On Friday the Four Mikes crossed from Austria into Italy over Brenner Pass (4,495 ft), on their way to Borgo Valusugano (53 miles). The scenery continued to be beautiful and the weather thankfully dry. As the Mikes are coping well with the long miles, weather conditions, steep climbs and bike repairs, it was clearly time for an additional challenge, and fortunately, Italian motorists are there to oblige. Embracing Mario Andretti’s advice that “if everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough”, the local drivers are ensuring the Mikes keep their wits about them. Although Mike Burton says its is still a calmer experience than cycling the A412.
Readers may recall from an earlier post that Mick Claridge reported seeing an unearthly figure on one of his training rides. It seems that individual – we’ll call him Grims – has taken a shine to our Mick, or to Mick’s cycle. (It is hard to tell which.) During a recent rain-filled climb on the mountain, Mick once again spotted his new friend. This time Grims was close behind him – evidently even a Reaper needs to conserve energy by drafting once in a while. Mick told the LASR:
“I knew he was behind me, I was too scared to look around so I pretended it was Fr Mike! But it was him – it was the Reaper! I could hear his bony feet hitting the pedals. Doesn’t that guy wear shoes I thought?”
Once they crested the hill, Mick lost his companion on the descent. It appears that Reapers, like most sensible cyclists, are not that keen on speeds greater than 40mph. Good to know.
Wednesday brought an end to the perpetual rain of the past few days, and not a minute too soon, as the Four Mikes on Bikes Tour left Germany today for a 51-mile ride to Steinach-am-Brenner in Austria. Mike Burton gave the LASR an update on the day:
Today we saw something that had been severely lacking so far – SUNSHINE !!!
After a slightly cold drizzly start from Garmisch Partenkirken we were soon climbing the 1300 metres up the mountain towards Seefeld. The drizzle was a blessing as the climb was hot work, and it was nice to put away the heavy “waterproof” coats from the last few days.
The suffering of the last few days, out in the cold with no respite and no alternative, made me think about the homeless people we are helping, who have to deal with that sort of thing every day.
As we headed down towards Innsbruck we were now on the South facing side of the mountains, in sunlight rather than shade, hence a luxurious 19C temperature.
The sun meant nice dry roads, so no more tip-toe-ing around slippery corners, we could finally let the bikes loose and make up for the slow 2-3 hour grind up the hill by travelling down at 8-10 times that speed. Top prize goes to Mick at over 52 mph – I could only manage 48.6! Of course we keep brakes and tyres in good order so that such treats are quite safe.
Normally, the Editor rejects all photos that don’t include a member of the Tour, but she is bending this rule for today’s post.
The title above should have included Sundays and Tuesdays, as the Four Mikes on Bikes have been battling some wet and wild weather the past few days. Having reached Donaueschingen Germany (82 mi) on Sunday, they rode 110 miles to Kempten on Monday, and a further 60 miles to Garmisch-Partenkirchen today. All in the rain. Mike Burton reported Monday’s ride as “the hardest day of our lives.” (We have no reports on Tuesday yet, so that statement may no longer hold!) We will let the pictures speak for themselves….
Starting the day’s ride
Last week this was a creek…..
Are we there yet?
Happy (and dry!) in Garmisch-Partenkirchen Germany
As the Four Musketeers continue their cycling adventure on behalf of the London and Slough Run, we ask readers to spare a thought for an unheralded member of the troupe: Lydia, the LASR van. When told she was going on a trip to southern Europe, Lydia envisioned whirling down La Grande Corniche into Monte Carlo, or sauntering down Amalfi Drive in Campania. Her spirits were somewhat dampened by the 500-mile motorway drive on Saturday and the subsequent rainy days in Germany. But hope springs eternal…… and Malcolm has promised an adventure (or two) for her. The LASR looks forward to stories – and real pictures – of their journey.
Malcolm sent this nice photo of the Four Mikes before they set off for Donaueschingen Germany (82 miles) this morning. This is the first time the Editor has been able to lay hands on a group photo of the foursome for this trip – they have been rarer than hen’s teeth – and the LASR hopes to receive more pictures over the coming weeks.
(P.S. The resemblance to Dumas’ Four Musketeers is clear – the Editor hopes they do not meet anyone named Milady or Richelieu on their travels).
Having done the fair thing and given the Two Mikes a decent head start, the rest of the Four Mikes on Bikes team (Mike Burton, Fr Michael Spain, Malcolm Johnstone and Denese Kennedy-Diggins) set off this morning in the plucky LASR van to catch them up.
They were all smiling at departure, which is always the best way to start a long car journey.
The team reached Rheinmunster Germany in good time for an evening reunion with the Two Mikes and celebrated in traditional German fashion!
The LASR was delighted to receive photos today from the Two Mikes, which arrived courtesy of their preferred postal method (see image to right). Apparently they would have been here sooner had the courier not been blown off course somewhere around Lowestoft – the Editor apologises for the inconvenience. With no further ado, a pictorial diary of their trip to date:
Day 1: Leaving Northolt, packed like Santa’s helpers
Day 1: Being Good Samaritans at Park Royal on the A40!
Day 1: Passing the Britain Fission Attrition Commission
Day 1: Checking out one of LASR food delivery sites in London
Day 2: Just off the ferry in Rotterdam
Day 2: Remember the gambolling? Not completely wrong!
After yesterday’s single transmission We have arrived in Koblenz (in Morse code), the LASR was delighted to receive a lengthy message from the Two Mikes that confirmed their journey was indeed GX to Harwich Ferry to Rotterdam to Venlo to Koblenz. Those rumours of a detour to John O’Groats were simply untrue. The stalwart pair described teeth rattling roads and swarms of fleas along the Nieuwe Maas river, and claimed to have ignored the siren call of country pubs en route.
Mick C said the Day 3 ride from Venlo to Koblenz was the BEST ride he’d ever done in his life, cycling along the Rhine on the longest bike path on the planet. The Editor is looking this one up – another holiday planned!) With a strong tailwind the duo made very good time, and filmed the scenery (briefly) while riding at 25+ mph. (Warning: Readers should not try this at home.) Over the three days they have ridden 341 miles and climbed over 7000 feet – equivalent to climbing Snowdonia twice!