......

 Asian:  I got offered a seat on the inter-terminal train at Zurich by a group of Asians..was I looking old and tired or were they just being respectful of grey hair?....
French:  I got dumped by the male employee helping me at the grog shop when part of my requirements was that the bottle was a screw top since I had no cork screw.

Working girls: a couple of the camp sites during my Italian adventure were located in the industrial area and we grew accustomed to "spotting the working girls" as we approached these  sites.  The first working girl I saw..not realising what I was looking at until later...was ensconced, complete with chair and sun shade at the edge of a corn you can  perhaps imagine my thoughts yesterday on seeing 2 cars parked on the edge of a corn field  as I walked to the shopping mall ......

So tomorrow I drive to Le Bourg d'Oisans and re-commence Liz's excellent cycling adventure in europe.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Back to europe for a more relaxed holiday

..well actually it'll be just as cycle focused as I'll be training for the World Masters Road Champs in Austria at the end of August,  however since I've just endured a week of jet lag followed almost immediately by a week of "the 'flu", my training is so far behind where it should be that  I'm 100% certain I'll be propping up the bottom of the list this time round.

Curently Alex is competing in Portugal in the World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships, please take a look at this web site for details...   or this one for the team's blog

 There are quite a few events..sprint, middle distance  qualifying for the long and then the long distance and after that the relays.  Alex is better at the longer distances.  The sprint event starts later today (Sunday am both  there).

I fly out on Thursday and will be riding the Alp d'Huez on Sunday..providing my cough and sinus issues doesn't worsen during the flight. 

I'm soooo looking forward to warmer weather and the 21 hairpin bends...better than the 48 of the Stelvio

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pass the parcel

or how to use an elephant to crack a nut.

Through the post today, my Garmin  Europe map for use in the  Edge 705 or Nuvi car GPS

the white package measures 320mmx300mm, the actual card 10mmx15mm  (I've corrected and edited out extra 0!)

Wow! what a difference a new bike makes

the only things NOT new are the seat and seat post (too high in this pix) and the SRM cranks.  and WHAT a difference..lively, stiff, responsive  and GREAT!  .....worth every penny.

I now realise the Mavic wheels I'd been faithfully clinging onto were well and truly past their use by date..these new ones spin forever......happy happy happy!