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, 31 March 2009

Hotels, hotels

Update on hotels. Jeez this is boring:

Day 2, Sunday 12th, Chartres: booked the Hôtel Mercure Chartres Barjouville.

Had to drop Le Quai Fleuri in Voves, since it 'closed' at 16:00, and we'd also have to go back into Chartres in order to eat in the evening. This new place has a restaurant, but it's also closed on Sunday (what is it with France and shutting down when people need to eat?). Fortunately there's the ubiquitous and very reliable Buffulo Grill nearby (the hotel is located on an Industrial Estate - great!), or there's also a half decent-sounding restaurant nearby too. Since BBQ spare ribs are hardly the food that's needed here, I think we'll go for the latter.

Day 5, Wednesday 15th, Le Puy-en-Velay: booked the Hôtel Restaurant Le Meygal, as mentioned yesterday.

Downside (or upside for some, possibly) is that there are no single beds, so I'm afraid it's doubles. Names in hat for who shares with who, or do some of us have preferences for who we sleep with? Is there any young, firm flesh left in our group at all?

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Alternative Hotel for Day Five?

Owner of Le Clair Logis recommended this place as an alternative; not sure if it's really too far from Laussonne - our preferred location, en route to Caromb - but I'll chat to Jamesy today to check. No web site though.

Hôtel Restaurant Le Meygal
Route Nationale 88
Route du Puy
Tél: 0471576711
Fax: 0471577092

Friday, 27 March 2009

Hotels Update (for those that care)

  • 11th July, Menesqueville: AU RELAIS DE LA LIEURE. Owners not back until 04.04.2009. Expect a response to my email then, or will phone.
  • 12th July, Chartres (Voves): LE QUAI FLEURI. There's a 16:00 cut-off before the hotel 'closes', otherwise we get involved in complicated keys-in-flowerpot behaviour. The restaurant is also closed on Sunday, so we've more than likely got to go back into Chartres - 20km away - in order to eat. This scenario is worrying me.
  • 13th July, Bourges (Fussy): L'ECHALIER. All booked. The owner Catherine lived in Oz for 25 years as well as in England, so it'll be a welcome night-off for me on the translation front.
  • 14th July: Clermont Ferrand (Orcines): LES HIRONDELLES. All booked. Bastille Day, so let's hope there's some action in town; perhaps a guillotining or two ...
  • 15th July, Le Puy-en-Velay (Laussonne): LE CLAIR LOGIS. No space, so need to look at an alternative this weekend. The Hotel Hermitage looks promising.
  • 16th July, Caromb: LA MIRANDE. Reception tell me that the owner couldn't confirm because he's in hospital: a recent knee operation he had got infected, and had to be re-opened. Amazing the level of detail people are prepared to go into.
  • 17th July: Still need to sort one out for the final night. Hopefully one with really, really comfortable beds, and not right next to the airport.

Thursday, 26 March 2009


A brief overview of where we're planning on staying. As of today, some are booked, haven't had replies to my emails from two, and of course, unless we sort something out soon, it looks like we'll be dossing down in our cycling kit in a shop doorway on La Canabière in Marseille after the last stage.

1. Samedi 11 Juillet: Menesqueville

Martine Hollain
1, Rue du Général de Gaulle

Tel: +33 (0)
Fax: +33 (0)
E-mail: relais.lieure@orange.fr

2. Dimanche 12 Juillet: Chartres (Voves)

Ludovic Ruellou
15, Rue Texier Gallas
28150 VOVES

Tel: +33 (0)
Fax: +33 (0)
E-mail: quaifleuri@wanadoo.fr

3. Lundi 13 Juillet: Bourges (Fussy)

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)

Jean-Louis Amblard
34, Route de Limoges

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

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

Philippe Soulier
Place de l'Eglise

Tel: +33 (0)
Fax: +33 (0)
E-mail: leclairlogis@wanadoo.fr

6. Jeudi 16 Juillet:- Caromb

Cyril Frizet
22, Place Nationale
84330 CAROMB

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

7. Vendredi 17 Juillet: TBC

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Lads Most Likely

Just caught the last bit of the best episode ever of "Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?" on G.O.L.D, having stumbled across it when (inevitably) engaging in a bit of channel-flicking after the World Track Champs on BBC2.

It's a 1973 Episode entitled "The Great Race", where the two middle-aged protagonists challenge each other - out of misplaced male pride - to a bike race from Newcastle to Berwick-on-Tweed. Bad news is I can't find any clips on YouTube. It's fab - predictable capers but real fun nonetheless.

It somehow reminds me not only of growing up in the 1970s (the theme tune, my dad's unbridled laughter), but now of getting older, and more specifically of me and Mike James getting older. We still seem to have this 'Terry and Bob' rivalry, and of course I want to 'beat' him when we get to France. Or more precisely not be beaten by him. Or perhaps best of all, just be as fit as him. I can accept that. Neutrality, but not in a boring Swiss way. More Hinault - Lemond, on top of the Alpe. Sure, the trip's not a race ... but you know what it's like. You're on a climb, the going gets hard and the talking stops. You're not meant to be riding hard, but then again, it is acceptable 'to get to the top first and wait'. Dunkirk Spirit and all that. So, the pace creeps up and up, you become aware of each other's breathing, or gear changes, of laboured cadence, hoping you can sense a weakness so that you can push on, secretly excited yet without looking like you've actually 'attacked' in any way. And, of course, you were just riding at your own pace. Always acceptable.

I can't work out who's who though. Surely it's me who's Terry, James Bolam, the rogue, the downbeat, incorrigible slacker, and Jamesy is Bob, Rodney Bewes, the living embodiment of respectable, suburban, family-oriented white-collar management. He does live in Tunbridge Wells after all, me in Peckham. Look: I'm even being competitive here about who gets to be the 'sexier' of the Likely Lads. I can guarantee he's gonna train like hell until July - whilst denying it all - and dish out some serious pain for this character assassination when we get to France. Hopefully I'll be ready, although I am struggling with this injury I picked up in the Army ...

NB: Jamesy did a real-life stint in the RAF in the late 80s, so it looks like he's far more 'Terry' than I am. I, meanwhile, was at University.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Sorry David ...

Apologies to Mr Duffield, but your 'commentary' drives me insane. Your idiosyncratic style of relaying the action - or otherwise - makes it impossible for me to watch Eurosport when it's you with the microphone. Today it's the Tirreno-Adriatico stage over Sasso Tetto that Kelda and I are really looking forward to, and it's you on the team. Some might be fans of your verbal 'stream of consciousness', but I'm afraid I'm not one. Solution: watch Eurosport's images on the big screen, but listen instead to the superior commentary by Auro Bulbarelli and Davide Cassani on RAI Sport at steephill.tv. It might be in Italian and we might not understand all of it, but it's more in keeping with the race's atmosphere, and no doubt concentrates on what's actually happening on the screen.

Other news: I must at some point today get in touch with the French hotels and get the rooms booked for the trip.