Contents

Editorial
President's Page
Easter
Technical Topics
Errata
Back to the Fuchsia Rides
Charnwood Chatter
General Knowledge
South Leicestershire
Easy Riders
A Summer in France (part 15)

Editorial

Wanted!!!!!! New Cycle Chat Editor required urgently.

As I am sure all of you know I have been experiencing problems with my Internet for some time. I have now decided that it is time for someone else to take over as Editor and I am finding it increasingly difficult to produce this magazine because of these problems. If you feel that you would like to have a go please contact Ray Clay for details. Without an Editor there is no magazine!

I see from your reports that you have been enjoying the lovely sunshine we have been having recently. I know that some of you have already had great holidays at Easter etc. and I have enjoyed reading about them.

My best wishes to Penny Clay on her recent illness, I hope that she soon feels much better.

I have decided to resign from editing the magazine as I have been having a lot of problems recently, see page 16. I feel that it is time for someone else to take over. I have enjoyed the job and shall miss it but I also need to update my computer and will no longer have the program required for this. I have been using Publisher 2000 so you can see it is an old version.

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone for their help and support particularly Ray and Penny Clay and my family.

Many thanks.

Ivy Allen
Retiring Editor

Contents

President's Page

Ray Clay

What month we've had! lt`s been the hottest April for years and ideal to get on our bikes. Having said that, Penny and I carted our bikes down to Devon just before Easter and didn’t use them all week. Now that our daughter has rnoved to Dawlish we shall be travelling south more. lt used to be the case where we drove up to the Highlands to see Penny's rnother two or three tirnes a year. The trip to Dawlish was very enjoyable even with the lack of cycling The beach is very enticing for the young grandchildren and a trip on the railway was a must. Our seven seater car came in handy for us all to explore the lovely countryside around Dartmoor.

Of course, the countryside around here has a lot to offer. Burleigh Woods is on our doorstep. Last week we had a walk through the woods and the bluebells were a delight. I read somewhere that the Outwoods boast the best display of bluebells in the country, as well as arnong the oldest rocks in the world.

Unfortunately, l missed the David Sulley rides this time. I did manage it last year and enjoyed the countryside around Lutterworth very much. I understand that the event went very well and was well attended. Our thanks go again to Dave Gimshaw, the organiser.

l think that we should still keep our eyes open on the question of the possible sale of Forestry Comrnission land. When this was first muted there was a massive petition against the sale proposal. The government backed down but l feel that the matter is still simmering. Many people feel, myself included, that if woodland is sold, it is possible that, eventually, access could be compromised.

ln Northern Ireland, the debate on the question of the mandatory wearing of helmets is going on. lt looks as if the ministers there have approved the first stage of a law, which is ominous.

The CTC is vehemently against cyclists having to wear helmets. Among a nurnber of reasons, the view is that it will put people off cycling which will have the effect of more of the population being unfit and obese. Let's hope common sense will prevail.

I thought the dinner and prize giving went off pretty well. For a change, the event was held at the Forest Hill Golf Club. Nearly 30 of us sat down to a very pleasant meal and this was followed by the presentation of the trophies by yours truly. Shame that, as is the usual case lately, more prize winners didn‘t attend. All in all though, l think it was well received. lt rnade a change from the skittles venue.

l’ve got John Allen‘s "Back to the Fuchsia Ride" down in my diary. All being well, l'll be there. lt was a very pleasant ride last year and well supported. l think the state of my knees will only allow me to do one of the 25 mile routes around the Market Bosworth area. l'll leave the 100 mile route for others to enjoy!

Contents

Back to the Fuchsia Rides

Over 50 riders took part in this years event choosing all routes and distances to suit them. So from a leisurely 25 miles route to the longest covered during the day of 100 miles there was something for everyone.

As always those cycling to and from the event had this mileage added to one or more of the routes and the total mileage will appear on their "Years Record" Certificates. Youngest riders were the Jones sisters of Castle Donington - Heather (11) and Sadie (6), each stoked one of the family tandems with Dad Stuart and Mum Teresa.

Large contingents from Coalville Wheelers and Leicestershire Road Club enjoyed the event as part of their club run.

Thanks to the proprietor of The Fuchsia Centre at Thornton Nurseries John Smith, a former CTC member, and his family for the wonderful hospitality yet again.

Furthest travelled was John Rootkin of Essex CTC who motored up to complete the 50 miles to log up points for the national CTC touring competition.

Longest distance cycled was 103 miles recorded by Stephen Dee of Shepshed.

Two historic cycles were ridden, the late Bill Seagers Dawes by Dave Smith of Thurnby and the late Les Kirks Falcon by Ray Clay. Their original owners would have been delighted.

Thanks to Jean and Keith Lakin for their help and also thanks to those who rode or supported the event. It was greatly appreciated and it was obvious that everyone had a great day awheel which made it all worthwhile.

John Allen
Contents

Errata
Oh Yes there was!

John Allen
Promotions Officer

In the previous edition I stated that there were no medal winners for the county CTC events in 2010. After checking through the results sheets again it was discovered that Neil Dixon (South Leics CTC) had in fact won a bronze medal. I apologised to Neil for this oversight and his medal was duly engraved along with all the other awards and trophies.

Could I take this opportunity to remind our dedicated event organisers that I do need a copy of event results sheets so that riders who have supported our events receive their “Years Record” certificates made up and also for medals etc. A copy of the results sheet sent to Bob Kynaston would be absolutely fine along with name of helpers, marshals etc..

Many thanks again.

Contents

Technical Topics

by Peter Witting

Shimano's Good News?

Do you struggle up hills using bottom gear? If so, you would benefit by fitting lower gears. I explained in December 2009 how to match ultra-low Shimano XT (offroad) gearing while retaining STI (road) levers. But in December 2010 in Cycle Chat I asked how long before Shimano would scrap their 9-speed Tiagra STI levers?

Well the end is nigh — the 2012 Tiagra groupset is 10-speed. That makes it difficult for touring cyclists who want the lowest possible gears, having a reliable 9-speed cassette and chain, but still want STI levers to use with conventional dropped handlebars. You can’t mix 9 & 10-speed kit. If you plan to gear lower in the future, there seem to be two options: Either buy the 9-speed Tiagra STI levers now to use later, or believe the press release from Shimano. They gave the surprising advice that if you use the new 10-speed Tiaga system with a triple chainring set, then you should use a 9-speed chain rather than the expected 10-speed chain. Clearly they believe reliability would be a problem using a 10-speed chain, so the 9-speed option is good news. But you would still have to find a 10-speed cassette that goes to the extremes of the 9-speed XT models whose largest sprocket is 32 or 34 teeth.

Rare as Hen’s Teeth

Two items never seem to be sold at bike shops: Waterproof saddle covers and waterproof caps. We get over the first problem using free supermarket bags, though a bit unsightly. And although waterproof helmet covers are available, plus winter hats, there's never a summer rain cap. I used to buy mine from Eager Sport until the owner retired. Going online I found that Prendas Ciclismo had filled the niche. The £7.50 caps from Italy are similar to a design from the 1980s which ultimately leaked at the seams - time will tell if these are better. And if you do want a waterproof saddle cover, Brooks sell the proper job for £4.99 to keep their leather saddles from rain damage.

Rims — You Pays Your Money...

In a recent CTC "Cycle" magazine Chris Juden favourably reviewed some Exal rims suitable for a touring bike as a cheaper altemative to Mavic. The Belgian Exal Emi was set up by former Alesa management, so know their stuff. The Exal LXI7 rims cost around £l8 from Spa Cycles. The Mavic A7l9 cost around £40, while DT Swiss TK540 cost £58. Worth noting if you need a wheel rebuilt.

Impulse Buys

The York Cycle Show always involves browsing the stalls for kit, whilst trying not to buy now and regret later.

Two items I haven’t regretted are both workshop tools.

Contents

Leicester Easy Riders

with Rose Holman

March 20th, Jim, Dave, Norman, Ian, Richard and Theo met at Braunstone Cross Roads. Also Nancy, June, Andy and Pete. Their intended stop was Greenacres. Nancy, June, Andy and Pete decided to the direct route but later decided on coffee at Kirby Mallory race course café. The rest of the party carried on to the original stop at Greenacres via Merry Lees and Barlestone. Lunch was taken at The Gate in Carlton. Return journey was Barlestone, Merry Lees and Botcheston.

On the 3rd April, Ian, Andy, June, Pete and I met at Braunstone Cross Roads for our ride to Seven Oaks. We travelled via Groby and Ratby arriving early as there were lunches biooked for Mothering Sunday and we wanted to arrive before the rush. After 11's we rode through Newtown Linford and Anstey where June and Pete stopped for lunch. The rest of the party split up in Glenfield. It was a nice sunny day and we were home before the rain.

Nancy, John Moon, Barratt, June , Pete and I had a ride to Desford Birdland Centre, after 11's I left the rest to come home to do a bit of gardening. The rest of the group carried on to Thornton Resevoir for lunch. The faster group did a car assisted ride. It was good having John and Barratt join us.

There will be a runs meeting at my home on Tuesday 5th July at 2.00pm. Please try to come. If anyone can't make it to the meeting could the leaders please contact me with details of the rides they would like to lead by the 28th of June.

June Mills and Pete Butler may be taking over the Librarians job, for details contact Pete on 2761284.

Contents

GENERAL KNOWLEDGE

Martin Bulmer

After the big freeze which disrupted our early runs, and following our New Year Dinner at The Queens Head in Heather, we got back out onto the road around the middle of January, visiting a number of old haunts, and some new ones; notably The Plough Inn at Keyworth, where we coincided with a Loughborough group. Keith Tilley took us to Fradley Junction for a Sunday roast in mid-February, and we visited Soo's house for her birthday gathering in March.

Another new lunch venue was The Gate Inn at Awsworth. It is not easy to find, and not in the prettiest of surroundings, standing as it does on a small industrial estate, but well worth a visit if you are in the area. lt doesn't do food though, so plan to take you own.

The Birthday Lunch in April was well attended, thanks go to Martyn Ayling for organising the venue again this year.

Our Easter tour was based on the Delamere Forest near Chester. We arrived at our accommodation in bright sunshine, with the temperature at 25°C, to find a comfortable, spacious chalet in the centre of Delamere Forest Park. A short walk took us to Blakemore Moss, a small lake made by clearing and flooding a former boggy area. As we approached, a strange background noise grew louder. At first it sounded as if there was a motorway nearby, or some factory machinery, but as we drew closer to the lake it became apparent that we were hearing the sound of many hundreds of birds, all calling continuously. I have never heard such a sound before!

On Easter Saturday the weather, though still bright, had cooled to a more comfortable cycling temperature and we joined the Easy Riders at their camp-site less than half a mile away, from where we set off in a north-easterly direction through lanes and villages to elevenses at the Anderton Boat Lift visitor centre. While we were there, we were able to watch the lift in action as two boats were transported, one up, one down, between the River Weaver and the Trent & Mersey Canal.

After this we continued eastward towards Knutsford for a look at the Penny-Farthing Museum, with the world's largest collection of Penny Farthings hanging from its ceiling. This was followed by lunch at a local pub, the Lord Eldon.

Leaving the Easy riders to follow their own route back, we returned via more lanes, an off-road route on the track-bed of a disused railway, some farm tracks and then finally some forest trails back to our chalet after a ride of about 42 miles.

Saturday night found us at the now traditional communal pub meal, thanks to Lyn & Pete for arranging that.

For our Sunday run, Joe arrived at 8.30a.m., having driven from Appleby Magna. We granted him a brief rest for a cup of tea, then set off southwards, up quite a steep hill out of the Forest Park, and towards the Peckforton Hills, an area new to me which looked interesting on the map, so I thought we'd take a look. l was glad we had, because as we approached the hills, the ruined Beeston Castle looked spectacular on its craggy hill-top setting, together with the tower of Peckforton Castle (now a hotel) on the next hill, guarding the lower lands around.

We crossed the range of hills following cycle route 45 up a climb so steep that we were relieved when we came to a gate and had to dismount. Beyond the gate, the track was paved with cobbles, probably associated with the medieval castle nearby. There was no riding up those, so we pushed to the top, and on gaining normal tarmac again, we soon arrived at a local craft centre, The Candle Workshop, for elevenses. One local craft practised here would seem to be that of extracting all moisture from food, so after crunching our way through very crispy bacon cobs, and munching splintering toasted tea-cakes, we continued southwards, keeping the hills on our left now. We crossed the Wych Brook at Dymock's Mill, taking us into Wales.

Tuming north west, we retumed after a couple of miles into England via Sam Bridge, where we stopped at the Queen's Head for lunch, sitting on the English side of the brook, looking back into Wales a few yards away.

Then it was north to Famdon, where we viewed the medieval bridge across the Welsh border; by now the River Dee. Continuing north we rode through Aldford, a handsome estate village with a gate leading into the grounds of Eaton Hall, the country seat of the Duke of Westminster.

The planned route then took us across a series of three ancient packhorse bridges over the River Gowy, which Soo & the Easy Riders had crossed two days before, then via Kelsall to home, a ride of over 50 miles.

On Monday we set off on a forest trail heading north west, then rode on, skirting Frodsham to tum east on a track through lnce Marshes. Our surroundings became gradually more industrial, as might be expected from a thoroughfare named "Oil Sites Road", until we began to wonder if we were still on a public highway. The "No photography" signs, and barriers across the road increased our doubts, but we never reached a barrier to cycling, nor ever passed a "no authorised personnel" sign, and arrived eventually at the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum for elevenses.

This museum is now the National Waterways Museum, and from what we could see out of the cafe window, there was a great deal to see, and a lot going on. We had no time to linger, however, so we pressed on following the Shropshire Union Canal south to Lunch at The Bunbury Arms at Stoak. After a pleasant hour in the sun we continued along the canal, following it through the centre of Chester, then once again over those packhorse bridges, and through Tarvin and Kelsall to home, covering over 35 miles.

The combination of a late Easter with an early spring had blessed us with ideal cycling weather, with blossom covering the trees, and the hawthorn hedges flowering about two weeks earlier than usual.

Our thanks go to Lyn for organising this very successful weekend once again.

Contents

Charnwood Chatter

with Brenda Ottey

Up until March the weather had been cold and windy but rides still went ahead. One Wednesday Soo and Pearl did a car assisted ride to Sutton Park and then cycled into the centre of Birmingham using the cycle trails and canal towpaths. At the beginning of March Soo had a fabulous birthday bash. We met for a well planned ride and then made our way back to her house for a wonderful array of food, both hot and cold. The Generals also came and joined us and the celebrations were added to by the music of an accordian played by Sarah. Pages of music ably turned by her husband Boris. Thanks very much for a lovely day.

The week after we were out towards Castle Donington for my ride where we were joined by Stuart, Teresa and family. After passing through Hemington, Stuart led us safely around and underneath a very busy roundabout, so we were able to continue safely towards Kegworth and on to Breedon Nurseries for a lunch consisting of their super pies. After lunch we struggled off on our separate ways, very much full up as we usually have a sandwich at lunch time.

Later in March it was warm enough to be wearing shorts, almost unheard of in our little group. Soo and I went for a ride from Ratby along the cycle trails into Leicester and had coffee in Abbey Park, then we went on to Watermead Park returning to Birstall for lunch. Watermead Park was at its best in the sunshine and I had no idea of the size of it with all the interesting things there were for children to see and do.

The Birthday Lunch was a great success and was very well attended where trophies were awarded and a special cake provided by Jean Lakin was cut.

Soo was the leader of our ride to Stonehurst where at coffee the group were joined by Howard and Betty's grandson Paul. He enjoyed riding ahead with Soo plotting the route.

Plans and routes were being discussed at this point for our forthcoming trip to the Delamere Forest with all of us having somewhere we wanted to cycle to including the Anderton boat lift, a ferry trip across the Mersey, Chester etc.

Members who were not able to come with us were planning their own trip to Lincolnshire a little later on.

Contents

Easter Tour

with Brenda Ottey

We all arrived at Delamere on Thursday and after setting up our various motor homes and classic VWs we were able to sit back and discuss events that were planned for the week ahead. We have Soo to thank for all the map reading and route planning, something she is marvellous at.

Friday morning we decided the way to go was towards Chester so we set off through the forest on the cycle route 5. We saw some beautiful lanes and some very pot holed roads. We came across a water sports centre so an early morning coffee was had before cycling into Chester. Chester is full of character and history and very well sign posted for cyclists. One of the first things we saw was an old sign for cycle storage and another one for the association of walking and cycling. A photo was taken for Alex as he is interested in old signs. We visited a pub called the Albion which was trimmed up in preparation for St Georges Day. As the pub was just by the city wall we were able to get down onto the cycle route again and continue with our ride past the race course and onto the canal and back out into the countryside. We went through the lovely village of Christleton and over ancient bridges at Hockenhull Platts over the river Gower. After passing through the villages of Tarvin and Kelsall we went onto the forest trails and back to the campsite for our evening meal which was a group grill and sing song with Soo on the guitar, and wine and cider to help the evening along.

The Generals, Lyn, Peter and Martin were leading the Saturday ride and they were keen to be off early as we were going to the Anderton boat lift as our first stop. We set off led by Lyn and followed again on one of the lovely cycle routes and soon reached the boat lift. We were able to watch the boats going through the boat lift, an absolutely brilliant piece of early engineering, getting boats from the Trent and Mersey canal to the river or vice versa. The Generals left us then to do a different route to ours so we again passed through some lovely villages including Great Budworth with its half timbered houses with flags out for St Georges Day. All the Spring flowers were in bloom, very picture postcard. We arrived in Knutsford just after the Generals so we were able to start our lunch with liquid first in the Lord Eldon, then cycled down to Tatton Park and ate our lunch in the sunshine. We picked up the cycle trail again, now route 73, which took us down the Vale Royal Cut and we rode by the salt mines in Winsford and joined another route along an old railway track which eventually joined up with the Delamere Loop. After a hasty shower, Soo unhitched her van and we all piled in to go to the pub to meet the Generals. We all enjoyed a lovely meal and compared notes as to who had been the farthest. Another great day with sunny burnt legs.

Sunday we all seemed to have run out of steam so we had a lazy morning with our Easter eggs and hot cross buns, coffee and more hot cross buns and then it was lunchtime. We all put something in for lunch and then Soo and I cycled to a shire horse sanctuary and back on the tracks in the forest where we heard the cuckoo for the first time. Dave went to the lake near the campsite bird watching. We had all been fascinated by the noise the birds made all day. There were Terns in their thousands. Pearl decided to catch up on her reading while we were away but soon made the coffee on our return.

Monday we were going to Ellesmere Port we headed back towards Chester and we went back to the water sports centre for coffee where we sat on the grass and ate the last of the hot cross buns. We followed route 5 and had to cross under the M56 after passing a very large Shell oil refinery and ride a short distance on the main road and then down onto the canal towpath for quite a way before arriving at the canal boat museum where quite an event was going on, with lots of entertainment and we thought of Alan when we saw the Morris dancers. After leaving the centre we had to ride on a road down the side of the M53 and the oil refinery but after a mile there was a notice that stated that all traffic must turn round at the next roundabout or go to the gatehouse for admittance, but luck was on our as we saw that the cycle route carried on. Our ride then took us along the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal which we could not see due to the very high banks. We watched a new born foal take its first wobbly steps but we then carried on to Frodsham for a coffee. We saw in the village a type K4 phone box which also had a post box and stamp machine on the side, one of only four left in the country. Refreshed we rode a steep hill and made our way home using some of the trails we had used before.

Tuesday we headed through the forest and along leafy lanes to Kelsall where we found an ice cream making centre with a coffee shop, they also gave discount to cyclists. We followed the Shropshire Union Canal and then climbed to a village called Harthill where we sat in the church porch for our lunch. This was quite a chilly day, the only one we had jackets on for. We headed home past Beeston Castle where when we crossed the canal again Pearl remembered from a previous trip a pub on the bridge although she didn't recall the castle!. After passing through Wharton Lock we headed to Tarporley where we bought afternoon tea. We rode back again through the forest into the back of the campsite. Dave had taken one of his homemade Christmas Puddings to steam so after we had eaten dinner there was a huge bowl of pudding to sample.

Wednesday we all went on the train into Chester. It came right by the campsite. Dave and I went into the centre to walk around the walls. Pearl and Soo Rode towards Birkenhead using the cycle trails again. They passed through the village of Dunkirk and headed towards the Wirral country park and on to catch the ferry across the Mersey. They came into the top of Birkenhead and were able to stand and look down over the port before going down to catch the ferry.

They saw TV film cameras that had been filming Ronnie Corbet and Ken Dodd but they were too late to see them. After catching the metro to get them to where they wanted to be they fastened their cycles up and walked around looking at various sights. As it had been a long day they caught the train back to Chester and another one back to Delamere. On reading this back through we seem to have spent a lot of time eating and drinking and thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Many thanks go to Lyn for organising the tour and the brilliant weather. A good time was had by all!

Contents

South Leicestershire occasionally, but mainly elsewhere

by Tony Davis

Jayne and I have just returned from our annual spring trip to Mallorca. We book our stay independently with the hotel and then find the most economical budget flights to fit our plans. Each year a finely balanced decision between the additional costs of carrying your own bike on the flight and taxi across the island versus bike hire costs had to be made. One year it was cheaper to hire a car for a week than take a taxi. As it happened that was the wettest year we ever had and the car came in handy. This year the balance was heavily weighted by a factor which couldn’t be measured in £s. I have just completed putting together a new touring bike for Jayne which has flat bars and Rohloff 14 speed hub gears. Jayne was keen to cover some miles to run in the hub gears.

This was the second year that we have booked at the Hotel Alicia in Cala Bona on the north east coast of Mallorca. The hotel has a basement cycle storage area for about 150 bikes, a cycle wash bay and a work bench. The hotel has comfortable rooms with lovely views over the sea. Meal are buffet style, with great variety through a weeks stay. As one of our friends said it is clear just from looking at some of the guests that the food is the main reason for their booking.

The whole island has a network of minor roads breaking the countryside up into a patchwork.

We try to ensure that we explore as many of these more cycle friendly roads in the area as we can in the time available. We visited a few old favourites such as the café on the square at Arta (more than once) and the climb up to the Saint Salvador monastery at 510m. We arranged to meet Gill Lord for lunch in Petra. When we arrived she was at a table with Carole Birch and her husband, from Kibworth. On her previous visit Gill had chatted with Sean Kelly just before he left to commentate on one the One Day Classics for Eurosport. It feels as though if you waited long enough every cyclist in the world will pass through the square at Petra.

Many of the roads popular with cyclists would have been dirt roads twenty years ago. They were tarmaced in the first flush of EU money. That well has dried up and the increased tourist traffic is slowly returning the surface on some of the routes to an uncomfortable patchwork of potholes and patches of tarmac. Last year the group were ready to lynch me after I led them along a road which had lost any pretence at a road surface for many kilometres. This year Jayne and I rode the same route in reverse and over the last twelve months it had got worse.

This year the members of our group booked varying lengths of stay meaning that the numbers for dinner varied between 6 and 11.

The main reason for this trip, apart from the good company, is to enjoy the warmth of the sun on our backs and ride for a few days in shorts and short sleeve tops before returning to the longs and winter jackets of a British spring. On this occasion we returned to discover that the weather had been warmer at home than we had experienced in Mallorca.

Travelling with bikes is always a little bit nerve wracking - will they arrive, will they arrive in one piece and now they have it is a big bag to haul around. On our return to East Midlands airport we were confronted by new non return security doors which were too narrow to get our bike bags through on trolleys. There was no assistance call button so we struggled through on our own. I filled in a customer feedback form making the suggestion of an assistance call button by the doors and got a very prompt reply saying that this had been put on the agenda for the next management meeting. It will be good to see if this has been implemented next time we fly into East Midlands.

Over the Royal Wedding Bank Holiday I headed off to Wales to ride the Brevet Cymru 400k audax. The weather was magnificient though it did rain during the early hours of Sunday. It wouldn’t be Wales without rain .... but suntan lotion in Wales during April!

At the same time Jayne and Gill Stocks were riding the Whitehaven to Newcastle version of the Coast to Coast ride with some friends. They had wall to wall sunshine but had to battle against an east wind most of the way. Jayne is a very confident bike handler but even she had to walk part of the exposed climb up Hartside to avoid being blown off the road. Well done to all of you - the hills are hard but that wind made it harder.

Finally the Heart of the Shires audax rides are on Saturday 4'°" June and I would appreciate any offers of assistance at the controls. Contact me through the local CTC yahoo group. If you don’t fancy that, come along and ride the 100k route which takes in some of the most scenic parts of eastern Leicestershire or the 200k to see some of Warwickshire as well.

PS Despite not getting a mention this time the usual suspects turn out when they can on Sundays, meeting at Broughton Astley Coop car park. Sometimes there is one of us, sometimes ten, but the more the merrier.

Contents Contents

A SUMMER IN FRANCE

- By Dave Binks Continuing the story.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14

The story so far:
Dave has taken a job in France, working as an assistant for a UK based holiday company (Susi Madron’s “Cycling for Softies”) in Angouleme, near Cognac. His duties are to act as local mechanic and representative to ensure the holidaymakers have a good time as they cycle between the top class hotels in the area. He has settled into his accommodation and is now involved with both his job and the local cycling scene. He has just said “Cheerio” to friends Gil Lord and Bernard Bailey and another cycling couple, all on holiday from England as they moved off to the Semaine Federale rally. His story continues..

Monday August 6

After yesterday’s almost unbearable heat in the afternoon, I awoke to a much cooler, almost cold day with thick cloud and it also turned out to be a mundane day really. The forecast rain was late coming and it was mid-day before it started, but we were lucky and it was soon gone. After sorting out 4 clients with their bikes and suggesting some routes which took up the usual 1-1½ hours, I had lunch then went shopping after writing up my diary. The rain had not deterred my guests as they all went out and had a good day anyway, obviously having taken on board my comment that it is never as bad as it looks once you’re actually out in it.

I just had time to cook and eat my evening meal before the next group arrived from Liverpool. This made a total of 10 people now in my area – the most I had ever had at any one time. Over their welcome drink I gave them a rundown on how things worked, but as they were to stay at the same hotel all week, there was no rush for them to have to decide anything and I left them to explore the grounds before their meal in the restaurant.


8 miles

Tuesday August 7

My family group from Liverpool came down for their bikes spot on time at 9.30am, and in fact the young man with them positively bounded around the corner so as not to be late and miss anything. This was such a change from the other young chap who had been here a few weeks ago who hardly had the energy to stand up! Mum, with her two children both in their late teens and accompanied by her sister, made up this cheerful and energetic group and it was a pleasure to talk to them. They couldn’t wait to set off and headed for the chocolate factory, using my detailed route instructions.

After some work in the workshop and lunch I went out for a short ride, but struggled with tired legs and a stiff body, no doubt still suffering from last week’s heavy mileage of 352 miles, so after a short while and an eye on the darkening skies, I turned for home again. Shortly after I got back I looked out and saw the family all playing tennis, so they were obviously not too tired from their earlier ride. Later I chatted to them about their day and they had enjoyed themselves greatly and wanted suggestions for the next day’s ride which I was pleased to give them.
18 miles

Wednesday August 8

I lay in bed snoozing until nearly 9am which confirmed my thoughts that I was still tired from last week, so didn’t fight it. A late booking for next week had come in by fax, so I did the paperwork for that before getting a phone call from one of my colleagues in the other regions wanting a chat with which I was happy to join in.

As usual I joined the local cyclists on their afternoon bike ride and really enjoyed it. The pace wasn’t the usual mad dash and the route was very scenic, going east then south so into the better countryside. After the last few rides involving crashes and brakes falling off bikes, the only problem today was a puncture which was quickly dealt with. I must have recovered some of my energy as I was still one of the stronger riders out, but I didn’t “push” it.

After leaving them, I visited one of the restaurants in a nearby village as previous clients had advised me it appeared to have ceased trading, and if this was the case, I needed to amend some of my route sheets which suggested it as a suitable eating place. It was indeed closed, but I found another to suggest instead.

68 miles

Thursday August 9

The misty start to the day was a surprise. The temperature was also so low that I had to go back into my room and put long trousers and a fleece jacket on.

My family of four who were staying at the hotel all week had asked to meet me to have a chat about what they could do, and even at 10am the mist was still down, so I suggested perhaps a day into Angouleme in a taxi, but they had unfinished business on the tennis court and opted to spend a while out there.

I spent some time in the workshop and eventually the sun came out, bringing with it the warmth. Susi had emailed me a few days ago asking me to check out a British run B&B about 25 miles away just south of Barbezieux, so I rang the lady owner for an appointment to go and see her. However, on the day she wanted me to go, I had to see some clients off and also meet some later in the day with only a 5 hours gap between. As the B&B was about 25 miles away, and the appointment was for the day after my Sunday ride with the club, when I am often still tired, I was concerned about putting myself under unnecessary pressure on the day, so decided I would ride down today to see how long it would take and also make sure I could find it without delay.

I set off with slightly tired legs, but this eased as I got going and the quiet lanes route I had worked out was enjoyable. I found the place without difficulty and took some photos from the outside. The lady had already said she had guests today, so I didn’t knock. I carried on to the nearby town of Baignes Sainte Radegonde, in search of a drink and also to have a look.

The centre of the town was very pleasant with lots of flowers in hanging baskets and a lovely floral display in an old horse drawn cart. Unusually for this area there were two cafes with tables outside, and I sat outside one and enjoyed a Coke in the warm sunshine.

Unfortunately on the way home I began to “die” and was very glad I had taken the precaution of slipping a chocolate bar into my pocket before leaving home earlier. I picked up a bit over the last few miles, but it was with relief I wheeled through the archway of the hotel entrance. Some guests had returned that day and were sitting on the terrace when I crawled past, so after putting my bike away, I chatted to them for a few minutes and found they had really enjoyed their week. I made my dinner and decided I would change the day for viewing the B&B to one where I would have plenty of time and not have to set off with tired legs.

57 miles

Friday August 10

After yesterday’s little “blow up” on the way back from Barbezieux, I decided I needed a really lazy day for rest and recuperation and today was to be the day. It was cool again at first but without the mist and I got up a bit earlier than normal to see off some guests, only to find they had left earlier than they had said, so was a bit miffed.

My resident family couldn’t make up their minds what to do, then ended up playing tennis whilst I caught up with some more paperwork and clothes washing. My usual “get up and go” had got up and gone without me, so it was as much as I could do to make my dinner and sit and read a book for an hour or two. Eventually I forced myself to ride into the village to get some photocopying done and other bits and pieces. After some very light fiddling around in the workshop I then called it a day and went back to reading, but by this time the temperature had dropped sufficiently to drive me indoors, where it was even colder and I had to put on long trousers and a long sleeved shirt and put the heating on for a while.

Whilst on a hot day it’s pleasant in the cabin, it’s often downright cold as it never sees the sun and the small windows face north. The northerly wind that had been blowing all day hadn’t helped but I couldn’t help but be grateful that I wasn’t in the north east of France where there were severe weather warnings in force reflecting the terrible rain they had been experiencing for days. This was turning out to be a very poor summer for weather, both in France and much of northern Europe, but conversely and tragically, some elderly people were dying from the heat in Greece!

2 miles

Saturday August 11

My very active family had announced they were going to ride to Cognac and back in the day, despite my warning them it was a 60 miles round trip, although reasonably flat. They did however take my advice to leave fairly early, and they were away by 9am. I wanted to see if I could take some suitable photos of them at various points on their journey for inclusion in next year’s brochure, so said I might see them on the road somewhere.

All the clients arrive with far too much luggage to carry on their bikes, and one of my duties was to store it in the workshop until they return, then put it in their room ready when they get back. Because I had to do that today for a returning party, this meant my departure was delayed until 11.15, so I knew I wouldn’t see them on the way out, but might see them in Cognac or on the way home, so went anyway – I had little else to do on this very warm day.

As expected, I did not see them before Cognac, where I stopped for lunch in the same small restaurant I had used before. I reckoned I had time to eat and then find them in the town later. Despite several circuits of the most likely places, I failed to see them or their bikes locked up anywhere, and reckoned they had probably used the train for some of the journey like I had suggested might be a wiser thing for them to do, so abandoned the idea of meeting them. I mooched around a bit on way back, taking photos and stopping for a cold drink and ice cream in a little bar in Bourg Charente, finally getting back about 6pm. Seeing their bikes outside their rooms was a bit of a relief as I was a bit concerned.

Later I found out they had indeed ridden all the way, but had left for home whilst I was eating in the little restaurant. This, together with my stopping for photos, meant I was never going to catch them. Two of my clients had rushed off at the start of their holiday and I never got a chance to chat to them over a welcome drink, so did it tonight instead, then invited myself (with their permission of course) to eat with them in the restaurant. When I came to pay my bill, Christine, the hotel owner said it was “on the house” – great! All in all, it was a really nice day.

63 miles

Sunday August 12

With the couple I had eaten dinner with last night due to leave at 11.00am, it wasn’t worth going on my usual clubrun, so I took the opportunity to enjoy a lie in. After waving them away, which my job requires me to do, I took the active family to one of the larger local supermarkets. Because they were still feeling a little tired after their long ride yesterday they went for a picnic, and I returned to my shack for lunch, and did very little after, but did spend some time in the workshop, washing and checking the recently returned bikes.

9 miles

Monday August 13

I had to stay in and see off the active family who declared that they had enjoyed themselves so much the holiday had scored 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. It’s nice when someone says that as it makes it all worthwhile. I then went into the village for bread and to post my weekly report.

After lunch I rode over the usual riverside lanes route to Jarnac to describe the route on a “crib sheet” for future guests. I had found out one of my parties had simply looked at the map and picked the most direct route to Jarnac, thus missing some of the best bits in the locality and also having to endure a road that is hilly, busy and boring.

The afternoon was warm but overcast and I didn’t stop other than to dictate into my little tape machine. I also had to hurry back to be in time to welcome my new guests, who were a newly engaged couple. Susi had asked me to get them a bottle of Champagne to celebrate an anniversary and this was arranged for when they returned at the end of their little trip in a few days time.

44 miles

Tuesday August 14

Another bike demo started the day and then some more bike washing took me up to lunchtime. It was a pretty warm and humid day and I felt rather lethargic and actually fell asleep after lunch. However, I forced myself to get changed and go out but the high humidity had by now developed into light rain, so as I had only gone a mile or two and was still feeling lazy, turned back and spent most of the evening typing out the route notes from yesterday.

The ink was hardly dry on the paper when I passed a copy over to yesterday’s arrivals ready for their next day’s journey to Bassac. When I handed them over, I was pleased to hear they had followed one of my earlier efforts, a 19 miles ride southwards and they had really enjoyed it. I was keen to know if they had any comments on the accuracy as they were, as far as I knew, the first guests to use this particular route and was pleased when they said they were accurate and easy to follow. They were also particularly pleased to have their attention drawn to things they would not otherwise have seen, so I felt my efforts had been worthwhile.

A pair of late arrivals from Ireland kept me in the bar drinking with them until 10.45pm – the things I have to do to earn a crust!

3 miles

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