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.

Je ne regrette rien ……….

Possibly three of the most painful days cycling of my life. Les quatre cyclistes d’apocalypse we might well be but I have encountered les trois elements d’apocalypse at the same time, three days in a row – lashing rain, 1:3 inclines (with my bike laden with several kitchen sinks) and hurricane winds in my fizzog (I exaggerate ‘just slightly’ to gain the sympathy vote). It has been torture – but like torture (so I am told) the pain goes away when it stops – and I’m just off to sleepies now – perchance to wake up in time for the next leg. It has been/is being ‘interesting’. Character building?

In the Beginning, there was ……… the (Devon) send-off

You can tell we are having a day of touristy relaxation, with this plethora of items from your trusty riders. So at least this Blog page is ACTIVE!

This is what I had intended to add on the first day – what a fantastic send off from Barnstaple Square. Thanks to Val, the Mayor, Julie her deputy, Des, NDC leader and Dick his environment portfolio holder. Thanks to Seth from ITV, to Tony from the Gazette and Fran from the Journal. Thanks to supporters Steve, Dick, John, Mike – and others I’ve forgotten (I hope someone has the photos so I can check later); and of course to my intrepid fellow cyclists who actually managed to get further than the end of the Long Bridge! To L’Anne, to Claire and her partner all the way from Crediton, Andy (BLESS ‘im – cos he did for my bike! – apart from which he insisted on being my wind break for the first hour – and I needed it!)), to Paul, Ollie (from the SU at Petroc), Michelle, to my fellow Bikeability trainer Jo (I just managed to keep up with her). Photos are ‘dribbling’ in from various sources – here I am the following day at Plymbridge – the smile is genuine enough, cos I ‘m nearly there – only rush-hour on the A38 to Saltash to contend with …….


My beautiful launderette

The picture below is the sodden welcome at Tavistock after Hugh (on the right) and I had hurtled down the hill from Mary Tavy into the town centre to meet friends from the West Devon Greens. I had to pour water out of my shoes and was pretty fogged as to how I could manage to carry on  to Plymouth. So I waddled down into the market and found a launderette. Took my chance, having politely asked the ladies there if they minded – yup, they giggled a bit – only one person in there at the time and she giggled a bit too. So I stripped to my undies and everything went in, shoes, gloves, rucksack an’ all – for a good 20 minutes – while I attempted to warm my feet up on the glass of the drier. I s’pose it was quite funny – a bit like that 11 o’clock ‘coke’ ad – but customers didn’t really seem to have a fit …….. and to be honest, I couldn’t care! Mind you, if I’d been 30 years younger, there might have been some action.

Message to all cyclists: the new route from Tavy to Plymouth is just fantastic – even the haul up to Yelverton through the woods – stunning. Has to be done. But this is offset by the confusing options around Lydford – which still seem all wrong. No worries – made it!

Tavistock farewell

Fleeing the Climate

Our host today not far from Paris, Francois, is an audio-visual tele cameraman – Roger was ecstatic! He went with his wife and a friend on a trip to the Jungle in Calais. He showed us the video he had made, as yet unedited, hand-held, point and shoot – heart-rending, no matter how often you have seen similar footage. Many of the people he spontaneously interviewed were from the UK – proud of them – saying some spot-on things. Here’s to the Merton ladies and the fantastic work they are doing on behalf of us North Devonians who are disgusted with the way in which our government is behaving. He took a short video clip with interviews of us  – too big for here but we’ll find a way somehow later to show the world!

Having trouble downloading photos – let’s try – here we are with his wife Laurence outside their beautiful home – we were so lucky to find them – excellent people. Nope!

A good day today – one more to go and we’ll meet Our Molly tomorrow night – the approach and ‘entry’ into Paris is going to be BUSY! Gonna have to have our wits about us.

This Blog post comes to you courtesy Ewan’s genius i-phone connection (no wifi here).

How to secure Freedom …….

Despite all one might hear, although Paris if full of soldiers, everywhere; although the air is full of sirens and the streets full of police cars and motor bikes, basically it’s a city brim-full of people just doing what people do in cities. Problem is, since all the Green groups and NGOs have given copious details of all they intend to do, it was easy for the authorities to insist that everything is cancelled – which is what happened to the bike cavalcade today –  and because I s’pose (unfortunately) we/they have to respond appropriately and responsibly, they just said ‘no go’ and we had to formally call a stop to everything – gutted!

However, Euan and I, anarchists that we are, nonetheless cycled all the way to the hitherto meeting place at the Eiffel Tower and staged our own mini-2-man demo – caused a sensation as you can imagine for the thousands who gravitate there anyway everyday. Daft!

Went to a multi-faith service at Notre Dame tonight and afterwards met up with the whole admin department of 350.org in a lovely brasserie by the Pompidou Centre – all beautiful, young and super-switched-on. It is so energising to be made aware of just how many of the cream of Europe’s young intellectuals are beavering away for change. It makes sense: they need a planet to live in – the one that we baby-boomers have all but destroyed.

Hopefully, there will be more to report tomorrow. Another try for a fun photo: if it don’t upload, s.th is wrong. Here goes: [nope!]


C’est un petit monde, n’est-ce pas?

Great to have now seen the excellent posts from my sadly missed colleagues, who have brought our adventure up to date. Ewan – the perfect update, topped and tailed with the ‘continuation’ in Bristol with Molly and Tony (The ‘Mayor-to-be’?!) – thanks, mate: lovely.

Getting reliable and durable internet connection here is frustrating – but I seem to be in – and hopefully, might even affix some photos this time. There is SO much stuff on-line streaming out of Le Bourget – as Ewan alludes and as the EGP updates confirm, there are some fantastic speeches coming our way. I refuse to even think it’s ‘Greenwash’ ……… yet! But this time, the whole world really is watching – there will not be another hidey-hole for the US and China (and India?) to bolt into like in ’09. The venue itself is ‘temporary’, near the old airport. Thought you’d like this ‘confirmation:

Palestine on the main stage - at last!
Palestine on the main stage.

So just for today’s Blog, I’ll digress to the title. It started yesterday morn, just before Euan had to leave and we were trying to gate-crash the party (er, unsuccessfully). We chatted to the ‘Climate Angels’, the only ones seemingly demonstrating at the actual venue; they did catch Al Gore’s eye tho’ – he came in via the ‘plebs’ entrance. Google them – FoE, Aussie-based – delightful. One of them just so happened to be the daughter of the best friends of my German teaching colleague from my sabbatical in Victoria in 1999. You can see how chuffed we are! 19 yrs old and utterly committed to saving the planet.


Later, at the ‘Place 2B’ near the Gare du Nord (Euan – you’ll be pleased to know I found it at last), I was just drinking a glass of water (as you do) when who should I spot but Ruth and two mates who had cycled with 13 others all the way from Bristol (hey, they had carbon-support with all their bags! Cheating!) – Ruth had joined us last year on our Brussels minibus trip to see Molly. Great. They were awaiting the arrival of the red-trousered philanthropist, the Mayor of Bristol, here to cavort with the Mayor of Paris and join in with the ‘Covenant de Maires’ (sounds vaguely black magic). I must ingratiate myself with them and try and get a CV report to Hidalgo! Wow!

So off we go, there to meet up with the others including Darren Hall and partner Charlie – and there already with the BBC crew was Paul Barltrop. George walks up – SURPRISE! And with him was our own Daniella. Not even remotely staged – no way! (sorry about the orange tint and my Hi-vis ‘halo’ – which has slipped a bit):

A Chance Meeting at La Gare du Nord with George Ferguson & Daniella radice, mayor and Deputy Mayor of Bristol - plus a bunch of Westcountry Cyclists!
A Chance Meeting at La Gare du Nord with George Ferguson & Daniella Radice, Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Bristol – plus a bunch of Westcountry Cyclists!

I’ll lave it at that fro the time being – although there was one more really weird thing that happened at Gare St Lazare, as Euan and I bade good-bye. I know I’m here to report on the talks – yeah, right – but, as said, it’s everywhere – I’m just blogging some stuff ………