Week 3 & 4 Photos

The rest of the photos that I have so far from the ride are now also in the Gallery.

Comments Off on Week 3 & 4 Photos

(A lot) more Photos

I’ve been busy putting up all the photos from the first 2 weeks onto the site. You will find them under the “Gallery” link above.

Comments Off on (A lot) more Photos

More sponsorship

A big thank-you to Waitrose for donating £440 from their community fund, and to the customers of the Clapham Junction store who voted for the Debora Matthews fellowship. Each month Waitrose make a certain amount of money available for local causes and nominate 3 charities who will receive the funds. Customers then vote on their preference for who should receive it. At the end of the month, the fund is divided in the proportions of vote casts.

Massive thanks also to Lisa  for liasing with Waitrose and organising this (as well as for driving a week, and riding a day). Here’s a photo of her in Milano with Cat and Frank half way through week 3.

Frankie, Cat and Lisa opposite La Scala in Milano

Comments Off on More sponsorship

Week after thoughts

We’ve been back home for just over a week now. No ill-effects apart from a bit of numbness in the hands from gripping the handlebars, and that’s pretty much gone. No after effects on the legs at all. Been thinking about things we learnt from the ride.


Having the spare wheels was useful in the first 3 days as it’s quicker to swap a wheel than change a tyre, but after that we never used them. In fact none of us ever subsequently had a puncture.

The cut-price tyres I bought from Decathlon (the blue ones in the “camp” photo) both failed (not punctured) within a day. They were Hutchinson tyres which are a good make, and I have used others for 000’s of km on my bike with no trouble. The ones I bought must have been seconds. Moral don’t buy bargain tyres. I changed back to the Continental Grand Prix’s which are my favourite and had no further problems at all. Even though there are two quite serious looking holes in the tread on one of them, the reinforcement must really work.

The Mavic Aksium wheels on my bike were defininitely the most free-running of all those on the bikes we had. I could always freewheel faster than the others.

If you are going to get a casette with a lower gear than your usual especially for climbing hills, then make sure it actually does have a lower gear. Guess which idiot didn’t ? The only way I could probably get a lower gear is to have a triple chainring. Up to 14% gradient I managed without. I think losing some more weight would be the better option.

Cleats. Paddy and I both wore out one of the Shimano SL cleats we use. I am particularly heavy on my right foot and nearly wore out another. Definitely worth having spares. Frankie uses Look cleats and didn’t need to replace any, but that could be because he’s about half my weight.

Nutrition / Health:

Both Frankie and I had bad days with stomach problems brought on by dehydration. It probably didn’t help that we both enjoyed spending time in the Sauna and Steam room. Whilst this certainly made my joints feel good, it probably is not a good idea after a long hot ride. Maybe we should restrict this to rest days, or at the very least be careful to keep hydrated. Even the jacuzzi can draw a lot of moisture out of you.

Our eating patterns were very different. I tended to stick to normal meals of breakfast (cerials), lunch (bread and cheese or ham) and dinner (everything), and take an energy gel if I need a quick boost. When it was very hot I used an electolyte energy drink all the time. Other days I had the odd bottle of this, but otherwise stuck with water. Over the course of the ride I lost about 7kg.

Frankie didn’t have breakfast, or use any energy supplements at all. Instead he munched (constantly it sometimes seemed) muesli bars all day. I’m not sure if he managed to put any weight on doing this, he certainly didn’t start with much to lose.

Paddy found all the days he did just normal days, so didn’t take any extra food at all. I think he may have used some of the electolyte drink when it was hot.

Packing energy drinks and supplements is like packing clothes. Work out what you need, and leave half of it behind.

Route Planning:

I think the routes in France were probably too complicated. We spent ages sometimes trying to navigate down very small lanes, which were no easier to cycle along than some of the larger roads. It was nice to cycle the canal towpaths and in particular the wonderful cycle paths in the Adige valley in  Italy. It’s definitely worth researching these, as they can add a lot to the ride.

Comments Off on Week after thoughts

Arriving in Venice

OK, I confess the shot in Piazza San Marco was taken the morning after we arrived. This is what it really looked like. Taken by Jo in the support car following on behind.

There are 4 bikes, honest

Comments Off on Arriving in Venice

Another Photo

Only one photo that matters

I haven’t given up, just having a rest. Back home now.

Comments Off on Another Photo

Day 27 Conegliano to Venice

Well to cut a long story short we made it. All four of us this time, and again it was very wet. Arriving in a downpour is not how I’d ever imagined it, but being Friday 13th was bound to result in something unfortunate. Not as wet as yesterday in truth, although we did sit out the worst of it for about an hour in a cafe attached to a service station outside Treviso.
Mel tried but failed to become the first major casualty of the ride by attempting a bunny hop onto the pavement at the end of the causeway from the mainland. She took a nasty bang to the elbow, but she thinks she will live.
Had to leave the bikes locked up in the public bike store in Piazale Roma at the other end of Venice from where I am now. I wish I was more confident that they will be there in the morning. Then a damp water bus ride to our hotel near the Arsenal just along from St Marks square. I’ have a wonderful view across the lagoon from where I am sitting.
Well that’s it then. Tomorrow it’s time to repack the car (also at the opposite and of Venice, and with my spectacles in it, which is why there may be some strange typing in these last two posts), and head North over the Brenner pass and West through Germany.
A bit soon for final thoughts so I’ll start thinking some and blog them when I have.

Day 26 Alleghe to Conegliano

The rain gods returned today, and compared to these all the previous one were amateurs. For the first half of the ride it absolutely threw it down. A shame as it is an incredibly scenic ride down from the Dolomites along the valley floor of a very steep valley, almost a canyon in parts.
Frankie started off but gave it up after getting very cold and wet when he still wasn’t feeling so good. Later on the rain stopped fortunately and Mike, Mel and I then managed to dry out a bit. A lot of downhill thereafter with wonderful views. It’s very impressive how they’ve threaded the autostrada through. Huge elevated sections on massive piers.
By the time we got to Conegliano it was my turn to feel unwell. I don’t know if it was a bug, dehydration, something I ate, or just that European non-alcoholic beer has more alcohol than ours, but I was getting very painful stomach cramps. This is why this blog is a day late – I hit my bed as soon as we finished riding.
Conegliano is famed for its prosecco and is very attractive, but do not believe it has a campsite. It wasn’t. It was some sort of camper van park for the Italian Caravan club in an industrial estate. It was also very shut with just a number to ring if you wanted to get in. We unanimously decided not to ring it. In the end we had a warm and friendly welcome from the Hotel Christallo which given the state we were all in seemed a much more reasonable proposition.
Big thunderstorm in the night. Not good portents for our last day.

Comments Off on Day 26 Alleghe to Conegliano

Day 25 Selva to Alleghe

Jo says “hi” She has been drinking sambucca though.
Today we did half the Sella Ronda in the opposite direction to 2 days ago. Unfortunately Frankie didn’t feel well enough to ride it.
Today’s star was Mel who came out yesterday and did this stage as her first ride since London -Dover. She did it seemingly with little effort and no fuss at all (really). And outstanding performance we are all in awe, and Mike and I have lost money.
Back to camping tonight so guess what – rain. The campsite is attached to a hotel with a superb wellness centre (we are adopting that word as it is so useful). The girls just wanted you know.
Mike and Jo would also like to tell you about the descent from Pordoi to Arabba. 35 hairpins. Fantastic. We were overtaking cars as well as the coaches. Almost caught Jo in the support car, but the hill was one bend too short. Damn
Going back down towards the coast now. Trying to work out flat routes.
Night night.

Day 24 Rest Day Selva

Unfortunately it hasn’t been for Frankie. He got very dehydrated after yesterday’s ride and was ill in the night. We have been feeding him energy drinks all day hoping to get him fit enough to start tomorrows ride. This has quite a tough start with 2 of the Sella Ronda passes, but in the opposite direction to the way we rode them yesterday. Even only half fit Frankie would do these better than the rest of us, but we’ll have to hope he wakes up ready for them. After that it’s downhill all the way to Venice.
Mike, Jo and I just moseyed around a bit today. Went to look at Siusi – even more stunning scenery than Selva, which hardly seems possible. Then we picked up Mel from the station at Ponte Gardena. She is going to ride the last 3 days with us into Venice.