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Archive for the ‘Weekends and Tours’ Category

In and out of Italy…twice

Posted on Monday 6 October 2014 by James Eaton

I wasn’t even sure whether I would do a grand tour this year, but back in May I booked a 2-week trip by train to Avignon just in case. As the end of summer approached, a familiar plan emerged: Get deep into the Alps, ride up and down as many pretty and/or challenging mountains as possible, cover at least 800 km, camp in a tent overnight on campsites with hot showers, and ride every day. Oh yes, and not lose too much weight. I lost 5 kg on my last trip. Ideally I would be “collecting” passes I hadn’t crossed before, but if I’d done them before, to make sure I would be riding them the other way. Although there’s a weight penalty with camping gear, a tent gives huge flexibility, and clothes almost always dry outside, and it is a small price to pay for complete freedom to roam in the mountains.

Having planned the route, estimating the climbing (21,500 m and 23 passes, 19 new) and the distance (1200 km), a week before the trip I decided that instead of climbing L’Alpe d’Huez finally (which involved repeating some more well known Cols albeit in reverse and covering unnecessary distance) I would instead pass through Italy a second time more »

Roy’s Weekend in Kent – a tale of Special Powers

Posted on Thursday 10 October 2013 by Roy Watson

Sarah D was last to arrive, almost 23.00 on Friday. We all waited up, bit worried really, but she was glowing and raving about cycling from the station in the dark except when an occasional car appeared and she switched lights on. Earlier Sally D with her experience of long distance journeys had produced a device to get her, Lisa and Jamie from the station when my description of “the obvious road” didn’t do it for her in the dark. She called it Garmin, I think. Even before that, us normal mortals, Paul, Sally-Anne, Graham, me, led by Michael, had ridden a lovely half-day route using terrestrial mapping.

Beach huts at Whitstable

Beach huts at Whitstable

But there was more on Saturday night when some of us walked across the fields, after a brief fight with some extra terrestrial nettles, to the abode of “hotchefpaul” who had special and delicious cycle-food for us at The George in Newnham. En route Robert displayed similar powers and found a kissing gate by starlight; and later on return  he produced a device which, when pointed at the stars gave you their name and constellation – he passed it off as an app. more »

June Dutch Weekend

Posted on Saturday 15 June 2013 by Sabina Carchesio

Having been cycling with the group almost four years, I thought I should contribute at least once to the blog.  Here’s my story of the weekend just past.
Nine of us made it to Liverpool Station at one of the most busiest times of the week to catch the train to Harwich. It was a harrowing ride just to get there as I chose to ride from home at what I thought was a calm part of the workday. Reminds me why I don’t like riding to work during the week.
Some of us made it in time to grab some grub before the journey which in the main was pretty uneventful. Roy and Lisa saved a place for us in the queue and we all stood shivering from the wind which was howling through the check-in gates. We were so glad to get on the ferry and warm up. I just love this trip because 1) Tom makes it so easy 2) the cabins on the board are so bijoux and 3) Holland is total utopia for cyclists. What more could you ask for?

Helene, Sarah and Sabina

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Northern Scotland Tour

Posted on Wednesday 12 June 2013 by John Aizlewood

Text by John Aizlewood, Photos by John Aizlewood & David Kurtz

Richard and Graham had cycled from Lands End on their way to John O’Groats, whilst Paul and Clifford joined them at Fort William. Others had caught various trains north and we all met in Inverness with David, Sarah, Christine, and Nina, who had just arrived on the overnight sleeper. It turned out to be an eventful first day.

The Pantry Cafe, Crommarty

The Pantry Cafe, Cromarty

The first problem was crossing the Kessock Bridge, which was half closed for maintenance, including the cycle track. We held up traffic on the A9 thanks to a patient driver behind us, and in general encountered courtesy from other road users throughout the highlands. Once on quiet lanes across the Black Isle we enjoyed a relaxed lunch at Cromarty before the 15:00 ferry. Unfortunately we found the ferry under repair and not running on the first day of the season, a story which featured in the local press later in the week.

We were faced with a detour back to the A9 Cromarty bridge and around the estuary, adding an extra 40km to the day. At this point Jim punctured and wasn’t noticed; then leaving behind his pump in an attempt to catch up, he passed us whilst we were having tea. Finally Richard’s left pedal fell apart, but we all limped into Tain rather late and tired at 19.30. (97km) The day was rescued by a good meal. more »

Ragazzi irlandesi

Posted on Wednesday 7 November 2012 by Martin Hayman

You will have seen in in our report on the Ride of the Falling Leaves that our 4* ride animator, Damian McNamara, was headed to Mallorca for 10 days’ hard riding under the tutelage of the great Irish campionissimo (and Eurosport commentator) Sean Kelly. Lest you thought we were pulling your leg, here’s himself on the front with the great man! To be sure, there’ll be no slacking around on this winter’s club runs.

That’s Damian on the right. Is he half-wheeling Sean?

Easter into Wales

Posted on Friday 20 April 2012 by John Aizlewood

We rode out from London in three days, but the weather had suddenly turned cold. There were plenty of spring flowers in the hedgerows, encouraged by the previous warm spell. We were nearly over the Cotswolds when snow hit the North of England but only had an hour of rain on the way to Stratford on Avon. The next day my saddle broke, but a quick repair lasted for the rest of the tour, and a steam train ride on the Severn Valley Railway saved a lumpy 20km on the way to Coalport.

Paul Carsten Nina Laurence Sarah at Coalport

Nina, Sarah, Laurence and Carsten joined us there having visited Industrial museums in the afternoon and booked our evening meal in a local pub. We crossed the historic Ironbridge the next morning and found afternoon tea in Acton Scott which was used for the TV series Victorian Farm. Their geese made an attempt on one of our panniers, but Ortlieb defeated them.

more »

The Five Countries Tour: “It’s all about the cake, really”

Posted on Monday 16 April 2012 by Gail Riekie

Readers hoping for details of exactly where we went on what day, how many kilometres we cycled and metres we climbed and how fast we rode, are advised to look elsewhere.  There is only one statistic I wish to quote here.  Careful calculations by a sweet-toothed participant – Sarah W, since you ask – revealed a personal tour average miles-per-dessert ratio of ten to one. “It’s all about the cake, really”, she said, when asked to summarise her first Central London CTC tour.

What follows is a personal and impressionistic account of the 2012 ‘Five Countries’ Easter tour.  There is no attempt at balance and I take full responsibility for any inaccuracies or distortions….

My report begins in Monschau, Germany.

For those of us who opt for early bed rather than late bar when on a cycling holiday, the fragments of chatter at breakfast can conjure up a disturbing picture of events the previous night.

So it was at the Carat Vitalhotel on Easter Sunday morning.  Fortunately I have a typical cyclist’s robust appetite, so the details that emerged did not affect my consumption of muesli and jaw-challenging German bread. The information that Tom is a master of ceroc is digestible enough anyway. But did I hear right when someone described the overall scene in the hotel bar as ‘sleazy’ and used the adjective ‘raunchy’ to describe Michael and Christine dancing together? I have Christine to thank for demonstrating to me (and the rest of the assembled breakfast contingent) the correct lassoing actions to accompany ‘The Cowboy Song’.  Glancing around the other tables, I try to identify the barrel-shaped and abundantly moustachioed gentleman who was apparently last night in the adjacent room sitting astride his male partner, microphone in hand, enthusiastically contributing to the musical entertainment.

Checking my facts at the end of the tour, in the restaurant next to Selwyn’s Paris pad, I asked again about the events at Monschau.  Michael, as ever a stickler for accuracy, attempted to demonstrate the exact position of Herr Barrel and partner by climbing on top of his injured grandson Albert (we shall later come to the cause of the injury).  When Albert protested at the inappropriateness of his Granddad’s action (and undoubtedly he had a point) Michael countered by insisting that it was the inappropriate nature of the behaviour that he was keen for me to grasp…

Well perhaps we should move on.  After all, I believe I am contractually obliged in this blog to say something about the cycling, the terrain, the weather etc. more »

Easter in Yorkshire

Posted on Friday 6 May 2011 by John Aizlewood

After three days of cycling north, John and Paul arrived in York. It had been warm and dry with a persistent head wind across the Cambridge Fens and Lincolnshire and Yorkshire vales. The major crop this year seemed to be Oil Seed Rape, with acres of its bright yellow flowers from horizon to horizon. 318km. There had been no significant hills so far but that was about to change.

Isle of Axholme

more »

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