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2016
Preparations

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MP4 Quick Time
Test with the Go Pro new mount and new card. Only problem is that I cant open the case, need to mend that.
Length - 5min 11

1st July
Ok here we are, D-Day. We are trying to fit the bikes and bags in, this is taking time. I still have to pop to the bike shop to get bits and also the gazebo from Ebay has not arrived, so I am going to have to go across to Argos to get one. More time and money. American Mike got here safely, it was good to see him after 4yrs, so we have had a long catch up. Not much time to write as lots to do!

Right the van is loaded, took longer than expected but it all seems secure and it has now left to pick up English Mike then on to the ferry. We are catching the train from Waterloo to Portsmouth. Hopefully it will be a calm setting and not too much rocking and rolling all night. Then it is the start of the trip. The weather is not good though and the gazebo was too much hassle to find a new one as Ebay let us down.

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10th June
Super excited, only 3weeks today!!!! Everything is done, just got to wait now. Training is complete, don't really want to do any more long rides. Got a stomach upset today, so that is a great excuse too. Le Tour info is all out now, OMG it is just amazing how close we came to hitting their route 3 more times. (Although we would have had to be cycling much faster!) Their Stage 5 is close to Royat where we stay for a day. Stage 12 up Ventoux is on 14th July while we are there on the 20th, so all the road markings left by the fans will be there still, plus lots of other riders. They cycle some of our route too, plus just found out that I cycled Côte de Gordes before, category 4 climb. Then, their TT on July 15th, we arrive in to town on the 19th July after cycling, in reverse, part of the route. We could easily modify the map to do it all!

A few more camps are all confirmed. Bubble wrap for the packing of the bikes has just arrived. Checked sizes of the vans, could we have done it in a smaller one? I'm not sure. Slim chance with good packing, but was not 100% sure, so gone for the bigger one.

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6th June
Busy time. After the Scotland race I did a back 2 back (Saturday & Sunday) race in Somerset, The Tour of Wessex which went really well. Yesterday I did a ride down to Brighton nearly beating my fastest time, held up by lots of red lights entering the town. Going to get the bike in for a service this week or next.

Been shopping, got just about everything now, Ben sorted out the bits the van needs too. Just been buying all the stuff like plates, cups, spare batteries, food bars for the ride, camping bits, clothing, tires etc etc. Better not check the bank balance. Still a few more places to confirm. Worried about the floods and heavy rain they have had in central France where we are camping, just South of Blois. Hopefully it will have all cleared up by then, and of course, it being summer, the French are on strike again. This week it is fuel prices or something.

I have virtually packed, in that it is all laid out and ready to go in bags. I will prob have to take a separate personal box for some of my junk like energy bars and protein shakes. Luckily all that will be eaten by the time we get to Cassis and load up on wine.

Ben has been looking at extra insurance for the van too. It will push the price back up again though, but we will still be saving cash and I hope there will be a refund at the end, or we can all drink champagne!

D-Day today and in a few weeks we will be on the same beaches.

Still trying to work out how much I will spend on food, touristy things, souvenir, Portsmouth taxi, Cassis train to Marseille, Gatwick train home

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26th May
Ok so lots has happened since the last update. The van is booked which is great and much cheaper than expected. Phil is going to be driving down to London on the Thursday evening. I have got a pre paid card sorted and loaded with some cash, I have withdrawn and assigned a load of cash to envelopes ready for the trip. Lots of things have been bought both for myself and for the group, so we are nearly there now, just a couple of things left to buy and accommodation to sort out.

France seem to be on strike again, this week it is the fuel workers which is a bit scary as they are saying it could go on for some time. Well at least we are on bikes! Sorry Phil. I tested the Go-Pro today, good job I did as the Garmin in its current position blocks the door opening, so I am unable to get the camera out to film. It is a right pain and the only thing I can do is to move the garmin to the handlebar which I don't want to do. I've not checked the quality of the footage yet with the new mount.

I've made the blog pages now and started to link the pages up, adding a few pics here and there. I've not managed to get much training in compared to the TA. There has been one trip to Whitestable and the Etape Caledonia, this weekend is the Tour of Wessex which is back to back rides, so will give my legs a bit of a reminder what it is like to do that kind of thing.

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4th May
I have to decide how to do the blog properly. I guess for each day I will have a separate page and folder with pics, more pics will be on FB?

Bought the train tickets down to Portsmouth, they have arrived in the post.

Got loads of tourist information from France, I emailed all the larger towns we pass through and the start stop towns too.

Pretty much everything is done now, got another 44 maps, double sided, to laminate though.

Training, not great, the weather has been foul but has picked up this week. Did a ride down to whitstable which was at least 5mins off the slowest previous time. Not sure if it was the headwind or just because not been out for any long rides, except for when we went to France at Easter. Scotland etape this weekend, so that will be a training ride rather than a race for me.

Got most of the money in from the guys, still wish we had 1 or 2 others in the full 3week group, just to make it that bit cheaper.

Got to sort out the van this month, most important. Ferry money comes out this month and the are a few more bookings I can make this month for accommodation.

Got to sort out the cash and credit card for France too or if we are just going to take cash.

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16th April
OK time for a quick update. So much has been done since the last entry, all the costs have been added up and the final amount is well below what I expected it to be, so I'm really pleased with that. It is still a shame there are not another 2-3 people on the trip to bring is down even more, but I guess that is the way it goes.

Training has not been going great due to the crap weather - again. Not been on the home turbo trainer at all which is so bad. For the TA I was on it 2-3 times a week. I have doubled up the session with my trainer though, so not all bad.

Video maps are all made, that was a pain to do. When I first stared them, they were over 30mins long, that was because I was adding in photos from google earth, and the information I added to the maps. It was just too long, so now they are 10-20 mins long, which, is still too long IMO. We will see if we sit through them in France and if they were worth doing, if we find them helpful or not.

Been buying lots of bits for myself and for the van such as camp chairs, first aid kit, a tent for myself and getting my go-pro ready again. Still a lot more to get, hope I can afford it all. Certainly more relaxed about the whole trip than the TA. Perhaps too much!

Worried about the other peoples training, but I guess that is up to them, if they can't make it up the mountains, I can't say I didn't give them plenty of notice. The paper maps, well, the printing was getting expensive, and to laminate them, which would have been great, would have ended up costing £1 per map, and as we each use a map a day, that will be around £100 on top of the printing. So, muggins is going to have to do it himself, the old fashioned way. Hey ho.

Sent out the invoices for the money today too.

It is not long to go either, 76 days, which is only 10weeks to go, and I think I only have 5 possible training weekends! now that is not good. The first week is pretty flat TBH, but there will be strong winds.

I have also been emailing France tourist info for brochures etc. Some have arrived already.

Think that will do for now

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29 February 2016
Well I guess I had better start writing a blog again.  I don't think I will bother posting it anywhere else, just on my site here.  Keeps it easier and I think/hope simpler to update each time. 

I guess a lot has happened since my last tour and blog, the epic TransAm.  This time I have gone for something easier, Coast to Coast France, so starting at The English Channel and finishing at The Mediterranean sea.  This time though,  I am planning the whole thing myself, phew!  Somehow I thought it would be easy, and at the beginning it was. 

The problems came when I had to get people to commit to coming and paying up, plus making the maps.  The maps have been a nightmare, but they are done and at the printers now.  Another issue I encountered was the accommodation.  Trying to speak to them by email or phone was hard work, some of the places we could not book early on, and some just kept us going around in circles.  Others though, were really easy and welcoming.  While another issue I found that it was hard to sometimes find a place to stay, be it a campground or hotel.  Some of the areas we are traveling through have little tourism, so I had a lot of issues with the route I wanted to go and where we could stop for the night.  Although I am still waiting for a few to get back to me and to formalise the booking nearer the time, I am confident we will have somewhere to stay each night.    It was also hard trying to choose where to stay, so had to do a lot of research with TripAdvisor and review sites so that we got a nice place.  Same as the campgrounds, I had to find somewhere with a pool, laundry and wifi available, a pitch where the large van can park and lots of electric outlets.

Booking the van, which is not finalised yet, has been hard and one of the expensive part of the trip too.  So, I am still not sure how much the van will cost!  Yikes.  Finding someone to drive the van too has been hard.  One guy who I was talking to on a cycle chat site, I thought was ok, but as it got closer to the date, I felt he was not right for this trip, so I told him where to go.  Luckily, and I pray too, Rogers friend Phil will step up to the mark!

123 days till we leave and nearly everything is done which can be at the moment.  Lots of things to buy both for myself and for the group such as cool boxes and bike stands for repairing/cleaning the bikes.  This will cost a bit of money and I am trying to get the best deals wherever possible.  The money side of things is hard & tricky I am finding.  I have taken deposits from everyone and am keeping all spending logged, be it accommodation, ferry crossings or printing costs.  Just worried that I will loose track of who has spent what for what.

Training?  Well I have not really ridden a bike since last August when I was run over.  I've done nothing on the home turbo trainer but have been doing the gym weekly.  The weather has not been that good and it is March tomorrow, I need to get out on the new bike and start putting the miles in.  I have booked off a chunk of Easter and was hoping to get away somewhere warm, but the prices all go up for Easter, so no joy.  Fingers crossed the weather is going to be ok, but the weathermen are saying it will be cold!  Plus it is early this year too.

So, I guess nothing new will be added to the blog for a while now as no nothing is going to be happening.  Fingers crossed there are some more sign ups to bring the costs down.  At least Mike UK is doing a week of the trip and Mike US has got his flights booked.  All systems go!