This year’s Pyrenees participants were: Aidy & Mary Campbell, Del & Chan Morton, Mike & Liz Pillans, Nigel & Diana Littler, Steve Hasler, Trudi Cunningham, Mike Cooper, Patrick Glynn , Paul Reynolds, Andy Roberson, Andrew Soppitt, Persephone Hagen, James Woodward & Nic Taylor. A record 18 club members!
Day 1 Friday: After carefully packing all the bikes and luggage into the Trailer Aidy, Mike and I set off to catch the midnight Ferry from New Haven to arriving in Dieppe at 0500hr. We then set off on the gruelling road trip to the south of France we kept ourselves amused by having wine gum sucking competitions!!! We arrived at the villa at 1700hrs with no wine gums left!
Day 2 Saturday: The people flying over arrived mid afternoon and they then decided to start the training with a cycle up one of the steepest mountain HAUTACAM. This was not good for me as I had thought there was not a ride today and had earlier gone for a 1 hour run!!
That evening one of the sayings of the tour was from Mary who stated that “I am a true Triathlete” she then continued to have a “sociable” evening and was a little too delicate to participate in the following day’s activities. Whilst unpacking Diana discovered that bringing some underwear would have been a good idea!!
Day 3 Sunday: Poor weather in the valley meant that no cycling could be done today, however the group split and 9 people went skiing, whilst 8 of the others went running and food shopping, and for coffee in Lourdes. While skiing Patrick somehow managed to get a suntan that would have made anyone on a 2 week stay in the Algarve proud, must have been all the time he was face down in the snow!
Day 4 Monday: The weather again was poor but this time we were not going to be beaten and set off on a 40 mile cycle up to CAUTERETS. On our return to the villa Aidy volunteered to clean Chan’s bike, after a while Diana went to clean her own bike only to find Aidy busy cleaning it for her. Aidy should learn the difference between a Specialised Tarmac Pro and a Specialised Tarmac Expert! However Diana was quite happy with his error, and she even managed to get out and buy some knickers!
Day 5 Tuesday: Diana found her knickers – she had actually packed them! Poor weather again so we couldn’t decide what to do, we eventually decided to go cycling then the rain got heavier so we all got changed and decided to go swimming instead. Aidy then found out that the pool was closed, so it was all change into cycling kit again and wait for the weather to change, it eventually turned and we set off for a 40 mile trek. On our return we tried to go for a swim yet again, but we were thwarted by a French Triathlon club who had booked the pool!!!! They did try to let us swim with them but insurance restrictions etc. wouldn’t allow it so we went to a French bar to sample some of their hospitality. Diana managed to empty an ashtray over the pavement outside the cafe and Mike rearranged all their furniture before the rest of us decided to choose a different cafe that had more sun to sit in! I had a minor incident with the roof of the minibus and an awning in the car park which had the other bus in hysterics. Not sure why, I had actually seen the canopy and the car that I didn’t hit but Aidy was sure I was going to.
Day 6 Wednesday: The rain broke and the sun came shining through, mountain of the day today was the COL DU SOULOR, a 27km long, hard climb. After regrouping at the summit we descended down to Christian’s house in ARRENS where he and his wife provided a magnificent buffet. Christian also awarded 4 prizes as follows:
1st and 2nd Male up the mountain won by Mike Cooper & Steve Hasler respectively.
1st Female up the mountain – won by Chan Morton (Mary was not 100% so had taken it easy).
Triathlete of the day – won by Trudi Cunningham.
On the return journey while cycling along a long stretch of cycle path we tried the cycling formation as taught by Brian, all was going well until we had to come to a sudden stop when Nigel ran into the pack and ended up kissing the Tarmac (not Diana’s bike). Once Back at the villa we went for a run and then a swim, Mike Pillans forgetting to pack swimming trunks and had to buy some budgie smugglers and goggles, only after the swim did he decide to remove the protective covers!!
Day 7 Thursday: Today we were challenged by 2 Mountain’s; firstly the COL D’ASPIN followed by LA MONGIE a total trip of 80 miles. Chan had a bit of an argument with a horse and three dogs that came galloping round a tight switchback, needless to say the horse won as Chan veered off and fell over! Andy Roberson also did a fantastic swerve off the road but managed to stay on his bike.
Day 8 Friday: The mountain challenge today was LUZ ARDIDEN with a total of 60 miles being covered. The sun was at its best and a good days cycling was had by all. Coming down the slight incline some riders reached 48mph (James & Diana!!). Nic who was in charge of a support vehicle at last managed to get a bit of a ride in as he did the final 5k up the hill, well done you. That evening we all went out for a lovely meal at the Bartres Restaurant which must have been a bit tiring for the owner as she fell asleep behind the bar while we were all eating.
Day 9 Saturday: The 3 intrepid car drivers set off at 0620 for the long journey back to Dieppe, while the others set off for the airport for their luxury flight to Stanstead. Little did we know that disaster was looming for the car travellers as we arrived at Dieppe 1 minute late and the toll assistant would not let us board, Aidy was “given one job to do” and had to go to reception and change our tickets for the 0500 ferry. We went for a pizza and then found some accommodation for the night, if anyone is not aware of F1 hotels then picture a room 10ft x 10ft with a double bed and a bunk bed a small TV on the wall and there you have it!! (All 3 of us shared it).
Day 10 Sunday: Shouldn’t really have been a day 10 but there could have easily been a day 11 as when we arrived at the ferry toll booth the attendant said we had not booked our trailer on the ferry and we would have to go to reception to change it (again), This infuriated Aidy (who only had one job to do!) was adamant that they should have transferred the tickets the previous day and refused to move from the queue and waited until she changed the ticket, with the queue getting longer and longer we eventually were allowed on to the ferry and managed unshaven and bedraggled to get back to Chichester by 0900.
Overall the trip was very much a success with bags of worthwhile training being achieved. On behalf of all participants I would like to thank all the organisers for putting together what can only be described as a brilliant event. Photo’s can be found in the Pyrenees 2011 Gallery.