Thursday, 28 June 2007

my 1st mountain

On the road to the Cul du pas de peyrol: from Salers to Murat.

the day started well, woke up to blue sky. the first time in six days. As the distance to Murat was only 42km's i had a late start and was on the road at about 9am. Usually i like to take it easy for the first 20 or 30 minutes however as i turned left out of the campsite the road was uphill straight away.

Still it was fun, the gradient wasn't to hard and i manged to get up to the 1st little pass in 4/5 gear.When i say "little pass" it was still 1241m above sea level! I remember thinking to myself that it wasn't that hard. Following the summit it was a gentle descent amongst the trees and little waterfalls. This lasted for about 3-4km's.

Then i came across the informed me from the here the pass was 481m in vertical height, the road was 5km's to the summit and that the average gradient was 9.62%. thinks....this won't be as hard as i thought...DOH!!!!!!

The 1st 3km's were easy, in third gear with a nice high pedal action. Even got me smiling. Then, i came across the last two kilometres...
I was approaching a corner, the exit hidden by the trees and i thought to myself "f**k, that looks a bit steep" and you know what....i was right! By now i was sadly in 1st gear and was i struggling. The ascent has been used in the tour de France ( the last time in 2004 when Mr Armstrong powered up it) and most recently in the "race for the sun" a few weeks ago. As i tried to carry on peddling i came across the following words written on the tarmac. " 2kms to the pass...gradient 16%".

It took me about 45minutes to cover the last 2km. I could just about turn the pedals and every 100m's or so i would have to stop and give my legs a rest. It was basically a switchback...1km, sharp turn, 1km to the top. Finally i reached the top of the pass. Even before i could get off the trike about a dozen people surrounded me, some of them even started clapping. Guess they must have passed me on the road in their cars! After about 5 minutes a couple of cyclists came over to have a look. They looked at me...looked at the trike...asked me in which direction i had come and then when i told them looked at me in disbelief!

I spent about half an hour on the summit, then started the descent. Lets just say that even though i wasn't doing a fast descent i must of hit out 45mph! At this point i would like to point out how glad i am that i spent an extra 200 quid on the big disc brake option.

The next day i cycled 24Km's to St. Flour where I'll be spending the weekend!

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

still smiling

well I've been in France now for just about two weeks and so far it's been smiles and happiness abound. Even getting soaked to the skin whilst triking in a thunder storm failed to get me down.

I got to St. Malo on the 6th of June at around 10pm in the evening, with of course no hotel booked. Now being a walled city, space does tend to be at a premium so i wasn't able to find a hotel that could accommodate my trike. Started vaguely triking down this road across the harbour and after about 1000m came across a lovely little hotel on the corner of a square. Adding to its charm of having a secure rear garden it only cost 35 euros a night! As you might of realised i spent the next day sight seeing around the town ( photos at )

I left St. Malo on Friday the 8th of June.

What a first day on the road......
lesson one: In France "N" roads aren't really suitable for bikes, let alone trikes. image a two lane north circular!!!!

lesson two: learn to stop! i went far to far on the 1st day spending almost 9 hours on the road. Now i average about 6

so over the last couple of weeks the rhythm of life has changed. I wake up with the dawn chorus....mutter to myself about it being far to early to be awake and go back to sleep. I tend to get out of the tent anytime between 7-8am. Breakfast and packing up tend to take about an hour and then its on the road.
Depending on how i feel and what's ahead on the road, i usually aim to do 60-70km's a day.I tend to get to the campsite around 1-2pm. Then its just a question of pitching the tent, having a shower followed by a nice lie down. Afterwards it's into town for food, beer and a good leg stretch. Repeat that for 3-4 days and then have a day off.

Travelling through the countryside has been such a joy. the heat of the sun warming me as i pass amongst the trees, the smell of crops ripening in the field, the rustle of a breeze amongst the corn fields. The silent flap of a raptors wing as it sees me approaching from its perch. My exhalations rising in intensity as the road rises up over the hill. The fear and uncertainty as the dog races to its masters gate as i glide pass. The sound of a long and easy descent when all is quite except the sound of the tyres on the road and the slowing beat of my heart.

Now as for my body....well the legs are getting used to the workload and i reckon in about another two weeks they'll be sweet. The suntan lines are another matter all together :)

in this area of France its mostly rural with lots of small and achingly pretty villages. each with a church, baker, cafe and maybe a hotel/bar. On Sundays the only things that are open is the church and maybe the cafe for an hour or two and that's it! Talk about a flash back to the 70's. During the week between 12-2pm the only places open are the restaurants serving up their " plat de jours". On the up side the shops stay open till 7pm ( well they have to get their 35 working week in somehow) which gives me plenty of time for my siestas.

I'm slowly getting back into this thing called "writing things down" and "using more than 4 words to let people know how its going". My mum will be ever so pleased.

Most of the campsites that i stay at have a spare plug socket in the shower block so that i don't always have to relie on my solar panel. Which is just as well because the last week has been rain, followed by even more rain.

Right now I'm in Salers, which is little gem of a village perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the mountain. Its medieval in construction and stills retains all the charm and character of 500 years ago.

Tomorrow, well i'm off over the mountain.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

well, its been a week

Well I spent the last week traveling from Wokingham down to Weymouth. During that time I’ve managed to roll the trike, put a hole into one of the panniers (which aren’t waterproof by the way even if the manufacturer says they are) sleep rough on the side of the road and come to thank the fact that I’ve gave up smoking in January.

Luckily I have been enjoying my time on and off the trike and some of the local ciders have been a real treat. As always, I recommend the red lion pub in Swanage for drinking and the Man of War pub at the campsite on durdle door, just because sometimes the 1 mile walk uphill from the pub in the village was out of the question.

For the first week of many I’ve been taking it easy and letting my legs and lungs get used to the strain. What I have come to enjoy is the fact that I have got so much time on my hands. Even if I spend 6-8 hours on the road because most of the time I have been sleeping in my tent you tend to wake up when the sun rises and the birds start singing. You realize how many hours there are in the day!

I’ll be getting on the ferry to France in the morning and hanging out in St. Malo for a few nights before heading south.

All in all, this is so much better than working