“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” Lou Holtz

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." Confucius

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Bourg d'Oisans to Feltre via Ales and Chivasso

In the end our cabin at Bourg d'Oisans had a few issues that caused us to flee a day early.  The problem was all to do with heat and humidity plus the set up of the cabin which was in a row with other cabins and with only a narrow walk way in between.  The main windows were on these short walls with only a door and 1 window on the front long  wall...the end result...it was stifling as there was no through breeze.

The location of the park was right at the bottom of Alpe d'Huez..the km 0 post was virtually at the entrance.  Something we didn't like was the appalling smell of over heated brakes of the vehicles driven by less expert drivers!...some were gaggingly awful and we reckoned their foot had been on the brake right from the top.

Our original plan was to travel to Feltre in 1 hideous day trip, instead we broke it up into something much more sensible.  We left on  Thursday morning, visited the Chauvet Cave replica and stayed in Chivasso near Turin overnight.  That allowed us to have a short trip on Friday to arrive here midday in time to deliver a wheel to the bike shop for re-spoking!



The Chauvet Cave replica was very good  and for a change  we bought up big in the shopping trap that is at the end of all such visits!  Although sadly one of the espresso cups we bought there got broken so I'm doing a return visit on my way back to Albi  in a week's time.

We stayed the night in the Hotel Ritz (!) in Chivasso. The weather there was as bad as in France and we were delighted to have super super aircoin in our hotel rooms.  I managed to leave  our Aussie 4 plug powerboard there so that's another place I have to revisit on my way to Albi!  ..

Feltre and Palio time again and the open windows with the Santo Stefano flag is the lounge room of our apartment.  Alex leaves for Austria tomorrow but my sister and I stay for another week.

Gotta "Medievalise" modern things when you are part of a medieval festival!
we again enjoyed the Palio with it's drumming, trumpeting parading and  flag throwing displays but yet again the weather intervened and the horse racing part of the competition had to be cancelled.  the archery, tug of war and foot race  did take place and this year Port'Oria was the winning quartier.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Luchon to Bourg d'Oisans

On our decision to leave Luchon a day early and break our trip into 2 days, we opted to travel as far as Ales on day 1 allowing us to re-visit the bridge at Millau, check out the limestone caves at Aven Armand and finally traverse the Gorges du Tarn.



On day 2 we visited the replica of the prehistoric drawings of the Caverne du Pont D'Arc.  Due to the degradation of  paintings in other caves, this particular cave is not open to the public and the only way to experience is by visiting the replica.

This one of the towns  I wanted to pass through in order to get  a pix..and we did get to see it.


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Luchon

We were here exactly 10 years ago and I have ridden some of the same roads.... in better times too (!) and taken some of the same photos.

I'm not over enamoured of the area..it's very grey...grey stone buildings and for quite a bit of our time here...grey skies too.  In some ways it reminds me of the Lake Dsitrict in UK...dry stone walls and Scotland with it's stepped roof edges..or perhaps that's  Belgium or Holland??

Our apartment here is very basic and I'm not impressed...yes there is a dish washer but she has left 1 cube thing only and she's also left 1/2 toilet roll, a dribble of dish washing liquid, the washing machine instructions are for a different machine and the clothes horses are decrepit.  the internet is pathetic.  But...it's cheapish and handy.

I did one huge 110km ride  with a few cols in it, then settled down to more specific TT training...actually I was too stuffed to do anything else!










Luchon


We went into Tarbes one day as I managed to lose one of our apartment keys and there  were no  locksmiths in Luchon.  We were amused to see this cafe, given the incredible fuss there was in America about the use of the name Roubaix .  The internet connection was very patchy and since it was not super secure I decided to buy a personal wifi which I also sorted there.

While chatting about this and given the really hot water in our French apartment's plumbing, we wondered if anyone had tried to sue an owner for having hot water coming out of the hot water tap.

Luchon, a real tourist town has loads tourist tack shops and eating places.  We usually eat out 1/week and in Luchon came in contact with the type of waiter you'd prefer to avoid.  Firstly apparently I made a big mistake of  going to the bar to order drinks rather than sit and wait for the waiter, who was incredibly busy setting out the tables, which was apparently the protocol for if you were planning to eat there.  After being scolded(!) I obediently went back to the table and we waited and waited and waited, watching everybody else being served until finally we got up and walked away.  It reminded us of the time in Cortina when  I asked if my pizza could be pre cut in wedges like another customer had done for him....the answer was no as he was given this privilege only as he was injured!      


                                             
A Roman pile!...looking exactly the same as it did 10 years ago!
this baby hedgehog scuttled across the road in front of me

Saw heaps of these one day...we weren't the only crazies in town!

my pathetic French dictionary doesn't have the word "lice" in it in either language so I have to assume it means what it says!

Generally speaking there stones around here were fairly grey and the style of house rather utilitarian, however there were some very flash looking house with Disney world type turrets and then there was this in the foreground, where the balcony is made of  tree trunks. Sadly it was so sunny that the camera couldn't deal with the contrasts and so is not v good.


Monday, 24 July 2017

Albi to Luchon




The view of our village, Mauriac from about 1km away.  There was a chateau but we never got to it as it was only open from 3-6 which were TdF hours.

These wine makers were literally 20 m from our super fantastic gite.  We didn't really realise how lucky we were ...until we arrived in Luchon!

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The incredible Millau aqueduct was a day's outing and a rest from cycling for us.

We used the  supermarket car park located laundrettes during our stay  near Mont Ventoux and also here at Luchon.


I adored this unusual re-purposing of sewing machines!




First ride from our minuscule apartment in Luchon was to St Bertrand de Comminges Castle...I was there about 7 years ago...


on the way to St B de C's castle  I passed this sign



the only good thing about our apartment here.  The blurb says it can sleep 6..could do I guess if  all were children.  The internet is non existent.  There IS a dish washer and she has left us with 1 dish washer cube thing!!  1...I kid you not.  There is a dribble of dish washing liquid but no tea towel.  There is 1/3 of a roll of toilet paper.  There are indeed 2 bedrooms but you have to walk through 1 to get to the main one.  We have had a similar experience with an apartment in Canazei, which  like this one are pretty well the same price as the truly excellent ones we've been in before.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Avignon, Pont du Gard and Albi

Sur le pont d'Avignon etc.  
Since we were almost there, it was a no brainer that we had to visit Avignon but I'd have to say I was disappointed.  I'm not sure if it was the after the party effect of Bastille Day..the French national day, but the place was a mess.  Apart from rather a lot of people sleeping on the streets at 10am,  there were swathes of posters  hanging everywhere which sadly looked downright messy and spoilt the ambience of the old city.
We were on our transfer day and so opted not to spend time actually walking onto the bridge and the ramparts.  

 This was just an example of the posters everywhere.  I opted not to take too many pix

I loved this though...bollards guarding the pedestrian precinct which dropped down into the pavement when you swiped your card...and is that a "biscuiterie" I've inadvertently caught  on the side of the pix??




So then it was off to the Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct from ??46-60AD.  Well worth a trip but we were sad and somewhat amazed to discover that as individual visitors our only chance of walking the top part of the bridge was at 3pm or 4pm.

We then set off to Albi, deciding to go the motorway route.  After getting rather tired half way there I stopped at a services to load up on caffeine.  On returning to the route we discovered a very long and very slow tail back. A quick look at the map and we were off onto the scenic route.  We later discovered the delay was at least 90 minutes!

We have been having alot of trouble with our car's GPS unit as it has been sending us off on ridiculous and totally unwarranted short cuts and directing us to drive down dead end roads, so we had a bit of trouble finding our gite in Mauriac, a tiny hamlet 20km outside of Albi.

Eventually we found it and WOW!

 The entrance  and where we keep our bikes
 stone and wood abound

modernised ++ but with the old beams  still in situ...


our drive into Albi took us past this fantastic example of re-purposing!
This well is on the TT course...
I hope I'm not going to be stopping by it again!

Friday, 14 July 2017

France..Avignon first stop

Or at least that was the plan, but where I'd booked was miles from any where and so we bailed, ending up in Malaucene, at the base of Mont Ventoux.


??!! outside where we were to have stayed

book case with a difference

at Gap..Alex had to stop in the middle of the street to allow me to take this pix out the car window!

no idea where this was..too much climbing has caused brain fade
 onto Ventoux..took me 2 goes but I got there!



 Sadly  it was the same day as the 50th Anniversary of Tom Simpson's death.  Sadly and selfishly because I didn't want to stop/put my foot down but with  this crowd in the way I had no choice.

I never saw the memorial as it was swarmed with Brits. However I did see quite alot of people stopped gasping by the side of the road and/or walking their bike up and rather sadly up the last really steep bit I had the misfortune to be behind someone in riding shorts rather than bibnix and whose shorts were too small causing an unedifying hairy bum vista for me.  He was using toe clips and luckily for me his foot shot off the pedal causing him to stop...the rest of the final heave was a much better sight!!

These public toilets were a bit of a surprise..luckily I had changed out of bike shoes!