How to cycle to the alps (I hope): No7, cross your fingers and hope for the best


Letting the loaded bike see the English Channel – it’s not been on a ferry before.

After 9 weeks of training in which I’ve ridden over 2000 miles or nearly 3300 km (admittedly, too much of it on the turbo trainer), I’m into the bit of training that I’m most comfortable with – the taper.

In fact it’s a bit more of a grind to a halt – the only recent exercise was a run in London on Friday morning (8km – 5 miles) as Mrs O and our younger son went to watch the tennis at Wimbledon.

It’s now possible to check weather reports for the ride – but I’m not sure they are very helpful yet. I can find several, but some of them show wind directions differing by 180° for the same place, at the same time, on the same day. On balance, they still show the winds as crosswinds at worst for most of the ride and temperatures in the mid to high 20s℃ (around 77-83℉).

Perhaps the biggest problem coming from the challenging (unrealistic?) schedule of 510 miles in 3 days is that I’ve not booked any accommodation. I don’t really know how far I can get each day so booking something 170 miles in advance might just mean I’m 50 miles short of a welcoming bed by the time I can go no further.

Mrs O is not at all keen on me rough camping. I have agreed to look for a hotel each night but I am left with the dilemma of whether I should be taking a tent or a bivvy or sleeping bag on the off chance that I might need one.

It would be easier to take longer and book hotels with more confidence that I will be there, or alternatively decide that I won’t use hotels and take appropriate kit. I’m a bit stuck between the two options and in the end I’m planning to be travelling with just an emergency blanket to cover a lack of hotel.

Two unhappy events:

  • a friend (the chap I rode L’Eroica and Ventoux with in 2015) has just broken his hip in a fall on the first day of an organised trip to the pyrenees; and
  • our older son has a cracked sternum, rib and a broken finger from a car crash in France last weekend (as a rear seat passenger) – I got to see him on Friday and he’s recovering well but is sore from the seat belt pressure (thank goodness he was wearing one).

For Mrs O they are big concerns – if you believe bad news comes in threes …

Just to put a shine on it, a friend’s son has been cycling in France this week and has been drenched with torrential rain and hailstones.

So, I guess it’s now too late to do any more significant or helpful training so I’m putting my efforts into preparation of kit, and prayer.

The practice packing is looking OK and I’ve now tried riding the bike fully loaded. I’m getting a bit ‘weight weenie’ and am having to control that and accept that I have to take stuff with me. At the moment, the additional weight is just around 5kg (11 pounds) including tools, spares, clothes and necessary electronics. It is certainly noticeable, but by no means impossible.

On the plus side, my body weight is well under control at under 65kg (143 pounds). That helps as I am not overloading the bike and I can go with it despite it’s (relatively) race orientated geometry – I just hope it’s comfortable enough.

Unfortunately, it’s a small plus overall as it means that I don’t have too much by way of reserves – and it is going to be fairly flat for a couple of days so weight won’t be too much of an immediate issue anyway.

With the prospect of more tapering to come, this may be it until after I try the ride. One thing that falls by the wayside for weight saving is the laptop – and blogging goes with it!


4 thoughts on “How to cycle to the alps (I hope): No7, cross your fingers and hope for the best

    1. The Omil Post author

      That’s good sense – some of the competitors in the Transcontinental Race (great self-supported event from Belgium to Greece with no set route, just 4 checkpoints) use hammocks. For me, the die is cast and it’s hotels or the ground (or bus stops, or park benches, or …).


  1. Jeff Olson

    I can’t offer you any advice since you are far more experience than I am, so I’ll just with you a successful and safe journey. I’ll be watching and waiting to hear how it all went. Safe travels my friend!

    Liked by 1 person


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