A beautiful ending to Le Tour

Hi everyone! Sorry I haven’t posted for a while! Hoped to be able to do one or two short posts whilst in France, but that didn’t happen.

So, you want to know ‘they story?’ I’m not going to included everything, just a outline. Let’s just say this:

I picked Melissa up from Heathrow last Sunday, drove to the Eurotunnel, managed to get an earlier slot and went to Calais. Unfortunately my phone didn’t work over there. Except for WiFi. I got a little lost (the sat nav was very out of date). Almost drove on the wrong side of the road a few times. And finally got back on the road toward Pau. I drove until about 10.30pm (maybe later) that night, and we finally stopped at a hotel, where luckily they had a room available. That is where I posted my last blog! The next day I drove onto Pau. All of this was via the toll roads as I got too lost if I wasn’t on them!

In Pau, after a few guesses, I managed to find the underground car park in the centre of Pau. Thank god! I was a very worried about how long I could park there, but managed to sort that out later on. We wandered up and down before finding our way to the finish area. When we had found a spot, Melissa wanted to go for a wander. It was hot and about 5 mins after she went off I walked back into town. Then I could check out Hotel Bosquet, attempt to contact my parents and hopefully use the Wifi in Quick (the french version of Burger King). This I managed to do and eventually wandered back towards the finish, where all the team buses were parked. I asked the Orica-Greenedge boys how far they had left, and watched the riders come in from there.

Eventually the team buses were surrounded by people, and I got smacked on the head by the Eurosport camera (thanks you idiots) by the Team Sky bus. Eventually saw Melissa by the RSNT bus and took some pics etc. Then we went back to the car to attempt to find the hotel for the night! It took a lot of doing and I was knackered by the time we got there (just as reception was closing). A lot of media people were staying at Appart City Pau Idron.
Then the Wifi didn’t work! A quick shower then I was asked by her if I was going out to get something to eat. I wasn’t planning to as I had already eaten, but took her down to town as she looked pretty miserable. I suppose it must be very difficult being a vegan! Eventually I found somewhere to park and using the GPS on my phone, managed to find our way to restaurant after restaurant . Finally she decided one would suit and sat down. Loads of people were about. She was very unhappy with the sheer amount of people smoking and kept getting up to go for a walk.

Anyway. Finally we got back to the hotel. Where I get informed she hadn’t sorted any way to get back to Heathrow for her flight home. As she had already said she wasn’t staying in Paris with me, I had left her to it! I think by then I had had enough of trying to help her. Cue much banging around in the hotel room as i attempted to sleep.

Tues am: I go to reception to see if anyone could help us out using the WiFi on Melissas laptop. One of the receptionists, Christina Chorley, was British and agreed to immediately help her. I wandered down to Lidl to buy a bit of food (didn’t have enough money for breakfast in every hotel), and on the way back saw Vacansoleil out on a training ride.
Tues pm (ish): Back at the hotel Melissa eventually gave up and decided she wanted to move on back into town to try and find Wifi there. When we got there she went off on her own, and I decided to take a wander up to the hotel we were staying in that night. Ah we had one double bed. Crap. Oh well, I decided to wander up to the Sky/BMC/Garmin hotel, as we had driven past it earlier. I met some lovely American’s who were lost, and showed them the way to the team hotel.
Met @monadott and her friends, and #bernieontour. They were lovely people, and let me hang around with them until late in the afternoon when they went back to their hotel.
I spoke with loads of people about getting up the Tourmalet on the day, and was told it just wasn’t possible with a car. By this time i was feeling pretty ill, and was getting very stressed. I had no contact with melissa either (her phone is American and doesn’t work on European bandwidth or something). All I knew was she’d gone to find RSNT hotel. I took her luggage up from the car to the hotel, and finally went back for my own. Then I went to Quick to use their WiFi again. Then to the hotel for a shower and eventually fell asleep by 10ish.
Was woken up at 12 when she arrived. Tried to go to sleep, but she then asked me what the plan was the next day. I told her I’d been ill, and had been trying to work out if it was possible to get up the Tourmalet and said no.
A couple of hours later she starts banging around the room, having a shower, drying her hair right next to me etc. by now I felt awful, stomach cramps the whole lot. Then she picked my car keys up. Asked her what she was doing. She said seeing if she’d left anything in the car. No way do I ever let anyone take my keys. Especially at that time of the morning – after all I don’t really know her. She told me she was making her own way up the Tourmalet. Fine. Went out with her, waited until she had want she needed. And she went.

Weds am: talked though what I should doo wiith the young French lad on reception duties. He suggested buying a Pay As You Go phone. But to go and watch the stage start first. I wandered up there, and it was blisteringly hot! Watched the caravan go out. By then I felt horrendous, so went back to town centre and found a Carphone Warehouse. Got a cheap PAYG mobile and got the girl in the shop to set it up for me!
By 10.30 (ish) i’d had enough. I was frightened of driving on my own, and about tolls and money etc. Spoke to the lovely people in the tourism office, and phoned the parents. Then started on a long drive towards Chartres.

Weds pm: after the first hour or so on the road, I felt a lot more comfortable. Still had to stop every other service station though… Eventually made it to Chartres, and stopped at the Comfort hotel, where luckily I had just enough money to pay for a room and breakfast. Weirdly enough I ended up having a McDonalds for “supper.”
Thank god i had a PAYG phone, and my mum bless her heart managed to book me a room in Hotel de la Chappelle (near Chevreuse) for the next 2 nights. Also had WiFi that worked.

Thurs: managed to eventually drive into Chartres and posted a postcard (for dear old Lady Hornby). Then drove onto the next hotel. I was pretty ill, it wasn’t pleasant and it isn’t worth going into details!!
The hotel manager gave me expert directions for driving into Paris on Saturday morning!

Sat: felt a lot better! Drove into Paris (how easy!) and parked at Porte de Auteuil at the big Carrefor supermarket. Couldn’t wait to meet up with Verity who arrived at the Gare Du Nord at midday. Walked to the hotel, got directions for parking that was a LOT closer. Walked to the Eiffel Tower.

LOL!! Took a pic or two!!

Finally Verity got a taxi to the Eiffel Tower. I have never been so relieved to see my best friend in my whole life. Finally i had someone to have a laugh with and hopefully enjoy the last couple of days in Paris!!

and we took another pic or two.
Then we walked back to the car, moved it to nearer the hotel. Our room wasn’t ready, so left our luggage there and walked up towards the Champs Elysees. Failed to find the Team Sky Fan Party, and we walked up and down for ages. Finally a text came though on my phone. Tim Baines and David Dunphy you are a legends!! I eventually rang Tim back and we got a taxi to the Frog XVI

We watched the last 7 or 8 (i think) and had a refreshing Bulmers!! then everyone started disappearing and we got a taxi back to the hotel. we decided to get to the Arc for half 6ish in the morning, as I was aware that there would be a lot of people!

Sunday: We got up to the Arc for 6.40am

And found the Team Sky Fan Zone pretty easily! It was quiet for a long time, and it was pretty chilly! (I wore my PJ bottoms over my shorts on the way up!).

Then we met Chris, the one with ‘the’ hat, who lent me his Sky Procycling softshell jacket…

but eventually people started to arrive. We had bought camping chairs, and it was a relief to sit down for a while! Met some lovely people (please friend me on Facebook or Twitter as I am useless and can’t remember your names!!)

And it got hotter and hotter!!! And more and more packed!!

The caravan don’t throw anything out on the Champs Elysees. But one PMU girl dropped a sprint hand…

which a very kind policeman picked up for me!! We had plenty of fun waiting… (thanks Fran Millar for the temp tattoos:

(did you know sunscreen spray seals them? even after 3 showers mine are still on my arms!!)

And then finally… (this isn’t the first pic, but it has both Cav and Wiggo in it)

It was mental! I have cracking pictures on facebook in an open photo album. feel free to tag away!

The songs were sung, the British were showing their best side, and it was quite frankly amazing. Now I have been to Cheltenham Festival, and that is merely ‘enjoyable’ compared to this. The atmosphere was incredible!! I just wish i had recorded everyone singing for Wiggo. The Team Sky Sportbrake Jag’s got massive cheers everytime they went past.

And eventually they rode toward the finish on the last circut… everyone was holding their breath and gathered around various peoples phones or listening to David Dunphy… then when Cav crossed the line first the place went beserk!!!

After a while, the teams began arriving to have their pic’s taken in front of the Arc. Champagne was being popped everywhere behind us (and it tasted beautiful!). Then Liquigas appeared, and people started chanting/ singing for Sagan, for Basso and for Nibali. It was amazing, even more so when Peter Sagan ‘ran’ straight at me….

and signed the PMU sprint hand I had got from earlier! Then Sky appeared… well you can guess how massively they were cheered!

and then Wiggo ran at me as well….

and everyone surger forward to congratulate him. I got a fair few bruises from it! And then Cav appeared (I don’t have a photo 😦 unfortunately) and he signed my sprint hand as well!

and as they rode away, people started drifting off…

We started wandering back to the hotel, only for Verity to realise she had lost her sunglasses, we went back but no such luck, they were gone. Then spotting a souvenir shop (or several) she bought another pair! Finally we walked the hour or so back to the hotel, first of all seeing this:

and then this…

you wouldn’t think it was gone 10 at night!

We were both very footsore and tired, and slept very well! Not sure what time we left Paris, but got to the Eurotunnel 6 hours before we were meant to go! And they let us get on the next train for an extra ÂŁ1. Brilliant! We lined up and found ourselves behind the Spanish cycling team car, so we asked for a picture…

so thanks guys! and mr saxo bank tinkoff bank person who took the photo!

I had a brilliant weekend with some amazing people. It made up for the start of the week!

But most of all thanks to all you guys and girls on Twitter for the sheer amount of emotional support you gave me! You have no idea how much it means, and you helped me get through day by day.
Thanks also to my brother and especially my parents, the trip wouldn’t have been possible without your help!
Thanks to Tim Baines for texting me the pub info, and to David Dunphy for organising the whole Team Sky Fan shindig. It was amazing…

Now I am tired, and it’s backk to work tomorrow, but expect a blog from the Womens Road Race at the Olympics on Sunday as (thanks to Rhys White) I have a ticket for the Mall!!!

I have managed to keep smiling, even through the tears last week, thanks guys and girls…

Ciao!!

xx

 

 

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It Takes Time…

Isn’t that a song? SO…

Tour De France update:
Right, I pick Melissa up early Sunday morning from Heathrow. Drive to Folkestone. have coffee. Get on the Eurotunnel. Over to Calais, Have coffee. Drive to Pau for check in Monday at the 1st hotel. Have caffeine. Watch Le Tour finish in Pau. Have a drink or several. Find out where everyone is.
Tuesday: Coffee. Breakfast. Tweet. check out and drive to 2nd hotel in Pau. Wander around. Take pictures. Tweet. Blog.
Wednesday:Coffee. Breakfast. check out of hotel. Drive to somewhere near the Tourmalet. Annoy people on Twitter with incessant tweeting ‘wish you were here? nah nah na na nah.’ Meet up with Twitter friends. Have coffee with coffee. Incessant road chalking (including hashtags). Get excited by the caravan coming past. Try not to fall down the mountain whilst fighting for freebies. cover my ears as the screaming starts. Cheer on anyone riding a bike. Shout ‘Allez’ rather a lot. Pretend I speak French. Set up tent and camp.
Thursday: drive like an idiot to Cote De Burs. Repeat Tweeting, Chalking, getting excited by the Caravan and cheering on anyone on a bike. Pretend I speak French, Dutch and Italian. drive to feedzone for Friday. Oh lots of coffee.
Friday: Plenty of coffee. Sleep. Food. Chalking. Cheering. Fight everyone for bidons and musettes. Crash and burn. Caffeine. Camp somewhere. Tweet.
Saturday: drive to Paris and park early. Coffee. Stretch legs. Check in hotel. Catch train to Chartres. Watch some of Time Trial. Catch train back to Paris. Blog. Tweet. Facebook. Get changed. Find Verity. Party with the Team Sky Fans.
Sunday: work out where to meet Team Sky Fans. Coffee. Coffee. Breakfast. Tweet. go to Champs Elysees. Be there stupidly early. Get madly excited. Coffee. Meet lots of people. Pretend to speak French, Dutch, Italian and German. And possibly Flemish. And Welsh. Watch race…… haven’t figured out the next bit, but may include partying…..
Monday: drive to Calais. On Eurotunnel. Folkestone. Coffee x 3. Home.

Except we have a problem. Melissa needs to be back to Heathrow by 11am. Whats the cheapest way of getting back?

hope you enjoyed 🙂

Ciao xx

Logistical Nightmare

How I would love to win the Lottery, or the Euromillions, it would make life so much easier!

I’ve been trying to work out exactly where Melissa and I are going in France. This includes when I pick her up from Heathrow early(ish) on Sunday 15th. I still have to book the Eurotunnel, and have left it this late due to lack of funds and trying to work out the timing. Also from Heathrow, I have to navigate the M25 and M26, which hopefully won’t be overly bad on a Sunday morning! This means I have to give ourselves a bit of extra time to get there (in case of the flight being late, or some hold up on the motorway) and we also need to ‘check in.’
Then from Calais, it’s some long drive to Pau – and although using the motorways over there would be quicker, the tolls are extortionate! And some thing I can’t really afford! This means staying mainly on the Nationale and Departmental routes – and also means I’ll need to print the route out! Gah!
The  http://www.autoroutes.fr/en/routes.htm is the route planner I’m using, as both RAC and AA route planners for Europe are rubbish. Thank god the French version is pretty good! It says driving time of just over 14 hours, so with a break or two, is more likely to be 16!
Say we get to Calais for 11am. Add another 16 hours. That is about 6am we can get to Pau. We obviously will have to stop, but we also need to get to Pau early enough so that we can find the hotel, park up and eat/sleep etc. Oh bearing in mind, the Stage that day finishes in Pau, so I expect it to be heaving, even early on!

Melissa – as soon as we check in, I will probably crash out for a few hours! Or overdose on caffeine!

So by Monday, we are there in Pau. Check In. sleep (for me). Get to the finish. Annoy people (possibly).

Tuesday is the last rest day at Le Tour. Great, have a lie in! Er we have to move the car to the hotel we are staying in on Tuesday night. Then I will possibly sleep again, and blog, and take far too many pictures, and email the parents!

Wednesday’s Stage starts in Pau. I am not missing this!

Wednesday night, Thursday night and Friday night have yet to be decided. But we have a tent!

Saturday and Sunday, we are booked into a hotel in Paris. We have a choice on Saturday, catch the train to watch them finish the Time Trial in Chartres, or go to the Team Sky Fan Party (TSFP), a 15 min walk from our hotel (er, that is a guess! It might not be that far!) The TSFP have a place to watch it all on a big screen and have a party afterwards! This, technically, will be the only night I can drink!

Sunday, we will be on the Champs Elysees, at the Team Sky Fan corner (although I like all the teams! I am not just a Sky fan!) and will be watching them finish.

Currently I have been invited to 3 parties on the Sunday night!

Monday we have to leave Calais fairly early as I expect the M26 and M25 to be a nightmare!

This has been a headache trying to organise this, but I’m so looking forward to it! It WILL be amazing!

Thanks to Andy for offering us a place to pitch our tent, we might see you on the Tourmalet  yet! Thanks to the kind invites to the parties (from various people) and the sheer amount of help I have received from Twitter and Wheelsuckers!

I still have to sort out various bits and bobs – where the hell do I get breathalyser kits from? And Iestyn, my lovely brother, can I borrow a laptop?!?!

Take care and keep smiling 😛

Sprint Laps and a busy Sunday!

Hey people, hope you’re all enjoying Fathers Day! As it’s one of those weeks where everything has been a bit.. er… ‘off’ for lack of a better word. I went back to the joys of work on Thursday, and thanks to the winds I haven’t been out on my bike as a combination of knackered and windy/rainy evenings just don’t work sometimes!

I was aware that I must do some more planning of our (me and @melissagerman) route to Pau. I want to avoid toll roads, and its a sodding long way! However thanks to another Twitter friend, help is at hand! We also need to figure our where we want to be/go on Thursday (Bagnères-de-Luchon > Peyragudes) and Friday (Blagnac > Brive-la-Gaillarde).
I also need to check exactly what I need! Thanks to my parents for helping me out with this as well.

However there is only so much staring at the computer screen I can take, and aware that I will be staring at the screen for another few hours, I decided to test my Garmin Edge 200 out. I needed to go the cashpoint in town as well, so thought I’d hop onto Route 23 and swing through the War Memorial Park and down into Eastrop. Then I realised I hadn’t got anything with me apart from my phone, keys, cashcard and water. Oops. Didn’t want to go to far in case I flatted (got a puncture). Ah well, its a lovely day and thought I’d stretch my legs down the road by Eastrop. I like sprinting on fresh legs! Then it popped into my head that I was in walking distance of home (and I may have been inspired by Halfords Tour Series LOL), so thought I’d go for a few laps, and sprint down the road (the cycle path was majorly busy in the park – with people walking). Everytime I got to the bottom of the road, I was grinning like a loon. I did 8 laps in total, having a whale of a time, then realised I hadn’t switched the Garmin on. DO’H. I did one more lap, and headed on back to town, then home – I actually went up the hill home, and found it rather easy. Er, did I just say I found a small inconsequential hill easy?!?! Actually yeah I did. And it made me feel damn good. I’m still feeling good! Got to say that was much more enjoyable than I had thought it would be!!

Anyway have a brilliant day!

Ciao 🙂

 

One week in France!

Some of our trip is sorted. I’m picking Melissa up from Paris on  Sunday 15th, and driving down towards Pau. It’s some long drive!
We have hotel rooms booked in Pau (the last one we could find on the Monday night, and one of only a couple remaining on the Tuesday). If we ever do this again, we need to book EARLY for more choice and cheaper rooms.

So thats Stage 15 (on the Monday) and 16 (on the Wednesday) sorted out.

We can see the stage finish on the Monday, have a mosey (wander) around on the rest day on the Tuesday, and see the Stage start on the Wednesday.

Wednesday night isn’t clear, or Thusday or Friday. We’ll either be sleeping in the car or in the tent!

I’ve been advised (via a friend on facebook) to go for the feedzones on at least 2 of the days for musettes and bottles.

We’ll be taking chalk! @BevSmerklo will get her hashtag (#thatmanbernie) made famous! And mine will be on the roads as #twitterarti.

Oh yeah, we are going to have some fun!

Saturday and Sunday we are staying in the same hotel in Paris, only a shortish walk to the Champes Elysses, and to the Team Sky Fan Parties.

I’ll be posting more as soon as i know the details.

If anyone else is planning doing this next year, its knackering! Can’t believe how much it takes out of me just trying to plan a route!

Keep smiling!!

🙂 🙂 😉 🙂 🙂

how my #TdF plans have changed

There was originally 2 of us going for just over 2 weeks, me and my best mate, sharing driving fuel etc. It’s a good thing we had a bit of a chat on Sunday.

I then got the feeling she wouldn’t be coming, although it’s taken until this morning to get the answer she wasn’t.

Thanks to a bit of foresight and lack of funds, I haven’t booked any hotels etc, and was already in discussion with @melissagerman (my TwitterFriend) to meet up down in Pau.

Due to this new arrangement, I might spend a couple of days at my Uncles and then pick Melissa up and drive onto Pau, where hopefully (fingers crossed) we will have been able to book a hotel just outside of Pau (Lons).

Hopefully me and Melissa can fine tune this over the next couple of weeks, and it looks like it will be awesome, especially the Team Sky Fan Party Part 1 and Part 2!

So thanks to Melissa, it’ll be great to share this with someone who can have a laugh and in all honesty knows a fair bit more than me about procycling.

Thanks also to @wheel_suckers (http://www.wheelsuckers.co.uk/) and http://road.cc/, which have both provided me with some insight into going to watch Le Tour.

Thanks also to @BevSmerklo, @CatwomanFran, Sarah Orr, Sammi Christopher and Jo Wells, all who listened to me rant after what occured on sunday.

So yeah, I’m going, meeting some of my Twitterarti friends, and it’s going to be a blast

Even if I do get home broke 😉

Now I’m smiling!!!!

 

We bought a tent!

After looking at a fair few tents online, I decided http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/ was the best place to go and have a look, seen as Basingstoke has one just up the road from me. It also has a tent showroom, which was brilliant when we wanted to compare how the tents looked, and the space we had in them. We were never going to but 2 one person tents – as it’s much easier to just have the one tent to put up. A 2 person tent was never going to be big enough – they look tiny to me! So we started looking at the 3 person tents. We only had about ÂŁ25 each, so we found 2 in our price range that looked ok. We settled on this one http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/hi-gear-nucleus-3-tent-p194450 as it looked bigger and felt more roomy than the one next to it (I cant remember what the one next to it was!). Unfortunatley they were out of stock. Damn. So I asked if we could have the one on show, Nope. But they took me over and compared what tents they had that were similar. Why did I want the Hi-Gear Nucleus 3? It was slightly more waterproof, and it seemed more spacious. After several minutes talk, we settled on the http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/hi-gear-proton-3-tent-p194454 which was sold to us at the same price as the one we had originally wanted. Brilliant!

So we have a tent. Now we’re going to have some fun practising pitching it! Probably later today – I’ll let you know how we get on!

When we got home we decided to start looking at where we want to go in France. I know stage starts and finishes are busy, but aiming in roughly that direction, should give us some idea when the detailed TdF route map comes out in June.

We travel to Belfort on Saturday 7th July to be ready for Sundays stage which starts there. Then when all the palava has dies down a bit, we aim to travel onto Besancon (or near there) where that is the finish town on Monday 9th July.

Ha i do wonder if we are being a bit foolhardy? As there is a rest day on the Tuesday, and I have decided to go somewhere up the Col du Grand Colombier – if we can get up there!! then travel somewhere near St Jean de Maurienne.

If that sounds complicated to you, it probably is! But I think we have got it! I’ve written directions down, and highlighted routes on the map – just in case we don’t get a Sat Nav!

I hope today we can work through the rest of the routes, sort of up to Pau (the last rest day), where we meet my TF who will probably be joining us all the way to Paris!

Time to have a coffee now

Ciao