Four days Cycling in Normandy

So this year I have arranged a short and fast trip in France with three other guys from the Tri Club. We are cycling in Normandy for a short 4 day trip. We should cover just under 600km. Yesterday evening we drove down to Portsmouth to get the overnight Ferry to Caen. Of course we stopped off for a few beers while we were waiting for the Ferry.

Plus some more when we were on the Ferry

The ferry drops you off at 6:45 CET so an early start and it was a great sunrise over the port.

We stopped for a coffee in Trun and as we got there I remembered that Bettie and I had been to this Café before but I can’t remember when or why we where there. Still we had coffee and cake from the nearby patisserie.

I am sitting in the Ibis hotel as I write this after covering the first 130km of our trip. We stopped on route for some lunch in a hotel/restaurant that was a bit upmarket for four sweaty cyclist. The food was great, but I think Jeeves was suffering from too many hours at work and the early start as he had a quick dose between courses.

Now at the hotel and a few pre dinner beers. Jeeves is at it again this is just before he went to bed for a quick pre dinner nap.

We are off to Chez Fano for dinner as recommended by the hotel receptionist. I’ll update on how we get in and tomorrow’s ride in the next post. I also haven’t forgotten the the canal walk is owed a for post as I think I’m only up to day three. But for now tomorrow will see us withing sight of this.

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Day 3 Kintbury to Marlborough Via Great Bedwyn

Today the sun was up early again and was full blast. We had a plan to get to Marlborough but as its about 7 miles north of the canal it would involve a bus ride. (It’s interesting to note that the river Kennet passes through Marlborough but the canal heads south out of Hungerford). Also we hadn’t booked accommodation for this part of the walk, because we were not sure how far we would get on the first two days and didn’t want to book a place we couldn’t get to. The plan for today was to walk as far along the canal as we felt comfortable with, considering the heat and the surface of the path and then stop at a pub and see where we could get to. Either by taxi or bus. The walk although along the canal is more or less flat we still were rising through to the high point of the canal. It’s not a lot of climbing but it does make a difference over the days and at the end of the day we should be up on the plateau.

Here are some photos we took along the way.

 

So we made it as far as great Bedwyn where we stopped for some refreshments at the Three Tuns pub. They didn’t have rooms so we called a few guest houses in the local area that were all fully booked. After a chat with the very friendly barman, we were informed that we could catch a number 22 bus to Marlborough, which stopped outside the pub. But if we wanted to make sure the bus stopped for us, its was best to walk about 300m down the hill to the train station as it had been know to bypass the pub sometimes. A quick check on AirB&B and we were booked into a nice room in Marlborough. We had about a 10min wait for the bus which duly arrived on time and also stopped for us. as you can see from the photo it was £4.60 so I guess we saved about £15 on the taxis fare.

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Also tonight was the world cup semi final where England were playing Croatia. So we need to check out which pub to watch the football in. I like to have the atmosphere of a group but try to avoid the more aggressive supporters. If possible, well after a good start it’s best not to reflect on the match. Still the Euros are in a couple of years!! Other than the post match curry that brings an end to day 3.

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Day 2 Midgham to Kintbury

Day 2 started with the Sun already high in the sky. It looks like another sun-feast yesterday was in the high 20°C and today was looking the same. Let’s hope that there will be plenty of shade along the towpath. We planned a shorter walk about 19km, although this always goes up with diversions along the way. We had booked a room at the Dundas Arms. The pub/hotel was right on the canal and looked great on their website it also had good reviews.

We were walking from Midgham to Kintbury via Newbury. Now according to the guide book we were about 7km behind the programme but as we know from last years cycling trip it’s not a race and more about the journey than the destination. We stopped of at Newbury to have a coffee and get some sandwiches for later in the day. Also some compeed for my feet as I had developed a blister on one and the other one was very sore (No photos).

The guide book stage say we should of made it to Newbury on day one and Marlborough on day two and as we are going to stop at short by 10km means we will be behind the schedule, but we have a plan for day 3 to catch up.

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Day 1 Reading to Midgham

The day started well but we were running late and needed to walk the 3km to the train station in record time just to get the train to Reading and the start of the walk. Fortunately Norma “our next door neighbour” was just leaving and offered us a lift. “Good news” we wouldn’t miss the train, “bad news” the train was cancelled and we had to wait 30 mins for the next one. Still we made it to Reading and our walk could start. We had planned a longish walk on Day one according to the guide about 24km.

As you can see from the strava map it was 27km. The heat had also taken a toll and we were tired when we got to the B&B we had booked for the night. It is called the Meadow Thatch and was very nice we had our own living room and a very comfortable bedroom.  Just what we needed after a long walk. We managed to stop for dinner at the  Row Barge on the way to the B&B.

Here are some photos of the walk.

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Walking the Kennet and Avon Canal

Last year we visited the famous, Caen Hill locks, Bettie and I hatched a plan for a holiday. We were visiting Bath and stopped at the at Caen Hill locks on the way home. Friends of ours “Brendan & Gwen” had cycled along the Canal a couple of years ago and we thought it might be nice to walk it.

We bought a guide book to help with the planning. Although as long as you follow the canal you can’t go wrong. The guide is very helpful with finding accommodation and knowing the distances you intend to travel per day and where pubs and stops along the way.

I’ll update on our walk by the day as we go. It should take us 6 days to get to Bath. And here is the route and profile.

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Milano Sanremo

I have slowly been picking off the Monument Classics races. First off was Paris Roubioux, followed by the Round Van Flanders onto Liege Bastogne Liege. I can now tick off Milano Sanremo. This is the longest of the Monuments at 292km. As you can probably workout the ride goes from Milano all the way to Sanremo on the Med just along from Monaco. I met a friend Stef and his mate Bocker in Géraradmer in the Vouges mountains where we had a short wet ride. We started out in fine Sunny weather but as we went over the top of a mountain a thunder storm broke and 45mins later with lighting all round us we got back to the hotel. I was so cold and wet I just got in the shower with all my kit on just to warm up. The next day we drove to Milano and booked into the hotel at the start of the ride. The day after saw the three of us in the 1st grid and ready to ride 292km of road in the front pack. What a great ride. We left Bocker on the big climb before hitting the coast. And Stef left me just before the last two climbs, this was due to my legs giving out. But we all made it to the Finish. What a great days riding.

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https://www.strava.com/activities/1629727924/embed/a0bfdc584815539bb17ad894bd4b6971c82b9b05

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Monty B and Winter Returns

That’s right Winter has returned to the Alps, we were expecting spring skiing in March. That’s long sunny days with hard packed piste in the morning with slushy snow in the afternoons.

Well Bettie and I decided to Ski Brévent area yesterday. Two reasons for this were it is in full Sun all day and provided a bit of shelter from the wind that had closed The Le Tour ski area at the head of the valley. Well we were forced of the mountain at 3:30pm due to – 20°C temps at the top station and frozen fingers. Here is a photo we took and it looks great with Monty B just above my head, But it was officially “Bloody Freezing” PS note that “Pappa Smurf” has returned “Green Hat” it’s still the warmest hat that I have and I’ve tried lots over the last 25 years believe me!

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This is the view from our balcony this morning with Monty B just above us. We are planning to go ski Les Grand Montets area today. Let’s hope that its a bit warmer today.

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Here’s a collection of some of the photos we have taken.

 

The forecast is for a couple more days of Sun before the Snow returns and we are expecting another meter of snow next week, with sub zero temperatures every day.

 

Well that was just Before Alex arrived and Bettie left to go home to meet her Father who is coming to stay a few days before we head for Italy and a cycling holiday. It’s a tough life being retired.

Alex is here so that he I and a couple of friends can plan an attempt to skitour to the top of Monty Blanc. He has hatched a plan for a week of training in preparations for the tour to the top of Monty B.

One trip was to ski tour to the Grand Paradiso which is the highest mountain contained within Italy. It is just over 4000m high. Day 1 was to tour to The Victor Emmanuel hut  and then on Day two skin to the summit of the Grand Paradiso. Well I say skin but at the top it was a crampon walk up and across a Glacier and then a room know scramble to reach the summit. Here are a few photos from the trip.

As I write the end of this post I am sitting in the bar of Hotel Dory in Italy. We didn’t even try to get to the top of Mont Blanc. There are several reasons for this but the main one being that the winter has returned and two days of snow were forecast and duly arrived. We also learned that we would need more than a day to recover from a 4000m ascent. Also I was pushing time because I had to get back to the UK in time to fly out to Italy. Alex, Chris and I did skin up to the top lift in le tour. More photos.

And finally our French Ski trip is over and we have had a great time in Chamonix although we didn’t ski as much as we thought we would, also we didn’t try nordic skiing or snow shoeing and many of the other thing we planned to do. Still next year we may get to spend a whole season next year.

Next post will be about cycling in Riccione, Italy.

 

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