We did the Première Manche - the first round - of A Travers riding across France from Dieppe to Marseille in the summer of 2009, and it was the original inspiration for this blog. The plan to put the 'band back together again' for another go in 2013 for the second installment fell on stoney ground, with life just getting in the way for too many of us, much to our disappointment. However, our enthusiasm for the bike remains undimmed, and so I'll keep posting my thoughts on the diverse and beautiful facets of the sport regardless. But there's bound to be another big 'adventure ride' coming soon - quite possibly in Italy - so potentially a name change too: Attraverso l'Italia in Bicicletta anyone?

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

How a Trip Should Be Organised

OK, this is purely administrative and boring I know, but here's the final version of where we're staying each night, and some vital contact details for each. I'd really recommend having a print-out of this on you, so that if we get lost or split up in some way we'll still be able to get to where we need to be.

Note also: the emergency number in France is 112, available from any phone whether fixed or mobile. Let's hope we don't need this at all.

I'm really hoping that we can replicate in some part the smooth and stylish training camp trip I witnessed, but unfortunately was not part of, in Mallorca back in 1998. I'd gone on Barry Clarke's trip - he of the Old Port's favourite Bournemouth haunt of the Fircroft Hotel - and well, how can I put this nicely: it was all a bit 'Carry On Abroad', a quintessentially British holidaying experience. Judging by the reviews of his Bournemouth hotel here, I should have known better.

Out riding one day around Cala Bona, I bumped into a group of German cyclists, all on up-to-the-minute Giant TCR sloping (or 'slooping' as they seem to say in France) compact frames like the ONCE team rode on around this era, all with matching kit and really looking good. I chatted with them and they told me that the bikes were hired from the organisers (with the option of purchasing at the end of the trip), meaning that you'd only need to bring your personal 'contact points' - saddle, pedals and shoes - and not have to worry about getting your own bike trashed in transit. And quite possibly paying the airline around £25 for the privilege too. Top-class hotels, secure overnight storage, energy bars and drink, evening massages and proper bikey food were also part of the deal. I suppose you get what you pay for.

Best of all for me though were the maps they had of the island made from Tyvek, a rip-proof, waterproof material, with routes of various difficulty marked out on them. The routes were colour-coded, not unlike ski runs, and corresponded to stenciled directional arrows painted in the same colour at each of the necessary road junctions, ie red riders turn right here, green and yellow straight on. I've always been aware that Mallorca was cycling-friendly, but that's a real eye-opener that I can't imagine being agreed to in the UK - we probably don't even have enough portions of decent, un-potholed road on which to paint anything like this in the first place. These days you'd no doubt get downloadable routes for your Garmin or similar, but at the time I found it an impressive example the sort of attention to detail that denotes a well-organised trip.

BTW: I dunno why I've left the days of the week in French here. I'm hoping you might all pick up on it and get into the swing of speaking 'a bit of the lingo'. Allez!

1. Samedi 11 Juillet: Menesqueville


Contact: Martine Hollain

1, Rue du Général de Gaulle

Tel: +33 (0)
Fax: +33 (0)
Email: relais.lieure@orange.fr

2. Dimanche 12 Juillet: Chartres (Barjouville)


Contact: Marie-Amelie Bollecker

41, Rue des Pierres Missigault
ZA Barjouville "La Torche"

Tel: +33 (0)
Fax : +33 (0)
Email: h3481@accor.com

3. Lundi 13 Juillet: Bourges (Fussy)


Contact: Catherine Brys

30, Route de Paris
18110 FUSSY

Tel: +33 (0)
Fax: +33 (0)
E-mail: cbrys@hotmail.com

4. Mardi 14 Juillet: Clermont Ferrand (Orcines)


Contact: Jean-Louis Amblard

34, Route de Limoges
Lieu-dit "Chez Vasson"

Tel: +33 (0)
Fax: +33 (0)
E-mail: info@hotel-leshirondelles.com

5. Mercredi 15 Juillet: Le Puy-en-Velay (Saint-Hostien)


Contact: Pascal Julien

Route Du Puy Rn 88

Tel: +33 (0)
Fax: +33 (0)
Email: hotel.lemeygal@wanadoo.fr

6. Jeudi 16 Juillet:- Caromb


Contact: Cyril Frizet

22, Place Nationale
84330 CAROMB

Tel: +33 (0)
Fax: +33 (0)
Email : info@hotel-la-mirande.fr

7. Vendredi July: Marseille (Carry le Rouet)


34, Avenue Draïo de la Mar
13620 Carry le Rouet

Tel: +33 (0)
Fax: +33 (0)
Email: hotel.latuiliere@libertysurf.fr