For those who have not heard of this event before, its a really well organised 294km ride around the second biggest lake in Sweden, 26000 people take part starting in groups from 7pm on Friday night through to 10am on Saturday. Our start time was at 5am and we had 35 QlikTech employees in matching kit all roll over the start line together.
We had talked the previous night about tactics for a fast time, intending to get as many people as possible around in under 10 hours, when it came to it the plan fell apart a bit due to the strength of the wind, there was no way that 10 people could ride around and stay out of groups so we set off all together but let people drop off as they felt the time was right for them
This is the fourth consecutive year that I have taken part in the Vatternrundan so I think Im starting to get a feel for it. Its as much a battle against sleep deprivation as it is about getting you and your bike around a 300km course, this is a breif rundown of the timings
4am alarm, in the car by 4:15 to Heathrow
Arrive mid afternoon at Motala to pick up the numbers and timing chip To the accomodation an hour later to build the bike
dinner at 7:30
Bed 9:30 if you are lucky - take into account the lack of night in Sweden at mid summer and the thin curtains
3am alarm call
breakfast then in the van at 4am
drive to the start, off at 5am
ride for 9 - 14 hours
hang about for slower riders
Accomodation for a shower
Dinner at 8pm
Bed 10 pm
alarm at 6am to get to Gothenburg airport
Home mid afternoon
So, the ride
For those who have not heard of this event, its a really well organised 294km ride around the second biggest lake in Sweden, 26000 people take part starting in groups from 7pm on Friday night through to 10am on Saturday
Our start time was at 5am and we had 35 QlikTech employees in matching kit all roll over the start line together. We had talked the previous night about tactics for a fast time, intending to get as many people as possible around in under 10 hours, when it came to it the plan fell apart a bit due to the strength of the wind, there was no way that 10 people could ride around and stay out of groups so we set off all together but let people drop off as they felt the time was right for them
The route down to Jonskoping is flat for the first 50 or so km then becomes undulating past the town of Granna, Normally I push hard at the start and then get dropped out of the big group at Granna but this year I breezed up and over the lumps which made the ride down the descent to Jonskoping really pleasant. You ride through the town and can peel off left for meatballs and mashed potatoes if you are feeling peckish but I have resisted so far. Out of the town there is probably the longest climb of the whole ride, its not steep but if you are in a group that is motoring it does raise the old heart rate a bit, but again I felt good up there as well for the first time.
Onward and the road rises and falls gently, we were now maintaining what felt like a decent averages, it felt like we were flying with a tail to side wind, I kept pushing on but eventually my over developed self preservation gene got the better of me and I was spat out of the back of the 100 strong peleton but I knew we only had about 15k to go until we hit the feed where we had planned to take our first stop so thought we could regroup there. On the way to the feed I still felt strong so collected Martin and Terry who had also been spat out
Once at the feed it was a rush to get the bottles filled and bananas stuffed in my pockets as it was going to be 90k to the next feed. We had managed to regroup and all set off together despite wanting to lose a bit of weight but not being bothered to get half naked to do so. Not long in a fast group flew by, unfortunately we jumped on the back, I stayed in for maybe 20k then thought the better of it as we had not yet passed the 160km mark, I rode along by myself for maybe 5 minutes and then a friendly voice said 'too fast for you aswell?', it was a guy from work called Joe, so we rode together for a bit moaning about the pace and our arses and anything else that we could find to moan about - this was the low point of the ride
It was around this point that I was looking ahead and I saw a two people riding together, the one at the back clipped the wheel of the one infront and swerved about before doing a face plant on the opposite carriage way of the road, that was bad enough but there was a car towing a caravan coming the other way who swerved and got 2 (3 really I guess) wheels on the grass to miss this guy, it was the closest I have come to seeing someone killed I think, I even shouted "Nooooooooo" as it was happening
Our planned feed was Karlsborg but by Hjo I was nearly out of water - my down point seemed to be caused by a lack of fluid so we pulled in, filled up on water and bananas again and then cleared off and as luck would have it a group came past as we pulled out so we both jumped on the back, rolling on to Karlsborg. All the way up the back of the lake I was expecting a tailwind but it didnt happen it was more side and certainly some of it from head on, that was annoying. Passing the entrance to the feed at Karlsborg we met up with our CEO, Lars who was suffering with cramp, he asked me how I was and I just said 'a bit sh*t' and then got my head down to stay with the group
Joe and me again pulled out of the group at the next feed to just get what we needed for the rest of the ride, only about 70k to go from here. More water, more bananas and I even had some blueberry soup - its thick and sweet and gives your legs a bit of a kick, I certainly wouldnt feed it to a 2 year old
The next group we got into was very well drilled, I think they were feeling their pace a bit as every rise that they got to was taken on the little ring, doing this kep the pressure of the legs and allowed them to keep the speed on the flat, it was very well controlled. The way they work is that they do the chaingang but in slow motion, you sit as long as you want on the front then drop back, at the back of the group is a 'policeman' who prevents people from joining the chain and interfering with their flow. Up the preachers hill where a church group bless you as you ride past, the over the bridge to turn into the the headwind that must have been going in an anticlockwise direction round the lake while we did it in a clockwise direction, the home stretch. On this last section we also caught up Martin who had bought my old Eddy Merckx so he jumped in the group as well
This last section has quite a few rises in it so we dropped the speed right down quite a number of times, then right turn, up a sharp little hill to Medevi for the last feed which we ignored and now only 25 km to home. We had just under an hour to do that distance so it was touch and go if we would get the sub 10 hour ride that we had hoped for but its not like you can go to the guys ant the front and ask them to speed up a bit!
Through the trees, out onto the road, 6km to go. At 3km to go Joe jumped out of the pack and made a break for it, it was then that he found how much shelter we had taken in the group, I decided to follow him and managed to get on his wheel to recover, then thought I would do a turn at the front rather than accelerate away, Joe came through and we took the right hander at great speed, then dropped down for the final left, I positioned myself to beat him out of the corner but then he moved to take the same line - I wasn't really that fussed about beating him as it is timed to the minute rather than second so he went through the timing gate not even half a wheel ahead
We crossed the line in 9 hours and 48 minutes giving a joint 4th out of the 35 QlikTech riders, the fastest was a 59 year old Swede called Jimmie who did it in 9:18, 18 minutes slower than last year and the last of our riders came in at 14:10, still a respectable time. All bar one completed the ride which is great considering the amount of training that had not been able to be done in some cases
From a nutrition perspective, I took on probably 7 liters of water with nuun, I at 2 bars, 3 gels and 5 bananas
This is a great ride to do every year, we have a great bit of banter, and are really getting to know each others strengths and weaknesses in the core team that keep turning up
John had always been really supportive from my early racing days with Portsmouth Cycling Club and only until recently was still helping me every Friday with P.S.o.C.R. and i-Team events.'Big John' was one of the 10 founding members of i-Team and completely got the idea of a cycling club with a focus on providing access to quality coaching.
It was John who first encouraged me to become a coach with his Portsmouth School of Cycle Racing and attend one of the first British Cycling 'Club Coach' courses. Back then The British Cycling Coaching Program was still in it's infancy, and at that time was arguably some way behind the Association of British Cycling Coaches, with whom John had been a Senior Coach for over 20 years.
John had been a useful sprinter in his 20's and he loved the sport and loved to help others, and he had been giving up his time on Friday nights to provide local cyclists with access to coaching since the 1970's. Along with Jack Smith, he was instrumental in successes of Portsmouth Cycling Club, (which by then had absorbed PSoCR,) with riders such as Jim Langmead, Peter McGowan, Tony Mayer and of course his son, i-Team.cc club president, Rob Hayles
Above: John raced at The Mountbatten Centre when track cycling was in it's heyday in the 1950's when it was not unusual to have several 1000 spectators at a meeting
After seeing Rob become one of the best track cyclists this country has ever seen, John started to become increasingly frustrated with the demise of fixed wheel-track cycling generally and the lack of opportunities for youth cycling in the Porstmouth area. Disheartened at the lack of interest, he was seriously considering closing up shop.
I remember one rainy Friday night back in November 2002, after we'd had zero takers for the evening coaching session, we popped back to John's house to console ourselves by opening a few glasses of vino.
By the end of the evening, 2 things had happened:
I had decided that the only way forward was to start anew, from scratch, and see what could be done with a new bunch of new cyclists, and a fresh approach to what a cycling club could offer - and...
John had recounted many stories from his days as a professional wrestler and I would never see him in the same light again!
Above: John loved to be involved - he was renowned for being incredibly strong and it looks like he may have given Steve an extra big push judging by the smile on his face!
Most people who know John had a 'Big John' story - just at the point you thought you knew him well, he'd amaze you with some anecdote you'd never heard before. My favourite was when he casually announced that in the first Star Wars movie, Dave Prowse, who played Darth Vader, had forgotten his (massive) shoes. A quick call was made to his manager, who rang John, knowing he had the same size feet as Dave. John then drove to the set and the result was that in some of the movie scenes, Darth Vader is wearing 'Killer Kowalski's' wrestling boots.
If you have any stories of your own, please share them with me and I'll add them to this article as a tribute
I owe him a lot and this article is a little token of my thanks to him - R.i.P.
Below: Most people know Big John as Rob Hayles' Dad but beneath the surface and you'll find a killer! - John 'Killer' Kowalski to be precise.
The following article appeared in The Portsmouth Evening News a few years back - the story and pictures are John's and are displayed here as 'fair use' under U.K. copyright law.
On Saturday 24th September 2011, i-Team sponsors, InTandem Systems, promoted the 3rd edition of their sponsored bike ride around the Isle of Wight.
This was not a big sportive or formal ride solely for serious cyclists - just a very well organised fun event for a good cause and the riders were mostly made up of InTandem staff and their family and friends - plus a large contingent of i-Team members of course!
John Belfield writes:
The 2011 event was held in memory of our great friend and colleague Skot Lewis, (pic below) who was tragically killed in April in a road traffic accident. Skot was a familiar and unforgettable sight on our previous bike rides and we thought it a fitting tribute to rename the ride after him, especially given that he had been planning to ride Lands End to John O'Groats this year to raise money for Prostate Cancer.
Raising the money is important as is raising the awareness of Prostate Cancer, InTandem Systems Ltd operate in a predominantly male industry (Building Management Systems) and nine of the guys and gals are riding with one pair on a tandem! Riders Reports: The day was great fun and the riders were never more than 15 miles from a water station, with homemade flapjacks and encouragement! plus we have a couple of vans floating around to mop up anyone who wanted rescuing (or taking to within 1/2 a mile of the finish!)
POST RIDE REPORTS:
Guy Watson writes:
I'd just like to say a massive thankyou to everybody who was able to get across to do this event today - I think we all did the club and our sponsor proud. I'm sure that you would all agree that Jon & Wendy and his InTandem support team put on a really nice event - thanks Jon. As for the ride itself, we were blessed with good weather for the time of year - ideal conditions for riding really. I know we lost a few at a junction near the start but I was pleasantly surprised how large our finishing group was - it stayed together really well considering the terrain and twisty roads. Some really good rides by our young riders too - some talent there for sure.
Trevor Stokes writes:
Fantastic day in the saddle, and the fastest I have managed around the Island to date Many thanks Jon, Wendy and the crew for putting on such a great event. I was hanging out the back a few times, but those flapjacks eventually kicked in and I was feeling pretty good towards the end - the Southdowns Challenge prep last week must have done me some good too. Well done on a great team performance with a group of 16 of us staying together, and a special mention for the youngsters. How do you manage to make it look so easy? ...Oh and I suppose if I was going to have a puncture I chose the best possible moment - half way up the A3 with the bike in the back of the car! I thought there was some interference on the radio for a few seconds, but it turned out to be the air hissing out of my rear tyre - bizarre!
Pete Lyons writes:
Really enjoyed the ride today. It was great to be out with the club again and riding our bikes for a good cause. Thanks to Jon, Wendy and the team for a well organised ride .
Andy Redding writes:
Great day out on the island and a really good turnout from the club. Thanks to Jon and Wendy plus all the helpers for organising it all so well - the feed stops were excellent and in all the right places for when we needed some of that lovely flapjack! Here's hoping you raise plenty for a good cause.
Matt Bone writes:
Brilliant ride today! Really enjoyed it! Good to see a lot of I-Teamers out! Thanks to the organisers for putting on such a good day and the feed stations get a 10/10!
Dave Shaw writes:
Many thanks to the organizers and volunteers for putting on such a splendid event for such a worthy cause and thanks to everybody who sheltered me from the wind,i found it quite tough today.
Roger Forrest writes:
Apologies for missing the team photograph but I arrived early at the Terminal, met Paul E, collected my tickets and just walked onto the ferry which was waiting. It was only after we had left harbour and I could not find any other cyclists did I realise that I was on the wrong boat! My wife is forever complaining of my absent-mindedness and thinks I am in my dotage;(I have missed aeroplanes in the past!) I had also decided to ride the short route, on the grounds that I needed to be home early afternoon to please my wife who had visitors, but unofficially, I just wanted to get home in time to watch the highlights of today's World Cup rugby!!
I set off at 0815, however, 30 minutes later found I was off route and heading in the wrong direction! After seeking advice from locals I managed to get back en route only to see the Red Train passing me at high speed traveling in the opposite direction......ho hum! On arrival at Alverstone and the first feed station I again set off in the wrong direction and it was only after receiving excellent directions from a young rider in i-team colours (forgive me but I do not know his name but a belated thank you) did I get back on the correct route! Navigating through a busy Newport was frantic and next year if I am still around and there is no World Cup rugby I will return to the long route.
I arrived at the start/finish around 1130, enjoyed a pleasant cup of tea and chat with the ladies manning the control and caught the 1330 ferry. My thoughts on the day are:
1. It was good to be able to support the company,(In Tandem) who have loyally been our sponsor over a number of years, in their quest to raise awareness for Prostate Cancer.
2. As one who has suffered from the disease I applaud our sponsors desire to make the world more aware of the risks involved. The facts are that if it is caught EARLY it can be cured; I have just been told that I have a 98% chance of beating the disease. The later it is diagnosed the more survival rates decline. Currently, 35K men are diagnosed with Prostate cancer annually, of which 10 K die. Having been through the process my advice to anyone approaching 50 is twofold:
a. Insist on having an annual PSA test (Prostate Specific Antigen). It is a simple blood test which costs £10; it is not a perfect test (there maybe be better tests in the future) but at the moment it is the only way of measuring the risk to the individual.
b. Like all professional people, engineers, architects and doctors some are better than others. It is your life that is on the line and you should seek out the best man and not just accept what your GP tells you. IMHO Professor Stephen Langley at the Royal Guildford is the best man in the country for Prostate cancer and his hospital is a center of excellence, with an international reputation. 3. The weather was perfect (a far cry from last weekend) and the IOW is an attractive place and one I should explore more fully.
Rob Capel writes:
would just like to say many thanks toojon and wendy bayfield and there support team for a brilliant day today and for a really good cause feed stations were first class those flapjacks very very nice it was great to see so many i teamers out today and well done to the youngsters on there efforts today great ride by everyone and great company and the weather played its part too
Clinton Castaller writes:
Thanks to all involved, both riders and organisers, for what turned out to be a truly fantastic day! This was to be the longest ride I have done this side of the Marmotte so I'm sure the legs will be feeling it in the morning! Of special mention, top effort by the youngsters that decided to do the full distance, and to the all of ladies at the feed stations for being so friendly and welcoming!!!! Ps: Cheers to Peter for the lift, it was much appreciated. Not sure if I could have pedaled home to Petersfield after going around the island!
Sam Sayner writes:
My first ride on the Island! After hearing Andy's views after his rides over there I was a bit nervous. I chose to do the 50k with Steve and Young James, and so glad I did. The hills were bearable. The worst part of the short route was the Nature Trail, very gritty and I picked up two punctures. I want to say a huge thank you to Steve Saunders for fixing them seeing as my mechanic was doing the long route!I also got another one just as we were leaving to get the ferry, oops! I think I clocked up 62 miles in total today which is the most for me in one day, very pleased. Thank you all i-teamers for making me , the only girlie, feel part of the team, and a big well done to the organisers, good day.
Gerry McDougall writes:
That was a great day with great company. A solid demonstration of team work and good old fashioned club riding. I hope Team GB demonstrate the same today when they unleash Hell! Jon great organisation and a special thanks to all your helpers at the feed stations. The Flapjacks were fantastic but a special mention to the lady on the cycle path who provided the alternative (I think date) flapjack and the lady at the finish for her shortbread and not forgetting whoever it was who had the foresight to book the weather The youngsters were brilliant and they displayed an abundance of tenacity and cheerfulness in adversity. Jon, I am sure that Scott would have been very proud. You have certainly honored his name in a great cause which affects many of us men and women directly and indirectly.
Steve Gillet writes:
WOW ...How good a day was that! I can only echo the sentiments re the Organisers , the Feeds , the helpers and the weather..it just couldn't have worked out any better....sorry to hear sam came unstuck in the 'cross section' ('bout time they marked a road alternative ). Nice to put a few more names and faces to avatars....don't think i've ever met a friendlier bunch ! The ride was finished off nicely by falling asleep in the sun , on the crossing back to lymy ! Happy days ...see some of you next sun in the Wiggle New Forest.
Richard Shuker writes:
I can only agree with all the praise for the day and a great worthy cause. Brilliant day. This was the furthest I've ever cycled in a day also - 75 miles door to door. Many thanks to everyone sticking with me & especially Andy & Roger for their encouragement. I really was running on fumes at the end, but very determined not to stop on any climbs and I managed not to. Yeah! Out of interest I entered the route 67 into memory map on the PC. The route involves 1,442m of ascent and descent. That's 100m more than ben nevis - no wonder my legs are aching today.
David Stokes writes:
Can I add yet another thanks to Jon, Wendy and all the support crew for a fantastic day out, and what a great way to remember someone very dear to them. It was also very sobering to be riding with two members who are affected by the cause being made aware by the ride - I have put the word about to my friends this morning at a dive boat work party to put a PSA test on their agenda. I caught the same ferry as the main red train bunch, but went to the back of the queue at registration because two people I knew had missed the boat. We followed on at a steady pace due to injuries. We did, however, meet up with some of the team at freshwater and rode the remaining miles as a group in weather that got better and better. A great day to look back on during the grey winter months.
Alex Green writes:
Fantastic day on the Island, great turn out of I-Team. Really well organised day & would like to say Thanks to everybody who helped support the event I would personally like to Thank my riding buddies who helped me through my cramp - Cheers to Andy, Rich, Roger, & Andy
James Saunders writes:
Great ride furthest I've rode on my bike so far but by far the best club ride I've done since I joined the club. Hope to do 66 mile next year but not as fast as this years group.
Thanks From InTandem
Hi Everyone A big thank-you to everyone who made it onto and round the Isle of Wight, we had 139 riders in total and the weather was extremely kind to us! (It has to be as there is no Plan B ) It was an emotional day for us as we were riding in memory of Scott Lewis who was a great friend and colleague. Your friendship and sense of fun had a very positive impact on all of us who are still coming to terms his loss especially his Girlfriend and Mum who were at the start/finish. For Wendy and me, we each managed to get round the 100km and we can only do this because of all the Water Station helpers - they are the ones that made it such a great day.
Jon Cooke is pretty much a newcomer to cycling but has set himself a real challenge to raise £100,000 for charity by riding around Great Britain in 32 days!
The event has been organised to raise money for the Estate Agency Foundation charity, which has already raised over £60,000 to help combat the causes of homelessness in the UK. as well as helping those who are already suffering. The EAF donates the money it raises to existing charities nationwide who help real people like 'Stuart,' medically discharged from the Army and told he isn't a priority for a council house, or 'Nicola,' raised in Local Authority Care but with nowhere to go once she reached the age of 16, or 'Sheila,' who was discharged from hospital suffering from mental illness with no care package or support system in place.
i-Team is supporting this great cause by helping to promote awareness of Jon's challenge and hopefully keeping him out of the wind a bit on some of the stages!
ZOOPLA BRITISH PROPERTY CYCLE - in aid of the ESTATE AGENCY FOUNDATION - Registered Charity No. 1124410
A 32 day ride around the UK cycle event in aid of The Estate Agency Foundation and sponsored by Zoopla.
Based on an average cycle speed of 12-15 mph Jon Cooke and a select team of Sean Newman from Newman’s Estate Agents and Martin Farrington from Intercounty will cycle 32 stages around the UK, starting in Exeter and moving clockwise around the British Isles.
Jon Cooke explains how he hopes they'll reach their 2012 target of £100,000:
"By uniting all the national and independent property agents in the UK via social media, messaging, our website, a Blog, a presence at Property Conferences and support from the UK Property Press. You can sponsor a stage, join the cycle team or organise your own event."
So how about it? - In the year of the London 2012 Olympics and with the great pride that we as a country will have in hosting this world wide event, we can make a small contribution to this festival of sport and community and leave our own small Olympic Year legacy.
A GREAT CAUSE:
The Estate Agency Foundation helps eliminate the causes of homelessness through supporting projects run by charities including, St Mungo’s, Shelter and Broadway. EAF Chairman Bill McClintock explains, “When you consider that just £75 helps to provide a fresh start for an ex-service man or woman, or £100 pays for a month’s treatment for a child traumatised by abuse, you can start to see just how much our charity can achieve with £100,000.”
So let your imagination run wild, bring out your Penny Farthings, tandems, cycle taxis, rickshaws and tuk tuks to get this exciting initiative on the road. Join the event in whatever way you can because by coming together, the property industry will make a huge difference to help eliminate the causes of homelessness. Look at www.gbpropertycycle.co.uk for more information or if you feel like taking part in the property charity event of the year.
Anyone can join Jon on his challenge - you don’t need to tackle the whole circuit – although some brave souls have already signed up for this! Individuals and businesses can arrange whatever suits them, from joining one of the stages to organising a small local event, or simply picking a day and cycling to work for charity.
Day 1 - Saturday July 28th Exeter-Teignmouth 17.25 miles
Day 2 - Sunday July 29th Plymouth-St Austell 50 Miles
Day 3 - Monday July 30th Helston-Lands End 26 Miles / Lands End - Boscawell 9.5 Miles / Boscaswell-St Ives 12.5 Miles / St Ives-Newquay 37.5 Miles
Day 4 - Tuesday July 31st Newquay-Barnstaple 76.5 Miles
Day 5 - Wednesday August 1st Barnstaple-Ilfracombe 15.5 Miles / Ilfracombe to Weston Super Mare 75 Miles
Day 6 - Thursday August 2nd - Rest Day
Day 7 - Friday August 3rd Weston Super Mare - Barry 83 Miles
Day 8 - Saturday August 4th Barry - Caerfyddon 80 Miles
Day 9 - Sunday August 5th / Caerfyddon - St Davids 50 Miles / St Davids - Cardigan 33.5 Miles
Day 10 - Monday August 6th - Rest Day
Day 11 - Tuesday August 7th Cardigan-Barmouth 80 Miles
Day 12 - Wednesday August 8th Barmouth - Prestatyn 88 Miles
Day 13 - Thursday August 9th Prestatyn-Southport 64 Miles
Day 14 - Friday August 10th Southport - Blackpool 40 Miles / Blackpool-Kendal 45 Miles
Day 15 - Saturday August 11th - Rest Day
Day 16 - Sunday August 12th Kendal-Carlisle 52 Miles / Carlisle-Haltwhistle 28.5 Miles
Day 17 - Monday August 13th Haltwhistle- Albany Ct Newcastle 40 Miles / Albany Ct - South Shields 13 Miles
Day 18 - Tuesday August 14th South Shields-Whitby 74 Miles
Day 19 - Wednesday August 15th - Rest Day
Day 20 - Thursday August 16th / Whitby -Bridlington 48.5 Miles / Bridlington - North Ferriby 42.5 Miles
Day 21 - Friday August 17th
North Ferriby - Cleethorpes 28.5 Miles
Day 22 - Saturday August 18th Skegness-Hunstanton 84 Miles
Day 23 - Sunday August 19th Hunstanton - Cromer 35 Miles / Cromer - Great Yarmouth 37 Miles
Day 24 - Monday August 20th - Rest Day
Day 25 - Tuesday August 21st Great Yarmouth - Manningtree 77 Miles
Day 26 - Wednesday August 22nd / Manningtree - Maldon 28.5 Miles / Maldon - Stanford Le Hope 23.5 Miles / Stanford Le Hope - Herne Bay 54 Miles
Day 27 - Thursday August 23rd - Rest Day
Day 28 - Friday August 24th / Herne Bay - Broadstairs 17 Miles / Broadstairs - Folkestone 27 Miles / Folkestone - Hastings 42 Miles
Day 29 - Saturday August 25th / Hastings - Portsmouth 95 Miles
Day 30 - Sunday August 26th / Portsmouth - Poole 56 Miles
Day 31- Monday 27th August / Poole - Weymouth 30 Miles / Weymouth - Bridport 18 Miles
Day 32 - Tuesday 28th August / Bridport - Exmouth 43 Miles / Exmouth - Exeter City Centre 13 Miles
HOW TO TAKE PART:
Check out the proposed route and pick a stage
Download and read the event info & safety info
Download, complete & the participation form and return it with your donation
JOIN ANDY JONES FOR ONE OF THE SOUTHERN STAGES:
i-Team.cc member Andy Jones is Operations Director for LSL Corporate Client Department, based in Exeter and for years he's been a keen racing cyclist and has taken part in events like the Etape du Tour. He explains how taking part in this charity event brings together his profession and passion.
"I am participating in a few of the 33 stages of the 3000 mile UK circuit, that starts and finishes in Exeter and I am encouraging fellow cyclists to do the same. The EAF has set a £100,000 target for The Zoopla British Property Cycle, and I’m hoping that through my cycling club, i-Team (which also is a great network of cycling minded professionals) and using my contacts in the property industry, to help support Jon Cooke complete his challenge and reach his sponsorship target.
I am hoping to raise £2000 from sponsorship from the stages that I ride and do my bit to leave a positive and meaningful legacy for ourselves for The 2012 Olympic year."
i-Team members are sponsoring Andy on his Just Giving page.
The Tour TransAlp is a 7-day stage race for amateur cyclists run by Tour, the largest cycling magazine in Germany and is their main event of the year. It attracts a field of approx. 750 2-person teams and runs from Germany to Italy. The exact route varies every year but on the menu for 2012 was 800 km with approx. 18,000 meters of climbing over 17 Alpine and Dolomite passes from Mittenwald in Germany to Arco at Lake Garda in Italy, with teams from 27 countries taking part.
I have been back for a few days now but not had the time/energy to put pen to paper until now.
Fraser and my adventure started in the depths of last winter while looking around for a new challenge. Having done the Tour of Wessex a few times now we both knew we liked multi-day events and we looked at various options before eventually choosing this one. Entry opened in early December and sold out in a few hours. We were in! Over the next 6 months it slowly evolved from an abstract idea through an event on the calendar some time off in the future to suddenly becoming a reality as we set off on the drive to Germany.
The following is a typical day on the TransAlp...
Woken up between 05:30 and 06:00. Yet again slept through my alarm but woken by the stirrings of the other riders in the TransCamp. First job of the day is to start the endless consumption of energy drinks, in the morning with extra caffeine. After getting dressed in riding kit for the day and sorting out the gels and energy drinks etc it is time to pack everything back into our bags, which hold all our kit for the week, and then drop them off for transport to the next stage finish town. Then we head down to breakfast, which is usually a mix of cold meats, breads, fruit and yoghurts, and enjoyed with riders from the other teams.
After breakfast we collect our bikes from the bike park and, after a final tyre check, roll down to the start area. We sign on for the day as we enter our start pen and then endure the worse part of the day: waiting for the start. This is an uncomfortable mix of nerves, excitement & anticipation all to a soundtrack of euro-pop and final briefings etc for the day over the PA system. Being a team event I found this time particularly nerve wracking as you try to gauge how your legs feel, how you have recovered and wonder if today will be the day you crack and run out of steam and let your teammate down. At last the approach of the start is heralded by the music volume being cranked up to 11, the commentary reaching a new level of frenzy and the engines of the motor bike out-riders being started. When the start finally does come the relief of tension usually results in a start that, despite being neutralised for the roll out of town, is extremely fast.
The frantic pace continues after the end of the neutralised section with groups forming/breaking and riders jumping from group to group. All the time you are watching out for your team mate to make sure you keep roughly in contact. The pace continues to quicken and the scenery becomes a blur.
And then you hit the first climb of the day and everything goes quiet. Everyone climbs their own way and at their own pace and for me this involves getting into a rhythm, tapping out a constant tempo, counting off the kilometres and picking off riders. Fluids are poured in at one end and seem to flow out from your whole body as the temperature rises. Fluids in, fluids out, air in, power out. Just kept those in mind and tick off the kilometres. Just before the top I hear a familiar combination of cadence and breathing from behind and then Fraser and me are back together. The feed stop at the top is a quick re-fill of bottles and then the descent.
Being a pretty rubbish descender this is the hardest part of the route for me, but over the week my confidence (if not competence) are increasing and I am starting to enjoy the fast, sweeping descents.
Re-group at the bottom and then the fast section to the next climb. Start off in team time trial mode until being joined by more riders to get a fast group going. The pace is high with no stopping as junctions are held open for us by marshals and traffic is held back on roundabouts by the police. As we speed though the stunning countryside fluids and gels are consumed in preparation for the next climb. Tunnels on the way provide a chance for the pace to be lifted even higher as there are no winds to deal with so these are a terrifying/exhilarating blast in almost complete darkness until we explode back into the daylight.
The final climb is approached in the same way as the first but by this time we are dealing with even higher temperatures (40 degrees plus), fatigue and, over the week, increasing foot pain. This one really is a suffer-fest. When the top is finally reached we re-group for the descent before the final run-in to the finish line.
This is usually another fast group effort with riders at the front taking turns while others simply hang on. The line is crossed at full speed with gasping breaths, but as soon as we slow and the wind chill is gone the heat hits us.
We slowly roll through town to the finish area where we are given our food and take refuge in the shade. Both too hot/tired to talk for a while but slowly, very slowly sometimes, the smiles return and talk of “that descent” or “what a climb”.
Once we are feeling human again we wander over to check the provisional results. Did the effort pay off? Did we gain any places? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.
Then starts the preparation for the next day. We drop our bikes off at the bike park and head over to tonight’s TransCamp, where we are shown to where our bags have been placed. Showers, washing of kit, recovery drink are ticked off in the next 30 minutes and then lay down for a couple of hours. Can’t usually sleep but good to be resting with legs up.
Dinner is at 18:00 which is usually variations on pasta, cold meats, salads, fruit etc. Over the week we get to know some of the other teams so this is a nice chance to chat and relax. At 19:00 we have the results presentations from today’s stage including the leader’s jerseys and then a briefing for tomorrow’s stage when the race director talks us through the stage in detail: how steep the climbs are, any dangerous descents, points of note on the way, what the weather will be and then we have a google earth type fly through of the next stage. Plans are hatched and strategies discussed and then we head off to the bike park to get the bikes ready for tomorrow. Once they have been wiped down, gears/brakes checked, chains oiled etc it is back to the camp for a final recovery drink and bed before we do it all again.
From when we first registered in Mittenwald and collected our ID cards, food vouchers, road books, numbers and bags to the final evening’s meal and picture show the event was run with meticulous organisation. Every detail had been thought of and was done with the riders in mind. For example, on the one day it rained we arrived at the camp for that night to be given sheets of newspaper to put in our shoes to dry them. Mechanical support was excellent with spare wheels and bikes available to those that needed them. After the final stage we were presented our finishers’ jerseys by one of the officials from the organisers, who shook the hand of every rider that completed the event and congratulated them as she gave out the jerseys. And with only about 75 DNF’s that was well over a thousand hands to shake!
So in summary, for me the Tour TransAlp was a fantastic week of total sensory overload and fun. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Will I do it again, who knows? If I do I will sign up for the metric century challenge beforehand though
And finally, thanks to Fraser for being the perfect team mate and putting up with me for a week, and to both our families for making it possible.
Stats from the week:
Total distance: 808 km.
Total Climbing: 18,886 meters.
Longest stage: 146km (stage 6)
Most climbing in a stage: 3047 meters (stage 5).
Highest altitude reached: 2509 meters (stage 2)
Time taken: 35 hrs 12 mins 5 secs
Final position: 108 (out of approx. 252 teams) in Masters category.
Signed on. Been to the race briefing. Stuffed with pasta. Seriously stressed. Just want to get started. 2475 m climbing Sunday!
St1: Epic day, started as Team #658 finished 115th place so Monday get to ride with big boys! Less km but more climbing, forecast +27d
Tough ride. Basically 2 x 1200m high climbs back to back followed by a 30k team time trial! Moved up to 107th team!
Short but steep stage today (up to 20%!) Lost 3 places - start pen was held back at the start which didn't help
Ridiculously fast today, do they realise they are racing over mountains! 106th out of 252 teams with 2 very big stages coming....
Today lived up to the brief - Monte grappa in 40 degrees was tough. Held position. Tomorrow's stage is the longest, nearly there
Longest stage & hottest (feet on fire!) Held position in age group & overall (302 out of about 750 teams) after 30 hours of racing!
7th & Final stage.
Finished the most fantastic event. 106/252 in age group & 298/750+ G.C. Time for beers! Over & out from Fraser & Mark
Convivial cycling amongst like-minded enthusiasts at it's best!
Roger and his friends take their cycling down a gear; while they take in the sights of rural france, drink some wine at Chez 'Cahatalot' - and do a bit of cycling.
The i-Team abroad - Loire Valley training Camp: 11th – 19th May 2012
“Pedals, Ping-Pong and Poker”
“Fangs for the Memories”
Roger 'The Grinder' Forest
Paul 'Rip Yer Legs Off' Morris
Terry 'Cafe Stop' Hammond
Phil 'Pedigree Chum' Chandler
Jon 'Granny Ring' Skidmore
The i-Team Abroad – France, May 2012 - Read at Your Risk!
No names have been altered in this account to protect the innocent. The use of the oxymoron ‘Garmin global positioning system’ is done so with diminishing degrees of accuracy. Readers with photo-sensitive regurgitation should be aware that there are images of dog attack and drunken poker players. Readers may progress at their own risk – the management states that what you read shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (as moderated by the management).
And so it begins …….
Day 1 – Friday 11th May 2012. “Advance Party Sortie”
38 Park Road, Purbrook...
With Roger due to pick me up at 0830 hours, I waited with bags and bike a-ready at the front gate waiting for this genius of military precision and logistics, to hove onto view. Sure enough, at 0829 my mobile rings, no doubt as a precursor to him looming round the corner.
“Roger here” the voice entreats, “I’m outside of number 38 Park Road – where are you?”
“I’m outside of No: 38 Park Road, – I’m the one with bike, 2 bags and a sleeping bag – where are you?”
Momentary pause …..
“Do you have a sports field and a Marks and Spencer, by you?”
Confused pause …… before replying
“Are you close by Gunwarf?”
“Sh*t……… f****ng Sat Nav, it’s never done this before”
I am only mentioning this now, due to the not insignificant fact that Roger is the architect of all the Garmin Route Maps, that we are destined to follow over the course of the next few days. As you will soon find out either: a) Garmin is not all that it is cracked-up to be
or: the users of Garmin are not all their cracked-up to be
A dark cloud suddenly looms over la petiteville, Purbrook.
As the ‘advance party’, our duty is to prepare the accommodation and catering in time for the arrival of the serious athletes. The journey down is relatively plain sailing, that is, if you take away that modern feat of mediaeval torture, “le peripherique”. Whoever is the founding father of this calamitous piece of tarmac should be spread-eagled in the outside lane and suffocated with his own emissions. When we entered, I was clean shaven, by the time we left; I was Ben Gunn with a craving for cheese.
Shortly after 8.00 in the evening, we arrive at Chez Rogerin the tranquil hamlet of Le Châtelot.
Roger, ever the perfect host, asks various quiz questions about curios around the house. Of these one seems to remain ingrained on my pshyci as he thrusts a packet of Potassium iodide into my hand.
“What do you think that’s for?” he enquires with the deft nonchalance of a quiz-show host.
I mumble a couple of incorrect replies.
“No” Hughie Green responds …….. “It’s for treating radioactive fallout when the nuclear reactor blows”.
I feel instantly at ease and at one with my surroundings.
There is still timeto forage into the local town of Alligny-Cosne (al-knee-cone) to grab some vittles’ from the Friday ‘Pizza Van’. No ordinary van, mind – Pizza-Hut, this is not. This one had a full-blooded, wood burning oven to produce one of the most mouth-watering pizzas I’ve had in long time. Washed down with a few glasses (well, quite a few really) of very passable claret, the odd bierre and a chew of the cud beside Rogers wood burning stove - the periferique, imperfect navigation and impending nuclear Armageddon, areall but a distant memory.
Foot note to day 1:
Wine addled reprise of Rogers Hamlet – Le Châtelot – as slurred by the man himself and as recorded by his slightly ‘tired and emotional’ diarist.
Dateline – some time past midnight on 12th May.
Imagine, if you will, a pitch for the latest prime-time, serial drama
(This will probably make the cast of Dallas appear as but bland caricatures)
Le Chatelot - The Players: Roger
Lord of The Manor
Who has been cultivating his fiefdom for some 25+ years
The Grass Cutter
Rogers oldest ally, friend , confidante, maker of jams and une jollie, bonne oeuf
The Walnut Pressers
Who own the adjacent property (south) to Roger and are very keen on Rogers nuts
Indian Lover and borderline psycho
Who has built a red Indian reservation in the centre of the village; has a dog that looks like a ferret and – if a resident of the UK – would almost certainly be institutionalised by now.
Every village has one and this one lives opposite Roger. His main hobby is reporting villagers to le local Marie, he looks like a cross between Bob The Builder and Super Mario and wears the same dungarees 24/7/365.
Dennis(as in Blondie – ‘Denis, Denis’)
The Wine Connoisseur
One time good friend of Sam – but the two fell-out big time over the non-returned of a borrowed screwdriver and have never spoken since. Dennis has not eased the situation by bringing a constant string of ‘shady ladies’ each le weekend, to his country pied-de-terre. … he samples their body …. they take his Gevrey in their mouth … some spit, some swallow.
He arrives Tuesday with his latest ‘squeeze’ – Monique, which causes much salivation in the house.
The Couple Next Door - (Jacques and Christina)
They have owned the property next door to Roger (north) for 25 years, but have never put in an appearance. As Roger has habitually used their garden as an unofficial municipal dump, he is understandably concerned at their sudden re-appearance- and …. this very weekend (deep organ chords resonate in the background). They just arrived, opened the barn doors and disappeared – anyone seem “The Burbs”.
Will Sam and Dennis make good their friendship?
Will the walnuts fall this autumn?
Will Le Branleur be incensed by the influx of the unruly ‘Le RosBiffs’.
Will Roger pluck up le courageto confront ‘the invaders’?
Stay tuned to next week’s exciting instalment of……“Le Châtelot we don’t Chat a lot”.
Day 2 – Saturday 12th May
A day spent house cleaning and jungle clearing in anticipation of the arrival of “le chemin der fer rouge”. – We break bread and sardines for lunch, after which Roger summons le courage to greet ‘the invaders’.
“What a charming couple Jack and Christina are …” the relief dripping from Rogers words is palpable.
Day 3 – Sunday 13th May – Route A to “Les Ormes” 123km ….. Or “Garmin My A**e”
We rise early, enjoy a leisurely petit dejourner are treated for dessert to the site of Paul shaving his legs (just the kind of digestive you need). The weather is set fair, if a tad chilly: John, Terry and Roger go for full artic gear and I am ridiculed for going sleeveless. Paul is due to ‘chase’ us half an hour later.
We depart at 0928 (it would have been 0900 if it hadn’t been for all the Garmin setting, then failing, then resetting, the re-failing etc.,). With the Garmin finally set we roll outat 0928 – Garmin fails at 0929. (You sense a recurring pattern here that is set for the week – on this form, we’ll be on the outskirts of Torquay by Thursday.
The beauty of cycling in France is the unspoilt and lightly used rolling roads that take us swiftly to St Amand-en-Puisaye and then on to picturesque St Fargeau.
'So where's D'Artagnan?'
Le Bar du Centrum - Yum
This mediaeval town has an enchanting Chateau, and more importantly a nicely presented town centre bar – imaginatively named “Le Bar du Centre”. We enjoy a well peddled coffee served in truly elegant Gallic style by a most agreeable and ultimately professional waitress - in fetching ensemble of tight fitting jeans, low cut jade green top and lace etched pink and grey, half-cup bra with a tiny lace charcoal bow in the centre. The coffee wasn’t bad either – served with chocolate coated almond. We sat and generally rubbished the organising committee of the Olympic Games of whom both Jon and I had had sub-optimal experiences.
Post coffee and waitress, the roads rolled on through Mezilles then on to Toucy were – thanks to Garmin - we get lost (again). Thankfully, the technophobe which is me – pulls out my folded Map – we are swiftly re- routed and join the correct highway.
Wrong turn at Toucy - Roger berates his Garmin
At the top we are greeted by Paul, tanking in the opposite direction … “You’re going the wrong way” he yells, which causes much re-checking of the Garmin’s once again. Paul continues onward and is back at the house by 1330.
Result …. The Garmin’s start working again –John shouts “Garmin says Les Ormes, next left” just as we reach a road sign which says …… Les Ormes next left. How did it know???
We arrive in Les Ormes and view the memorial which proved to be extraordinarily emotional.
I include here a short extract from Derrick Harrison’s book ‘These Men Are Dangerous’. Derrick was in the SAS during the Second World War and the book is his account of the action he saw:
In August 1944, the SAS had dropped into the countryside of central France in an operation code-named “Kipling”. The mission was to disrupt stiff German resistance and to provide information for the advance of General George Patton’s US divisions. At that time the only “behind lines” Special Forces in the world were British, and they were much in demand.
On August 23, a two-jeep SAS patrol was on an administrative move when it encountered a distraught French lady outside Les Ormes. She warned that the SS were in the village and about to shoot 20 French hostages as they sought to curb SAS activity. A Canadian trooper called Fauchois, fluent in French, was the first to insist they did something. Lance Corporal “Curly” Hall agreed the right thing to do was to “have a crack”.
So, living up to the regiment’s motto “Who dares wins”, they set off at high speed, the French lady screaming at them to turn back with the words “There are hundreds of them!”
As they turned into the village square, they saw drawn up in front of the church the hostages and mobs of SS. The first to die was the SS officer who, pistol in hand, turned to stare in disbelief at the jeeps. He had found the SAS he was searching for. In seconds, the square was a charnel house with dead and dying SS troops moaning as the captives made good their escape.
But it was not without cost. One jeep came to a halt, shot to pieces by the Germans. As the wounded SAS men made for the other jeep, Curly Hall slumped over, dead. As the last surviving jeep left the village, the remaining Germans crowded around Curly. Sixty SS lay dead or wounded. We will never know what they did with his body.
This summer, I took a quiet moment in front of the memorial at the spot where he fell. The bullet scars are still visible on the village hall. Curly’s nameis also on the village war memorial, recorded as one of their own.
It is so easy to be complacent about the past, but I for one find places like this to be almost haunting. The valor of those concerned (both French and Allied Forces) is impossible for me to relate to. It was probably normal back then …. It would be off the charts today. I think that the French have the right word for it …. Formidable.
At this point Roger gets his leg over and starts engaging with a very young lady...
We all retreat amidst imagined accusations. Apparently however, we learn the location of the “War Cemetery” – but alas, no sign of Curly.
Time then for the return journey and it’s undulating terrain to Grandchamp where we were going to stop for cake (Terry’sinsistence). However, the town is having a car boot sale, which is well attended by the Gallic equivalent of “The Giro Brigade” – there is a distinct feel of Leigh Park about the place. Fearing for the safety of our steeds – we beat a retreat.
Onwards to Champignelles (Garmin tells us that we are (not for the first time – off route) where we are getting desperate for water. Phil tries the village water pump (which doesn’t work). Locals view this anglicised eccentricity with some humour at which point a gallant gent and his wife offer to replenish our supplies from their house – well done Champignelles.
More rural rolling roads and buzzards, as our now wearying legs (with best part of 100Km in them) track back to St Fargeau where we democratically decide not to stop for cake, by a majority of 3:1 (Terry, Phil and John want to stop – Roger doesn’t and as he is the majority share holder – we press on).
There follows a delightfully gentle road to Le Bourdon Reservoir –I spot what I initially thought to be a local deer frolicking amongst the rape. As we get closer, it is in fact an enormous hare(another local epicurean delicacy – but alas, travelling too fast). We then cross the dam to a biker’s café where for some reason;the landlord accuses us of Being Irish?
Anyway – great cake and coffee then it’s off on the final (and most excruciating) leg. Hill after hill is becoming more like mountain after mountain and then, with 73 miles in the legs – the steep climb out of St Amand – then the less steep but longer climb out of Bitry.
At 1758 – the last leg (downhill) to Le Châtelot and Beer and Gin.
Roger prepares a delicious evening repast of Malay curry, Bombay (or is it Mumbai) potato, sag aloo, poppadum’s and chutney which for some reason Terry (the Dining Room Orderly) embellishes with Nutella and Marmalade.
Lazy chat over beer, ping-pong and roaring log stove …. And then ….. to bed
Day Four - Monday 14th May - Route “E” The Loire Circuit (80 km) or as we prefer to call it “Les Legs ripped off by Mr Morris” session.
Brilliant sunshine, a light breakfast, tired legs, but that sterling willingness to commit saw John, Terry and myself depart at 0938 (Roger’s sitting this one out) with an air of trepidation, but a firm plan in mind. Nice and easy, work the legs loose, stop when we need to for coffee, cake, photo-ops ……. What could possibly go wrong?
After a few mis-fires, direction-wise, we were soon enjoying the gentle undulations and shade of the forested road though to Arquian. The track rolled majestically through a mosaic of arable land and we certainly took the opportunity to document such through the artistic direction of i-teams own David Bailey.
Rolling roads to Arquain
We kept a gentle pace going until entering the quiet town of Arquain where Paul (who had set-off 30 minutes after us) caught up and joined the party. Thankfully a rather nice café opportunity presented itself at this point – it would have been churlish to refuse.
We sat in the sun chatting convivially about how poor Trek (Phil) and Giant (Paul) are when it comes to honouring warrantees. A passing pig truck only serves to deepen the despond as its aroma stays with us like a fix of Terry’sbrut aftershave (only more pleasant). We were not to know at the time, but this was to be the last moment of respite – our carefully crafted plan was about to be ripped asunder by the prodigious bike talent that is Mr Paul Morris.
After the café break we set-off on the road to Bonny. It was a fairly busy road (by French standards) but Paul assured us that any passing lorries would give us a wide birth. The first passing lorry whisked by within a fraction of terrys handlebars, causing his less than clingy lycra shorts to balloon in the updraft – to the world he looked like an orange Chinese lantern.
The pace was “gentle” – Paul … or “frightening” – Terry, John and me; as we sailed along to Bonny.
At Bonny, we crossed the Loire and took time to marvel at nature’s bounty.
To the north, the green banks and wide expanse of soft flowing waters – you could almost hear the strains of Smetana in the background. To the south, a nuclear power plant (now, did I bring the potassium iodide).
We roll on though countryside which Paul assures us it’s flat …. (it wasn’t) towards Santranges. It is clear that John is struggling and only catches up at a roadwork’s just outside the town. We take the opportunity to look at his gearing for this ‘flat section’ - he’s on largest sprocket at the back and granny-ring at the front - sadistically we record this by photograph for prosperity (and in case of any subsequent denials.
John's gearing for that tricky, sharp 0.25% incline!
We saunter along to the turning point at Sury-sur-Sauldre (everything is ‘sur’ in these parts - just like my nether regions). This is the last point we will see John for the rest of the ride.
The return to the Loire contains more ‘undulations’ but they are beginning to seem more like alps. Still, Terry and I take shelter behind Paul. We finally reach the town of Boulleret, where a rather nice café presents itself.
“Not enough chairs” says Paul
“I’ll lie on the pavement” I suggest
Anyway, the decision is taken not to stop and Terry has to content himself with leering at a cohort of young schoolgirls. We put the pedal down before the Gendarmerie can be summoned.
We motor along to Cosne-sur-Loire (which the French pronounce ‘Cone’; Cosne’s fine) at which point, I have acute engine failure. We pull over at Cours, I collapse on the pavement, Whilst Terry terrorises the local wildlife. I am well and truly – what’s the word, oh yes …. “f***ed”.
Terry and Paul become increasingly smaller figures, disappearing over the horizon as I continue abjectly, scarred to look down at the computer in case it tells me that I’m going even slower than it feels. One thing I do now know – when you ‘bonk’ it is both spectacular and instant.
The scorpions sting in this route is the last 2km from St Verain up to Rogers house – try it, it’s purgatory. Many times I fell like just pulling over and lying down on the side of the road.
I arrive at Chez Roger, it would seem, only a few minutes after Paul and Terry –but in much worse shape. Roger offers lentil soup – I go upstairs to puke.
John arrived back about forty minutes after us –we shared much the same stories about the return journey. In parting he says;
“Well, at least the plan lasted 10K”.
The evening was spent watching a half-decent French Farce DVD and rubbishing Rebecca Brookes, David Cameron and that spinelessly, character-empty labour non-entity that is Ed (or is it David – quite frankly, who cares) Milliband. Roger, informs us that Milliband is currently ‘living in sin’ with his partner – we all have the same thoughts; ‘who could fancy that’. We muse about his bedroom antics (well we had had a glass or two) …… the lights are dim ….. She’s in bed and ready for action …. Yet dear old Ed can’t raise the necessary and tries to explain ….. “this is symptomatic of two years of Tory mis-management causing complete collapse of my fiscal system”….
DAY Five - Tuesday 15th May - Route ‘B – Lucy-sur-Yonne (100 km) …… “Le Rage”
This was the day when I was going to sit-out the ride after the trauma of yesterday. Ironically I felt fine and decided to join the group – I must have been ‘barking mad’. Roger, Terry and Myself rolled-out at 0930 – dropped down the hill and turned left on rolling roads towards Bouhy. With a slightly uncomfortable undercarriage, I swayed from left to right in the saddle in search of a sweet spot. Then, just as we were rolling through ‘Les Coquilliers d’en bas’, catastrophe struck.
I’ll remember the moment vividly, it’s one of those things that remain with you; the moment you lose your virginity; Liverpool winning the FA Cup and being savaged by a rabid farm dog.
We’d experienced noisy canines before, almost an expectation en-route. There was little reaction in the pack therefore when the baying of the Baskerville hound started up.
We sauntered past a cream coloured farm house with a steeply, downwardsslanting; flint driveway from which a growling blur of black, white and foam emerged.
Even at this stage, I recalled an incident on a recent ‘tour’ and was more concerned with the thing buckling my front wheel – so paid it little heed. Roger and Terry (eminent caninophiles) were quickly bypassed before the thing honed in on the only cat lover of the bunch. Terry reckons it was attracted by the more attractive meal that my ample dimensions offered.
It wasn’t until its fangs were sunk deep into my thigh and thick globs of mucousy, bacteria ridden saliva dripping from the gaping hole in my shorts, that I realised the thing meant business.
Roger suggested that I should ride back to base and get it cleaned up. I was not greatly enamoured by this idea, meaning as it would, a second pass of Le Rage. Still it made sense. So, with a sense of trepidation I re-trod the scene of the crime, right leg unclipped from the cleat (I wasn’t going to give up without a fight this time). The hound however had no doubt satiated its hunger pangs and was, in all probability, at that moment, bragging to the bitch and pups about the day it broke its ASBO.
Roger scarred me into going to hospital with his tales of rabies, Streptococcus bovis and inevitable death through heart valve failure – he is a sure-fire loss to the Samaritans, is our Roger.
Anyway, the hospital was great (less than an hour wait, no drunks or injecting junkies in the waiting area and friendly, competent staff). Dosed-up and €38 lighter, I was free with the re-assuring verdict that I’d have to wait 24-48 hours for any sign of rabies or worse.
Having by-passed the ride, Roger, John and I drive over to Lucy-sur-Yonne and the graveyard at Crain. The memorial to Captain Bradford and his team is immaculately tended – with a recent tribute from the SAS and quite an emotional place to visit.
Both Roy Bradford and William Devine were deployed in 1st Special Air Service Regiment
on Operation HOUNDSWORTH that took place in the Morvan.
The Squadron had been
inserted by parachute, with their jeeps, to operate with the French Maquis in the area.
The jeeps normally were armed with two twin Vickers .K. guns and manned by three men,
but on the day of the incident Roy Bradford.s jeep was carrying a Maquisard as well.
On the 20th July 1944 Roy Bradford.s jeep was patrolling in the area and on rounding
a bend they were confronted by a group of Germans on foot, with a convoy of
vehicles drawn up at the side of the road with their occupants debussed. He made
a snap decision to drive through and did so, opening fire as they passed the convoy.
As they cleared the last vehicle the jeep was hit by a burst of machine gun fire from
the rear vehicle that hit three of the jeep occupants and badly damaged the jeep.
Roy Bradford and William Devine were killed and Sergeant Chalky White, who was
operating the rear twin Vickers, was wounded in both hands. The jeep continued
along the road until it came to a halt where you saw the Memorial. After checking
that Roy Bradford and William Devine were dead, Chalky White assisted by the
Maquisard escaped into the woods nearby with the Germans in pursuit. Chalky
White was treated for his injuries by a Maquis Doctor and remained on the operation,
although his hands were severely disabled.
The monument stands at the place where the jeep came to a halt and the road
was later named .rue du 20th July 1944. in honour of Roy Bradford and William
We learn on our return that both Terry and Paul missed the graveyard, though apparently not a massive lunch at a local Tratoria.
We also learn that Terry:
Has baggy lycra (already known)
Wears Y-fronts under said lycra
Wears his lycra back-to-front and has to change it mid-ride (a new spectator sport?)
Day Six – Wednesday 16th May – Rest Day - “as if…”
In the morning we visit Cosne to see the market (which takes 6.5 minutes). Roger purchases his spring onions whilst the rest of us marvel at the ease of purchase of fire arms. Terry is suffering from a sore-throat (though over indulgence at café stops) and performs an elaborate Marcel Marceau mime to the delight of the staff at the local pharmacy. Five minutes later, he emerges with a carton of pessaries.
Patient Update - 24 hours on, I have temperature spikes with chills, a raging thirst and a penchant for pedigree chum – but I think I’m alright.
Roger has a habit of dropping ridiculously unsubtle hints about ‘around the house’ chores that he expects his captive labour force to engage with. The latest of these concerns the re-wring of his house. With a subtle allocation of rolls and responsibilities, we set too. Terry is in charge of disconnecting from the mains and promptly proceeds to unscrew an existing socket. It is when the screwdriver starts to glow and melt that we realise all is not well. I’m charged with hammering out the wall with a chisel last used by Noah. Paul rewires the new socket and I fix it with sand (well, gravel) and cement (which Roger assures us he bought recently – c1986). Needless to say, the fixing crumbles, the socket box doesn’t fit, The supervisor (Terry) is incompetent – so we just leave the wires hanging out the wall, turn the power back on and have a beer – who’s going to notice?
This evenings cornucopia is a Stir Fry of Prawn, Mango and Gingerwashed down with more political small talk and our first engagement into the dark arts of poker (after a 90 minute eulogy on rules and technique from our host). The game is rigged from the start – Pauls chips never seeming to diminish (skulduggery afoot – me thinks).
Day Seven – Thursday 17th May – “Les Jours Des Grande Knockers” – Route “C” Sancerre (97 km)
At 0932 Roger, Terry, John and I hit ‘le rue. Terry and John are once again equipped for arctic warfare in spite of sunshine and an ambient temperatureof 18oC. Paul is going to catch us up, so, understandably goes back for a couple more hours in the sack.
We hit some very pleasant country lanes, helped by a tail wind and are quickly in the quaint little town of Dozny.
We take the D1 downwind to Narcy and then it’s a swift sprint into La Charite where we are due to have a leisurely coffee and lunch. Before crossing the Loire. En route we stop for another of Terrys many bladder-breaks. You’d think that this would entail a short stop, the seeking of some roadside shade and then a remount and off. Nothing so simple for Terry. To protect his modesty….. or as we describe it ‘ a gnarled remnant of a once great structure’….. this involves a thirty kilometre trek into the forest in search of a portaloo, followed by severalminutes of dress adjustment, re-adjustment and re-re-adjustment, copious belches and tweaking’s of lycra. On the upside, this gives the rest of us chance for our second shave and petite dejourner of the day.
Imagine Terry’s consternation, when we by-pass several suitable café-stop candidates only for Roger to say “There’s a better one further on”. Now, we are beginning to catch onto this ruse …. As we all know, there is not going to be a coffee stop. Before we know it, we’re over the Loire and back out into the countryside.
Terry’s indignation is palpable: “thirty bl**dy miles we’ve done. All we want is a coffee and we never bl**dy get one …..” This insular diatribe goes on for the twelve kilometres. We get used to tuninghim out and then, all of a sudden the attack on the ears recommences “…… for a piece a cake and a drink. I’m gonna tell my f***in’ MP; I’m gonna tell everyone on the forum, just you see if I …….”.
Roger manages to counter with a carefully chosen epithet of great impact and cutting wisdom: “stop f*****ng whinging, you fanny”.
Just short of Sancerre, Paul catches us and ironically, the pace begins to climb. On the outskirts of Sancerre, we pass a well-endowed female jogger who has Roger instantly enthralled, “Christ, did you see the kn***ers on that”. He then becomes unhealthily embroiled in a graphic description from shoelaces to headband, if it wasn’t for the tailwind, I’m sure he would have turned back. We pause a while to wipe away the drool from his jowls and then press on to the climb.
The climb to sancere
The climb to Sancerre is only a couple of kilometres, not exactly demanding and very picturesque, culminating in a small (pricey) village square at the summit where we finally stop for coffee. Terry is first there and he’s going nowhere. We try to order food but apparently (as we’ve found) France shuts between 12.00 and 2.00 – without exception – no wonder their economies up the swanny.
We at least get a coffee and Paul raids the local patisserie, pressurising them into selling us some cake (let’s face it, would you say no?). We sit, drink and eat. A passing local inspects the bikes and decides that Roger’s is the best. He engages Roger for a short while before tapping his way off with white stick and attendant Labrador.
With all these miles in my legs, I’m beginning to feel pretty healthy and am considering how much weight I’ve lost on the trip thus far as I sip my coffee. I’m feeling fairly contented, that is until Paul yells; “Hey Phil, with that cap you look just like Billy Bunter”. Deflation is only ever a few short words away.
The decent of Sancerre is both swift and chilly, where we hit the headwind that will torment our homeward journey.
The ride splits with Terry, Paul and I in the vanguard and John and Roger being more sensible. At the first small roundabout Paul does a circuit whilst directing Terry and myself onto the correct exit. He then re-joins me and asks “Where’s Terry?” Only Terry can get lost on the world’s smallest roundabout (perhaps he was following Garmin).
The pace drops post Cosne as Paul and Terry accommodate my slowing and it’s a bit of drag back to base where a welcome shower awaits.
We get engrossed in possibly the worst film ever made “Pashiondale” which somehow has won ‘best picture’ though at what, we can’t work out. As a consequence of this Paul is late lighting the barbecue and receives a bitter rebuke from Roger who stands there with half a cow in his hands. Still, our carnivores supper was great, followed by a much more controlled game of poker and a heated debate about thebenefits of riding in groups.
Day Seven – Friday 18th May – Lunch at Bohy
After a leisurely breakfast, the advance party sets off for St Amand to dump the rubbish – but, it being France, the dump is closed.
We return in time for our journey to the restaurant at Buohy which necessitates a traverse of ‘the incident of the dog’. Paul kindly offers to drop me off at the scene of the crime – the offer is politely declined.
The restaurant is actually one of France’s hidden gems (and also the first day where we’ve actually managed to stop for lunch). A fine first course of salmon mouse with hard-boiled egg and lightly marinated tomatoes’ is a joy. This is followed by home-made chicken chasseur and pasta, a selection of cheeses and freshly made vanilla ice-cream to finish it off. All of this accompanied by a bottle of local burgundy. And the cost …. €16 a head.
The Golden Lion
Terry is so taken by the whole experience that he gushes his approval in French “ trays bayonne” he says. The waitress wears a resigned smile, yet the underlying thought process is clear “what is this drooling, geriatric old English dodderer, trying to say?” Yet Terry is undaunted in his praise “bonnet de douche” …. We manage to get him back to the car before he falls asleep.
We have a quite (yet wet) evening and an early night for an early departure … the holiday is waning yet the memories will not …… so:
Put not your trust in the genie of the Garmin – Paper drawings of topography is the way forward
When Roger tries to sell this to you as gentle riding with a civilised lunch break at the half-way point; you should respond ……. “get thee behind me Roger”
Terry is the worst chooser of DVD’s on the entire planet
Rogers G&T’s are all G with very little T
Watching Jon’s dongle can be an edifying experience
Never leave Paul near the poker chips bank (and on no account, ever play Indian Poker with him)
If you’re coming to Roger’s, brush up on the following topics: lawn mower maintenance; mortar mix ratios; The French electrical wiring system; how to light barbecues; handling of rabid wildlife
Seriously – this is a great opportunity for convivial cycling amongst like-minded enthusiasts (and Terry) on roads that you can only dream about in dear old blighty. The rides are demanding (but in a nice way) and the hospitality is relaxing (in an even better way). If you get the opportunity, grab it with both hands.
Day 5 would take in the wonderful sights of Glasgow. The rain was obviously still with us so I stayed in the van. We watched them ride for about 10 miles and then went ahead to get more wet weather clothes for them, but now my kit was being shared out between them tho try and keep them warm enough.
Finally back home after a week on the road, this is a brief overview of what took place during this years LeJoG ride
Last Saturday Terry, Simon and myself left lands end for the 230 km ride to Tivton. Uknfortunatelywe had a bit of a head wind and the excitement meant that I think we set off a bit too hard. Jenny and Shonagh were with us at the start and met Steve Scott who, I guess, set off not too far behind us. The A30 route serves a purpose but is not the most inspiring ride, especially with all of the reflective markers just in the hard shoulder area, the number of those that we rode ov must have been in the hundreds. We were to meet Andy Jones at Exeter but with the wind and rain we ended up being way behind schedule, eventually we arrived at the hotel around 9pm soaked to the skin
Day 2, we left Tiverton and I decided I needed ibuprofen for my knee, I try not to take anything but I could see where this one was going. As we were leaving Weston Supermare we stopped for lunch with the ladies, Terry and Simons wives were with us as well as Jenny and Shonagh, and I decided that I would call it a day or I would just be delaying the inevitable retirement. Shonagh and I stayed with the riders for the rest of the day and kept pilling clothes on Simon as it got colder and wetter riding into the increasing headwind, eventually arriving late again
Day 3, Worcester to Preston. My knee felt a bit better so I hoped on the bike and did 80k with them at the front, doing my best to keep them out of the wind, by now they were both feeling the relentlessness of the challenge. Simpn used to be a club racer and on the first day did the longest ride of his life, closely followed by the second longest the next day so things were getting tough. I could feel my knee again so jumped in the car and again stayed with them while the van went on to check in to the hotel
Day 4 saw the cross over into Scotland, again I rode with them for the first bit then hoped into the van, the guys were really suffering on this section as this included the biggest climb of Shap which I did from inside the van. After Penrith I got back. On the bike to help them, the rain had started again so it was a miserable ride for them with aching legs, no zip and soaking wet bodies, eventually we got to Lockerbie and just laughed at the state of ourselves
Day 5 would take in the wonderful sights of Glasgow. The rain was obviously still with us so I stayed in the van. We watched them ride for about 10 miles and then went ahead to get more wet weather clothes for them, but now my kit was being shared out between them tho try and keep them warm enough. Eventually in Glasgow we found a superb little lbs run be a very enthusiastic young chap who got the guys kitted out properly. I rode the last 80 or so with them out of Glasgow and along Lock Lomond. Unfortunately it was just before the Loch that Simon had an exact repeat of my rear wheel and deraileur issue with his 1980 pinarello frame. Somehow he managed to repai it with a set of mole grips and 2 alen keys but his bike wasn't happy.
Day 6, the day I had been waiting for, this is the best scenery in the whole of Britain and the sun came out for us. I rode from the start up to Fort William, say up at the front and pedalled all the way down the long hill into Glencoe so Terry and Simon didn't have to brake, we made good time and their bodies were adjusting to what was being asked of them. We went slightly ahead to check out the route and found the cost of knocking 20km off the distance was a 15 percent hill for 3/4 mile, we went down the hill to meet them at the bottom and try to set their expectations and to their credit they took it quite well. I told Simon part way up that he still had gears left (he was on Terry's old, spare bike by now) and the usually mild manner chap dropped an 'f' bomb and told me he would stuff the bike in my mouth if I told him how to ride a hill, that was quite funny. By this point we knew that the weather tomorrow was going to be a headwind and very wet so it was decided that instead of riding to the hotel they would push on and take some of tomorrow's miles in, the managed an extra 20k which put them over the 200k for about the 4th time. I dragged them along into the headwind for the last section and also picked a guy up on the train that had ridden unsupported from London in 6 days
Day 7. We bid them a fond farewell and left them riding into a brutal headwind along the Cromarty Firth as we went to pick the hire car up so we could drive home the next day, we were probably away for over 2 hours and they covered 26 miles and had one puncture. As soon as we got back to them I got my bike going and did my wind blocking job. I stayed there until Helmsdale and got back in the van rather than waste strength getting up a hill that I would give no benefit on. By now it was freezing, raining and windy, the mist had set in on the tops of the climbs and it was just miserable. A cup of tea in the van gave them a bit of warmth and they set off again. A few miles further and we stopped to wait for them, when Simon turned up he was grey and shaking. I got back out the van so I could sit on the front and give them a steady rhythm to work with and that seemed to help. It was just drudgery for the last 80k, and that was for me, I hated to think how they were feeling but I think having some one taking the wind gave them a psychological boost. Eventually we hit John O'Groats, the relief was etched on their face sit had been a very hard ride all the way ough with just on day when it didn't rain. On thing that annoyed me was that they had taken the signpost from the finish so that on one could take a photo without paying, that was just tight
Anyway to round up this run through, I would say that the guys did incredibly well to get through all of this considering the weather, their legs and bums were sore, along with their shoulders and everything else. The was one puncture, Terry said he did 50,000 calories according to his garmin. Getting home in the hire car only took 11 hours and about 100 quids worth of fuel and I got a load of training and a not too sore knee ready for the Vatternrundan next week
If you think you have what it takes to get through this then just add your name to the LeJoG 2013 post, bythe end of the second or third day it's like doing a marmotte or a dragon ride every day, a challenge worthy of bagging
Club 10 Mile Time Trial - P817 - H.Q. Soberton Village Hall (Course & H.Q. changed because of road works and clash with Wickham Festival)
Course in brief: Soberton - Newtown - Hambledon - Soberton
Event held under CTT Rules - Stay Safe - Observe Highway Code - Enjoy Your Ride - Wear A Helmet
1 DAVE DALTON FAREHAM WHEELERS 24:30
2 SHAUN SMART SOUTHDOWN VELO 24:38
3 DARRYL RICE SOUTHDOWN VELO 25:04
4 ANDY LANGDOWN HAMPSHIRE RC 25:16
5 GARY FERRETT HAMPSHIRE RC 25:22
6 LINDZ BARRALL i-TEAM.CC 25:52
7 PAUL ASHLEY TEAM FELT 26:02
8 ANDREW WADDINGTON PORTSMOUTH NECC 26:20
9 DEN TAPPING HAMPSHIRE RC 26:40
10 ANDY ROOK i-TEAM.CC 26:43
11 TERRY FLEET TEAM AXIOM 27:08
12 MATTHEW PRATT HAMPSHIRE RC 27:11
13 DAVE POTHACARY SOUTHDOWN VELO 27:13
14 FRASER ELLISON i-TEAM.CC 27:19
15 TIM YAIR TEAM AXIOM 27:31
16 D RICH FAREHAM WHEELERS 27:57
17 ALUN TRIBE HAMPSHIRE RC 28:03
18 ALAN COCKRAM PORTSMOUTH NECC 28:07
19 BOB HATTON i-TEAM.CC 28:14
20 DAVE TRIBE HAMPSHIRE RC 28:29
21 PHIL CLACK FAREHAM WHEELERS 28:39
22 SARAH FARMER TEAM AXIOM 28:41
23 ALAN EMMOTT FAREHAM WHEELERS 29:11
24 M JONES FAREHAM WHEELERS 29:21
25 PHIL CHINN FAREHAM WHEELERS 29:33
26 A MALLETT SOUTHDOWN VELO 29:37
27 ANDY SAYNER i-TEAM.CC 29:45
28 CHRIS McGUIRE HAMPSHIRE RC 29:51
29 A McKELLAR SOUTHDOWN VELO 29:52
30 DAVID BARNES FAREHAM WHEELERS 29:52
31 SIMON JEFFERIES i-TEAM.CC 30:02
32 ANGUS FILEMAN FAREHAM WHEELERS 31:11
33 TONY WILCOCK FAREHAM WHEELERS 31:32
34 MICK BRADY FAREHAM WHEELERS 33:12
35 DEE FERRETT HAMPSHIRE RC 37:12
Special thanks to Roger DeVere for assisting me with the finish time keeping.
Thankyou to all the i-Team members who gave up their time this morning to act as marshals, time keepers, pushers off, photographers, sweepers, tea makers, signing on etc. - without you this event could not have happened!
And last but not least, thanks to all the riders who turned up and gave it a shot - see you again next year.
Governing Bodies & National Organisations
British Cycling is the National Governing Body for cycling in the UK whose aim is to inspire participation in cycling as a sport, recreation and sustainable transport through achieving worldwide success.
Union Cycliste Internationale
The International Cycling Union (UCI) is cycling's International Federation recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
British Cycling is the National Governing Body for cycling in the UK whose aim is to inspire participation in cycling as a sport, recreation and sustainable transport through achieving worldwide success.
Scottish Cycling is the internationally recognised governing body of cycling in Scotland.
Welsh Cycling is the internationally recognised organisation responsible for the administration and running of all six cycling disciplines in Wales. Welsh Cycling are responsible for all aspects of the sport within Wales, including grass roots and Commonwealth Games teams.
Cycling Ireland is the National Governing Body for the sport of Cycling on the island Ireland affiliated to the Union Cycliste Internationale.
Cyclists' Touring Club
As the UK's National Cyclists' Organisation, CTC has been protecting and promoting the rights of cyclists since 1878.
Audax United Kingdom
Audax United Kingdom is the foremost long-distance cycling association in the UK. running ultra long-distance cycling events, using a system of timed checkpoints to validate and record every successful ride.
Cycling Time Trials
Cycling Time Trials is an independent U.K. national governing body with origins that date back to 1922 and administers it's own unique brand of races against the clock, that are still popular with many club cyclists.
League of Veteran Racing Cyclists
The League of Veteran Racing Cyclists provides racing for cyclists who are veterans. To be eligible to join you must be 40 years of age or more.
Cycling England is an independent, expert body, working to get more people cycling, more safely, more often. Established in 2005 by the Department for Transport
Sustrans - National Cycling Network
A leading UK charity enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys we make every day.