Friday, 28 May 2010

ALL BACK SAFE AND SOUND.

Just a quick posting to let everyone know that we all got back to Poole from France just after midday today. All riders safe and sound.

Within the next few days I will post some additional photographs from the trip.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

TIME FOR LUNCH.


I didnt make a posting last night because there was not much to report. We had thunder and lightning and heavy rain during the night and it continued most of the day. We decided to stay at the site an extra night and didnt venture out until about 1500hrs. We found a very nice establishment for a meal last night and a good meal was enjoyed by all. Today we awoke to a dry day and broke camp and were on the road by 1007hrs. Todays route took us through some very hilly country and we seemed to be going up more than we were going down. The route brought us back to the coast at a place called Breteville which is just 4 miles outside of Cherbourg and means that we are well situated to catch the ferry back to the UK tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

A BAD START.


Today did not start to well. When I checked the bike first thing i found that the rear tyre had a puncture. Close examination revealed that the rear tube had exploded and blown a 12 inch hole in the tube and even pushed the tyre off the rim at that point. This must have happened yesterday when we walked into the town and the bike was left in the tent - it was very hot- lesson to learn! Then John found that he had a broken spoke and with a fully loaded bike it needed to be repaired. Peter then decide to check his tyre pressures and while pumping up his tyres managed to pull off the valve. Another lesson to learn! When we did finally set off it was to Bayeux to find a bike shop to get the wheel repaired on Johns bike and buy some more inner tubes. Within 10mins the mechanic had us back on the road again. Later on in the day we had problems with finding a campsite so we are back at Cataran. We have now altered our route for the next couple of days. Drops of rain whilst putting the tents up and we are unsure of the forecast. The photo shows the inner tube from my rear wheel and the gaping hole where it had blown. No puncture repair kit needed here.!

Monday, 24 May 2010

HE SAID HE WANTED TO CYCLE.


Dave ( The broom) Vaughan had said that he wanted to cycle through Normandy. This is what he spent some of today doing and it certainly was not cycling. Today was a rest day- time to reflect and rest up for a while. Time for a few chores - time to look around Arromanches - museum - D-day cinema - ice creams- pancakes - bike adjustment and planning the onward journey. The hill we swooped down into the town on has to be climbed back up tomorrow morning in order to continue our ride. This prospect is viewed in various degrees ranging from happy anticipation to unhappy dread depending on which of the team members you talk to!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

SUN STILL SHINING.


Although the day started misty by 10.00hrs the sun had broken through and it was obvious that it was going to be another hot day. Before we left the campsite Mike took a photo of Dave- John and myself sporting the bandanas ve purchased yesterday. The stars and stripes for Dave and John and the skull and crossbones for me. Today we visited the American cemetry at Omaha beach. We are now camping at Arromanches and we are planning to stay here for two nights with a rest day tomorrow.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Another great day cycling,


Still moving along the Normandy coast. Went to Utah beach today and St Marie Eglaisse and are now camped at a campsite in Cataran. The site is situated next to a canal. The owners managed to produce a meal for us this evening and we had a hilarious time listening to Johns tales and stories. John assures up they were all true! Today was a first for Chris and Dave as we cycled 42 miles - the furthest they have managed in one day - and this fully loaded with panniers etc . A lot of sea mist today but when the sun broke through it was very warm.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Arrival in France.


Arrived in France at 1015 this morning. Weather looking good. Easy days cycling of just 33miles today along the Normandy coast.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

CYCLE TOUR OF NORMANDY.

Early tomorrow morning I am setting off with some others for a Cycle Tour of Normandy.
The others in question are: John Donoghue and Dave (The Broom) Vaughan from Team 219 also
Peter Calcutt and Chris & Mike McEnnerney from the Dorset group of the Backpackers club.

No carbon fibre and titanium bikes on this trip- this one is all about touring bikes and panniers.
John, Peter and I are using our Revolution Country Travellers -albeit modified. Dave is using a Specialized Globe of uncertain history and I think Chris and Mike are using Giant heavy duty rough stuff style tourers.

As is usual we will be enjoying the fun of camping so we will be keeping our fingers crossed for good weather.

I will be making some posts to this blog as we go along if and when we have something of interest to report and if we have nothing worth telling you -then that is what I will tell you....!

We will be away for a week getting back just in time to enjoy the bank holiday back here.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

ONE YEAR FURTHER ON.

A year ago yesterday was the day that I escaped-took early retirement.

The year has not exactly gone to my original plan. The accident at the end of the ACCR was the start of it followed by the diagnosis of cancer a few months later and then further health issues that have all conspired to mess up my careful planning.

However the one thing that you have when you retire is the ability to use the entire 24hours of each day as you want so I have had plenty of time to reflect on this first year.

Here are just some of my thoughts-

It is a good thing that I have lots of hobbies and interests and belong to various clubs etc as without them retirement would be very boring. The ONE and ONLY thing that I miss about working for a living is the contact with workmates-the comradery-fellowship with others on a daily basis. Leaving work puts you in the position of 'out of sight out of mind'. Don't get me wrong-a few of the guys I worked with keep in touch and there are some that I meet up with quite often - usually to go cycling with. But in turn there are far more whose lives carry on and of which I am no longer a part of- this I feel is a pity but nevertheless a fact of life.

Throughout my entire working life I don't think that I ever really enjoyed being at work-I would always prefer being somewhere and doing something of my own choosing. Activities such as camping-backpacking-cycling-photography etc were always far more attractive things for me to be doing.
I am really enjoying not going to work-being able to spend all of my time doing the things that I want to do and enjoy doing.

How much different it would be if I had been a workaholic or just someone with a really strong work ethic and no hobbies or outside interests. As I said for someone like that retirement would be a boring and depressing situation to be in. For anyone who fits into these catergories I would advise against retirement- it would be wasted on you - it would be like owning a Ferrari but only being interested in driving at 30mph- a complete waste- no, if you fit into those catergories just leave retirement to people like myself who can get the most out of it.

I have never been able to understand people who win the lottery for instance and then say that it is not going to change their life and that they are going to continue working. It just strikes me as being very unimaginative. With almost unlimited resources and time the world really is your oyster.
I certainly don't have unlimited resources or indeed unlimited time but within the parameters of what I do have I feel that retirement has freed me up to enjoy far more of life than was possible when I was tied to the daily grind.

Retirement- I would certainly recommend it but only to those people who have things that they really want to do. If you are enjoying work - stay there!

Monday, 10 May 2010

DISASTER AT DUNCTON




Yes! For me Duncton turned out to be a bit of a disaster. It certainly didn't go the way that I had planned and it was my own fault .
Jason and I woke up on Sunday morning to a very dull and cold day. Neither of us felt on the right pace as we cycled the few miles to the start of the sportive- for my part I knew when I woke up this was not going to be a good day for me energy wise. Jason and I hung back at the start not wishing to set off with the main bunch - we didn't want to be swept along at a fast pace too early so we decided to set off with one of the smaller groups that started about twenty minutes later.
As the ride got under way it seemed to take me ages to get into a rhythm and I must admit that it passed through my mind to ride the short route. (Both Jason and I had signed on for the Mid length distance). The road conditions in West Sussex were terrible- one of the Marshalls had warned us that the problem of the route was Potholes and broken road surfaces. Look at the photograph of the condition of the road within a couple of miles of the start. This was on a downhill section- imagine hitting this at 25+mph on 23mm tyres. To be honest there were lots of downhill sections where I was scared. You just didn't see the potholes until you were right on top of them- not pleasant riding.
Not too far into the ride I received a text from Jason telling me that he had taken the short route as he was off the pace.
I hadn't even seen the signs for the short route split!
I carried on and was finding that I was riding better and my Garmin told me that my pace was on for a Gold band finish over the mid length route. However as the ride continued I got a bad feeling that not only had I missed the short route split but I had missed the mid length route split as well. If this was true it would be a disaster for me as all my training had been over the mid length route distance. When I arrived at Buriton in Hampshire I knew that I had messed up big time as this confirmed to me that somehow I had missed the signs for the split and was now committed to the Long route. I knew at that point that I had major problems as I realised that I would not have the energy to complete the longer route as it is half the distance further than the Mid length route.
I arrived at the timing checkpoint and feeding station where I ate a banana and a flapjack and also had an energy drink and then carried on.
About 10 minutes later I arrived at a long steep hill where other riders were having to dismount and walk but I managed to stay on the bike and kept spinning the pedals but I was suffering and suffering badly.
About an hour later I arrived at Harting Hill. Last year I managed to pedal all the way to the top- but last year I was on the mid route and this hill came much earlier in my ride when I still had lots of energy. This year I had almost completed the entire distance that I had planned on riding so the hill was much much further into my ride. The hill is a 14% so would normally be well within my abilities- but this time I got to within 100yds of the summit and had to unclip and dismount- I was totally exhausted and I wasn't the only one- other riders were getting off and walking as well. However I was so exhausted and blown that when I attempted to get back on the bike I fell off. At that point I knew that my ride was over. I had ridden the distance that I had trained for and this hill was a hill to far. If I had taken the mid route split (if I had seen it) I would have ridden this hill about 25 miles earlier and my ride would have been almost finished.
On checking the Garmin my pace at this point was showing a silver band finish- so it looks as if I would have achieved my silver finish if I hadn't messed up .
I gave Jason a call and explained my situation and he told me that he had just finished his short route and was having a cup of tea. We arranged that he would go back to the campsite and get his car and come out and pick me up. So much better than waiting for the broom wagon.
How I missed the signs for the splits I will never know. If I had seen the short route split I would have taken it as I didn't feel on form- after all Jason managed to see it! If I had seen the mid route split I would definitely have taken that-after all that was the distance I had trained for and was planning on doing- but to end up on the long route was for me - total madness.....!!
How did I miss those splits............?

Friday, 7 May 2010

Back at Graffham


For the next three nights I am camping at the C and C Club site at Graffham. On Sunday I will be riding in the Duncton Sportive which starts about a mile down the road. I have trained hard for this so it will be interesting to see if I manage to improve on my bronze finish of last year. Jason is joining me tomorrow as he is riding the sportive with me. Weather looks like rain tomorrow but with luck it could be dry on Sunday.

Lot's of Changes Ahead ....

I thought that it was about time that I posted another entry on this blog, although to be honest most days have seemed a bit like Groundhog...