Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dave and I at Ruakaka with the Blokarts. Great fun.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Next Bike tour in the planning stage

We have a week in Tasmania in September. Planning for a cycle tour there has started. At this stage I am looking at equipment updates and what went well with our France tour.

Being so fair skinned the art of sun protection was high on my list of importance.
 "Treadley Helmet Hats provide personal sun protection for cyclists. They are a clever, fitted cover that goes over a bike helmet to minimise sun exposure to the face, eyes, ears and back of neck. "
These were great and the peak kept the sun off our faces. Made in Australia, so good quality and really didn't make ones head too hot. Highly recommended.

Although it is traditional to wear Lycra I wore lightweight Prolite shirts made by Earth Sea Sky a New Zealand company making lightweight travel and active clothing. I needed long sleeves for sun protection but didn't want to be too hot. Although they look a little formal for cycling they kept me from the sun and breathed well. They wash easily and dry very quickly and don't need ironing.

I wore mountain bike shorts from Ground Effect which were a little baggy but very comfortable on a bike. Wore padded mesh liners for rear end comfort. Had one pair of shorts and two liners which could easily be washed nightly. This set up is a little hotter to wear than Lycra padded shorts so may review this. The advantage of MTB shorts over Lycra is that when walking round a market or in a cafe you don't feel so self conscious.

Always difficult to know what to take and keep things light. Depends a little on the weather of course. We shall definitely use clips on our pedals this time as we are so used to them on our other bikes.(SHIMANO SPD MTB Pedals - PD-M324) So a pair of comfortable MTB bike shoes with SPD clips.(Scott Trail Shoe). The Casual pair for the evenings is much harder. Probably a pair of sandals or even Crocs!

More to follow in the next blog

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Summary of Canal de Garonne trip

Here is a short video of the trip. This was  fantastic fun for our first self supported bike trip.   All the preparation was well worth it, with no problems with the pre-booked accommodation and travel arrangements.

The Bikes
Brompton M6-R in Racing Green for me
Brompton S6-R in Turkish Green for S.
   There were certainly some raised eyebrows when we suggested using Brompton foldabable bikes for our trip but I have no regrets. The ease of travel with bikes folded in their Folding Bike Case Rucksack , gave peace of mind with always having the option of catching a bus or train. We were travelling along the valley so there were train stations all along the route . Since we had never ridden these bikes prior to the trip they are remarkably easy to ride. The small wheels made them twitchy initially but once used to it the manoeuvrability was a bonus. The canal path along the Garonne canal is paved all the way so it was very smooth. Even on the slightly bumpy bits they seemed quite comfortable. Buying the bikes over the Internet from a bike shop in Dorchester, UK proved easy and everything worked without a hitch. 

Ergon GP3 Barends   The bar ends helped significantly with comfort. 
I did bring some Shimano M324 Clipless SPD/Flat Pedals to fit, but in the end couldn't get the fitted pedals off without thinking I was going to break something, so didn't use them till I got home. (they don't fold though)
The saddles we chose were Brooks B17 Specials. The worry was that you read that it takes 200kms to get used to. Initially S had some discomfort but this was resolved by angling it down a little. We had a maximum of 60 kms on one day and our rear ends survived without too much trouble. We look forward to wearing them in a little more.

The trailer and luggage
I bought the Cyclone 3 Trekking trailer for our luggage as we had quite a lot to carry with both of us having to attend formal conferences at the beginning and end of the trip. This is very capacious and I didn't notice it at all on the flat. It may be a bit more of a problem going up big hills. A better trailer for the Brompton is  the  Cyclone IV Chubby which has now become available as it is made for the Brompton. Luggage was for me the Brompton Touring bag, and for S the S-bag. They were half full most of the time with the trailer taking most of our stuff. I think in future, if we do this again, we will go for smaller front luggage for both. The bike handles really well with the trailer and could still do the first fold with the trailer still attached when stopped.

Although this trip was only 200kms over about 4 days, it was our first effort at touring. As we near retirement we look forward to many more of these trips in the future. 
At this stage it looks like Tasmania in September!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012


More photos of my three days in Toulouse

The basilica Saint Sernin built to honour Saint Sernin  who died after being dragged through the streets by a sacrificial bull in 250. This route is commemorated by this church and the street is named the Rue de Taur.

Place du Capitole 

the facilities!

the canal in Toulouse

Reflections of the Pont Neuf

Hotel D'Assezat home to the Bemberg Foundation- a private collection of his favourite  canvases, bronzes , books and furniture

Musee des Augustins formerly monastery,  a musee des Beaux Arts de Toulouse since 1793

Canals en route to Toulouse

Cooling off in the heat of the afternoon

What bliss after an extremely hot afternoon ride! Iced water and a swim offered on arrival

Fellow travellers with bikes and trolley from Spain
Rather neglected church under repair


Villages en route to Grenade

The patisserie once again- every town has one!

Back on the bikes- by the canal, crossing another river

Saturday, June 23, 2012


A quiet spot on the canal 

Napoleon Bridge

Canal lateral de Garonne

Part of the town's wartime history

Our undoing as a late lunch

Market square circa 1930's

L'abbaye Saint-Pierre de Moissac

complicated vertical climbing lock. 
The idea of a waterway connecting the Mediterranean and Atlantic dates back to Roman time. This involved crossing a watershed  set at almost 190m above sea level and an irregular supply of water to the rivers in a drought region. In the 17th century, Pierre-Paul Riquet solved many of the problems that had stalled the project using a purpose built canal with a reservoir to collect water from Montagne Noir. He then developed hand dug channels to convey the water to the canal with intermediary reservoirs, the largest being the Saint- Ferreol Lake (the Knight of Clervilles idea) .  Unfortunately he died with the last 2.5 miles still unbuilt with his fortune in tatters. The entire project was completed in 14 years, with 7 million cubic metres of rock and ryublle shifted using picks and shovels.
The Moulin (mill) de Moissac late XVth century-our hotel and formerly where the goods were loaded to Bordeaux along the River Tarn with access to the Canal de Garonne