Tag Archives: Cycling

Avenue Verte, June 2014

If anyone saw my blog last week, a cycle ride from the London Eye to Notre Dame was my most recent adventure and as with everything I seem to do, it wasn’t dull – lots of ups and downs along the way.

Our ‘Grand Depart’ rendezvous point was the London Eye on the south bank of the River Thames and with the threat of the ‘worst storms in 170 years’ looming over us, we set off from this point on Saturday morning. Spirits were high, wet weather gear was on, the heaven’s opened and even so, I was very excited about what lay ahead of us.

The outline of the plan we were following is below, and we travelled along a variety of cycle paths: tarmac, gravel, wooded trail, mud, deep mud, un-passable mud (ie we had to carry our bikes up onto the bank, walk around the said mud and jump down the other side !!)

Day #1 : Saturday – London Eye to Forest Row, West Sussex (approx. 50 miles)

Day #2 : Sunday – Forest Row, West Sussex to Newhaven, East Sussex (approx. 50 miles)

Day #3 : Monday – Ferry crossing to Dieppe, cycled to Forges Les Eaux (approx. 40 miles)

Day #4 : Tuesday – Forges Les Eaux to Conflans St Honorine (approx. 85 miles)

Day #5 : Wednesday – Conflans St Honorine to Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris (approx. 45 miles)

The route
The route

As you can see by some of the mileage and the types of terrain we were facing, the days were long ! And given that we were on ‘holiday’ we did manage a few stops for coffee, lunch and afternoon tea so don’t feel too sorry for me. 8-9pm was a standard arrival time at our next hotel each day and waiting for us was our luggage and a welcome wine / beer depending on your preference.

The weather was generally very good. Except for the initial ride from the Eye, a huge thunder-storm about 6 miles from our hotel on the 3rd day and a little drizzle on the morning of the 4th day, we had sunshine, very little wind and warm conditions – very very fortunate !

Here are some of the photos I took from my go-pro helmet camera…..

Rain before we even start !
Rain before we even start !
A bicycle made for two - extra points for doing the trip on a tandem I think !
A bicycle made for two – extra points for doing the trip on a tandem I think !
Bike 'storage' on the ferry !
Bike ‘storage’ on the ferry !
We did manage to have afternoon tea or 2 or 3 !
We did manage to have afternoon tea or 2 or 3 !
And saw some lovely French countryside
And saw some lovely French countryside
And the occasional chateux
And the occasional châteaux
Outskirts of Paris
Outskirts of Paris
Cycling in the midst of Paris pedestrian area
Cycling in the midst of Paris pedestrian area

And here was the finish line………. what a beautiful sight !

The finish line !
The finish line !

So we did it :). 16 cyclists made it (we started with 18, but that’s a whole other story!), we were sore, elated, emotional but most of all ready to put our bikes onto the courier van and not see them for a while.

Team shot !
Team shot !

I have to admit to a few tears once I arrived. The experience through Paris was not fun for me and that together with being very tired, meant I was so relieved to see the finish line it overwhelmed me a little.

Do it again ? Of course ! There is another way into Paris you know – we chose the west route. There’s the east side still to explore !

East next time ?
East next time ?

What’s next ? We will see !

Live life loud

Catherine

Age Group girl

 

 

Is it something to do with it being a Wednesday ?

Does anyone else feel a bit ‘meh’ today ? Anyone else struggling with energy ? I am ! Its almost as though I’ve got a Monday feeling, and correct me if I’m wrong, but its Wednesday right ? …….. Humpday, ‘half way through the week’ day. What’s going on !

Needing to get myself out of my little slump, I pulled out the picture below and asked myself ‘which step have I reached so far today’ ? It gave me the incentive to get some jobs finished rather than sitting around half-heartedly starting things, but never finishing.

Yes you can

So what have I now started and finished properly ?

– Workshop preparation around marketing my new business

– Taking part on a Skype call with a business coach and being prepared for it !

– Planning my route for a long bike ride this weekend

Ok, its not world domination but it has given me a sense of achievement – what’s the phrase ? Something like ‘have you done something today that you will be proud of in a years’ time ?’. Yes on reflection, now I have !

Time to make a cuppa, and perhaps a chocolate biscuit – world domination takes energy you know !

Live life loud

Catherine

Age Group girl

 

An Eye to a Tower….. Avenue Verte

Today we set off ! We set off to ride the 406km across 5 days from the London Eye to the Eiffel Tower :).

It’s very exciting, a little daunting but is another adventure in a life that I am lucky enough to be living out loud.

The route
The route

We are taking a set of ‘sustran’ routes that wind their way through South London, down through the Sussex countryside to the town of Newhaven. We than take the ferry across the English Channel to Dieppe. Once across in France, we spend the next 3 days working our way through French lanes and tracks arriving in Paris on Wednesday evening.

The sign we will be following !
The sign we will be following !

Doesn’t it sound romantic and idyllic ? Have you seen the weather reports ? Wet weather gear has been packed ‘just in case’.

The trusted hybrid is ready
The trusted hybrid is ready

So the small bag has been dropped at our friends house (BTW we aren’t carrying our own bags !), the chamois butter is to hand, the trusty hybrid has been serviced and prepped and the go-pro charged for some perfect moments……… off we go !

So Avenue Verte it is http://avenuevertelondonparis.co.uk/

La vie vivant !

A bientot et au reviour

Catherine

Fille groupe d’age

 

Thank you !

Hi all, blogging is still fairly new to me but I’m loving it more everyday. Its amazing how you can find things to write about AND others are interested in it too 🙂

More to come, especially as I head off on my new adventure, cycling from London to Paris tomorrow……… gonna be fun ? I expect there will be some laughs and tears along the way

Thanks for all the follows, likes and comments this week ! I’ve been trawling through my photos of my 3 month trip and there’s so much I haven’t shared yet – be prepared !

Happy memories !
Happy memories !

Live life loud

Catherine

Age Group girl

 

Lanzarote : just a few rolling hills in the sunshine

Anyone who knows Lanzarote should be shaking their head right now saying NO IT ISN’T, ITS HILLY & WINDY ! And honestly, it has more ups than downs, is more windy than it is calm !! Not for the faint hearted….. but I love it 🙂

Ride hard & earn the downhill
Ride hard & earn the downhill

Although I guess it’s what you want to do. Hire a couple of bikes to cruise along the promenades in the towns, no problem that’s flat(ish)…… but if you want to get some serious bike miles in, its off up the hills.

My first experience was May 2013. Here’s me thinking, yeah I’m fairly fit, a new cyclist but doing ok ! Yep, what did I know…..

Club La Santa, while it’s an oasis, it’s also at the bottom of a ridge, and that means ? The only way out is up !!!!

Route 1, Off to Soo

Route 2, Off to Tinajo and beyond (this time longer but less steep).

“Is there another route out ?” I ask naively. “Nope it’s either one of these !”.

Once you’ve made it to the top of the ridge at Soo, it’s a wonderful sweeping downhill to the surfing town of Famara. Sounds great huh ? It is ! But the big challenge is the wind at this point. It tends to be coming across from about 10 or 11 o’clock… Love it !!

The first time I rode this area (May 2013) it was the first time I had really appreciated riding as a group, spreading the workload amongst us all. I’d been on group rides before but without this discipline and while I knew it made life easier, I’d been very nervous to ride so close to the bikes around me. It was more about my bike handling skills and confidence than anyone else – what if I wobbled and took someone down ?

What a difference to work with others, pull each other along, take your turn out the front, all needing high communication !

The most recent trip was my first time riding through Teguise, up to the café at the top of the climb, the descending and coming back up the switchbacks. The views are amazing, but honestly I was concentrating so much on the descent that I didn’t really see much – this photo gives you an idea of what I should have been seeing !

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Fire Mountain and the ride through to Yaiza remains a big favourite of mine, especially waving to the camels on the way.

Someone once said to me that I’d be cycling strong after a week in Lanzarote – well they were right ! You learn that there isn’t something you can’t climb, you just have to hunker down and keep on pedalling 🙂

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Every view is worth the climb……… remember ride hard and enjoy the downhill !

Live life loud

Catherine

Age Group girl

 

 

 

It’s not just about the bike – planes, trains and automobiles too !

Happy Wednesday everyone ! A twisted ankle during last night’s tempo run is keeping me a little restricted today 😦 but a swim later will clear the head I think !

A couple of weeks ago I received an email that said ‘Ride like a pro with Team Sky’ !! Well I opened that one pretty quickly, as clearly my prowess on the bike has filtered through to Dave Brailsford and I was being courted :). Reading on I found that there was going to be a ride in my area with the Team Sky Jaguar cars and a chance of winning a ride in Majorca with Team Sky themselves thrown into the bargain. I immediately signed up and put the date firmly in my diary and training schedule for October 12th.

In the lead up week there were a couple of things that started to impact my confidence about ‘riding like a pro’ : 1. the promise of a typical Autumn English day of rain, rain and more rain with an added bonus of high winds and 2. a challenging course of 50 miles heading South into the outskirts of London with some wickedly steep but short hills. I’m not a wimp by any stretch of the imagination but am a fairly new cyclist and thought of the planned route and the foreboding conditions did give me a little nagging doubt about the ‘fun’ element of the day.

New Flash 2 days before……….. the course was changed !! There had been a risk assessment and the original route was too challenging for the event and instead we were covering some familiar ground in my home county of Hertfordshire (or so it seemed !).

The day broke and I was relieved to find that there was no rain, the sky was somewhat blue and there was only a few grey clouds so I set off happily to the start point, looking forward to riding out with a large group and meeting some new people.

Ready to ride, October 2013
Ready to ride, October 2013

After the ride briefing and safety discussion, off we went……….. the wrong way ! Ok, a bit of a over-simplification of what happened but in reality the very quick group went off first, I landed in a smaller group and followed 2 cyclists who looked like they knew exactly where they were going, but they didn’t ! Yep rookie mistake on my part !! With all the GPS technology in the world, when you get lost in the lanes of Hertfordshire the only thing to do is to pull out the cue-sheet, retrace your pedal strokes and picked up where you lost your way.

So take 2, off we went……. the right way, kind of !!

The target for the 3 of us at this point was to catch up with the support car and crew that was following the last riders and after about 45 mins of riding we found it – boot (or trunk !) open, with one of the crew changing an inner tube while another rider waited to see if the gash in his tire could be mended. It looked like at least one of my decisions that morning had paid off in choosing to take the ‘winter bike’ out, and leave the racing bike at home – others hadn’t been so fortunate.

GPS checked, cue-sheet checked, support crew checked and off we went again…………. definitely the right way this time !! For a while, at least !!

Now as I said earlier, I am still a fairly cautious rider and finding ourselves on the main road into Luton wasn’t in the plan ! And finding ourselves riding in front of a cement lorry (truck !) definitely wasn’t in the plan either !! I have to say he was the most patient lorry driver I have ever come across and there was a big wave thank you as he passed us when we arrive at a safe spot to pull over and gather ourselves.

Guess what, we found we had arrived at Luton Airport !! And I don’t mean the lovely rolling hills that skirt the outside of the runway that I have ridden a few times on my way to Emily’s teashop, no the actual terminal building and airport hotels…….. a rest stop was now a decision of the majority as we needed refreshments !

At this point I have to say the 3 of us were a little over it all – we had covered a good set of miles in a good pace, the weather was starting to change and after assessing the route back to the start, I have to say we decided to jump on the train to St Albans and ride back to the start point from there. Ok, so now I think you can call me a wimp !

There were no more detours or adventures on the journey back to the Jaguar dealership in Welwyn Garden City and we arrived safely back, just in time for tea 🙂

On reflection this is a story of personal responsibility, last-minute changes and how to improve things for the future. This is the first year these rides have happened and they are a great way to encourage cycling in the UK and long may they continue. I totally own my lack of personal preparation around the route but my hope would be that next time there would be more support cars and even some designated support riders on the route to ‘count us in and count us out’. The 3 Amigos weren’t the only ones who took the wrong turn or two during the ride and perhaps the late change to the route caused some of the directions on the cue-sheet to be inaccurate.

Would I do a Team Sky / Jaguar, ‘ride like a pro’ event again ? Definitely !! There is always laughter when a group of like-minded people get together whatever the conditions and challenges that are faced. It was fun, it was a pleasure to meet and ride with new people and honestly, I was really pleased with my own riding – win, win, win I think !

Time for the pool now, with a lot of drills in my near future (thanks coach !). Next time, tune in to Age Group girl and join the debate on ‘Just how many shoes does it take for an Age Group girl to be a triathlete’

Bye for now

Catherine, Age Group girl