Barca 2 Home 01
Cycling, Spain, Touring July 12, 2022
Barcelona to Tàrrega
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 timeRylan
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 bestEric
Barca 2 Home 02
Cycling, Spain, Touring July 13, 2022
Tàrrega to Morillo de Tou
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 homeTonks
Barca 2 Home 03
Cycling, Spain, Touring July 14, 2022
Morillo de Tou to Biescas
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.
Barca 2 Home 04
Cycling, France, Spain, Touring July 15, 2022
Biescas to Moulin de Candaloup
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.
Barca 2 Home 05
Cycling, France, Touring July 16, 2022
Moulin de Candaloup to Courant de Mimizan
A sad day today as two funerals, so our thoughts go out to the friends and families of:
Leonard Mark Gash (Mark)
My cousin on my Mum’s side, left us so so early – RIP Mark, I did wear green today, and Bingo’s kit is going green as its the only kit he has worn all tour.Vale,Dale & Keith
Keith ( Bomber) Thomas
One of my football mentors in my teenage days, playing for Barham at 16, Bomber was inspirational in encouraging the youngsters to play sport, and more importantly kept this up with his youth club work.
Total respect mate RIPDale & Keith
Had a tinge of sadness as we left today, for the aforementioned tributes above. So not so many words today, reflection in how lucky we all are, with our health and well-being.
Well that all went pear shaped after 90 mins of burning up the miles getting my head right, came up to a bridge under repair, can assure you that does not normally put us off. But the shored up sides of the 20ft gap did.
So a little diversion, nothing my turrets can’t handle, amazing how a few swear words seem to get over everything (sorry Mum, “if you can’t express your self correctly, do not say anything” )!
Mate we seemed to be heading back to the Pyrenees will all the climbs, Bingo has looked after me for far too long, he just leaves me to it, then hey ho I am back in the game, as if nothing has happened.
We did have an early stop but I was still in my temper tantrum mode so have no idea where it was.
We pulled into a Garage just before Dax, had a soft drink, then pushed on, feeling better and legs working, had a great 25 section pulling and working together, with the added goal of proper refreshments.
Loving these French set courses, including a carafe of red wine, sets you up a treat. Off we went again, heading to the Atlantic coast, through the forest cycle tracks, last 20 mile was a pleasure with no cars and very few other cyclists.
We arrived in the resort town of Minizan had the normal photo with the Atlantic in the background.
Barcelona (Mediterranean) to Atlantic coast via the Pyrenees in five days, good going. So had a few celebration drinks, before finally setting off to find our digs.
95 miles – bit tough at first then very enjoyable riding.
Barca 2 Home 06
Cycling, France, Touring July 18, 2022
Courant de Mimizan to Angoulême
Woke up in the Pension pretty early after a good night’s sleep. Bingo opens up the French doors and says ‘lovely smell’, someone burning pine, think that might be the forest fires I say.
Sure enough there were smoke clouds and an eery feel to the atmosphere. But in true ‘nothing can go wrong’ fashion off we went, heading North West, basically straight for one of the big fires, on we pushed. Even passed a couple of touring bikes going the other way, they tried to tell us something, but Aylesham boys know better, well sometimes they do.
After around 20 miles we came across the 1st sign and the cycle lane closed off, little chat get on the road and carry on. Against a steady stream of tourist traffic going the other way. We stopped for a pan-de-choc, coffee and soft drink, then it suddenly dawned on us, we are in the middle of 2 massive fires, going North was not an option, the way ahead was East, then see if we could go North. Finally came to the conclusion that we either get off the bikes voluntaryily or be ordered off. Never seen so many fire engines on the road.
We carried on then Bingo spotted an SNCF railway station, let’s give it a go, bloke on the station was brilliant, he said bikes go free, but trains are delayed due to forest fires and heat.
So folks that’s the ride over for today, 35miles that’s all and 15 of them in the wrong direction! Needs must, train it is then.
Respect for all the Firefighters and emergency services putting their lives at risk, we are only a couple of old gits on a bike.
Replan then set off again.
[They took the train to Bordeaux and after some refreshments another train to Angoulême to spend the night. They’ll resume riding tomorrow – Ed]
Barca 2 Home 07
Cycling, France, Touring July 18, 2022
Angoulême to Poitiers-Futuroscope
So after the tribulations of yesterday it was a pretty straight forward ride today, Angoulême to Poitiers, about 85 miles.
We left early again to get cracking in some miles before it gets hot; forecast is today and tomorrow are going to be the hottest. Never mind its nice and cool in the morning winding through the vineyards on the little farm tracks makes for some great riding. Soon the vineyards are replaced with sunflowers and sweetcorn, sure them sunflowers just keep grinning at us and saying “what you doing”, also always think of one of ourex drivers ‘Jamie’ – great bloke and terffic company, you went too early mate, always loved the sunflowers and of course McDonald’s. Not sure what goes through my head half the time, but makes the miles tick away.
Bingo increased the pace unbeknown to me he as could see a service station ahead, so on we rolled for breakfast, 30 miles – good going. Little discussion on the route, rumours afloat we may have another guy joining us?
He is saying get to xxxxx by Wednesday and I will join you, Bingo says ‘do you know how far that is?’.
Still on the back roads winding and twisting though the French countryside. We came across another closed road, with a diversion sign – no problem skipped passed the barriers and carried on; it’s some sort of car rallycross event taking place, seems we are on the track! Guy comes up to us and says we have to go back, Bingo says no, in the end the guy let’s us through and gives us directions – top man.
It’s a very fast road into Poitiers, with the plan to get to the digs on the north side of town.
Stopped for refreshments – unfortunately I upset an American couple, who allegedly had been waiting for drinks for an age. I went straight to the bar – waiter was over like a flash with our drinks, while the American guy was moaning and gesticulating to the waiter, who just ignored them and carried on talking with us. They eventually just got up and went, the waiter shrugged his shoulders and laughed
Bingo sorted out digs with a swimming-pool, top man, next to the Futuroscope theme park, full of school kids – but not an issue. They stayed up later than us!
Barca Home 08
Cycling, France, Touring July 20, 2022
Poitiers-Futuroscope to Vendôme
Two key birthdays today:
Many happy returns to my sister Joanne on her 50th birthday have a lovely day.Dale & Keith
Happy Birthday to my brother-in-law Tim, have a great day and all the very best for your upcoming retirement may it be long and enjoyable.Dale & Keith
Back into riding mode now, with an early breakfast and on the road just after 7am with a hearty breakfast – just like the condemned men! One last wish; a fair wind and strong legs.
Always the strong legs, the wind is turning in our favour, as we burn the early miles off with ease. We are flying hey ho here we go. As we turned into the forest I just had a feeling the good road surface would not last- it soon turned to soft sand, great for horses, as we went through a beautiful farm and stables. We got a very strange look from a couple out riding, we asked how long the track was, bit difficult with my pigeon French, but think they said 3km. Managed to finally get back on the road and get back to normal speed.
We stopped in Saint-Maure-de-Tourain for a drink, before speeding off and heading for Tours. It’s a pretty big town so decided to get through it and have lunch on the exit, once we had got through the town, fair play to Bingo he led the way, weaving in an out of the traffic, me just following, not knowing where we are going, just about keeping on his tail.
It was a relief getting out of the town, especially when the temperature was touching 42 degrees, so hot it’s only when you stop you realise how hot it is.
Barca 2 Home 09
Cycling, France, Touring July 21, 2022
Vendôme to Dreux
For the first time in living memory we had a lay in today, well got up at 7am all in fluster – just relax.
Had breakfast and just rolled out heading for Chartres and then beyond. Not quite sure of the final destination tonight – ‘just let it roll bab’y, a line from a Door’s track, that they played last night. Unfortunately it was not the place to rip it up (and I did not have Eric with me!).
We had a lovely downhill stretch to get these puppies rolling and we we are off. Loving the road bikes just gliding along. Obviously we had a few off-road sections but nothing serious, just bit of sand and pebbles.
With the wind on our backs the stunning towers of Chartres Cathedral came into view, very nice city, stopped for a drink and a bit to eat and a chat about where we head to for now – decided on Dreux.
Bingo booked the digs, before we set off again, with only another 30ish miles and a nice tail wind it only took just over an hour and half. Nice to finish riding relatively early for a change. Had customary finishing drinks, then just took our time, before we set out for an evening meal.
Not the most pretty of towns, had a beer in the roughest cafe in town, for no reason other than we did. Then made our way to a buffet restaurant – nothing special just lots of pasta.
Another 90 odd miles done.
Barca 2 Home 10
Cycling, France, Touring July 21, 2022
Dreux to Forges-les-Eaux
Well it rained last night, the first time since we left Calais nearly three weeks ago. It was quite pleasant setting off just before 7am, with the damp cool breeze on our backs.
As normal we had a bit of trouble getting out of town, before we got on a cycle path along an old railway line, absolutely amazing track twisting through the small towns and villages, we stayed on there for 20 miles or so, loved it.
Heading for the picturesque Town of Veron on the banks of the river Seine, stopped for coffee and breakfast in the bustling square, rode through the town then over the river Seine, past a glorious château, then out in the rolling countryside.
Big Dave is meeting us today, with a bit of texting and pindrops we have a arranged a meeting point at some posh restaurant in Auberge de la Forêt in Morgny.
Nothing but the best, Dave one hell of an effort to join us mate, true legend and great to ride to with you – respect.
Not sure what they eat, some pâté then guinea fowl as part of the set meal – salad and cheese board for me, all well sorted and even washed down with a local IPA and cider, all good.
Let’s get these guns rocking, great riding through the forest and twisty turning lanes, pure pleasure. One other thing – Dave did bring a bag full of rain, actually it was quite pleasant riding in small showers.
With about 10 miles to go, the ever vigilant captain spotted a rugby club, Forges-les-Eaux, funny that I struggle to see signs, bumps in the road etc, but my mind works in mysterious ways, if there is a rugby club there is bound to be a pub.
Well sure as eggs there was a welcoming bar, enough said, we stopped for some well earned refreshments.
Then the heavens opened, rain coming down like stair rods, the Captain made the important call, ‘rain stops play!’.
Bingo quick as a flash books a pension less than 3 minutes away, as always everything planned in the finest detail.
Back at the digs, shower, wash the kit, plan tomorrow’s route, only 120 miles to go! and wake Dave up.
We are nearly there, will give an update on our ETA in Sunshine Corner when we know the ferry times.
Barca 2 Home 11
Cycling, France, Touring July 23, 2022
Forges-les-Eaux to Le Touquet
It was an early breakfast at 6:30am, normal French fare, but it keeps us going. Left just after 7am with overcast skies, but Dave the new weatherman assured us everything will be fine.
Just an easy peasy jaunt to Le Touquet, around 85 miles, walk in the park. To be perfectly honest, we just rolled it in, nothing serious. Within no time we had done nearly 35 miles, stopped for a coffee and pain au chocolat, without the pain au chocolat, think the guy just forgot them, no issues just had two coffees – all good.
Just taking it easy as we are heading for the “seaside” nice an easy riding three abreast down the little lanes, then on the cycle paths just by the sea-front. Nice riding, tried to pull over for lunch, got the priorities right in the 1st place ordered the beer, then they said no food today. Obviously had to finish the beer before we moved on. Found another place around 4 miles away, cycled there, only to find out we had missed the 2pm watershed, liquid lunch it is then – no dramas.
Then just cruised to the outskirts of Le Touquet, Bingo had booked an AirBnB – very easy day today, but nice and pleasant. Dave was true to his word as the sun finally came out – nice.
Barca 2 Home 12
Cycling, England, France, Touring July 24, 2022
Le Touquet to Calais and Dover to Aylesham
It’s the last day of an Epic Tour, many thanks to the whole team who took part in the 1st section, great company, riding and the atmosphere in Barcelona was electric. A special thanks to Bingo for accompanying me on the journey home, mate that was tough and to be perfectly honest touch and go if we could actually do it, but we did, as always.
Lovely last breakfast in France, home made jams, marmalade, fresh bread and coffee. Set of with the knowledge of a little bumpy 45 mile ride to Calais, nothing serious just like riding the North Downs. To be perfectly honest we smashed it, hitting the Port of Calais around 11:15, thinking maybe get on an earlier ferry, no such luck, the queue for UK immigration was manic 1 1/2 wait, as only 4 booths were open. Pretty ironic that all the queuing at Dover is blamed on the French and vice versa in Calais they blame it on the UK, just a political game! [And not remotely anything to do with the extra paperwork required since Brexit: Ed] Never mind we eventually made it through.
Lads, thanks for a great tour, its been a honour to ride with you all and thanks for supporting both worthy causes. Here’s to the next one.
Once again thanks for all your fabulous support.