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Now retired but busy still living..

Wednesday 28 September 2011


Within  just a few days of returning to the UK I have been out on the Felt cycling around the Dorset countryside. The weather has been great for cycling with very little wind and some nice dry days. This weather is set to continue so I will be out making the most of it.
The first time I got back on the Felt it really seemed odd....after a month of riding the Touring bike the Felt was really light and twitchy but after a few miles it was business as usual and after all the hills that I have ridden on the ROCK2UK I found that I was flying up the steepest hills that Dorset can offer.. Today I even managed to speed past a couple of twenty something year olds on a 20%. I was riding behind them when it dawned on me that I was able to pull out and accelerate past them.......Oh what pleasure!
Now I have acquired a pretty high level of fitness and ability I must make sure that I try to maintain it.....

Wow - what a trip that was......Everything went well until we had to actually start cycling...!!!   The weather in Spain was just too hot. I had originally planned to start the ride in September but John was unable to get the time off in order to complete the ride during September so we had to start the ride in mid August....Oh what madness..!!

They do say 'Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun'- well we certainly did that.
After the first days ride from Gibraltar to Ronda we really felt that we had bitten off more than we could chew...The route from Gibraltar to Ronda was uphill for the entire 62 miles....in temperatures approaching 112F the difficulty of what we had set out to do became all too obvious...

Starting in my next posting I will explain how we tackled the problems we faced and also share with you some of the photographs taken during the ride.

Tuesday 20 September 2011


JD and I are now back safe and sound in the UK.

The last few miles to Cherbourg were covered during a gap in the wet weather....However the wind continued and some of the gusts were really quite scary. On reflection, probably not the best of days for cycling with such dangerous winds but we both wanted to get home.

One good thing was that we managed this last section to Cherbourg without getting caught by any rain.......however - the rain did get us in the end.
With a kind of cruel irony, as we were standing in the queue to board the ferry  the sky's opened and it poured down. JD and I got pretty wet while all the smug car occupants in the queue remained warm and dry. Mind you- I bet that none of them had had a trip as exciting and memorable as we had experienced over the past four weeks.

After a break for the next week whilst I get some rest and try to re-adjust to life 'off' the road I will start to post on this blog again with a series of mini reviews of the overall ROCK2UK trip.

Saturday 17 September 2011

More bad weather!

Last night was a bit of a wild night. Wind and rain off and on throughout the night. This morning gave us more of the same. Due to the continued bad weather we have decided to stay on for another night. The farmers wife has allowed us to move all our gear into an out building and that is where we will sleep tonight. John has even erected his tent in there as can be seen in the photo. Talking of John, he is suffering with a few problems at the moment. First he has an infected left foot. This has been caused by having constantly wet feet from all the rain. His sandals have rubbed when walking as has his cycling shoes when riding. Secondly, he seems to have caught a chill- again caused by being wet through a lot of the time. Our plan is to remain where we are until there is a break in the weather and then we will try and get a ferry back to the UK. The next posting I will make will be to confirm our safe return. I will then not make any more posts for about a week while I enjoy the benefits of R and R. After that I will post a bit of a review of the trip. Thanks to all of you who have travelled with us by way of this Blog.

Friday 16 September 2011

Almost there!

Yes, we are almost at Cherbourg. It is four weeks ago that John and I left home to set out on this journey. After four weeks of travelling we have almost cracked it. Today we gave ourselves another nice day of meandering along with no pressure of time or distance. In some ways these last few days on the road have been amongst the best. All the hard cycling has been done and we can really enjoy the last miles of the trip. Up to now there was always the thought at the back of our minds of all the miles that were still to be covered. Well those miles have now been covered and I can tell you we are feeling pretty good. While passing through Portbal we stopped for a drink and a bite to eat for lunch. We got talking to two very nice ladies called Maggie and Allison who are over here for a few days cycle camping - they told us about the great farm site that they were staying on at Bricquebec which was about 11 miles away. So that is where we are camping tonight. If the weather is not too bad tomorrow we will complete the last few miles to Cherbourg and camp at a site about 3 miles from the port. We hope to have a day or two in th Cherbourg area before our return to the UK. I will let you know our final plans in my posting tomorrow night.

Thursday 15 September 2011

The Scenic Route.

Today we took the Scenic Route. We just programmed the Garmin for a Scenic cycle route and let it do its magic. We had a late start today- we didnt leave the site at Genets till about 11.00hrs. Just as we were leaving about 60 schoolchildren arrived complete with their pop- up tents and sleeping bags. Good timing on our part I would say- a campsite full of schoolchildren comes just under hell in my book. As we have so much time in hand we have decided to take the last few miles slowly and try and enjoy the scenery in this part of France. Tonight we our at a farm site at Agon Coutainville. This is near the coast and is about level with COUTANCES. We plan on another easy day again tomorrow. Somewhere in the region of 50 easy miles will put us within half a day from Cherbourg. Although I use the word Easy - make no mistake - some of the hills that we have climbed over the past three days have had a steeper gradient than anything in Spain or the Pyrenees. I have had the Garmin show gradients as steep as 22%. With four panniers fully loaded on each bike that is a real challenge. I am proud to report that neither of us has been beaten by any gradient so far- thats because our legs are like steam driven pistons- well that is what we tell ourselves as we grind up each step hill. The weather ya good today as you can see in th picture which was taken about 2 miles from tonights camp site.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Sunny and Hilly and Colder.

Last night was a very cold night and today turned out to be a sunny one. However there has to be a fly in every tin of ointment and todays fly was hills. As far as hills ( rather than mountains) are concerned today was a reasonably hilly day. John described it as f':!.,@?..g torture. Problem is I love hills and John hates them so we had a mixed day dependent on your viewpoint. John told me that he had nothing left in the tank at the end of the day. We are now at Genets. We are staying at the campsite that i stayed at with Peter, Mike and Chris earlier this year. The village has a really unusual bistro. I have been getting a lot of pain from my left collarbone where I broke it in my cycling accident two years ago. Obviously something that I need to get checked out on my return to the UK. It feels like we are on home turf almost as most of the way back now is the route I did a few months ago but in the other direction. Can't believe that we have almost done this. Oh, by the way I met a nice couple from Barnstable in North Devon last night and we chatted about the rock2uk ride. This morning the lady told me that chatting last night had really inspired her husband to plan something similar. I certainly hope it has inspired him to do something. Anyway he is going to check out this Blog and hopefully he will get in touch at some point via the comments.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Weather Improving - Hopefully.

Last night it rained all night long. It was still raining first thing this morning. It then turned to showers and three times I wiped my tent over trying to remove as much surplus water as possible in an attempt to pack the tent reasonably dry. In the end it was packed wet. We set off under black clouds but by midday it seemed to make a big improvement and the sun actually came out. Now we are more into the north of the country we have noticed it is both colder and hillier. We are now at Fougeres having completed 61 miles of very very hilly terrain. Everywhere we have been there are road maintenance crews out working on the roads- they seem to be doing it properly as well- no patching up like they do back home. Today we came across a stretch of road about 4kms long that was barred to traffic due to re-surfacing. We ignored the signs and the workmen allowed us to carry on through. Good job really because I have no idea which route we would have taken if they had told us to turn around. John is Ok but he did have a minor accident this evening. Not on his bike but in the showers. Apparently when he turned the shower on it was scalding hot- he leaned forwards to turn the tap to cold and slipped smashing his face on the protruding taps. When I saw him shortly afterwards he was bleeding profusely from a split lip. One side effect is that he is not talking as much as he was !

Monday 12 September 2011

Wet and Wetter

Yes the weather is not very good at all. Today we crossed the Loire which was another landmark on our route. We have reduced our mileage to about 50 miles a day because not only do we have rain but we have winds as well. After about 20 miles on todays route we saw a little cafe and thought that it would be a nice place to stop for a coffee- next thing we were both tucking into a steak and chips each. After we crossed the river it seemed to be uphill out of the Loire valley all the way to Chateaubriant which is where we now are. The picture was taken on the outskirts of the town and hopefully shows some of the wet weather we are having. A special mention for Jonathon who works at Inter Sport here in Chateaubriant . He is an ex cycling pro who two years ago replaced broken spokes on Johns rear wheel and on this trip he has re greased a dry pedal bearing for John. Looking at the weather forecast we could have an improvement about the middle of the week. John has a bar bag that he has now declared useless as the zipps on it have proved not water tight and everything in it got soaked and yes everything was wrapped in seperate plastic bags.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Eifel Tower. . . seen outside of Paris.

Today started dull and we thought that we were going to get more rain. Again we delayed setting off by about an hour. When we did set out the sun actually came out. It turned out to be quite hot on the road. Along the route we even saw the Eifel tower shown in the photo above. A few miles before this we saw a sign telling us that we were close to Las Vegas and that if we wanted we could gamble all our euros away playing blackjack or roulette. Mid afternoon we stopped at a cafe for a couple of lemonades and the young girl that served us told us that there was a campsite at a place called Chemile about 10kms away. She even phoned ahead to ensure that they were open and had space for us. So that is where we are tonight. Not a big mileage day at about 50 miles. Our average daily calorie burn for the trip is 4000 kcal. We do have problems trying to eat enough calories to replace those burned. As soon as I see another cake shop I will do my bit to redress the balance.

Saturday 10 September 2011

A Big Mistake!

Everyone had told us that today the weather would be Ok. Well they were wrong. We had rain from the early hours. At 08.00hrs it was still raining. Still everyone kept telling us that it would clear. We broke camp and finally set off at 11.30hrs. This was a Big Mistake! Today proved to be the wettest and most windy day of the trip so far. It did NOT STOP raining all day. We only managed 50 miles and we are now at a site in Pouzauge. No pictures taken on the road because it was just too wet. First thing we did on arrival at the site was a good hot shower- so, a picture of John entering the shower.

Friday 9 September 2011

Rest day.

Today we awoke to the sound of rain on the tents. Good excuse for a rest day we thought. Also staying on this site in Benon is a lovely couple. Their names are Lee and Jeanette and they anne from the Cambridge area. They have their caravan on site and they offered to drive us a few miles down the road to get supplies. John had not been in the shop more than a few minutes when he found a lot of cycle clothing at cheap prices. Needless to say he made a few purchases on top of the supplies we needed. This evening Lee and Jeanette allowed us to use their oven to cook some pizza and we spent a very pleasant evening in their caravan awning putting the world to rights. Lee and Jeanette were wonderful hosts and we wont forget their hospitality. This mornings rain did pass and the afternoon was warm and sunny. Hopefully it will be nice tomorrow morning when we must hit the road again. The photo today shows John showing off one of his cycle clothing bargains.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Another short day.

Just another day on the road. The weather is definately changing because we had rain during the night and it is cooler. Mind you we are also still getting the sun during the day. We had only been cycling for about 38 miles when we entered a village called Benon. There we saw a sign for camping at the Chateau. It looked a nice place so we have pitched up here. The Chateau is now used as a school and the site is a municipal site and is first class. It is also the cheapest that we have had on the entire trip. We calculate that we are now only about 250 miles approx to the Cherbourg ferry port. We still have plenty of time in hand so we can afford to have these shorter days and breaks.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

A Ferry Crossing

Today we had a Ferry trip across from Le Verdon to Royan. By taking the ferry we have saved ourselves the trip around the Bordeaux area- we have cycled it in the past and it can be a bit manic if you are on a bike. As we crossed the estuary we seemed to be leaving the clear blue skys behind and moving under more cloudy skys. Tonight we are in Pont l' abbe-D'arnoult about 80 miles from last nights stop. We have had some wind and rain which moved in overnight but we have been lucky so far during the day. The change in temperatures over night is now very noticeable. Gone are the hot days and nights of Spain and Southern France. The weather now is a bit like May or June in the UK. I have managed to come up with a nut and bolt in my portable bits collection to secure John's pannier rack properly so with a bit of luck that problem should be sorted. Planning on a bit of a shorter day tomorrow- somewhere in the region of 50 miles- it all depends on the weather now. Thinking about it the weather in one form or another has been a major factor throughout this road trip.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Short day's riding - 48 miles.

Yes today was a 48 mile day. We have now arrived in Lacanau which seems to be a village on a crossroads. Not a lot here- but it does have a campsite and a cake shop. What more does one need. The weather still good but it is now getting colder at night. John is starting to suffer at night with the colder nights and is finding out that you should not purchase a cheap supermarket special bag. One of the first things he intends to buy when he gets back to the UK is a decent bag. John has also been having problems with one of his pannier rack securing bolts. It keeps working loose. I don't think that it will fall out but we are keeping our eye on it. We realise that as we make our way north the weather will start to become more unsettled and that will feel odd after all the intense heat we had as we crossed Spain. Gibraltar is over 1075 miles behind us now. Tomorrow we will just push on and we hope to cross from Le Verdon to Royan on the ferry. We will just see where we get to. . . The best way to cycle not having a fixed daily destination- where ever we decide to stop will be our destination.

Monday 5 September 2011

Arrived at Arcachon

Although we had planned a short day today we ended up doing full 91 miles. The slightly cooler weather was a joy to cycle in. Added to that were the superb cycle tracks that we were able to use for the second half of todays ride. ( See photo) . Needless to say we are pretty much tired out so it WILL be a much shorter day tomorrow. This part of France is great with the Atlantic coast on our left and the smell of pine trees hanging heavy in the air. Unlike Spain there are campsites everywhere and they are much better than the 'building sites' that we have had to camp in when we crossed Spain. There are now clouds in the sky and rain is forecast. We will now turn in for an early night.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Another rest day.

After yesterdays exertions we have had a lazy day. Down to the beach and drinking coffee all day- just watching the world go by. We have decided that we will start to do shorter days. We have so much time in hand after tearing across Spain at double quick time due to the heat that we have calculated that we can afford to reduce our daily mileage and still keep to our target time. We reckon that we can now reduce our daily mileage to about 50 a day- this will enable us to see some places along the route- have less tiring days- and still finish on time. It is certainly cooler here in France, Perhaps with the reduced temperatures and the shorter distances we will actually start to enjoy this ride. Make no mistake, Spain was tough. The first day up to Ronda set the mark for the rest of the trip across Spain. The heat was totally energy sapping and I really don't want to experience anything like that again. Looking at it with my positive head on, it is amazing that I have been able to deal with it considering that just one year ago I had only just finished radiotherapy for cancer. It just goes to show what the human body is capable of. For those of you that like statistics here are just a few: Total Mileage so far 801.43 Average speed so far 12.78 mph Although the average seems low , when you consider the heat and gradients across Spain I am reasonably pleased.

Saturday 3 September 2011

Viva le France.

At last - we are in France. It seems a lifetime on the road but we are here. The route up the western edge of the Pyrenees was not as hard as the route up to Ronda on day one. Today even had some respite in the gradients and that plus the very slightly cooler weather made for a better day. We have at last got some nice green grass on which to pitch our tents. The site in Ondres is really nice. It is just up the road from Biarritz and has a bit of class about it- mind you after some of the building sites being passed off as campsites that we had to stay on in Spain anything is an improvement. John and I are so tired even after our rest day in Pamplona that we are going to award ourselves another day off tomorrow. John is finding his nights quite tough as since his thermarest exploded he is effectively sleeping on the ground and he always seems to find the lumpy bits of ground to pitch his tent. We obviously have various tales to tell about this trip that I have not mentioned yet, but dont worry all will be told on our trip review that will be posted throughout October. Various items of kit have failed such as Johns mattress - other items have been a real success and I know that some of you always like to read the kit reviews. The bikes - other than minor things- have been fine. The picture shows John taking a rest on today's ascent. Again we have lots more photos which will be posted on this Blog next month after our return to the UK.

Friday 2 September 2011

A day in Pamplona.

Our day started with chores. Bike checks - clothes washing and general sorting out. We took the bus from near the site into the city. The bus was a bendy bus and was very state of the art. We visited the main church and the bull ring and then we sat in the main square for lunch. After all the hot dusty miles we have completed so far this is total luxury. After looking at the streets where the bull run takes place in July each year we caught the bendy bus back to the site. Tonight we sat in the bar planning tomorrows stage. We had planned to cross the western edge of the pyrenees by way of the Col d' Ispeguy but because of the heat and how tired we are we have decided to make the crossing by Telleria and into France near Ainhoa taking a diversion to see the Gorramendi at 1074 metres . We feel that with panniers back and front it might be a slightly more sensible route- not that anything about this road trip is sensible and that includes us. With a lot of effort on our part and a bit of luck we should be in France this time tomorrow . If you are sat at home putting on weight and getting fatter and fatter and becoming more unfit with the passing of the years you should try a trip like this. You would not regret it and the memories will stay with you always. So many people have said to us that they would love to do something similar- if you are thinking that you would like to give it a go do it now - don't let the routine of daily life get in the way because if you do you will always stay at home. If you can help to improve the lives of those less fortunate than you by trying to raise funds for a charity of your choice as you cycle along then its a win win adventure in my book!

Thursday 1 September 2011


Today was another hot day. The picture shows the campsite just north of the city. Lots of other cyclists camping here as you can see. There is also a bar and a pool- oh what luxury! We deserve this after more than a week of travelling on the road. Tomorrow is our rest day and it has not come a minute too soon. We are both very tired and plan an early night. Will try and post more tomorrow. Night all!

Six weeks off.

 The visit to see the Consultant went quite well really ...   My ' numbers' have started to creep up again so I am going to be given...