September 2023 catchup

We left 2022 with me writing off my car. It took a few months to sort out the insurance to the point where I could replace it with one similar but by March I was back on the road.

Riding in the early months is a lot less frequent but we still managed the odd ride out on the Pino and when Karon’s car needed a service, I dropped it off in Newbury and used my Brompton to get back home.

An early ride in the year as we leave Chineham. Karon checks her blood sugar levels after a ride into Basingstoke.
My Brompton and the River Kennet.
I also helped out at a couple of Trailbreak events, pre riding and checking much of the course. this one was out of Woodcote, near Reading and I’m about to drop into the Thames Valley.

Early in March we went to spend a few days in Tenby, taking the Pino so, weather permitting, we could ride.

Tenby. So much nicer out of season without the crowds.
At the start of the Phil Hampton Memorial ride – Karon is well wrapped up against the elements.
Helping out at another Trailbreak event. This was on the Ridgeway.

At Easter we drove up to Rutland for the Tandem Club Easter Rally and AGM there. The weather was ok for most of the weekend and we got a few rides in, staying in a lovely pub in Exton.

Boutique room with a bath. No I didn’t sleep in it, we just off loaded the excess bedding into it.
The Fox and Hounds in Exton.
April and the weather is improving (getting warmer). Out with the Tandem Club in Oxfordshire.

At the end of April we headed for London with the Pino and checked in to a Premier Inn in the Docklands area. Next day we set off early on the bike to attend the Tweed Run. It’s an expensive ‘Day’ out with tickets now £50 and a couple of nights in a hotel, but we think it’s worth it.

Tweedsters getting ready for the Tweed Run.
Tea Stop in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The group nearest came from Germany… just for the Tweed Run.
Tweedy picnic at St.Pancras Gardens.
Me and the Pino dressed up for the Tweed Run.

In May we headed for Germany, near Bielefeld for TandemTreffen ’23 which takes place over a long weekend. We all stayed in the same hotel and ate together at breakfast and in the evenings after which there were presentations and socialising. It’s a very enjoyable weekend.

All the Pinos that took part in TT23 together in Bielefeld.
Socialising after dinner in the Hotel at TT23.

After TandemTreffen finished, there was only a week before the International Tandem Rally (ITR) in Scaër, Brittany so we drove there, stopping for two nights each at Eijsden on the Dutch/Belgique border, Amiens and Mont St. Michel.

The River Muese at Eijsden. This side is The Netherlands, the other, Belgium. We spent our ‘spare’ day taking a morning ferry – the little boat on the right – across to Belgium then we cycled in to Maastricht, coming back down the Dutch side.
The Cathedral at Amiens. We stayed in a lovely B&B in the wetlands formed by the river Somme to the east of the city. Rode the Pino in, first visiting the Jules Verne house then the Cathedral. We left it too late to find lunch and needed up at a KFC of all places – never again.
Mont St. Michel. Our hotel was about 11 miles away, along the coast to the east, near Pontaubault but there was a great cycle route right to the visitor’s centre where we left the bike and took one of the free shuttle buses. We had tickets for the Abbey too. It was very crowded which detracted somewhat. Great views over the bay from the top and we even managed a drink in one of the busy bar/restaurants off the main street (staircase).
Home for the next week at the ITR.
The first two days in Scaër were carnival, so we walked the town and took in all the sights and sounds.
Passing through the town was a Velo Verde, which we made good use of. Away from this the terrain was tougher with dumpy hills to the south and big long ridges to the north.
On the rest day we drove with friends to Concarneau on the coast, only about 40 minutes away. We wandered the old walled harbour area and had a nice lunch there.
Chapelle Sainte-Barbe du Faouët – the pre-planned rides took us in all directions out from Scaër and we could always find a café or bar for a break, though we also carried picnic lunches so we could stop where we chose.
Karon among some of the other participants at ITR 23. The week finished with a group evening meal in a nearby village.

At the end of the ITR we had five days before our return ferry, so we drove to the North Brittany Coast – the pink granite coast – and spent a couple of days exploring along the coast on the Pino. This was so much better than relying on the car, as many of the little coastline lanes were one-way and car parks were limited or charged, but with the bike we could go wherever we wanted.

Inland from Guirac Peros on the pink granite coast, our first destination was this prehistoric barrow.
Back at the coast. The coastline was rugged with rocky headlands and some lovely flat beaches.
Where we turned back on the bike the first day, we drove to on the second, parked up in a free car park a little inland from the beaches then continued our cycle ride west along the coast. Here the granite blocks were bigger and more commonplace.
The second day started off a bit overcast and gloomy but it brightened up in the afternoon.

After a few days at Peros Guirac we headed for the town of Granville on the Cherbourg Peninsular. Our Hotel was right next to the beach but with no car park as such, we dropped off our bags then I parked up in a free area by the old port/harbour – a 10 minute walk away.

Room with a sea-view. The beach at Granville. We decided to leave the bike in the car and wander the town on our free day. Even though it was early in the season, there were enough places open for us to enjoy a drink and food. There was a restaurant under the hotel but breakfast was extortionate and they were supposedly fully booked for the evenings. It was our gain, as we found a lovely little place doing authentic French dishes at a very reasonable price. Down by the port there were a few seafood restaurants open too, serving huge bowls of mussels and fresh fish dishes.

After a couple of nights in Granville we took a midday ferry back to Portsmouth. The next few days were spent sorting out all our washing etc. from being away for almost a month.

On my birthday, in June, I helped out with one of Trailbreak’s organised rides, manning the car park then going out to help at one of the water/food stops. The Start/Finish was at the Ramsdell Brewery, and the shop was open, so I came home with a half-dozen beers.
The day after my birthday I was in Burton-on-Trent for the wake of my ex Troop Sergeant Major during my time in the Artillery in Lippstadt, Germany. He had been living in Spain but there were so many old colleagues and family back here and this gave us the opportunity to say our goodbye, meet his family and talk about those times.
Karon and me taking part in a New Forest 10-mile Time Trial and fund-raiser. Of course, we wouldn’t normally do such a thing, as we are far from fit or fast! At least we didn’t have the slowest time…just!
Mexican themed get-together at ours. An afternoon spent enjoying each other’s company and mostly eating Doritos.
In early August we rode to Stratford-upon-Avon for the National Tandem Rally (NTR). On the way there and back we stayed in B&Bs but camped for the week once there. Weather was mixed with torrential rain on a couple of days and glorious sunshine on others.
Out with friends on the NTR near Stratford-upon-Avon.
Camp Bending at the NTR on one of the better days.
On our way home from the NTR we passed through Blewbury, stopping for coffee and cake in the farm shop there, then crossed the Downs through the Churn estates.
Making use of the September ‘Indian Summer’, riding the Test Valley Way to Mottisfont House National Trust then returning up the other side of the river.
The Test Valley.
We led the September ride of the Tandem Club’s Thameswey Group. We started at the Control Tower on Greenham Common.

That brings us up-to-date for the year so far.