Alps 2017. An interesting 3 weeks, 2 of which were “interesting” in the Chinese Curse meaning of the word.. Photos to be added at another point.
Personal goals and observations from my time away.
- Climbed Col d’Izoard on the road bike, from Briancon. 2 days after the Col opened for the summer. Highlight of my trip. About 3hr to climb to the top. Many stops, but achieved the goal.
- Longest distance I’ve personally driven in any 24hr to date: 1144km from leaving Alberto’s campsite 08.30 Sunday to Cote de Nacre shopping centre in Caen on the Monday morning.
- Longest distance driven solo in one journey, 13hr 764km from ferry to Jugy, and 1112 in 24hr from the ferry to the Briancon campsite including the overnight in the Aire.
- Hiking up towards the Le Col de Freissinières, above Dormillouse in the Bayaisse valley, was an epic place to be. Hiked from the carpark at 1440m to 2070m. Ended up in complete solitude in the higher valley, no real signs of humanity around. Fabulous.
- The personal decompression and getting away from it all was so necessary, it wasn’t funny. It was really needed!
- The new tent worked out to be fantastic, a lovely place to live in relative comfort, thankful for the large porch and the NeoAir Dream mattress. Was still nice to get a bed and a shower on the ferry, but I’ll happily live under those conditions again.
- The Q7 is surprisingly fuel efficient for what it is. 10.2l/100 from the ferry to the French campsite, including a very spirited drive up through the Romanche Gorges. Maybe about 5.5 tanks of fuel total for the European trip, at the local speed limits for most of it anyway.
As for my review of the ULKC-relevant part of the trip, I’ll complete that at another stage, as it will definitely be a far from glowing review, as it was mostly ill-organised and proven dangerous to the beginners..
Next year, the plans for this time of the year will likely be a little different. I’ll be expecting there to be differing conditions put on the club on how to run a foreign trip after this year’s stupidities in the planning and execution. I know what the ideal would be and I don’t know if the relevant people will want to listen to that.
Overall, I’m glad I went on the 3 weeks away. Definitely some interesting lessons learned from the trip.
The bike now has Ultegra 6700 brakes on it, and a new Fizik Antares saddle. Much nicer to ride for a while, and much more confidence inspiring – there is decent grip when cornering and it’s got really good stopping power especially when coming from ~55kph down to stopped. I took it on a shakedown cycle with the new brakes installed to start the bed-in process. I’ve read that the 6700 should not be mixed with the 5600 105 shifters, but I disagree – they feel great to me. There’s a slightly longer level travel for sure, but with toe-in set correctly at between 0,5 and 1.0 mm this means a nice progressive grab on the rim. Full on emergency stops with the GP4000s tyres are good enough that stoppies will be possible if I try hard enough, and that’s a good sign from the braking effectiveness point of view.
With the new saddle onboard and the updated brakes starting to bed in I went on a looping cycle around Castletroy, in the search for a nice loop that is pleasant to cycle with as little problems as possible. I’ve found that the cycle lanes on the south side of Castletroy (Groody link road, Monaleen Road, SchoolHouse Lane) are not suitable for cycling a road bike at normal speeds (20-35kph) as the surface is rough and rattley with broken surfaces and really poor path-road interfaces. Some places on the paths are rough even at walking pace! I’ve found it is better for my safety to be on the road and able to maintain speed and visibility for roundabouts instead of possibly surprising some poor motorist. Some of the cycle paths are good for kids and people ambling along, but not really for commuters or sport cyclists. It’s a pity that there is little desire to fix the problem and less cash available to implement the fixes. Then again, with a County Council that in all their [lack of] smartness put a pedestrian crossing within the average modern car braking distance from the exit of a roundabout across two lanes – there’s little hope of getting sane and coherent cycle paths that go from A to B.
It was a pleasant enough road cycle, and one of the best bits was accelerating away from cars at the Golf Links Road traffic lights by the Spar, and overtaking cars on the way down to the roundabout! Just under the road speed limit in the are so all legally too.. 56.7 kph according to Node2, 56.09 kph according to Cyctastic.
Some miles up on it now, and it’s quite comfy – I’ve replaced the saddle with a Fizic Antares and it’s a lot better on my bits.. Ultegra brakes are en route, GP4000s tyres are on it, I’ve got better road-specific gloves that fit and it’s rolling really nicely now. More miles needed!