what we did on our summer holidays

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what we did on our summer holidays

Postby cranky1 » 4 Dec 2012, 7:58pm

I havn't posted on here for a long time - the last post was one appealling to new members for our small Sunday rides group (the group is small - the rides are just about average I think) Anyway, that message has been on for over a year now with no success so I thought I would post this report and you tube video of this years trip to France - just for fun really.

http://www.facebook.com/groups/Teesside ... 580319672/


Hope they work.
Be carefull out there.

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Joined: 5 Jul 2007, 6:49pm

Re: what we did on our summer holidays

Postby 700c » 4 Dec 2012, 8:07pm

Any chance of posting the report here for those of us who don't have Facebook ?

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Posts: 186
Joined: 31 Jan 2008, 5:46pm
Location: Hartlepool

Re: what we did on our summer holidays

Postby cranky1 » 6 Dec 2012, 7:28pm

The file wouldn't copy accross as a shortcut so if you want to read it but don't want to visit our facebook site here is the report of the trip.

Of course I would rather you visit our facebok page.

2012 CTC Alps Trip – September 8th to 16th – Review
September 7th Friday
Mark typed in Facebook, “Reverting to childhood, coz now I am EXCITED!!!!!!”, with Mike replying, “So am I!! Partly the thoughts of the cycling partly the thoughts of a week with a remarkable group of people”. Peter responded, “I think I might be excited, it’s been a long time you know since the last time.” What was he talking about? Perhaps he and his wife should watch the film “Hope Springs”, about a devoted couple, but decades of marriage have left the wife wanting to spice things up and reconnect with her husband. Alison, renowned for late nights, gave her take Just after midnight, I am ******** terrified!” What with?- the mountains or sharing a house with seven men?
September 8th Saturday
Peter puts a message on Facebook, “I hope to be at yours at 11:30ish on Saturday night. Then pick up Steve and hope to get to Mike's by about 00:15 on Sunday.” Mike was very concerned by this message as his cul-de-sac is very quiet and he might get shunned if the noisy “townies” wake all the neighbours. Mike replied very politely, “Peter I was hoping you would arrive by 11:30 as I am concerned about the noise that we will make transferring the bikes and loading up the luggage.” Peter, from the renowned in-breeding strange town of Hartlepool also renowned for hanging monkeys as spies, came back, “Mike you should live in the centre of Hartlepool, people start going out at midnight and then come home sometime before daybreak, although I have witnessed some people still making their way home at 10am - and do I complain ? No cos it would be dangerous. I suppose though that out in the country it works the other way around, and anybody disturbing the peace after dark is likely to get shot! So I will now set off a bit earlier to avoid the Great Ayton curfew.”
Everyone had been packing their bags wondering whether they could cram in all their clothes, helmets, biking shoes and food. Steve, who had stated he would bring all his breakfasts and evening meals, shared his comment, “Just looking at my baggage and I think I might have put the kitchen sink in as well by mistake!”
It had been arranged that we would take two large estate cars, SteveL’s and Alec’s, with the latter being renowned as the car whose front spring broke just as GASBAGS were isetting off for South Wales in June. Alec had taken the car to be serviced to ensure that lightning could not strike twice.
Mike had to take his wife to the start of a walk at Helmsley and arrived back at 9:20 to find Alec parked outside his house as arranged. Alec drove his car round to Mike's house as he was travelling down with SteveL. Alec drove Mike back to his own house with John turning up to collect Alec. Just as John arrived we had the bonnet open and we both stared intently as if something was wrong. Mike said, "We have a problem - the car won't start!" For a moment John was fooled. Alec filled the washer bottle but it would only take a small amount and he couldn’t initially understand why but then he realised – the service.
Alec gave Mike his car keys and now Mike could practice driving a manual-geared car again - it would be the first time for over a year as he had exchanged his VW Passat for an automatic VW Golf. Mike started the car and slowly backed out - it worked! But there seemed to be a problem with the brake pedal - it felt more like a clutch than a brake. The brake pedal had to be pushed almost to the floor before the car began to slow down! Mike thought that hopefully Mark, Peter and Mike would get used to this sloppy brake pedal. Mike put a statement on Facebook just after 10am saying, “The brakes are positively dangerous. They feel more like the clutch than the brake.” Of course this was in comparison to his own brakes in his automatic Golf which were razor sharp. No-one responded to this comment.
In the afternoon Mike’s neighbour popped round to give him £10 towards the Mike’s Great North Run charity and mentioned that there was a small pool under the car. Mike looked but assumed it was windscreen wiper liquid.
At 16:45 John phoned. SteveL's car had been driven to Canterbury during the day with John, Alec, Alison and SteveL on-board. They had arrived and were intent on a short cycle ride of about 30 miles - would Alison be seen on a bike?
Peter arrived just before 11:30pm with Mark and Steve. Mark had the luggage packing all worked out. Two bikes would go inside and go on top of the luggage - Mike found it hard to believe that it would all fit. Peter was confident, "I am confident," he said with a knowing smile on his face. All three were very quiet as they transferred the luggage and bikes. Everything fitted but only after the bikes had been in and out a few times for Peter then Steve to retrieve food etc. Finally numerous attempts were made to attach the number plate to the bikes. Now Mark said, "I will check the brakes now." He tried them and his foot went to the floor. He opened the bonnet and checked the brake fluid cylinder – it looked empty. At last it was realised that the pool of liquid was brake fluid. The team of four went into shock! Mark stated, "Our dream of cycling the Alps has gone", by which Mike assumed he meant himself and Peter. Mike had his own dream of cycling the Alps but it had only started the previous year when he was invited to join the team. He had trained hard and lost 6 kg in weight. It had dominated his thoughts all year.
Options were discussed. The main option was to take Peter's car but then only three could go. This was remarkably brave (or foolhardy) of Peter. His car was a 1 litre Toyota Yaris that was only insured for himself. He was prepared to take the risk of travelling in France without breakdown insurance and assumed that he could add two drivers to his insurance so there would be three drivers in France. Mike volunteered to drop out as the other three regularly cycled together. It was discussed that Mike could also take his car with Steve and thus two in each car. This would have left each pair to drive 900 miles in less than 24 hours. Mike did not think was right - this amount of driving was banned in ICI. Due to the panic it was not realised that Alec and Alison could have been added to the drivers.
The luggage and bikes were loaded on Peter's car. Up until this stage the “townies” had been very quiet but the noise level increased slightly as the luggage and bikes were transferred back to Peter’s car. Jean, across the road from Mike, peeked out her curtains to check all the palaver. If someone had watched from the start it would have seemed strange to see all the luggage and bikes transferred from Peter’s car to Mike’s car then transferred back again! Mike shook hands with all three and said enjoy the trip. They set off with the driving to Dover being shared. Peter phoned his wife and asked her to get Mark and Steve insured to drive in France. It was not until 10am the next day when they driving in France that the insurance came through.
Mike realised that he was likely to miss the trip - it was not just the destination that was important - he also enjoyed the company of all those on the trip. He realised at last how important the trip was. He may never get the chance again. He checked planes and trains but there seemed to be no way to get there. At 3am he gave up and went to bed.
The Agatha Christie viewpoint: Alec was getting worried that Mike might cycle faster than himself and could not stand the thought of being slower than a 62 year-old. He thought of a plan. 1. Arrange to travel in SteveL’s car; 2. Get his car serviced and ensure that the brakes were good; 3. Take Ann to the station and on the way back cut one of the brake pipes and ensure it looked rusty; 4. Give Mike the keys and assume that he would drive very fast back to Ayton, not be able to stop and crash; 5. Visit Mike in hospital with lots of flowers and grapes – no-one would then suspect!
September 9th Sunday
Naoko, Mike’s wife, woke early and was picked up by a friend, Jessica, at 6:30 to go to a car boot sale. Mike woke up with an idea - could he persuade a friend to join him in driving there. He tried several but none were free. Naoko phoned up to say that Mike must get there somehow as this trip had been his dream for a year. She said that Jessica and her would come along and share the driving. It was soon realised that this was not an option. Mike was talking to Alec as SteveL’s car drove fast along the French motorways with Alec being very supportive.
Mike phoned Dial-a-flight. Their option was much too expensive but they came up with the idea of flying from Newcastle to Lyon and to then catch a train to Grenoble. Mike checked it out on the KLM website - the costs were acceptable. Mike talked to John who said he could have a lift back if he could get there but it turned out that a
return cost less than a single! Mike booked it and at last knew he could start his dream bike trip. He would be a day late and would have to miss the Great North Run but everything would be new and adventurous.
In the meantime the two cars were speeding across France. SteveL and John were sharing the driving in one car with SteveB, Mark and Peter in the other car. Peter was concerned about his car and treated her like an old lady, driving at a mere 60mph. Mark wanted to drive the car like it was a racing car and maintained a speed of 80mph. SteveB, who was always considerate to slower riders, decided to take the middle speed (70 mph) so he would seem to be supporting neither Peter or Mark. As Peter’s car drove around Lyon they missed an important turn and immediately found they were lost. They finally arrived at the Gite in Bourg D’Oisans at well past mid-night thus a trip of over 24 hours!
September 10th Monday
Mike set off for Newcastle airport, then flew to Amsterdam, had his name called out as the last passenger, flew onto Lyon, caught a train to Grenoble and was hoping for a lift from SteveL to Bourg D’Oisans – Steve had very kindly offered to pick Mike up. A text came through from John just before Mike arrived in Grenoble, “We are still out cycling so unlikely we can meet you. There is a bus no 3000 that departs the station at 7:21pm.” Mike caught the bus and soon realised that it would have been a nightmare for Steve to reach the station.
The rest of the team had arisen to a fine day and were intent on cycling hard, all but Alison who knew she could not keep up with the men. First though SteveB had to fill his stomach with porridge. Now Steve is slim, some would almost say thin, but he could easily eat a saucepan-full of porridge followed by a saucepan-full of green slime (couscous) with these two combined almost doubling his weight. Alec had also brought porridge and liked to weigh-out an exact quantity of oats then add an exact quantity of milk. This exactness was probably due to his Scottish upbringing with every oak-flake being cherished with Scotland being the home of Scotch Porridge Oats. The rest enjoyed going down the French route and eating baguettes.
At last the team was ready to set off. The plan, devised by Mark acting as the route leader, was to cycle up three hills and on each one to return the same way. The three were (1) Oulles, (2) Col D’Ornon, (3) Villard Reymond. Mark thought that these three should whet the appetites for hill climbing before the climb up Alpe D’Huez. Bourg D’Oisans has an elevation of 717m so the cycle up to Col D’Ornon at 1367m was a mere 650m over a distance of 9 miles – John described this as the easiest of the three rides! Alison had decided that she would aim to just cycle up one of the three mountains, Col D’Ornon. Alison had not cycled much due to illness which had gone on for the last 2 years. When she had last cycled Mike remembered her as being very fit and could only just keep up with her. Alison was now fighting back after her illness and aimed to get back to competing with the stronger members of the CTC team.
On the climb up to Villard Reymond Alec fell into a ravine whilst cycling up hill and was just stopped by trees from falling over 40ft – there might have been another monument to a dead cyclist – the only one to fall off whilst cycling uphill. Alec lay there prostrate, not moving under his bike and it required three of the team to help him out. Alec hurt his forearm but had no other injuries but went straight back to Bourg D’Oisans to see a doctor. The doctor said that Alec was very lucky and if his
arm had gone in plaster that would have been the end of his cycling (it would have left a spare bike for Mike – and it would have been another bad news – good news story).
The team split into two in the evening with SteveB, Peter and Alison eating in the Gite with SteveL, Mark, John and Alec eating in a restaurant. They each chose the meat special which this evening was pork – the meat special was to become the most popular dish of the week.
Mike was approaching Bourg D’Oisans on the bus and had checked which of the six Bourg D’Oisans bus stops to alight the bus. Mike texted John just before arriving with John replying saying he would meet him. Mike alighted the bus, retrieved his luggage then looked round. John appeared in the distance, then after a great shaking of hands, grabbed one of Mike’s bags and led him into a restaurant to be greeted by the other three. The group had just ordered their sweet of apple crumble and icecream. Mark said, “You must have the meat dish,” so meat dish it was for Mike followed by apple crumble. The group looked relaxed, the temperature was warm and the wine had soothed tired bodies when John jumped up and made contortions with his legs. “I have cramp,” he shouted.
The group left the restaurant and strolled back in the direction of the Gite. Just outside a bar Mark remarked that he would like a large beer. Mike said he would join him but the other three, tired by their exertions, went off to bed. Soon the in-gite diners appeared and greeted Mike. The atmosphere was soporific.
September 11th Tuesday - Alpe D'Huez conquered – 35 miles
When Mike awoke in his king-size bed he looked around the Gite and was impressed. The whole place looked clean and new. SteveB had not fitted in his room so was sharing with Alison. John and SteveL were sharing one twin room with Mark and Peter sharing the other twin room. Alec was in the other single room in a double bed. The outside of the Gite and the village were very picturesque.
The first job was to get Mike a bike. John, being very supportive, had walked around the bike shops the previous morning and texted Mike, “We have reserved you an electric bike. Perfect,” then “25 Euro a day. Is 58 big enough?” However Mike had also been investigating and had emailed the bike shop Aucadrerouge who had replied, “hello,i have race bike on 62 cm alu frame triple 28 rear.” John and Mark biked around and Mike walked as it was only about 100 yards to the shops and there were three bike shops. The best bike that could be found was at Aucadrerouge - the 62cm drop handlebar bike with the top cassette of 28 - this was less than Mike's own bike which had a top ring of 34. There were no straight-bar bikes of the right size. The bike turned out to be almost perfect except at times it suffered from the shakes, which was quite dangerous going fast downhill.
All eight of the team (thus including Alison) left the Gite at 10am for the climb up Alpe D'Huez of 13km (about 9 miles). At the start of the climb Alison, who might be petite but knows how to control men, shouted out, “Line up as I want to take your photograph”. The team (excluding Alison) had 4 brief stops to look at the fantastic views and arrived at the top after 21 bends in 84 minutes cycling time – remarkable!. The views on the way up were fantastic. Mike took one photograph showing he was in front of a cyclist but not one of the team! On arrival at the top the team headed straight for a café feeling very pleased with
themselves. The primary objective of the week was complete. However Mark, the route leader, had chosen a route that would rise another 200m above the 1100m height difference – to go via Col De Sarenne before descending back to Bourg D’Oisans.
The elevation chart needs to be reversed.
Vallee du Ferrand
Superb cycle down
Looking over Bourg D’Oisans
At Col De Sarenne Mark, or was it Peter, proposed that the name of their CTC group should be changed to “21 Virages”. On arriving back at Bourg D’Oisans the team headed straight for the outside bar. At just after five o’clock Alison appeared on her bike with a big smile on her face. She had cycled up and down Alpe D’Huez – in fact she had cycled part way up then back to the Gite then up to the top and back down. She was the only one of the team that cycled down Alpe D’Huez. It might have taken all day but she had fulfilled her dream.
September 12th Wednesday – Col de la Croix de Fer but rained off – 20 miles
Mark’s next challenge was for the team to cycle up Col de la Croix de Fer but when we awoke it was raining and there was snow on Alpe D’Huez. The rain stopped when we were due to set off and we hoped that we could reach the top. After 5 miles we had to shelter next to some shops and hoped the rain was just a shower. We set off again but after a further 5 miles the rain was heavy and looked like it would not stop. Everyone agreed to cycle back except Mark who said bravely, “I intend to cycle part way up Alpe D’Huez.” SteveL chimed in, “I will join you.” Steve was starting to show that he was a very strong rider, up with the strong more-experienced CTC members. It could be clearly be seen why. He had nodules that stood out on his thighs from his almost daily running and cycling exercises. After 5 miles Mark and Steve re-appeared. They had realised that it would be dangerous to cycle down Alpe D’Huez.
The team sat in the lounge bored, not knowing what to do. Alec and Steve were reading. Mike disappeared to watch the first hour of “24” on his iPad. When he came down Alison, Mark, Peter and Peter had disappeared – they drove up Alpe D’Huez to buy shirts, and Steve even bought some snazzy shorts. MickMike had cheekily asked SteveB to bring him back an Alpe D’Huez shirt – would that be right as he had not cycled up the mountain? – but it was duly
bought and he would be able to proudly wear it as he cycled up Clay Bank (the North Yorkshire equivalent of Alpe D’Huze). Alec, John and SteveL walked around the bike shops and bought three identical Alpe D’Huez shirts for 20 Euros each.
Mark and Peter offered to cook in the evening. Peter thought he was in charge and that Mark was the chef. Mark thought he was in charge (and the chef) and Peter was his assistant. They disappeared off to the supermarket and re-appeared with the food and endless bottles of wine and beer. We were each charged 10 Euros. They split the cooking roles with Mark doing the “Chef” role and Peter chopping and preparing the spaghetti. Meanwhile SteveB and Alison prepared their own dinners. Everyone agreed that the food was excellent – no-one dare disagree in case they had to cook later in the week.
September 13th Thursday - La Berarde conquered – 42 miles + …
The bike shop where Mike had hired his bike had recommended that we should up cycle to La Berarde. Mark had cycled on this route in 2009 and agreed as he had thought it was the most beautiful ride. We cycled 21 miles with 3000 ft of climb to reach the end point. La Berarde had numerous cafes and we sat there for a long time. The cycle back was all downhill and it was hard to believe that we had cycled up the steep road. When we reached the main road the team stopped to discuss the options. John, Alec and Mike were keen to cycled straight back but the other four wanted to cycled on to Deux Alpes so the team split in two.
It had decided that we would eat in again with John and Alec offering to cook. John and Alec went shopping with John confident that he wouldn’t spend as much as 10 Euros each. He spent 12 Euros each! We started with fish soup then moved onto John's specialty, Chili Con Carne - he had cooked it before. Alec had prepared an enormous spicy salad which was aimed to be eaten after the main course. Peter objected strongly to this. "My gastric juices won't be lubricated unless I have the salad first." Peter was born and bred in Hartlepool and Hartlepool people don't like new ideas. John said the Italian's eat their salad after the main course. Mike stated that Japanese eat their salad after the main course. But Peter could not be budged - however he always has a very jovial way of saying things and keeps us all amused.
September 14th Friday – Col de Fer conquered – 30 miles John & Mike; over 60 miles Mark, Peter, Alec, Steve x 2 Mike used the bathroom then John appeared at his bedroom door - he had hardly slept due to indigestion - from his own food! He looked rough! Downstairs at breakfast the chat turned to the route agreed last night – proposed by SteveL - a 60 mile route around Col de Fer with over 8000 feet
of climb. It had been agreed that we would drive to the start - near a lake with a high altitude. John stared at the map a long time then stared at it again and then again. He was thinking that he was not keen as he felt rough. "I will just cycle up 5 miles to Col de Fer then cycle all the way back down to Bourg D'Oisans." Mike immediately said he would join John - just glad he could escape a punishing 60 miles. Alison stated that she would go to Col de Fer even if it took her all day. We parked next to a beautiful blue lake and cycled first up to Col du Glandon. There was an enormous bike on display that even Mike could not straddle. Mark, and the two Steve’s were very keen to cycle around “La Boucle des Cols” which would involve a over 2,000m of ascent. Peter and Alec were less sure. Each of them considered joining John & Mike. Finally they both joined the crazy team and decided to cycle around the Cols. John & Mike cycled around to Col de Fer which was a steep enough cycle, sat outside the café for a time then cycled all the way back to the Gite – almost 18 miles downhill followed by 5 miles on the flat. Alison was intent to cycle every day and arrived at Col De Fer just as John and Mike were leaving. The views from Col de Fer were magnificent. Somewhere down in the valley below the peaks in this photograph were the rest of the team. It was decided that we should all eat out in the evening as this was to be Mark, Peter and SteveB’s last night. We chose the same restaurant as before and all ate the meat special – this time duck. SteveL proposed a toast to a fantastic holiday. More toasts were proposed: to Peter for bringing his Yaris; to Mark for the idea of the trip; to Alec for organising the Gite and the ferries. Everyone agreed that it had been a very enjoyable holiday. September 15th Saturday - 64 miles including Col D’Ornon Mark, Peter and SteveB set off back at 4am and arrived back on Teesside after mid-night with this time not getting lost. The Yaris had made it – Peter kissed the bonnet then kissed the wife. John was keen on a long reasonably flat ride and was supported by Alec and Mike. SteveL was not sure. He still dreamt of cycling up the Galibier but then his mind realised that he was knackered after the ride the previous day. So the ride chosen was “Le tour du plateau Matheysin par Laffrey”. We set off with first Alec leading, then Steve then John with the pace for the first 16 miles being very fast as the road had a gradual decline and the wind was behind us. Mike tucked in at the back, still not fully used to his hired bike and had to stop once when the bike got a touch of the shakes. We hit a 4 mile hill with an incline of 10% and then stopped for coffee next to Lake Laffrey, which is 3km long and is the 8th biggest natural lake in France. Now we were racing along and for once Mike was leading and he led up the
long incline to Col D’Ornon. Where were the rest he thought? It turned out that Alec and Steve were exhausted from their exertions the previous day. Suddenly John came out of nowhere and shot past Mike and won the race to the top. The final 5 miles back downhill was the best downhill of the week from Mike’s viewpoint and at last he was sold on possibly visiting the Alps again. He returned his bike to the bike shop. The cycling part of the holiday was over. Again Alison had cycled and remarkably had cycled every day and had not reverted back to walking and climbing. Steve agreed to cook and to use whatever was left in the Gite which was mainly vegetables and beer. September 16th Sunday – The trek home Steve was keen to leave by 5:30am hoping that they could get an early ferry, and everyone pulled their weight in ensuring that Steve’s deadline was met. Mike was dropped off at Lyons airport. They made the earlier ferry and arrived home just before mid-night. Mike missed the connection flight to Newcastle at Paris airport due to the gate doors being locked. He was charged an extra £180 by Air France for a new flight (since totally refunded). He was initially re-booked on the 10:30am flight on the next day and expected to sleep on a bench in the airport. He would have won the longest journey prize. At the last moment he was given the last seat on the 8:30pm plane. His luggage did not arrive and was delivered to his house two days later. The Team
Mike Newton October 2012
Be carefull out there.