Sunday's social event, a club BBQ at Ian and Ellen Ann's place in Durham, was a great success in spite of the weather.
Initially just dull and overcast [that was the weather!], we got into party-games mode while the barbeques got fired up and the rain started. Children's party games soon had everyone laughing - well, just imagine Owen on a Space Hopper: he couldn't find the gearshift! And bending the rules on an industrial scale as we tried to pass a polo mint from person to person via a mouth-held straw. You might imagine triathletes to be quite good navigators so that a game allowing them to demonstrate their skills would be welcomed.... but put a blindfold on them and guide them by voice around a course: Left, more left, go straight, turn sharp right, no no, NO!
Owen and Neil were Masters of the Barbie, with Neil demonstrating remarkable skills rotating his stock of burgers, sausages, chicken bits and spare ribs but clearly unhappy with the conditions - sou'westers are banned in Australian events!
We thought the water slide was going to be completely redundant as the rain fell steadily, but suddenly in the gloaming there were pink children screaming down the blue plastic sheet, Fairy Liquid was being squeezed on to boost speed [triathletes - always looking for the edge!] while the adults clustered in the heat under the shelters munching their way through half a ton of food.
Indoors, Stephen demonstrated his hidden skills in Bellydancing before he was moved quietly aside by some serious movers and shakers. There was beer, chat, quiet places, a DVD, warmth, food and good cheer; there were retellings of great achievements, close misses, and excuses; and revelations of plans for the coming seasons.
And as in a triathlon, once we got going we hardly noticed the weather! Sorry if you couldn't make it, it was great!
Leanna....sur Le Tour!!
Remember Leanna who trained with us for two years while she was working at Durham University? Well she is now working in Virginia , recently married Scotland, and honeymooned in France, following Le Tour.
Here is an extract from an email sent to Allan plus two photographs (Scotland is the one with longish hair).
"Scotland and I went on a bike tour that followed the Tour de France for the first 7 stages. The three men in the picture were our primary tour guides. The man on the left is 67 and named Colin Lewis. Collin is from the UK and raced in the tour when it was 27 stages (now, it is 21 stages), the longest stage was about 300k (now, the longest stage is about 200k), and water was limited because they didn't thoroughly grasp issues with hydration: now, the racers have team cars to supply water and food. Needless to say, Colin is *tough*.
Cycle Camping in Holland
HOLLAND 2009-A great venue for family cycling and triathlete training side by side.
Just back from a couple of weeks cycle camping - on our recumbent bikes – in Holland,
sun bronzed despite some indifferent weather [yes, it rained!]. This was proper touring – slow! But of course that lets you see more of the country; and because we mainly used one of the LF Routes -rather like the Sustrans routes in the UK – we travelled through areas that we would simply never have found by ourselves. The thought struck me at times that many Dutch people also had never discovered the largely-hidden areas we rode through. And the other thought that struck me, was what a brilliant place for family-tied triathletes to go on holiday and keep up with training. From a family point of view, there are loads of campsites, usually good children's facilities, canals, forest paths and places for teddy bear picnicing, beaches at both sea- and river-side, and the usual 'tourist attractions' especially in the old towns deep in the country side. For the athlete champing at the bit to maintain their training level during the holiday there is sea, river and pool swimming, all those forest tracks for running, and unbelievable miles of cycle path just waiting for you...
Our route ran from the ferry port at Ijmuiden [near Amsterdam] to Utrecht where we stayed with friends, then up to Dronten where there's a ligfiets winkel [recumbent cycle shop] so that EA's bike could get properly serviced and Ian could drool over some racing recumbents: he gets fed up sometimes pushing his 25kg bike around, and now you can get recumbents below 10kg..... This is a “new” polder – reclaimed from the sea from about 1975. Teeming with birdlife. After that we looped around through Zwolle, south to Enschede, west to Arnhem, Utrecht, and The Hague before jumping on a train back to Ijmuiden. Total distance was around 600km over 10 days riding, but the inclination to stop for photos – who shouted 'coffee'! - was irresistible. There was so much wild life: rabbits and mad March hares, goats, strange Texel sheep, llamas, along with horses, cows and pigs; the range of birds encountered was enormous ... swans, ducks and geese of course, but also storks, herons, harriers, kites, terns, warblers, spoonbills, curlews, woodpeckers, greater crested grebes.... and because we were on little bike paths it was easy to stop and enjoy. In Europe, Holland is second only to Germany in the size of its wetlands. Then of course there's the river traffic: boats and barges of all dimensions. And the little ferries that operate [60cents for bike and passenger usually] at small river crossings. We even found a small canal with a tiny tiny unmanned ferry that you had to hand crank across!
The signage is good on the LF routes once you get the hang of spotting the LF signs but buy a large map too because the LF maps are not 100% accurate if you stray off the route.
Most of our time was spent on forest paths and small tarmacked or cobbled 'fietspads'; not recommended for racing wheels! But for faster riders wanting to cover some real mileage, the cyclepaths alongside the roads are great: well surfaced and well signposted. Usually they are completely separated from the road carriageway so that you feel quite safe from heavy traffic; where they form part of the roadway they are wider than a comparable UK cyclepath would be. They mostly have excellent tarmac - and Dutch motor traffic has a completely different attitude to cyclists, so you'll find yourself being given space. This is because Dutch motoring law favours the cyclist: the motorist in an 'incident', - rather than the cyclist - is always assumed to be at fault in the event of a collision. It's almost unnerving to arrive at a roundabout, stop where the cyclepath crosses the roadway and find a 30 tonne truck grinding to a halt with the driver waving you through!
You can see some more photos on MediaFire at this link
You can find swimming pools in the Netherlands at this link:
You can find info on routes at these links: