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The Newsletter of CTC Wessex Cycling

A custom design machine found on Guernsey

Autumn 2013

Julian presents the CTC Certificate of Merit to Terry, Joan, Bob and Pete.

CTC Wessex Cycling Members at the Gathering


The Quarterly Magazine of CTC Wessex Cycling in Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch On a blazing day in July . . . and haven’t we had a glorious summer . . . we held a garden party at Ferndown. Any active local members were welcome to attend and a good many did. It was a bit of a balancing act though as I needed to get four very important people there all at the same time, and cyclists being very much free spirits don’t like to be tied down like that. Well, it was achieved and those four people are in the photograph opposite. We made application to the CTC Awards committee way back in January for the award of the CTC Certificate of Merit for Terry Walsh, Peter Loakes and Bob & Joan Courtney. Our own Julian James heads up that committee but he wasn’t involved in the application so as not to compromise his impartiality. In any event, the committee agreed the award at their meeting in the Spring and the Certificates were all duly drawn up and signed ready to find a good opportunity to present them. I don’t really have to go into detail to you all just why these people are so deserving do I? Well I will anyway. Joan & Bob for running the Inters for years and years and being involved in all aspects of club life forever. Peter Loakes for starting the Dorset Downs 100km and being secretary of the West Dorset Section for many years. Terry Walsh for starting the Burley Saturday ride and running the Gridiron. Terry thinks he’s a “new boy” but he forgets its over 10 years with CTC now! Finally, don’t forget the 21st Gridiron coming up on October 13th. Are you riding or helping? If you are riding and haven’t entered you’ll need to get on with it. At time of press the entry is at 800+ and we are closing off at 1000. New route this year and a new event HQ at Lymington. WEBSITE ENTRY ONLY NO ON-THE-DAY ENTRY


Calendar Dates For 2013 Oct 13th

The 21st Gridiron 100km John Jackson 01590 683815 See you all next year with a new programme!

PHSG Sunday Group at the top of Bulbarrow on their July Ride

Informal Wayfarers Rides to Burley This ride happens every Saturday and is completely informal. There is no leader and no back up, but generally an experienced cyclist somewhere around. The route is designed for beginners but joined in by all abilities. Start 08:45 at Waitrose Supermarket, Christchurch every Saturday or 09:00 at The Oak PH, Burton Or make your own way to the Old Farmhouse Tea Rooms, Burley for 10:00

Committee meetings are held at The Conservative Club, Kinson. NEXT: ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING: 23rd October 2013 at 19:30 Remaining committee meetings for 2013: 20th November Secretary: Mike Walsh: 17 Grove Gdns, Southbourne Rd, B’mouth BH8 9JQ TEL: (01202) 429985 Email Editor: Keith Matthews: 10 Hill View Road, Ferndown, BH22 9QY TEL: (01202) 855001 Email “CycleInk” is the Newsletter of CTC Wessex Cycling, a Member Group of the Cyclists’ Touring Club. Published four times a year for members. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the club. Contributions and Photographs: The committee meeting date is the deadline for Newsletter contributions. Contribute by any way you like. Photographs are welcome in any form.

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Dorset Coast Permanent Near Egerton

by Lisa Northover

In August I had an exchange of emails with Lisa Northover who was interested in riding the Dorset Coast 200km Permanent with her partner Jon Fisher over the weekend of 17th August. I had offered some advice but held on to my reservations; I thought this was their first experience of riding one of our more challenging events and they were not CTC or Audax UK members. Here is Lisa’s report.

Keith Wednesday 21st August My report is several days late … but that is because it took several days! We left Boscombe on Saturday morning, Your Editor’s Bike on that having thought this ride may take longer than one day, we coastal track 1997 took tents etc. making things a little more sluggish. 45 miles on we stopped for the night at Chesil Beach. In the morning we were tired facing Abbotsbury Hill so we psyched up for it, but someone in a shop suggested a flat route along Wool Bridge the coastal path; I liked the sound of it. It involved cycling through deep shingle and carrying the bikes over stiles – my other half never let me hear the end of it. Once we got to West Beach we were tired out and the thought of getting to Axminster at this point seemed crazy, so we stayed the night which was great fun. In the morning we decided to cut a corner and head straight to Dorchester. We tried the A35, but soon opted in favour of Egerton Hill which had fantastic views and was well worth the work. We ended up in Dorchester eventually where we opted for a night in a bed. Heading from Dorchester to home, I wouldn’t go near an A-road again after what I considered a near death experience the previous day, so we went Wool – Wareham – ferry (National Cycle Route 2); more suited to off-road and we got a puncture as we reached Ferry Road. So … four days not one, route not completed, but 210km and 7,000ft elevation and I am tired enough not to be disappointed!



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President’s Ride

By Mike Walsh

Terry agreed to lead a Potterers ride on Thursday 8th August and this was recorded as the Chairman’s Ride on the runs list. The Rouleurs chose to join in but at a faster pace. All rode to coffee in Cranborne. Here are some of the photographs from the day.

TED DAVIS 13 JANUARY 1923 - 16 JULY 2013 Earlier this year we reported on Dawdlers' member, Ted Davis, who celebrated his 90th birthday and hoped to continue cycling this year. Unfortunately on 16 July he passed away after a short illness. His funeral on 7 August, a celebration of his life, was attended by people representing his many and varied interests which he was still enjoying until shortly before his death. Everyone agreed he was a truly remarkable man and will be sorely missed.

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Right to Ride Report

By Paul M. Turner

Bournemouth - The Three Towns Corridor' Local Sustainable Transport Fund (Joint LSTF bid) - Beale Place - the Council has carried out traffic surveys and established that in principle it could close Beale Place. Bournemouth Council currently working out the necessary documents to advertise this later in the year and considering the practicalities of introducing a cycle contra-flow in Beale Place and Yelverton Rd. Cycle Parking - 30 cycles stands have been installed along Christchurch Rd, Seabourne Rd and Southbourne High Street. Programme of cycle storage facilities on the street, at businesses and schools, as well as expansion of cycle storage at BU linked to cycle loan scheme. Throop - a temporary crossing has been in place for the last nine months and will continue to be used while the work is taking place. The construction of a new bridge, on the same site as the old one, will take eight weeks to complete. This project will cost £400,000 and is being funded by Dorset County Council and Bournemouth Borough Council. The Councils are drawing the money from the government funded Local Transport Plan and the Environment Agency are also contributing to the cost. There may be short periods of disruption to allow for the manoeuvring of construction vehicles, delivery of material and the operation of cranes, but they will try to keep this to a minimum. For more Information about travelling in Dorset visit. Poole - Pedal Again in Poole cycle training is continuing and new bikes have been purchased. Cycling Officer - Tom Gaze – the markings and width of the cycle lane returning from the Sandbanks Ferry are not good. The old centre line road markings are showing through the worn surface and the cycle lane markings are worn. Various methods had been used to try and remove the old line markings but had failed. Poole Council undertaking public engagement on the Poole Road scheme for the Three Towns Travel project. The next stage of the Three Towns Travel Project will be Poole Road and Branksome Railway Station:


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Funding available for Poole Road - The funding allocated for Poole Road, which includes Bourne Valley Junction, is £460,000. Travel improvements could lead to: ☺improved journey time or reliability of bus journeys. ☺better or new bus stops, shared footways and cycle ways. ☺improved cycle and pedestrian crossings and how traffic flows in the vicinity of junctions. Funding available for Branksome Railway Station To encourage greater use of the train as a means of travel around the conurbation an additional £25,000 has been set aside for improvements at Branksome Railway Station. Potential improvements at Branksome Station could be cycle storage lockers, better pedestrian access to the station platforms or change to parking arrangements. Please go to this link: Don’t forget to look at my update pages on the Wessex Website!


PRIVATE ROAD Bob Frew writes: Map ref:

SECURE YOUR NUTS! As we mostly have cars too:

SU 062217 to SU 051253 Would Ride leaders note that this is a Private Road from A354 to Stoke farthing past Knighton Farm and Knighton Hill Farm is not open to the public. Occasional use may be permitted by the land owner. Ride leaders wishing to use this route please contact me in advance and I will see if permission is forthcoming for a specific date.

Many cars these days are fitted with anti-theft nuts requiring a special tool for their removal. These can be expensive to replace if they are lost but on the box is a PIN that can be used to buy replacements from the manufacturer, Keep a note of this number safe, it will make the replacement costs much cheaper!

Bob Frew 01202 693480

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Dawdlers a Dawdling

by Alan Jeffries

Thursday the 4th July dawned bright and dry with light winds. The proposed destination was Moreton with a midmorning break at the West Holme Garden Centre. I would like to say, at this point in the tale, that I am a reluctant bike-ride leader for several reasons but the main one being I haven’t got an in-depth knowledge of Dorset! The reason I do lead the occasional ride is to give the members who seem to do most of the rides a bit of respite. You’ll understand why I’m mentioning this later! We set off - all twelve of us I think - at the prescribed time of 9.30am from Merley Bridge. The plan was to go via Corfe Mullen, Lytchett Matravers, Organford, Sandford and onward through Wareham to West Holme Garden Centre for our break. In Wareham, as was the plan, some riders returned home but others joined us. We carried on through Wareham to Stoborough then onto the road leading to West Creech Hill. It was here I made my embarrassing mistake!! I missed the turning for West Holme and Wool. We carried on for about a mile and a half before it dawned that we were on the wrong road. We quickly (very) zoomed back down the hill to the required turning and made our way, via a fair bit of map reading, to the Garden Centre. A few minutes earlier, whilst we were heading up the wrong hill, the weather had started to deteriorate with the sky becoming overcast and accompanied with a very fine drizzle. We discussed this over our break and the majority decision was to retreat back to Wareham for sandwiches, where, would you believe it, we had brilliant sunshine. We sat by the river and enjoyed the day. Later we made for home via Upton House and another tea-stop. I’ve promised myself to do better in the future, with a bit more reconnoitering - that’s if I’m ever asked to!! Alan


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Bend my Gender - If you please

By Big Bob

Something has happened which I find disturbing. The strange thing is it occurred whilst on the Bike which is unusual as all of the bad things in my life happen while dismounted and having to attend to the details of life. I still remember the sad occasions when my trusty Triple chainringed tourer and I have stared mournfully at each other through the windows of Dentists’ Surgeries,Solicitors offices, Debt Advisory centres, Tax offices and even on two confusing times a Police Station! All done in order to stay on the Bike and seize the life. But I digress from my point. The morning was sunny and promised to get hotter as the day proceeded so the thought of drifting on the Bike through the cool glades of the forest with a known convivial group caused me to leap out of bed with more than my usual alacrity. In no time at all we had all met up and were away, a happy chattering group without a care in the world and I noticed with pleasure that our leader was a lady I had known for several years. Eventually a morning coffee and cake or late breakfast stop was called for and indeed one had been arranged in a new venue for me, a garden centre where we sat outside by a trellis of tumbling roses. The weather was perfect, the refreshments were superb, the setting idyllic and the company grand, but something was wrong. I looked around in bewilderment at the gathered riders and noticed a slight hardening of the atmosphere. Colin H, a valued riding companion even though he hails from Portsmouth leaned across to me. “We’re outnumbered”. He croaked nervously “Eh”? It was the only intelligent comment I could think of. “There are only three of we blokes here the rest are women”. He muttered from the corner of his mouth. I started in astonishment, he was right, the majority of the group were ladies. My sudden movement took the attention of one of the taller members of the opposite sex whom I am sure many of you will know, or will certainly have heard, who looked me firmly in the eye from across the large table and in the sudden silence that seemed to have fallen on the gathering told we three unfortunates, in no uncertain terms, that this was now a “ladies group” and our continued participation was dependent on certain conditions being met. My polite smile became fixed as they were loudly stated. The first thing to be done was a name change so Colin H, became Colinetta, Mike G, became Michaele and I

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had to become Bobette. Further requirements involved walking with shorter quicker steps and if we disagreed with anyone in the Pub at lunchtime we were to toss our heads and not growl “Bugger off”. All “Comfort Stops” if required at the side of the road during the ride were to be discreetly taken in a sitting not a standing position and poor Mike G, (Michaele) being the thinnest of we persecuted males had to ride with his arm warmers shoved up the front of his road jersey as curve enhancement. Our feeble protestations were swept aside and so under the new order we rode on and in the Pub at lunchtime, under the watchful eye of the taller lady, we sat in a row and tossed our heads while poor Mike G, had to discreetly adjust his arm warmers periodically. Strange looks from customers with cars parked outside were ignored as we three lined up and minced out to mount our machines to continue one of the weirdest rides I have ever had. At the end of the day while bidding farewell to Colinette and Michaele before riding our separate ways I attempted to lighten the atmosphere. “Not a bad day eh?” A unanimous “Bugger off” was shot back at me as they rapidly pedaled off into the distance. I am still getting my head around it but I sense a new order approaching. Ladies are now in their Cycling ascendancy and are a force to be reckoned with. Gentlemen take heed from Colinette, Michaele and Bobette and get practising. Now briefly on to less taxing things. The hot summer has arrived as I write at one of the balcony outdoor dining tables at our Le Hotel du Velo Sportiv cyclists’ retirement manor and languid days are being spent in the grounds. Short rides are being taken, many of which get no further than the village pub garden but no matter it’s all part of life on the wheel. We are all conscious of the approach of our annual “Grass Track Championship” once more and all are doing their bit to achieve a successful day. Jean B, taking a break from her cooking management duties, has been white lining the track itself, which has been a good and a bad thing, insomuch as her propensity to talk to all and sundry all over the grounds while wheeling her lining machine has resulted in white lines appearing everywhere! The two lanes running halfway down the driveway are a mystery to me. I can only conclude the Postman called twice. Jim Mc, Les H and Bob Ch are heavily engaged in sprint start practice but the constant uproar over whether the start gun fired or not is producing some pretty ragged starts but I’m sure we can produce a louder gun on the day. So the golden days are upon us and lazily pedaling through our hauntingly beautiful English countryside is what we are made for. The edge of things shimmer and you can almost reach out and touch nature’s life-force as you meander down your favourite lane. How would it be if we could bring back the past on these occasions and whoop and cry while speeding along with a youthful group no longer with us. Ah, there’s a thought. Ride with good memories Big Bob


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LEL as a Volunteer

By Mike Walsh

Again I volunteered to help during this year’s London-Edinburgh-London 1200km and again I offered to be a driver. I had a grand time with some beautiful countryside seen in gorgeous weather from a van but still a lot of work. Started from home on Thursday 25th July and back home by the evening of Friday 2nd August, longer than any rider! This time I did not see so many riders as last time, primarily due to the good pre-planned organisation. After loading beds, blankets and other equipment for the controls we delivered these obviously before the riders arrived. This did present some difficulties as the controls were not manned and at one we were very fortunate. We were running very late but the caretaker had remained on site as a refrigerator had broken down and he was waiting for the repairer. The caretakers we met were most helpful. Then off down to Loughton to collect the Drop Bags, again to be delivered to a number of controls. We also loaded Ivo's (photographer) bike; we were giving him a lift to Market Rasen to catch the early riders. He was to cycle on to the Humber Bridge to photograph many of the riders as they crossed. We stopped at the Market Rasen control for a cup of tea and met the first riders as they arrived. The last delivery of the Drop Bags was Edinburgh where we were invited to join the control volunteers at one of their homes for an evening meal, it was most welcome. We off loaded the bags and sorted them and stayed all day helping or resting as needed. During this time I hung the bunting across the hall, I have subsequently seen a number of photographs which include this bunting which brings a smile to my face. The first rider arrived at 9:30 but it was not busy until much later. I did meet my son’s next door neighbour and Duncan Melling. These meets were purely by chance. As I could not guarantee being in any control at a specific time I had not worked out where any of the riders I knew would be at any time.

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The next task was to collect the used Drop Bags from the controls back to Loughton. All that was left now was to go back to the abandoned controls and collect the beds, blankets and other equipment and deliver it all back into storage. It is amazing how much more room the beds and blankets took up after they had been used. What a repacking conundrum.Mike

La Martiniere

By Mike Walsh

Another ride in France. The Loire This time a weeks cycling from Cherbourg to near Descartes where my family were all meeting up in a gite for a holiday. I used new overnight stops and again found a wonderful wide range of styles and character. Thoroughly enjoyable. I had planned the route on a map but putting in the fine detail from an on-line route planner. What some on-line providers believe are paths that can be cycled indicates they are obviously not cycle tourists. Thankfully I also take a map with me. The ferry now arrives in Cherbourg about 14:00 so the first day was short but after that I covered about 55 miles a day which when fully laden does allow time to stop and admire the beautiful scenery. Using the very minor roads often takes you over more hills but the views are worth every extra foot climbed and being away from any traffic lets you talk to the people you meet, well if they speak English. The Tour was passing very close by but my schedule did not provide me with enough time to deviate to witness the race. I did meet Gary Cure on the ferry and he and many others were on their way to watch. I will let Dave Langley have the route so he can load it onto the group’s web site. One of the chambres d’hôtes I stayed in provided a very grand meal with waitress service and different wines with every course whilst at another which


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was on the PBP route the farmer opened a used champagne bottle and poured what he obviously thought was gold. It was cider. Both meals were served on the terrace with good company, so very pleasant. The next few days my route took me across Le Loir, along La Loire and Vienne. I did notice more British along La Loire and Vienne.

Big Bob and President Terry after the Awards


Wareham Footbridge

By Bob Chittenden

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MINUTES OF CTC WESSEX CYCLING COMMITTEE MEETING – 22nd AUGUST 2013 1. PRESENT – Terry Walsh, Mike Walsh, John Jackson, Dave Langley, Keith Matthews, Jo Gordon, Julian James. Observed by Agnes Walsh 2. APOLOGIES – Stephen Gray, Joan and Bob Courtney, John Ward, Jim McDonald, Ralph Huckle, Paul Turner 3. MATTERS ARISING from last minutes – All Agreed. 4. TREASURERS REPORT – Mike reported that there is £3,300 in the account - £2,000 of this is returned from the St. Lo committee. The major income is from the Newsletter. The highest expenditures were for supporting Paul Rush for his training for Bikeability and printing and paper. 5. NEWSLETTER – Keith is happy with the amount of articles being sent for the newsletter and feels contributors are getting used to sending them in. 6. RIGHT TO RIDE – Paul Turner has written a report which has been published in the Newsletter 7. RUNS LEADERS REPORTS – Dave reported that the Sunday Rouleurs numbers averaged 4 with between 1 to 7 riding – very few go onto lunch to meet up with the Inters for a days ride. Thursdays Rouleurs which at the moment is just one group average 7 with 4 to 12 riding. There are not always runs leaders but either someone comes forward on the day or a route is discussed. Bob writes that the “Inters are adjusting to the slightly different format with most contributing to the groups input where possible in order to share the load. The aim is to steer a Runs List between the Potterers and the Rouleurs – we don’t always succeed but this is the aim. The issue of non club members continuing to ride after being asked has been settled apart from two who have given a firm assurance that it will be attended to forthwith so these names will be given to the Membership Roll Officer for verification. We never forget that the purpose of the rides is to have fun, otherwise what is it for? But these details have to be sorted.”. Bob said the Potterers average 10 on Sundays with 6 more waiting at coffee and then 6 usually go back.. 8. PREPARATION FOR THE AGM – The room is booked, National Office are aware. The Sartain Trophy for outstanding service; the Tourist Shield for the highest; placed local CTC rider and the Riders Cup for an impressive cycling feat will be awarded at the AGM – nominations were discussed and decided by the committee. It would be good for the club to have more participants at the AGM so please let everyone know when it is WEDNESDAY 23RD OCTOBER 7.30 at the Conservative Club, Kinson 9. CERTIFICATES OF MERIT – thank you to Keith and Janet Matthews for arranging a very pleasant gathering at their house for the Certificates to be presented from the CTC. Terrry Walsh, Joan and Bob Courtney and Peter Loakes were the worthy recipients 10. Donation for Ted Davis’s memorial was approved. It was noted that this is an exception and contrary to an earlier committee decision. 11. CHRISTMAS LUNCH – formal confirmation has been received for the Christmas lunch to be held at Bournemouth Sports Club, Chapel Gate by Hurn Airport on December 19th 12.00 for 12.30pm. This will again be subsidised by CTC Wessex Cycling as the purpose of the lunch is for all the groups to meet up. 12. BANK ACCOUNT CHANGE – the group ended up with 2 accounts and this has now been reduced to 1 for simplicity remaining solely at LLoyds with a deposit account also now. 13. RUNS LIST FORMAT – Dave Langley is attempting to amalgamate all rides on the day into one list for ease of perusal for which ride is followed that day. There will be individual lists as at present still but it was felt that when considering who to join in with it is easier just to look at that particular day for the decision to be made. Good luck Dave. 14. ST.LO 2014 – Mike raised the question as to whether the exchanges are likely to continue. There was a view that the exchange may be a thing of the past. The people running it are getting older. This will be discussed at the next committee meeting. 15. SALISBURY GROUP WITHIN CTC WESSEX CYCLING – at the moment Salisbury cannot become an informal group as they hold monies – if this is donated elsewhere then an informal group with ourselves becomes a possibility. 16. ANY OTHER BUSINESS Gridiron – John Jackson is discussing with Save the Action Group in the New Forest and Gordon Seabright CTC as to the Health and Safety guidelines for the ride. John though very much involved has not been invited to any Cycling Liaison meetings for Charter to discuss cycle events in the New Forest. John wants to distance the Gridiron from Sportives. At first the CTC advised abiding by their H&S but now National Office are saying abide by Charter. So far there are 570 entrants and when the list if full Keith will close the online entry. The Brevet cards are being updated as discussed and the ride will be available on GPS. Meeting closed at 9.40pm


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TdF 2013

By Sheila & John Ward

We crossed the finish line before Kittel, Greipel and Cav . . . To go back to the beginning: in 2000 it came to our attention that for the Millenium the organisers of the Tour De France were planning an ‘Arrivée du Tour’, a ride for 11,000 amateur cyclists round the last portion of the final stage in Paris on the morning of the Tour’s arrival in Paris. John and I signed up with two friends, took the tandem over by car, and 8.30 a.m. on one glorious sunny Paris Sunday morning found us queuing up with lots of other excited cyclists. We all received green cycling jerseys and some Tour goodies, then set off behind Hinault, Merckx and Indurain, plus Miss France in a car. We rode along by the Seine and through the closed streets, then along the Rue de Rivoli, up the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe and back down. It was great! In 2003 for the hundredth anniversary of the first Tour de France, they ran another ‘Arrivée’, but we were too busy to go. We had a hunch that they would do something for the hundredth actual Tour de France (the rest having been lost to wars) in 2013 but could find nothing on the TdF website for months until John’s assiduous searching finally discovered it in early June under a new name ‘La Randonée’. There were to be 5000 participants, all given special yellow T-shirts, who would cycle a shorter 6.9 km route this time around the final circuit of the race from the Arc de Triomphe, down the Avenue des Champs Elysées, round the Place de la Concorde, past the Tuileries, through the tunnel, along the Rue de Rivoli, round the Place de la Concorde, up the Champs Elysées again (across the finishing line), and round the Arc de Triomphe. We hurriedly booked online and set about planning how to cycle to Paris and back. Routes available on the internet mainly go via Calais or

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Dieppe, so we had to start from scratch. Using Google Maps we planned a route in detail, using street view to check each junction and add the signposts or other landmarks to the instructions. From our home in Lymington we can start off by ferry across to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, along the island to Fishbourne and a second ferry across to Portsmouth, then round Portsmouth to the cross-channel ferry to Ouistreham. We decided not to come straight back from Paris but to head south west to Vitré, our twin town close to the Normandy/Brittany border, to visit our twin family for a couple of days before heading back to St Malo, a comfortable day’s ride, to take a ferry back to Portsmouth. We took three days to get to Paris, in some of the hottest weather for years so that we encountered the slurp of cycle tyres on melting tarmac – an experience normally only found further south in summertime France. Nevertheless we enjoyed riding on quiet roads through extensive waving wheat-fields and some hillier greener bits. Approaching Paris itself was tricky and we made use of cycle tracks beside some main roads including the busy N10 at one point. But it meant that we covered the miles safely to Versailles, and then enjoyed riding first through the pleasant Forêt de Fausses-Reposes in Marne-la-Coquette, then through the Parc de Saint-Cloud to reach a pedestrian bridge over the Seine, and then on tracks through the Bois de Boulogne. The last bit was mainly cycle/bus lanes and some very good cycle paths down the tree-lined central areas on typical Paris boulevards. Cycling is clearly popular in Paris these days. We were delighted by the ease with which we achieved our goal, the Hotel France Albion, which had a little courtyard for the tandem. We warmly recommend this convenient hotel in every way, not least for the wonderful air-conditioning – it was 40 degrees in Paris while we were there. On the Sunday we met a French friend, Nathalie, near the Eiffel Tower for cold drinks before an hour early we all three made our way to the


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boulevard acting as an assembly area behind the Arc de Triomphe at noon. Luckily they let us into the ‘pen’ quite soon and we were able to collect our yellow T-shirts on presentation of our registration documents and ID. The crowd of riders and bikes swelled and changed colour as people put on their yellow T-shirts. We saw a few tandems, one very British couple in Union Jack cycling shirts, and one triplet. Quite a few people were on Velib bikes, the very popular Paris equivalent of London’s Boris-Bikes. The heat was so great that people near the sides of the road, including us, clambered over the barriers to find shade under nearby trees. We nibbled at a picnic lunch while listening to an on-the-spot radio commentator exhorting us to wave our arms and sing little riffs which seemed familiar to the French at least. Finally at 2.30 we were allowed to drift towards the Arc de Triomphe, and slowly, very slowly, start cycling round it and off down the cobbles of the Champs Elysées. Led by cars at a strict maximum speed, we were preceded by a bunch of rather fit looking cyclists but never worked out quite who they were. The greatest hazard apart from the huge numbers was that while quite a few riders had helmet cams, others were constantly taking photos with their mobile phones. I had an advantage on the back of the tandem with our camera, but had my doubts about the antics of some of the solos. We made it to a moderate speed after a while but never fast, and John always had to be alert to the sudden ‘photo stop’ – something we are used to with visitors cars in the New Forest with its ponies – and a few boy-racers who were told off by marshalls. The sea of yellow riders proceeding down the Champs Elysées meeting the front wave of them returning up it was quite a sight. Many TdF spectators had already arrived to stake their claim to the front row on the pavement, and with Chris Froome predicted to win, Union Jacks were everywhere on the crowd-barriers. So I waved to them, rather regally. All too soon we were back at the Arc de Triomphe and the assembly area, where bottles of water and chewy bars were provided and we found a shady tree under which to consume them. Then back to the hotel for a shower before heading for the Quai des Tuileries to find a very hot wall to sit on and watch the real riders stream past us ten times at incredible speed. We even saw Cav have his puncture. But we – and 4998 other people - crossed the finish line several hours before them all!

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CycleInk Autumn 2013  
CycleInk Autumn 2013  

CTC Wessex Cycling Magazine