Hello World as they say. Its nearly November and this site and the crowdfunder are up and running. Things are starting to come together on the planning front – expect details to start appearing here in the next week as things get firmed up.

It sounds like there might be quite a show through Cornwall and into Plymouth – our job is just to keep on pedalling and keep on talking – Paris is so important, not necessarily for the immediate outcome but simply because the world is finally starting to wake up to what we have been doing for the past 150 years and the implications are stupendous.

My next task is to get a decent front light and a new chain – I don’t fancy riding any long distance with one which broke a couple of weeks ago and I fixed by removing a couple of links. Also think I need to get my bottom bracket serviced.

Before we set off we’ll try and make occasional posts about our bikes and plans – once we are on the road the intention is to do daily updates here – l’accès à internet permitting.


A Good Day?

rickyportrait150Yes! I am just everso pre-occupied with it all (and presume this’ll continue for while longer ….). I actually have 11 bikes, which is pretty sad really, cos apparently you cannot ride them all at once. I have a trailer too (Roger and I bought one each for the 2009 SW Euro-campaign – they have done good service since). So which one shall I take – the old warhorse, an original (1988) Muddy Fox mountain bike, which I can hardly lift even without saddle bags ….. er, no! It’ll be the Maran – it’s perfect. I bought this one with that tax-free thingy that people were given the option of buying into. No regrets. Bought it from Bike Shed, who have beckome my firm faves ever since – a great bunch of lads. Might try and sting ’em for some sponsorship!

Heard from an acquaintance out of the blue (Grandparents International – yup, that’s us) who we met at the CC demo in London last year – they’re gearing up for Paris en masse. Likewise a good friend from Torbay GP, Paula Hermes: she’s cycling with a large group from London. It’d be great if we can somehow meet up for the grand bike cavalcade in Paris on 28th. Talking of which, the whole Paris itinerary for the build-up to the talks (27/11 – 13/12) is just awesome. I’m going to struggle to get home. In both senses.


‘Stuff’ ………

rickyportrait150My fault entirely: my wife L’Anne forwarded a link to the Mountain Warehouse, advertising their sale. So off I go – outside the shop, a friend of mine who works there was handing out the equivalent of a BOGOF coupon (I know I need two cycle clips, two gloves, two shoes etc but two hats? Two water bottles? Two helmets?). Anyway, in I go – big mistake. I emerge clutching a whole pile of ‘stuff’, conning myself that it’ll all still be useful after Paris.

Worse: whilst there, I was assured that Ortlieb were the only panniers to get (they don’t stock them, though). Back home, I google ‘Ortlieb’. I find that Sustrans have a quasi-offer on them and, taking a deep breath (man, these are pricey saddlebags!), press ‘send’. They arrive Friday. I’ll then kit myself out for a fashion show, take a selfie and let you ‘all’ in on it.


IKEA is easier than this.

rickyportrait150Fitting the Ortlieb panniers became a bit farcical today (and it took most of the day!). Fiendish. The little wordless picture instructions were basically hieroglyphics, needing a far cleverer interpretation than I could manage. But I persevered – good job no-one was filming it. But at least I now know that these bags are seriously watertight and can hold more than enough ‘stuff’. L’Anne reminded me of the old adage: ‘lay everything out on the floor that you want/need/HAVE to take with you – and halve it’. I just couldn’t manage that – too painful. She did it. So cruel.

Lights more or less sorted, incl. a heath-robinson-esque adapted helmet light. The marino-wool undies are sweltering – mind you, it was EIGHTEEN DEGREES today – that’s why we’re doing this folks! The trousers are embarrassingly tight-fitting. And at last I have purchased a pair of water-proof socks. These are NOT cheap items! If it ain’t wet and freezing, I’m gonna be livid.

Need to clean the machine – and get it serviced – gotta look good for the paparazzi at the civic send-off. The Mayor of Bideford has just confirmed that he’s going to be at Bideford Old Railway Station, robed and chained, with his Beadle – it’s all about the photo-op apparently! I still need to enthuse some good biking buddies to commit to the ride-out from Barnstaple.

Anyway, today we agreed that, in the spirit of the End of Civilisation as we know it, we would call ourselves ‘Les Quatre Cavaliers (cyclistes) d’Apocalypse’ – I, as befits my surname (Che Valier), would be ‘War’ (what is it good for?); Roger, the Scyther, obviously had to be ’Death’ (not even warmed up); Ewan is ‘Conquest’ (Tomorrow: Agincourt) and Euan, by default, will have to be Famine/Pestilence – all good positive stuff. Enough.

My bike (Roger)

roger150For this ride I’ll be on my 2006 Specialized Tricross Sport with added mudguards and rear-carrier. shown here when it was brand new. 9 speed cassette 11-32T with Deore LX derailleur and 3 chain wheels 28-50T Shimano Sora with Tiagra levers. I like a good low set of gears 28 front, 32 rear is good for sitting down and winding up a Cornish 25% hill however heavily laden. The shop were a bit sniffy when I insisted on adding carrier and mudguards.

My previous 3 bikes had all been Dawes Galaxy, the first lasted 14 years, the next was stolen after about 6 years and the last did another ten years (and to be honest was still serviceable with some new components – I sold it for a song). This Tricross is now 8 years old and still going strong. On its second rear cassette and about third chain. Must have done well over 10,000 miles by now as a mixture of commuting, leisure and touring – that’s credit-card touring, not hard-core carry-everything camping style.

The rear carrier is a Top-peak one with a bag that slides on and has side paniers that fold up when not in use. Slightly heavier than real lightweight stuff, but sturdy and serviceable.


My Bikes (Euan)

euan2solo150Thought I’d start my story by recounting the bikes I have had. My first bike was an unnamed, slightly battered, hand repainted machine with no gears. I think I was nine at the time and very proud of my new independent means of transport. Having recently seen a certain film at that time, I repainted the bike yellow and black with the name Genevieve on the crossbar. I used to cycle from home in Boreham Wood to Dunstable along the A5 on sunny summer Saturdays to play on the Downs.
My biggest expedition on this bike was from home to the North Downs near Reigate one Easter weekend with my elder brother. We cycled all the way down the Edgware Road, round Marble Arch, over the Thames at Battersea – through all the traffic that I would never let any child loose among today!! It was a sweltering day and I was dying from heat stroke, not helped by my bike’s lack of gears while my brother’s had a Sturmey Archer three-speed gear! That night we camped on the North Downs – it snowed 6 inches, our tent leaked and we got wet and cold; but at least it kept the milk fresh. Ahh, childhood holidays! I still wonder how I survived that 35 mile cycle ride – and that it hasn’t put me off punishing my body in a similar way ever since!
More about my next bike in the next post.

Riding to Ricky’s

roger150So it seemed like a good idea to have a trial run to test that the old legs still worked and the bike was fit – Launceston to Barnstaple is about 85km door to door. Ricky had invited me to talk to a meeting in Barnstaple and offered a bed for the night so it seemed a good idea to go over by bike. Unfortunately I had stuff to do in the morning which didn’t leave enough time to get there before dark, so I loaded the bike on the car and drove up to Sheepwash  which is a bit less than half way. I’d cycled out there a couple of times from home anyway – once to meet himself for a boozy lunch in the Half Moon.

Continue reading Riding to Ricky’s

My Bikes (part 2)

euan2solo150I bought my second bike at the age of 14, having saved up money I’d earned working Friday evenings and Saturdays at a greengrocers (yes, child labour was alive and well in those days!). The bike shop I went to was Don Farrel’s on the Edgware Road in NW London; it was a second-hand black racing bike (having been repainted it had no name on it) with four gears and cost me the princely sum of £7. Fifty-five years later, I still have it! It became my touring and commuting bike for many years and is now my back-up bike if my main bike is not available. It’s also fun just to pedal around on a quite venerable yet stylishly simple bike.

Continue reading My Bikes (part 2)

Never mind the bikes, what about the climate

Time we posted some stuff about why we are going.

I was struck at a meeting last night where someone was talking about the possible outcomes from Paris based on the current opening bids by countries. The headline, much (mis)reported is that current scenario based on proposed commitments (if they were all delivered, if all the positive feedback loops that have been identified but are not included in the calculation do not kick in, if the effects of already baked in changes do not derail things,…etc etc etc) will create a global average temperature rise of 3.5deg Centigrade by 2100.

The trouble is… Continue reading Never mind the bikes, what about the climate