Julian’s report mentions my inauspicious return to coming out on Sunday ride now one of my cataracts is fixed. I only got as far as Preston Park and my transmission just seemed to seize up completely. Could have been worse – might have happened out in the sticks. Turned out to be the bottom bracket. I’ve been having bottom bracket problems with my bike – now 35 years old – recently, but it seemed to be fixed OK and I did two 20 mile rides last week which I thought confirmed that. I believed there might be a slight possibility of the whole thing coming loose – but never the exact opposite which is what seems to have happened. Always expect the unexpected!
Good to have four interesting pieces sent to me for this edition – so I’ll just shut up and get out of the way!
We did not have our usual weekend ride this year – nobody came forward to organise one.
However, I have had an idea, motivated by my recent experience on the Two Tunnels cycle route near Bath, which I waxed lyrical about on the Google Group.
I’d be prepared to lead a one-day ride involving this route on a normal Clarion Sunday, which would probably mean 23 August or 6 September, as I am on holiday on the 20th Sept and October may be a bit late for it. Participants would have to arrange their own accommodation, and would of course be free to stay in Bath for the whole weekend or longer if they wanted; we could even do an impromptu Saturday ride if there was a demand for it, but the minimum commitment would be the Sunday.
Now, clearly I will need to know that there will be enough “takers” before organising any more (which really will consist of just finishing off the southern end of the ride, the bit I didn’t do last month) – I mean, hanging about at Polegate Station to see if anyone turns up is one thing, but going all the way to Bath and hanging around there is quite another. So please let me know by email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to do this. Thanks
Over the Gotthard Pass
For some months we had been discussing and preparing for another mini cycling tour to Italy from Switzerland. Maps had been pored over, hotel prices and reviews compared. We had even taken Italian lessons. Perfetto! We decided to follow the last 3 stages of the National Route 3, the North South route from Andermatt to Chiasso and then ride a few kms from Chiasso to Como over the border into Italy.
When the day came the only cloud in the sky was the sky which was cloudless with a pitiless sun and hot air pouring up from the south and allowing temperatures well into the mid thirties.
We drove to Brig and abandoned the car in a layby before cycling to the station to take the train to Andermatt. On the platform was another cyclist, Oliver, an academic in molecular biology who was also planning the climb up the Gotthard Pass and he and I agreed to team up. At Andermatt he and I got off while Anne carried on with the panniers to Goschenen and then further to Airolo.
We set off past the huge hotel built by an Egyptian which the locals disapproved of for some reason and soon we were making our way up the 660 metre climb. The gradient was not brutal but steep enough with that strong headwind and we were both happy to cycle at the same pace with stops for drink and breath. There was plenty of Clarionesque conversation and travellers’ tales of hitch-hiking, cycling, Brighton, Wiesbaden, the Swiss, Bauhaus architecture (his grandfather had been a famous architect of that school) etc. It turned out that after 12 years at Berne Uni this was his last day in Switzerland and he was going back to Berlin. Accordingly he had decided to follow in the tracks of Goethe who famously went to the top of the pass, sketched the mountains, looked down on Italy and decided to return to Germany. Most of the ride was up a good main road without too much traffic but the last 3 kms we took the old cobbled road. The cobbles meant that momentum was lost on every turn of the wheel but there was virtually no traffic at all.
We struggled to the top, enjoyed the view, had our pictures taken and went our separate ways. Teaming up with Oliver had turned what might have been a struggle into pleasure to be fondly remembered. Fellowship truly is life. The views on the way down of the hairpins was impressive but much of my descent was still on cobbles and just as tough as the ascent. It is a wonder I still have any teeth left. I was pleased to meet up again with Anne at Airolo station. It was 2.30 pm and there was still 40 miles to go. The ride was generally downhill but the headwind meant one still had to pedal hard and it was hot, very hot. It was a lovely ride through spectacular scenery and pretty villages, many old wooden chalets and churches. By the time we reached Biasca, Anne had had enough and she took the train and the bags. I arrived at our hotel in Bellinzona opposite the station at 7.15 after much “Dov’e la statione?” We had an early night. The next day we set off to Lugano. We had climbed Monte Ceneri before, it is not much fun. You ride by the side of a busy main road on a marked out area often ignored by the lorries, so we took 2 “Ceneri bici” tickets which gives a special price for cyclists to get from Giubasco to Rivera-Bironico without riding up Monte Ceneri, as recommended by the Veloland website. This stage of the route takes you by the side of the Ticino River through woods largely off road but often right next to a noisy motorway and frequently through industrial areas. By lunchtime we were in Lugano and spent much of the next few hours at the lido for lunch, swimming and reading, and enjoying the magnificent views of Lake Lugano.
That night the room at the hotel was unbearably hot, neither of us slept. Anne was faint with a touch of sunstroke and the prospect of 36 degree heat in Como for the next 2 days was not what we had envisaged. We decided to cancel and head back to the mountains. We took the train back to Goschenen and from there on to Oberwald to cycle the first stage of National Route 1 – the Rhone route – from the source of the Rhone down to Brig. Anne will continue the story in the next issue.
Dieppe Raid (1) Joyce and Leon report
The Dieppe Raid June 25-29 is an annual cycling event held since 1972, organised by the Cyclo-Club Dieppois with assistance from the municipality. Following several previous organisers, riders from the UK end are organised by Caroline and Glenn Street.
Our fondness for Dieppe and cycling led us to sign up and take a few days extra to participate with other French and UK cyclists as well as enjoy Dieppe. We arrived Thursday and on Friday rode down the Avenue Verte to St. Vaast-d’Equiqueville – a sweet little village where we had a lovely meal in a splendid cafe opposite the Town Hall. 35 miles easy flat riding on a lovely day (perhaps one for the B&H Clarion one day?).
Saturday brought the welcoming reception from the Mayor’s office, here we learned that there were 400+ riders, about 200 French and 200 UK of all ages, the oldest 92, the youngest 11. The rides were from 30 – 200 kilometres. We opted for 30 which took us again down the Avenue Verte for a short way in the company of the 92 year old rider and his two daughters. We then diverted on to Martin Eglise (this time a much easier pleasant route than our first try in March which went through the forest … very hilly!).
Back to check in and the prizes for the clubs with the most riders, the oldest and youngest riders, and much else. (Didn’t win anything on the tombola though.) We looked out for Bob Harber, but no luck although we did see other Clarion comrades.
Then to the dinner at the Windsor Hotel where it was great to find ourselves at the Clarion table and there at last found Bob who – of course – had done the 200 km (a deep bow).
The evening was one of good food, (even if the veggies had to wait till last!), laughs and talk. We were with our London friends Alan Kiddle, Alex Southern, Mick O’Rouke, Martin Perfect and Charles Jepson (National Clarion 1895), Stuart Walsh (Yorkshire Coast Clarion). It was a great experience – maybe more B&H Clarion members will try next year.
The rest of our time we fitted in a trip to Paris, the wonderful swimming pool and (on the hottest day of the year!) attempted to find a route to another old railway cycle route near St. Aubin sur Scie, (also called the “Avenue Verte …”) which we thought might be a possible alternative to the familiar Avenue Verte for Clarion riders?). But the area is not called the “Three Valleys” for nothing and we although we found the route we could not avoid very steep hills to get to that valley and it really was a very hot day!
Yet again, we were once again struck by the contrast between the courtesy of French drivers and the behaviour of so many UK drivers….
Leon & Joyce
Dieppe Raid (2) Bob’s report
This was my first “Dieppe Raid” this century! Originally planning a tandem trip with my riding partner, Paul, but a family illness made that not possible.
So, solo it was. Riding from home at Upper Beeding to the ferry on Friday morning, I very nearly didn’t even leave these shores, as a lady in a Mini pulled out of a Peacehaven side street and knocked me off. Much cursing, shocked lady, bike inspection, exchange of details and off again. Caught it! France here we come!
On the boat I met up with London Clarion, accompanied by Voldemort (as Charles Jepson was referred to by national Chair Dave Bisset). They were eating and drinking steadily, establishing their pattern for the weekend ahead.
As tourist info mentioned a second ‘Avenue Verte’, after dropping bag at the Windsor, (yes, I was slumming it) I went exploring. The ‘Avenue de Lin’ has replaced the old railway West of Dieppe, running from Petit Appeville to Fontaine-Le-Dun. For the evening I accepted London Clarion’s invite to dinner, although I remained several drinks behind them. Day’s ride: 105km.
London Clarion’s lunch destination on Saturday was to be Le Treport. I met them via a loop which included a road closure due to dodgems at a village fair, the Somme estuary, and eye-watering cobbles in St Valery-sur-Somme. Met the Londons on their extended lunch hour(s). Strong headwind back meant I missed the ‘welcome’ speeches. Day’s ride: 137km.
Sunday was the organised rides, at varying distances. Starting at 6am, I rode the 200km, following the orange route arrows in the company of a gent from the Norwood Paragon. With 3 good food stops, we returned at 4 pm. Prize-giving and speeches followed, with the Windsor Hotel dinner, in the company of Joyce, Leon and the Londons, as the sun set on a long day. Day’s ride: 200km
With the Monday return boat not until early evening, there was ample time for a spin round the 100km route. As all patisseries were open on this weekday, progress was slower than anticipated. Hence almost last on to the boat. Ride home was completely free of errant commuting drivers. Phew! Day’s ride 139km.
A great weekend, with rides, and other interests, for all – not just cyclists. I had forgotten just how refreshing and absorbing this nearest bit of ‘abroad’ can be. At 581 km, it also provided some good prep for the big August randonee, Paris-Brest-Paris.