Friday, 14 October 2016

Update October 2016

05.10.16. From  Home

The passing of sixteen months probably ranks as a pretty long interval! Our absence from the blog does not, however, mean that we have been inactive cyclists. During October 2015, it seemed a grand opportunity to test out our recently acquired camper van and head off for the west coast of Scotland! Perhaps not everyone’s choice of a holiday destination in autumn but having taken the risk we were rewarded with very fine weather and a country displaying the glorious scenery for which it is rightly famous. Scotland also boasts some very fine cycle routes about which we knew very little. Having made the discovery, we took every opportunity to follow them and as a result we investigated off the beaten track woodland, beaches, lochs and the odd pub. It is a truly wonderful way to explore this outstanding region although the ever changing and often inclement weather does require daily scrutiny. 
We knew that an expedition this year was always out of the question as I had granny duty to fulfil and babies’ arrivals are notoriously difficult to predict. However, Bea arrived on schedule to the delight of all concerned. Her birth was only part of a decision to delay any longer ride; Al is healed but reluctant to complete the Odyssey  and the summer was reticent in its appearance. We Brits whinge endlessly on the subject of the weather but it is unusual to overhear general conversation among the local French population on that very subject. Suffice to say, consistently good weather didn’t arrive until June! Thus, rides were limited to several hours at any one time followed by a hot shower and a cup of tea. As ever, the Lot beckoned and we spent several weeks exhausting ourselves climbing Hans’ “not that steep!” hills. We also enjoyed the privilege of watching the Tour de France rush through Viellevie a village close by, which fully exploited its two hours of glory. Balloons, beer tents and much goodwill was in evidence and enjoyed by a large crowd of locals and visitors. 
 Despite having a campsite to oversee until September, Hans was organising a trip to Greece which would entail some 1000kms and goodness only knows how much height gain. I can’t pretend that I was not envious but in no way would I be able to accompany someone who can ride like the wind and climb like a mountain goat on a bike!

La Vélodyssée - the EuroVelo 1 Atlantic Coast Cycle Route. Photo:

By September I had given up any hope of riding any distance despite mentioning on various occasions that I would like to complete the ride we had started last year. So, imagine my surprise when, from out of the ether, Al suggested I might take time out to finish the Odysee. I kept my enthusiasm in check for one whole evening before rushing out to the barn to examine the condition of our equipment; not pristine but good enough for 700 odd kms. I confess to eliminating the possibility of camping so Sherman was likely to be much lighter than on previous wanderings. Hoorah!

Knowing that I would be alone in the event of a breakdown, Al instructed me on the basics of bike and trailer maintenance and two days later, we set off for St. Gilles la Croix de Vie. The plan – always a plan – was to spend the first night together in a ‘nice’ hotel after I had spent the afternoon commencing the cycling from just short of where we had finished 16 months earlier. The following morning I would ride off into the sunrise and Al would return home after agreeing to pick me up either after mission accomplished or when and if I copped out for any reason. Hopefully the former!

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