Tour de France 2012

Tour de France June – July 2012 June 23 - Our blog about our trip to the Netherlands, Belgium and Northern France to see the start of the 2012 Tour de France and the Floriade Flower Festival starts here! ________________________________________________________________________
We’re off cycling again June 24 - We’re on our cycling travels again – but this time only for two weeks. Our first stage was from Bristol to Potters Bar, 111 miles in just under nine hours. We thought we were setting a good pace until we … Continue reading
We’re not better connected in mainland Europe June 24 - O2 have decided to be particularly rubbish, just when we need to arrange to minimise our data roaming charges while we’re away. From 1 July the new EU laws come into effect that cap the outrageous charges phone companies have … Continue reading
Spokes too soon June 25 - After yesterday’s rest day spent seeing the sights of Potters Bar, (Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s), we’re on the road again and – I’m afraid – to get to Harwich, ‘the only way is Essex’. Fortunately, being a Monday, the roads have … Continue reading
The sound of silence June 25 - The offending noise turned out to be a loose nut on the rear mud-guard rubbing against the tyre, (sounds more painful that it was). The nice man in the Spokes’ shop in Epping changed it and we had a smooth … Continue reading
Beth Chatto’s Garden June 25 - Third time lucky! We finally made it to Beth Chatto’s Garden just outside Elmstead Market. Well worth waiting for, very informal but lush… and a nice cream tea in the cafe too.
Beside the seaside June 25 - We’ve arrived in Harwich, which is a bit like East Street, Bedminster-on-Sea. Not a lot to hang around for, just as well really as we’re heading off to the lovely Netherlands on the 11pm ferry. We’ve stocked up in Morrison’s … Continue reading
Velo-come on board June 25 - There are quite a few cyclists on the overnight crossing today. Last time we travelled on this route there was us and a couple more, this time there must be over twenty. I think we win the prize for carrying … Continue reading
Goede morgen Rotterdam June 26 - Or as we say in English, good morning Rotterdam. It looks like it’s going to be another nice cycling day as we head to our first destination – Venlo, which is on the Dutch/German border. We’re currently on the ferry … Continue reading
Spoke too soon #2 June 26 - Well it turns out that the annoying squeak on my bike is being caused by three broken spokes on the rear wheel. This isn’t great news when you’re planning to cycle about 125 miles today! On a more positive note, … Continue reading
Tour Cafe June 26 - The silver lining to our mechanical malfunction is the discovery of Café Lungo, where they are having a ‘pop-up’ Tour Café – we could forget the rest of our holiday all together and just stay here!
The view from here June 26 - According to our carefully arranged plans we should be about half way to Venlo by now. Alas the ‘spoke gods’ had other plans, so instead we’re having a nice drink 112 meters up the Euromast. It’s a fab view, just … Continue reading
Snow White and the, umm… June 26 - Now I know that the Dutch are pretty liberal. They’re well known for allowing cannabis to be smoked in cafés and certain areas of Amsterdam have a very explicit nature. However, even I was surprised to confronted by this sculpture … Continue reading
The train to Venlo June 27 - The train to Venlo took about two hours – well it did when we finally managed to catch it. On our first attempt we discovered no bike are allowed between 4.30-6 peak time (it was 5.15), on our second attempt … Continue reading
Bike bingo June 27 - To find our way to Floriade today we decided to follow the Dutch version (much better version) of the national cycle network. The knooppunt network (roughly translates as number point) consists of a whole series of numbered map points, each … Continue reading
Floriade-tastic June 27 - Floriade certainly lived up to its name – a festival of flowers and horticulture. We got to the expo about lunchtime and stayed until the close at 8pm. We managed to see pretty much everything but were bushed by the … Continue reading
Tour de France here we come! June 28 - We’ve had a lovely couple of nights in Venlo with our fab hosts Wendy and Tim. It’s a bit sad we have to move on, but exciting to be heading for Maastrict today and then Liége this evening for the … Continue reading
La Grand Disaster! June 28 - Well today started well – lovely breakfast and a pleasant departure from Venlo. Unfortunately following the cycle route took us on a very windy and not very direct course. By lunch time we’d barely covered a quarter of the journey … Continue reading
Liége eventually June 28 - We finally made it to Liége – but missed the presentation of the teams completely. We just had time for a quick wander round the start and finish lines before we headed back to the rather amazing station in Liége … Continue reading
Living it up in Maastricht June 29 - Some of the readers of this blog may be familiar with the experience of continental ’boutique’ hotels. We are more used to the Travel Lodge-standard, or if we’re pushing the boat out, a Premier Inn! However, for four nights we’re … Continue reading
A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum June 29 - It is now a pre-requisite of any new development that there is a contribution to a local art project or installation. In Cabot Circus, Bristol’s most recent shopping development among the art (of which there are many including some fine … Continue reading
Worshiping at the alter of literature June 29 - Deciding what to do with churches that no longer have a congregation to serve is an ongoing dilemma facing many places in the UK. In Bristol, several have been put to new uses, including sports clubs and a climbing centre. … Continue reading
Flexing the plastic June 29 - We’re coming across an interesting phenomena in the Netherlands – the inability to pay by credit card. In the UK we’re used to buying anything with our flexible friend – cinema tickets, weekly shop or even a car park ticket, … Continue reading
Flaming Jean-Pierre June 29 - Finding vegan food on the continent is not that easy – thank goodness for the Chinese restaurant! After a delicious tofu-rich dinner, we took a walk around Maastricht taking in the city walls, the bastions, (large pre-Napoleonic earth and stone … Continue reading
The Brits are coming June 30 - So the Tour de France has begun, and although the Brits didn’t quite conquer, they certainly put up a good fight with a taste of what’s to come. Chris Froome, Stephen Cummings and David Millar were all fantastic securing 11th, … Continue reading
You didn’t know we were on a caravan holiday did you June 30 - If you think the Tour de France is just about cycling – think again. Like most major sporting events these days, there is plenty of product placement. “How do you do product place in a cycle race”, you may ask? … Continue reading
Travels with my Strada bidon June 30 - Following comments from one of our blog followers, we are attempting to improve the ‘product placement’ opportunities for our Strada bidon (drinking water bottle) with the faint hope of an increase to our 10% discount at Strada Cycles on North … Continue reading
I’ve nothing against the Belgians personally but… July 1 - When it comes to all things cycling, the Belgians are simply not a patch on the Dutch. They might be able to produce a fine waffle, fritte and beer – but they could take some lessons on how to treat … Continue reading
Our video of stage one TDF July 2 - Our video of TDF stage one http://t.co/pyCSomX
Travels with my Strada bidon #2 July 2 - More blatant product placement for the Strada bidon! This video alone has got to be worth an extra discount from @stradacycles http://t.co/TvGcQVx
We shall remember them July 2 - As we’ve ridden along today we’ve passed through corn fields speckled with bright red poppies. They remind me of my mum who loved poppies – she’d have liked pictures like this one. The poppy also makes me think of the … Continue reading
Belgium flunks again July 2 - As if the poor roads and bad driving weren’t enough to put us off Belgium, we can now add ‘victim of crime’ to the list. When we got to Seraing to watch the finish yesterday, we locked our bikes to … Continue reading
Back in the saddle July 2 - We’re back on the road proper today after leaving base camp Maastricht. The ride is about 120 miles so we set off at 8.30 with the aim of getting to Tournai before 7pm. The Tour finishes in Tournai this afternoon … Continue reading
A blast from the past July 3 - Being a bit of a shopping enthusiast I’m always interested to see what’s hot and what’s not on the European high street – particularly when it comes to which British brands are doing well. It seems that the current UK … Continue reading
Melanie redeems the Belgians single handedly July 3 - You may have noticed my displeasure with Belgium and Belgian drivers – well I’m pleased to be able to restore some balance to my view of the Belgians. Melanie, our warm showers host in Tournai, made us exceptionally welcome. Despite … Continue reading
The killings July 3 - I’m sure That I’ve said this before, but cycling is a great way see an area. The pace you travel at (in our case between 15-20mph) is perfect for looking at the scenery and if you want to stop off … Continue reading
Au revoir to the Tour July 3 - Alas, we saw the last live stage of this year’s Tour de France today, (well until we go to Paris to see the finish!). We’ve turned north and are making our way back to Rotterdam and Hook van Holland via … Continue reading
Travels with my Strada bidon #3 July 3 - Personally I thought the dancing Haribo bear with the Strada bidon was the peak – but others may disagree. I know you have to squint a bit but, here is the Strada bidon with Fabian Cancellara (aka Sparticus), in the … Continue reading
Greetings from Ghent July 3 - We’re spending the night in Ghent, which is in the Flemish part of Belgium. It is much more like the Netherlands, the architecture is similar to Amsterdam and many more people are cycling (on better roads too). Here are a … Continue reading
Just too cool to care July 4 - As we checked out of our hotel in Maastricht a few days ago we had a conversation with the receptionist about Belgium and Belgians. As we bemoaned the state of Belgian roads and their attitude to cyclists, the receptionist nodded … Continue reading
Things ewe have to see in Ghent July 4 - No trip to Ghent would be complete without a visit to see ‘The adoration of the mystic lamb’ in St Bavo’s cathedral (€4 each – a baa-gain). Painted by the van Eyck brothers it is considered ‘the absolute masterpiece of … Continue reading
Art moving in mysterious ways July 4 - As if having a shrine to a painting of a sheep wasn’t enough of a homage to Damien Hirst the cathedral in Ghent is attempting to be uber cool and ‘get down with the kids’ by hosting a contemporary art … Continue reading
Chop chop July 4 - It’s another warm day and the heat combined with long hair (well long for me) has finally got on top of me. We walked past a barber shop and I went in for a tidy up. I know it’s hard … Continue reading
A taste of Britain (weather) July 5 - After ten days of no rain, (except a couple of spots in Newbury on day one) our summer holiday weather turned decidedly British yesterday. Our day wandering around Ghent had been sunny and increasingly humid so it wasn’t much of … Continue reading
Hup Hup Holland! July 5 - After our travels through Belgium, it is good to be finally back on Dutch soil. To be fair, the last Belgian stretch of the journey from Brugge was quite picturesque and not bad for cycling, (by Belgian standards). However, almost … Continue reading
Dikes to watch out for July 6 - When the North Sea floods your country, killing 1836 people, destroying 9% of farm land and damaging over 47,000 properties – as it did in 1953 in the Netherlands – then you’re going to do whatever you can to stop … Continue reading
Dikes to watch out for – the movie July 6 - If you liked the blog post, you might like the film! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFtrxftExuo
Goodbye is always the hardest part July 6 - So there we have it; our cycling holiday is nearly over. Fourteen glorious days in the saddle through England, Netherlands, Belgium and France -more amazingly, (everyone in Britain may want to turn away now), only one rain storm! Our final … Continue reading
The Sonneveld House July 7 - After visiting the Netherlands Institute of Architecture yesterday we visited the Sonneveld House Museum. If you like modern architecture and are in Rotterdam, then you should definitely pay this place a visit. When built in 1933 for Albertus Sonneveld and … Continue reading
A crack in our plans July 7 - We docked at Harwich at 6:15 and if our plans were going as they should we’d probably be riding through Colchester by now. Unfortunately, Mike discovered a small crack in his titanium bicycle frame a few days ago and so … Continue reading
Le faux maillot jaune! July 7 - Ok, admittedly this isn’t ever going to happen in reality, but I couldn’t resist taking advantage of the TDF yellow jersey photo opportunity at Look Mum No Hands.
Warm thanks to our Warm Showers hosts July 7 - I know I keep going on about Warm Showers (the touring cycling hosting group) but it is fab and the hosts we’ve stayed with have helped make our holiday really special. This post is a special blog post to thank … Continue reading
Le maillot jaune! July 7 - We may be back in blighty with all the wet and cold that comes with it, but Froome and Wiggins know how to bring some sunshine into our day. What a fantastic ride from team Sky and a well deserved … Continue reading
From private to public July 7 - Despite being addicted to social media it’s clear that my grasp of these new technologies does not extend to knowing how to set the ‘public’ option (as opposed to private) on our You Tube videos. Sorry if you were unable … Continue reading
The scores on the doors July 8 - What with the mechanical incidents and unplanned train journeys, we haven’t cycled as far as we thought we would on this holiday. We’re about 300 miles short of what we’d expected, but nevertheless we’ve still managed over 600 mile in … Continue reading
The diet starts now July 8 - Alas, we’re home and it’s back to work tomorrow. At least we’ve had a fab time and lots of happy memories. I didn’t really buy any souvenirs, but I think I have come home with a few extra pounds thanks … Continue reading
The race to the finish July 21 - The race in question is not whether Bradley Wiggins will win the yellow jersey, (it seems that only a catastrophe can shatter that dream now), but rather whether me and Mike can get to the airport to catch our flight. … Continue reading
The poles are ok July 21 - The poles in question are the tent poles. They wouldn’t fit in the case, so are wrapped in a Wyken Parish Church cloth bag sticking out of my shoulder bag. They did raise an eyebrow at security – but a … Continue reading
Golden days July 21 - After the dreary summer we’ve had in the UK, being in Paris feel positively tropical. Being able to go out without a coat (let along waterproof trousers and an umbrella) is just wonderful. On our way to dinner this evening … Continue reading
Paris chic – yellow is the only colour this season July 21 - When packing a bag for a trip to Paris it’s difficult to decide what to take. This year the task has been made a little simpler with a clear colour range of red, white, blue and yellow. I’ve taken the … Continue reading

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