Friday, June 26, 2015

Out of Hybernation

I know this blog has been lying dormant for some years now, as I decided to have a hiatus from it when I thought that the cyclist’s days of cycling were coming to an end.

Bahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahaha! What a fool I was for believing that! Here we are, three years on and not only is he still cycling, but he is doing it as a full time job……….still. The cycling days are far from over!

So cycling continues to dominate our lives and now sees us now bridging not one, but two countries. While the cyclist is based in Spain, my work sees me based in Australia. That’s the very watered down version of how we came to be living in different countries, but the decision making process around that continues to toy with me on a daily basis as it’s not an easy thing being apart for long periods at a time. And so it is, that I find myself at the airport as I write this, about to board to go and see my love after way too long!

It has been 161 days since we last saw each other. We have never spent this long apart and I am feeling like a combination between a giddy lovesick teenager and someone who is about to go and see an old flame after many years. My tummy is full of butterflies and I cannot wipe this goofy grin off my face, no matter how hard I try. It’s not a bad way to feel.

So as I embark on this journey, I thought it would be timely to resuscitate this blog and share a bit more of our journey with those that are interested.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Tour - Part 4: Bearer of Gifts

CH is a likeable guy (most of the time) and is certainly a yes man – he will do anything for you. The only person, it seems, that he has learnt to say no to, is myself. Along his travels he has managed to make many friends and acquaintances which has resulted in his facebook friend list multiplying rapidly. 

The lead up to the tour saw CH’s inbox fill with messages from people who were also going to the tour and were hoping to catch up with CH. This was a good stroke to CH's ego and an easy task in theory, but when you are amidst the crowds at the tour, you begin to wonder how you would ever find each other? Eventually on our last day at the tour we were able to co-ordinate a catch up with some of the many Aussies there supporting Cadel.

One wonderful man came bearing gifts and was wise enough to know that the gift had to be immediately placed in my hands and not touch CH’s if there was any chance of me enjoying the experience of…………………….a Tim Tam! Of course CH is crafty when it comes to food – he has evolved beyond normal human capabilities to develop supernatural skills in hunting and gathering for food – so it didn’t take long before he got his hands on them and cracked the seal. And there we stood, our little Aussie party enjoying the delectable and very brief experience of Tim Tams in France at the Tour. Life's good!

The Tour - Part 3: The Long Trek

Day three saw us heading for Alp D'Huez! We were all fairly excited to be going to this part of the tour - some were excited about cycling up Alp D'Huez and others were excited about the awesome atmosphere! 

The plan was for the ones who weren't cycling to catch a ski lift up the top and for the cyclists to ride up and meet us. To execute this plan, we parked the car on a neighboring mountain and planned to make this our departure point. The cyclists plans went swimmingly as they soaked up the glory of all the onlookers lining the routes of Alp D'Huez. We, on the other hand discovered we had a long trek ahead of us, after discovering there were no ski lifts. Luckily there was a solid stream of people all walking in one direction, which was a good indication that we were heading in the right direction. 

Along the way, we managed to catch our first glimpse of the winding road of Alp D'Huez...........

And saw some desperate attempts at pitching a tent...........

As our road spat us out onto the climb of Alp D'Huez my first sight was this row of bottoms nicely perched on this ledge......

As we walked on a little further I was amazed by what surrounded me. It was just incredible to see how many people were prepared to go to huge lengths to watch and support this race! The mountain oozed joy and celebration as people sought out a space to sit along the side of the road, amidst all the bikes and people. 

Supportive messages were painted on the road and people of all ages, shapes and sizes chose to ride up that monster of a mountain. 
CH was pretty chuffed to have tackled the famous climb!

I was so impressed at the enthusiasm and passion that I saw on Alp D’Huez. 
Despite Holland putting on a fairly impressive show on bend 12, in my books the best dressed was the Aussie in full 60’s Australian sporting tracksuit complete with a Merv Hughes moustache. He was flanked on either side by Hasselhoff wannabes, who were out showing their support in nothing but their Budgie smugglers. Now nothing says Australia like Budgie smugglers and thongs does it?

Eventually the wait was over and the cyclists came through, parting the crowds along their way.

As the last of the Tour riders rolled through, we began to prepare for our journey home...........

Of course what goes up, must come down and all of those supporters lining the mountain, had to get back down after the race was over. As a result, our short 1.5 hour drive home became a very slow 5 hour drive. Check in time -1:00am - The sight of our beds were so greatly appreciated that evening/morning! 

The Tour - Part 2: The Battle for the Freebies!

The caravan coming through was an incredible experience. I would say it is one of those moments where people’s true colours shine through, as people literally dive for the free stuff thrown out to the masses. On the first day we were situated next to a couple who were well skilled in retrieval of free things and we were dismally untrained in the battle field of the caravan. 

Once you switch on and begin to get competitive, you then have to battle with the parties that have the ‘bait’. These are the people that are either dressed up, waving a flag or have children – these are the parties that attracted the most ‘giveaways’. Despite going to great lengths to try and get our hands on some Aussie paraphernalia before we came, we were unable to find any in Germany (strange, I know!) and we are all childless, which meant we had no bait and lucked out on the freebies on the first day. CH almost wept as he saw all of the children dive for the Nesquik  and Haribo samples, and all he walked away with was a sample of washing powder.

However, on Alp D’Huez the Freebie Gods shined upon us, and a crew of people decided that they wanted to hang their marketing banner directly behind us – We later discovered that this very conveniently worked as a net, which stopped the freebies going any further beyond us. Needless to say we brought home the mother load on that day, hats, t-shirts, keyrings, stubby coolers, beanies, lanyards, magnets and, much to CH's delight, more washing powder!

The cyclists model their fabulous hats which they scored from the Caravan. As you can see there was some quality merchandise being distributed. Whether or not it was worth diving for is still open to debate. 

The Tour - Part 1: A simple Matter of Space

Our first big challenge was, of course, to get there. We got off to an interesting start......

In preparation for our early start on the road we picked up our hire car the evening before. CH and I were travelling with another couple and naturally, the two cyclists wanted to take their bikes, which was fine as we all know how a cyclist gets if they don’t ride for five days, however as we picked up the car, us non-cyclists couldn't help but notice there were no roof racks, and a quick calculation told us that we were not going to fit two bikes, four people and luggage into this car. CH & his co-cyclist begged to differ, and assured us that it would be fine. The case was dropped until the morning of departure, when the packing began.

It was like watching a tetris game happen as things were so carefully and specifically placed. After much trial and error we discovered that the bikes will fit……… long as parts could spill over and encroach on the already limited space in the back seat. So, you can guess who ended up nursing two wheels for the entire trip – not exactly what you want to be doing for a ten hour drive, but, of course there was no negotiating the presence of the bikes. And so as we drove through the most spectacular country side, the lucky ones in the back seat managed to catch glimpses as we peeked out  between the spokes. 

Everywhere you turned there seemed to be a bike, or part of, staring back at you.

After ten hours, we finally pulled up at our humble abode for the evening and whilst the non cyclists couldn't wait to escape the bikes that had invaded our back seat all day, the cyclists couldn't wait to get on their bikes. So at the end of day one our parties divided as the smart ones unwound with cheese and wine admiring the view of the mountains from the balcony, and the others admired the views from their saddles, with a hurt face on. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

We made it!!!

Le Tour de France has been a big part of my life ever since CH became a big part of my life. The tour always means late nights – thanks to the great time difference between Australia and Europe - and watching CH as he struggles to balance his life and mainly his cycling around watching the tour.

So, if you are in Europe during the month of July and you are a cyclist, there is only one place you would want to be – following the tour. This year we were fortunate enough to actually be able to go and watch it live! CH was beside himself about going, particularly with an Aussie rumoured to win. I, on the other hand was excited to be going, but also couldn’t help but feel slightly guilty, as I knew there were so many cycling fanatics who would appreciate being in my position so much more than I was – but, what’s a girl to do? So, I went and I was determined to get the most out of it that I could!
The following posts will cover parts of our trip, as I saw it. I know that CH has a slightly different version to mine, but you all know who to believe.............

Thursday, March 31, 2011

When CH first approached me about the possibility of moving overseas he did so with his tail between his legs.
Moving overseas has been something I have been passionate about doing for a long time. I had tried to feed this idea to CH over the years in some subtle (daydreaming out loud about my favourite international destinations) and some not so subtle ways (Opening a savings account called ‘Moving Overseas’ – there weren’t many pennies that found their way into this account!) No matter how I tried to persuade CH to move overseas, he would always respond with some dismal excuse about it not being the right time, we can’t afford it etc etc.
So I can’t imagine what went through his mind when the team he was riding for offered him the opportunity to ride overseas, which in turn meant a move overseas. After years of rejecting the idea, he now had to come and sell it to me, but in the context of cycling!

As he broached the subject a wicked grin flashed across my face, as I saw the potential in this situation – Do I make him suffer? How much should I make him beg? Luckily for him, I was feeling generous that day (and very excited about the prospect of exploring a new country) that I let it slide………………for now anyway.