Barca 2 Home 04

Biescas to Moulin de Candaloup

Route Home 04
Profile Home 04

It’s Bastille day in France. I Wish I had thought about that, everything will be closed, but no worries.

We left the Pension just after 7am both knowing we had a 20 mile climb ahead of us, breakfast consisted of Jaffa cakes and water – we are both highly tuned athletes so are very careful what we put in are bodies! Conversation was very quiet, both understand how difficult the Pyrenees are!

So here we go “super star djs let’s rock” Just get in the right gear and let your highly tuned bodies do the business.

Mate it’s easy saying it, with the kilometre signs in your face telling you the gradient and how far to go. It messes with your head.

But up and up we went, blessing for small mercy’s the road surface was perfect.

At around the 12mile mark a big sign saying tunnel ahead and here we are China style go for it stay tight and pedal like mad. Fair play a big lorry stayed behind us for the last 1\2 mile, then give us the thumbs up as we peeled of as we reached the end with thighs screaming and thinking ‘I thought tunnels were flat!’.

Just kept ticking off the annoying distances markers, until we reached the 16 mile stage, pulled over for coffee and soft drink and a look at the impressive scenery.

One final push to the summit, 4 miles of absolute joy or pain – a bit of both.

As we reached the summit only one thing to do – have are last beer or two in Spain ‘Viva Espana’. It’s been tough but great fun.

Now for the stunning descent with the Tour de France placards everywhere. (One of the final climbs of this year’s tour on 21st July).

Stunning descent trying to eek out every bit of speed – marvellous.

We stopped at the only restaurant that was open (Bastille Day) for a massive meal – we needed it. Bingo booked a place around 30 mile away, seemed a walk in the park, with the heat and climbing is was tough but doable.

Left all the accommodation stuff to Bingo, he has done himself proud, lovely gite in a converted water mill. With exceptional hosts, served us with ice cold beer, a carafe of red wine and even knocked us up a meal. Result!

We then waxed lyrical about putting the world to rights through the early evening.

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Barca 2 Home 03

Morillo de Tou to Biescas

Careful of the dog
Route – Home 03

Not such a great morning, as we left our passports in reception and they didn’t open till 9. Could have been worse we could have left without them.

Finally got on the road at 9am, with a plan to ride to Ainsa, a medieval town then have breakfast, as nothing at the camping / chalet place opened till 9.

Quite a steady climb to Ainsa, then found a small cafe in the surprising busy town.

Soon we are on our way again, heading for Sabiñánigo, with a stop in between.

Steep climbing, with a few scary tunnels, not very long, around 500m, but very noisy.

Pulled over in a bit of shade, checked the maps, noticed a small village Fiscal a couple of miles away, so headed for that and some refreshments.

As we set of again, we come off the road on to a shale track, this was not our greatest plan, ending up doing four miles on this while you could see the road but could not get on it. By far the most difficult section of the Tour so far. Eventually Bingo spotted a locked gate which headed to the road, we managed to squeeze the bikes through a hole in the fence and dragged the bikes up to the road, to the entrance to another tunnel, this one was 3 miles long! Still easier than the track, then a lovely 5 mile descent into Sabiñánigo and more well earned refreshments.

We will never learn – got onto another track as we left the town, heading for Biescas and are awaiting accommodation. When we finally arrived, we both agreed to stay away from the tracks until we are out of the mountains.

Bloody hard day.

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Barca 2 Home 02

Tàrrega to Morillo de Tou

Cooling off after a long hot day in the saddle
Route – Home 02
Profile – Home 02

Our host Ramon was true to his word, breakfast was served promptly at 7. It was just Bingo and I could not find the kitchen; honestly nothing to do with the alcohol intake. Crazy building with stairs all over the place, finally got there with our new Eric just for one day, great breakfast, then hit the road in the cool early morning sun.

Both made a mental note to ride early – it’s far more pleasant. We had a cracking first 3 1/2 hours on the back roads and farm tracks, an absolutely pleasure to ride.

Bingo got a puncture adjacent to an apple orchard – no issues just got on with it.

We rolled in into the town of Alfarras had a custard tart thing, a cup of sweet coffee and a few soft drinks. Knowing it was getting very hot again we moved on pretty quickly.

With the climbs starting, we just rolled on, without a care in the world. It’s a nice place to be.

Sure enough the temperature started to rise and we also had a tough section through an unmade road on rutted deep sand – only for a mile or two though.

With the temperature getting into the mid thirties we took some shade under some trees and decided to head to the village of Fonz. Lovely place, great architecture and the obligatory stork’s nests. Unfortunately it had no restaurant so we took refuge in the shade of a local bar.

We managed to book a room, roughly 26 miles away, so it seemed no problem however it turned out to be the toughest part of the day.

Climbing the last section in relentless heat it felt like a furnace. We met a really nice family from the USA having a ice cream in a fuel rest area – usual photo shot completed.

We carried on to the digs, its saving grace being its great setting and swimming pool. We also had a meal in the site’s restaurant.

Another tough 85 miles under the belt, with plenty of climbing still to do so an early night for us.

Lads, a big thanks to everyone of you for such a great tour. Special thanks to Dale and Keith, firstly for inviting me and secondly for all the hard work that goes in organising so a great trip.

Have a great ride home 👍🍺

Tonks

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Barca 2 Home 01

Barcelona to Tàrrega

Home 01 – All set to leave Barcelona
Route Home 01
Profile Home 01

All change today, Glen, Steve & Jade, left really early in the morning, so said our good-byes last night.

Eric, Cathal, Linney and Marc, had the wonderful job of loading the van up this morning, really difficult, how they fitted everything in was amazing, they left around 10, with a cuddle and best wishes for a safe pleasant journey.

The rest of the contingent are leaving this afternoon, so they was all there to wave us off.

Not so dramatic this year as we opted for an Uber van to take us out of the main city, good choice as its manic, with traffic everywhere.

Both of us little bit nervous, as it’s totally different riding with big heavy bikes, but loads of fun, really!

Got the bikes out of the van, with the driver thinking these guys are mad, he probably has a point, but we are off.

The first 30 odd miles was so hot, 36 degrees and up hill all the way, told you it was good fun, but pretty tough going, with lots of traffic.

Having to take on more water every hour, coupled with ice creams, my not drinking alcohol starting off so good.

Finally finished the last big climb and as we came over the brow of the hill, there was a little restaurant, in the village La Panadalla. Bingo rode straight passed it, what’s going on! Only to realise he had spotted umbrellas further along. Well that finished the non-drinking session. Lasted just over 4 hours – pretty good.

After getting suitably refreshed we started again, far more pleasant now on the quiet back roads and tracks – this is what we wanted.

Heading for a pension hotel in the rural town of Tàrrega, so hot decided not to camp. Eat in a local restaurant, actually nice to have bit of an appetite after the shenanigans of Barcelona.

Cheers lads, it’s been a great tour! Hope everyone gets home safe and on time👍🏼

Rylan

Cannot thank all you lads enough. Enjoyed every minute of this ride great riding but more importantly fantastic company. Bingo & Dale you are both already legends in my mine and so many others enjoy, stay safe and hydrated.

Mark Moses

Dale and Keith hope all is good have a lovely couple of weeks all the best

Eric

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Barca 2 Stage 08

Alp Catalonia to Barcelona

Stage 08 Line up
Stage 08 Route
Stage 08 Profile

A quick run through of last night’s Tour presentation meal, from one of our main sponsors, prizes and names in no particular order.

  • Mark Moses – Most considerate rider
  • Glen Dobson – Loudest laugh
  • Rylan House – Rider of the Tour, led from the front every day.
  • Marc Tonks – Best newcomer had a great tour.
  • Carl Moses – Kept everyone spirits up, in his own unique way.
  • Dave Austen – Awesome rider with heart of gold
  • Cathal – Not so young, but seriously quick witted.
  • Mark Jordan – Very dependable, able to mix it up when required.
  • Stubby – Great ride mate, so close to being rider of the Tour, pesky young guns just pipped him.
  • Steve Richards – Another anchor man, pulling us older generation along with him
  • Linford House – So happy to have relinquished the young tab, does loads of untold work under the radar.
  • Conor Miller -Massive guy with untold talent, few rides with are development coach will bring him on a treat.
  • Bingo – Awesome, always ready to share his vast experience in travelling or life.

Thanks to you all for a great tour it’s been a great experience for myself & one I will never forget. You all have made me so welcome & I really appreciate it.

Thanks again for Keith and Dale for all the hard work that goes into all the planning.
You all have a safe journey home & looking forward to catching up with you all soon

Mark Jordan

We had a magnificent breakfast spread put on by the youngsters, Linney, Rylan and the ever younger Cathal, in their luxurious penthouse suite, always looking after the development squad.

Final setting off picture taken of this inspiring bunch of guys, very proud and slightly humbled to be the Captain and inspiration behind their fabulous achievement. Aylesham guys at their best.

Well that’s all the nice stuff out the of the way. Well what a start, bloke must be mad to book the accommodation here, 20% right from the start up a cobbled jitty then on to the unpaved road till we reached the proper climb. With thighs and knees screaming up we went till we reached the gentle descent into Barcelona.

Mate is was tough, even the the gentle tong of the cowbells seemed to be saying “get off your bike, get off your bike” but that’s never an option.

On we pushed, finally hit the summit 20 odd miles in, the ever present Eric there to meet and greet everyone of us, with are own individual requirements, Carl’s lashings of sarcasm mixed with huge ability to get the best out of all the team, brilliant company. Eric just reaches into the everlasting cool box with a lovely grin and says here you go might like a cold beer – dead right proper lad.

Well it’s down hill now to the cosmopolitan city of Barcelona, but on some pretty busy roads for around 30 miles. Fast riding but you need to be concentrating – not easy with me.

Our lead out man took a little tumble – Cathal the most gracious of riders hit a pot hole and went straight over the handle bars, bike OK, minus the snapped off saddle – no issues one strong bloke just rode the last 40 miles as if nothing had changed. Strong determined guy full respect.

The route went slightly pear shaped on the outskirts of Barcelona, over the dry storm out fall, across a flowing river which involved all of us passing are bikes over a river, then jumping across it, not easy, absolutely amazing that I did not fall in!

Nearly there now, through the farm tracks, then back on the busy roads to the Las Ramblas in Barcelona and are waiting for our reception party.

The younger guys full steam ahead, only just managed to pull the whole team off to discuss the ride-in strategy, well have a little beer.

We have only gone and done it,

Thanks to all – a great bunch of lads.

Breakfast

Happy Days

Off Piste

Drinks Break

All Done

All Done – Congratulations Team
Team Captain – don’t ask

R&R Weekend in Barcelona

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Barca 2 Stage 07

Villefranche-de-Lauragais to Alp Catalonia

Stage 07 Line-up
Stage 07 Route
Stage 07 Profile

Happy Birthday to one of the all time greats. Have a great day Billy and once again thanks for your continued support.

Captain Dale and all the Team

Very hard to believe that is was a week ago, that we had the tremendous send off from Aylesham. All the best Stacy, Kobi and family – stay strong. The team send their love.

We had a great meal last night in a typical South of France restaurant with a game of boules going on next to ourtable. Rylan, the all round sports-man, was itching for a game.

All the lads were eager to impress the Captain and were up early ready for a big big ride. Not sure how many boiled eggs where comsumed – treble figures without a doubt. Linney did most of them!

We hit the road spot on 8am, even with Carl’s input. It was steady climbing right from the start. Nothing serious, but still up hill, with the impressive Pyrenees always in the foreground. We stopped for more water in a quaint small town? [Probably Foix: Ed] Then pushed on to the start of the only big climb. This was a bit serious – 19 miles up and up.

The only way is up, just keep pedalling, though some weird and wonderful stuff goes through your head, mainly why am I doing this?

The support from the locals was superb, giving us loads of room and encouragement. On we pushed in the red hot heat, up an up with little or no respite, it seemed never ending, only the amazing scenery keeping us going. Unfortunately Steve had a puncture at the very start of the climb. Mark Moses as ever in support, not so good this time, blowing the tyre off the rim, international rescue in the name of Eric on the scene, via Andorra in no time.

As we reached the summit, nothing really going on, so just pushed on, another easy 20 mile descent lovely just what we needed. Loving it that much, nearly missed a sharp right then followed the river? down to the Spanish border town, strongly call Alp, in the Pyrenees.

All re-convened in a courtyard bar, for some well deserved light refreshments, we all liked that much, booked a table for the evening meal and final night’s presentation. More to do on the presentation speech proudly sponsored by D & A Tree Surgeons in the next installment.

Absolutely knackered so over an out from your ever loving Captain.

Get up

Rise and Shine

Crossing another River: the Ariège

On the Road

Pitstop

Back on the Road

The Climb

At the Top

The Descent

Drinks

Kobi News

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