Great Sign to see when on a Cycling Tour!
Great Sign to see when on a Cycling Tour!

Hi all,

This needs to be brief as it’s 2am in France on Thursday morning, (1 am at home) and we have just got to the hotel and showered etc!
You may get the gist from that sentence, that today didn’t quite go to plan.

Well, the expected 85 miles in say 6 or 7 hours turned into 100 miles in 13 hours (total).

Here are the highlights of Wednesday 18 June.

Wake up call at 5am after a poor nights sleep.
An average cold breakfast to be then told that we are not leaving until 7am when the other three arrive. Great!  We hung around for 3/4 hour – this could have been more sleep!

The others arrive at 7am.  Two of them have road bikes which clearly would be ok, but the lady, let’s call her R as I didn’t get her name in full (never was good with names!) turned up on an old hybrid bike that had seen much better days.

We started off in the gloom and drizzle of Blackheath which wasn’t too bad, and made our way through 10+ miles of London rush hour traffic.
It was immediately apparent that R would struggle and was left ebbing most of the time. So we stop to let her catch up and ride slower. Some of us rode at her very slowly 8mph rather than our normal 15 mph, as we felt a bit bad leaving her straggling on her own.
Soon we were very behind schedule and wondering what would transpire.
At least the rain improved a bit!

It was frustratingly slow as we were now in less busy roads and would normally get a good pace on.
We have two people from the tour company. One who drives the support van ( which had no provisions to start with, not even water!) and the guide rider, Stephen, who is in charge  – or meant to be . He didn’t take control at all and just lead the group and waited for R to catch up at intervals.

By 12 noon we had done 40 miles and really needed food.
Oh yes,  they got us lost (or off route as they like to say) a fair bit, just to add to the excitement!

Eventually we found a pub and stopped for re-fuelling.

Now, I take my energy levels very seriously and plan my energy bars, gels, drinks beforehand and all that sadly went out the window as we were riding in such a stop start, slow way. So all my careful planning went down the drain.
I am not sure if this is truly capturing the whole ridiculous experience as it is now 2.15am and I am in great need some sleep, but I hope you get the general idea

So here are some headlines.
We got more frustrated as the day went on and I called the travel company twice to tell them the group with R in would not be practical as we can’t ride like that.
R discovered she had gears and was shown how to use them!!! (yes, seriously) and she did speed up a bit.
By 5pm we had been going 10 hours, ridden 75miles and still had miles to go.
This would be oure longest day riding ever!
We didn’t have time to stop for more food as we were so behind. There are only so many energy bars and gels one can take! We were all flagging but carried on.
The scenery was very nice by the way and the roads not too hilly.
We kept getting lost having no idea where we were, eventually working out where to go.
Pathetic really. The guides sat nav was rubbish and there was no backup plan.
The guy in the van lost his mobile so there was no communication between him and Stephen the guide – what a joke!
R got the gist she was causing problems and was determined to stay for the challenge having taken time off work etc.
There were now some nasty hills!
We decided that if R stayed we would probably go on the route ourselves tomorrow and leave the guide with R at the back.
Cutting to the end as I really do need to sleep…..
We got to Dover at about 8pm (after starting our ride about 7am or near enough) with no food stops since midday.  I don’t do that when I’m not cycling all day!! We were all shattered but were so glad to see the port.
Oh yes, on the last leg to Dover, the guide took us to the A20, for us to be greeted with a no cycling sign!

There were 2 very nasty long climbs at about 80 miles.

R was sent home. She wasn’t best pleased, putting it mildly.

I’m sorry for her because she did really well cycling 85 miles( the original distance) before getting in the van – but also relieved.
Missed the 8.39pm ferry by a few mins.
They didn’t know where the hotel was in Calais. So at about 1am we are cycling round the town looking for the Ibis. I found it but our Ibis was miles away. Thankfully my phone sat nav found it and I guided us in.
We ate on the boat as everywhere would be shut in France by the time we arrived. Not great food but some refuelling.

More tomorrow, assuming I can walk!!!

Thanks Richard P for inspiration for the title on this post!

The best part of the day by far was finding out my Daughter Stephanie attained a First in her Law degree at Nottingham University.  Bursting with pride and admiration doesn’t even get close. For most of the afternoon I was shaking my head in disbelief.  It was wonderful and really spurred me on.

Speedo stats for the day.
108 miles    12.2mph average   8 hrs 50 mins cycling!

Outside Hotel in Blackheath at 7am Wed 18 June
Outside Hotel in Blackheath at 7am Wed 18 June



0 thoughts on “The Basil Fawlty of Cycle Tours!!! Wednesday 18 June 2014

  1. What a fantastic achievement by Stephanie!
    What a disaster by your so called guides. I hope you told them exactly what you thought.
    Hope it gets better in France – there must be one or 2 Michelin star restaurants or a patisserie or 5 along the route for you to re-fuel

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