Showing posts from June, 2011

Cycle diary (part 3 of 3) - Southampton to Assisi

Day 9 - Cascina (just east of Pisa - 130 miles)

Our toughest day so far. Morning = constant up + down over the steep headlands of the Ligurian coast in searing heat... after 5 hours of this we were wishing for the Mont Ventoux. Then when I tried to find a flatter road right on the coast I only succeeded in wasting over an hour in the early afternoon and adding about 10 miles to our journey. More important was the time wasted. We eventually had to double back. Felt so sorry for Pete with his painful ribs. He could have really torn strips off me, but instead he simply said that I had done so well navigating for 8 days, I was bound to make a bad choice at some point and not to worry. Now there's a true friend, and boy did I need one right at that moment. Self-confidence very low.

The intense heat required drastic action...
This cock-up of mine would, however, have a serious knock on effect for us later in the day. Once we got onto flatter roads I basically got my head down on the front …

Cycle diary (part2 of 3) - Southampton to Assisi

Day 7 - Menton (107 miles)

Early morning view from Ganagobie monastery.

The monastery garden - very Mediterranean in character.

Pete trying out an alternative form of locomotion...

The entrance to the monastery church which dates back to the 12th century.

Once we'd come down from Ganagobie monastery's beautiful mountaintop location to the Durance valley below, a headwind stayed with us all day through the Alps, funnelling down each valley we rode through: the first few kms heading north, then a long stretch east eventually following the Var river. At highest point of the day - the Col de Toutes Aures at 1160mtrs - we were almost blown off our bikes by the force of the wind coming over the mountain pass. We've never known a wind like it.

Riding through the Alps...

Lunch at Lidl.

Then all the way down the Var valley to Nice (east then south), another headwind. Couldn't profit from the descent. Had to fight the wind all the way. By the time we got to Nice Pete was in a bad way wi…

Invocation 2011

Been to Invocation 2011 vocations festival this weekend. Another great success after last year's debut. Inspiring to be with all those young people, priests, seminarians and fellow religious. Uplifting, hope-filled, joyful.

Cycle diary (part 1 of 3) - Southampton to Assisi

Here's the first part of my diary that I kept each night during our sponsored ride after we arrived at our accommodation:

Prelude: Southampton to Portsmouth (for the overnight ferry), via Wickham (25 miles)
Here's us setting off from St. Mary's College. 
We called in to see my good friend Fr. Andrew McMahon at Park Place Diocesan Pastoral Centre in Wickham on the way (it was Fr. Andrew, himself a Franciscan, who inspired me to ride to Assisi with tales of his solo HIKE there about 30-40 yrs. ago). We also called in to see my Aunt Margo + Uncle Ron in Gosport.

Day 1 - Saint-Malo to Solesmes Monastery (Benedictine) (110 miles)
Off the ferry at around 8.30am, then a short ride to our Brothers' community in Saint-Malo (where we have a primary school) for a lovely breakfast. Easy terrain, Pete having to get used to riding on the right. At least that was his excuse for sitting behind me all day... :-) that and the fact that I'm the navigator.
Our first pee stop in France. Th…

Sponsored cycle 2011 - WE MADE IT!!

We did indeed!! Me + cycling mate Pete Smith ended up riding 1,230 miles unaided from Southampton to Assisi (Central Italy) in 10 days as planned, the longest day being the last one, 164 miles :-) (my longest one day ride ever, beating 155 from a few years ago). Total vertical gradient = over 18,000 metres (more than twice the height of Mt. Everest from sea level). We got to Assisi last Saturday, had a quiet day there on Sunday and then journeyed back on Monday, a day that held its own fair share of incident (more about that later). We had so many adventures along the way, including cycling up the famous Mont Ventoux in rather pleasant drizzle (just south of the Alps at 1,909m altitude, 13 miles of climbing at an av. gradient of 8%), but then finding it freezing cold and windy on the top and even colder in the long descent! All will have been in vain if we don't get the sponsorship in for Haiti (the 2 schools where we are going next year). My address is in a previous post :-) To mak…