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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

Kobi News

The contributions continue. Massive thanks from all the team. We’re all thinking of you Kobi!

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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

Kobi News

The contributions continue. Massive thanks from all the team. We’re all thinking of you Kobi!

You can donate on our JustGiving page here. Or use the QR code:

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

Kobi News

The contributions continue. Massive thanks from all the team. We’re all thinking of you Kobi!

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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

The contributions continue. Massive thanks from all the team. We’re all thinking of you Kobi!

You can donate on our JustGiving page here. Or use the QR code:

Barca 2 Stage 06

Villefranche-de-Rouergue to Villefranche-de-Lauragais

Stage 06 Line-up
Stage 06 Route
Strage 06 Profile

Set off from the best hotel in living memory according to Conor. Bless him he has led a sheltered life. Fair play it was one of the best and provided a cracking breakfast.

We are away just after 8am – would have been half hour early but for the humour of our own stand up comedian; you can guess his name – Carl – true Aylesham character.

We are off as a big strong team with the youngsters pulling a massive wheel. They are brilliant. Us older lads are putting in the same effort but are just slightly slower! We are all taking in the magnificent scenery.

It’s very pleasant riding through the vineyards and beautiful scenery. It’s a pleasure to ride. All the team are riding great but you can feel the tension as they know that the Pyrenees are coming. It’s just the calm before the storm.

All is going well as the lads stopped around the 35 mile for a welcome break. Eric is ever present with a great spread and it’s coupled with a bar next door. It’s rude not to have a beer and a few joined in. Met a lovely couple from NZ. It’s great when you meet terrific people on the road.

We were off again with no big climbs just rolling roads eating up the miles. We got concerned when Mark chased the wrong rider down who was going the wrong way! The bloke was so polite that he took the lead before letting us know that he needed to re-route, good lad.

We stopped in a little rugby town called Caraman, Haute-Garonne, and had some beers at the JSC Caraman Rugby Club. They were excellent hosts and very proud of their rugby heritage. Good guys. They were triple champions this season.

On we pushed for the last 20 miles with easy-peasy riding burning up the miles. Before we knew it the Garmin says the ride over – good! Then we drank the hotel out of beer and so we were forced onto the red wine. When in Rome do what the Romans do.

Unfortunately Linford got stung by a wasp and he made a big song and dance about it, while his cousin mentioned he had a little bite on the back the other day. Good fortune was with Linford, his bottom lip was only swollen a little bit so his rugged good looks were not spoiled. By a strange coincidence it was 3 years to the day since Dale got a wasp sting to his eyelid in the Ukraine. Linford laughed like a horse on that occaison so may be this was fate paying back.

Dale and his bee stung eye

The team enjoyed a fabulous meal in the evening.

First Pitstop

On the Road

Second Pitstop

Wildlife

Done for the Day

Evening

Kobi News

The contributions continue. Massive thanks from all the team. We’re all thinking of you Kobi!

You can donate on our JustGiving page here. Or use the QR code:

Barca 2 Stage 05

Égletons to Villefranche-de-Rouergue

Stage 05 Line-up
Stage 05 Route
Stage 05 Profile

First Breakfast

Woke up to lovely morning, if not a bit chilly, and bit of a good omen as the giant slugs were not about. I’m sure the guys would have got them in the frying pad as we where scrambling around for food this morning.

Off just before 8am as usual – bit difficult getting out of the complex – but we were soon on the road. Winding through the stunning Dordogne countryside. The scenery is out of this world, winding down the steep descents, then pulling up the long climbs – absolutely brilliant. The team is riding as a complete team and all is well at the moment.

We pushed on till we hit the first break at a lovely spot on the edge of the Dordogne. A stunning spot for a second breakfast.

Then we carried on to the medieval town of Altillac but found it really convoluted getting over the river and through the cobbled streets. Only the Captain gets lost and after 3 laps of the town it felt like a criterion which is what the cafe owner said with a smile. I finally managed to find the rest of the team, so we are back on our way.

Climbing up the otherside of the Dordogne valley, nothing too serious just 5 to 6 mile long steady climbing, though it was nice, with a bit of shade from the forest. Mark Moses, the most considerate rider on tour, suffered a little puncture in his front wheel and being new to tubeless he needed to be sure the sealant had worked! Not good having a blowout at 40mph on long descents. Carl is such a caring son he topped the tyre up then let everyone know in his usual mad way. We would not have him any other way.

Eric had pinned dropped us a location in the town off Figeac, around 20 miles away and the not so young Cathal took responsibility and called a refreshment stop in a quaint village nestled in the forest – good call.

As we were taking on the fluids, the call went up, roughly 18 miles to the end with 2 climbs. Everyone seemed OK with that, even Stubby, who loves the climbs! The big man is riding very strong.

On we pushed for the final section of the day the first climb had no issues, just long, and with less than 3 miles to go the lads relaxed a bit thinking that the final climb can’t be very long. Fair play it was only a mile and half, but very steep and over 20% in some places. Not what you need with 100 miles in your legs!

We finally crawled upto the top, only to find that the hotel had been moved! After a bit of messing around with the Garmin and phones it worked out at around 5 miles extra. Hey ho you just have to get on with it.

The young lads had sorted some beers out for us and were looking for some local restaurants, good lads. Though we finally opted for the local Carrfour supermarket next to the hotel.

It had been another very tough day. They only get tougher from here, says Bingo with a big grin. Sure the new lads on tour loved that, us older ones know the score, but it’s so much better riding in the dry. The last time we were down here 2013 it was raining all the time and bitterly cold.

Second Breakfast