Archive for the ‘Gatwick’ Tag

Reminiscing on a First Tour   Leave a comment

It sure doesn’t feel  like very long ago but I’ve  just been realizing that it was 30 years ago this week (i.e the first week of May in 1982) that I set off on my first major cycle tour – a 4-week ride with 3 cycling buddies, primarily through the Loire Valley and Normandy. We flew in and out of Gatwick Airport south of London, so there was also a bit of time spent in southern England as well as a few days in Paris before heading to the Loire.

We flew out of the Edmonton International Airport on a Wardair charter flight – it was an evening departure, taking off at something like 10 PM. That flight was my very first time flying! What a way to start – on a long haul flight in a 747 (then the absolute creme de la creme of aircraft) Fortunately I enjoyed the flight (loved it actually, especially the acceleration at take-off!).  Wardair was also a real gem of an airline – first class service, including a decent in-flight meal served on real china with silverware. What I loved most about WardAir was how simple it was to transport a bike. I believe there was no extra charge for the bike (it just counted as one of the two pieces of allowable luggage and all of my panniers and other gear was stuffed into a big canvas dufflebag). We didn’t even have to worry about having the bike in a box or a bag! To prep the bikes for the flight, we took off the pedals, turned the handlebars sideways and let the air out of the tires – so simple!

Sunrise on flight to the UK

Another thing I remember so clearly from that flight was the descent into Gatwick. As we broke through the clouds and could see the English countryside I was struck at how green and lush the patchwork countryside was. When we had left Edmonton, the trees had not yet leafed-out and fields were still brown. All of a sudden it felt like cycling season!

Preparing our bikes in Gatwick Airport

We arrived in England mid-morning, went through customs and picked up our bikes and bags. After straightening out our handlebars, putting air in our tires, attaching out pedals and packing all of our gear onto the bikes we were ready to hit the road – a bit groggy and jet-lagged from the overnight flight, but definitely excited by the adventure head of us.

For more posts about this trip, start here.

Advertisements

Posted May 6, 2012 by Randy Talbot in Cycle Touring

Tagged with , , , , , ,

On the Road to France (Gatwick to Paris)   4 comments

It’s the first week of May and something in the air has got me reminiscing. I am thinking back to years ago when I set off to Europe on my first extended cycling tour – four weeks, mainly in France, from Paris, through the Loire Valley, up across Normandy and back to London where we flew in to and home from.

Frank, Chris and Chuck, near Gatwick

When we (me and three buddies from the EBTC)  left Edmonton, the landscape was in transition as is typical for this time of year. The grass had started to green-up but the trees had not yet leafed-out. Our flight took us to Gatwick, south of London and I remember as the plane landed, looking out at the luscious green landscape – lovely! The flight was an overnighter, we arrived in England in the morning and I think it was around mid-day when we had our bikes ready to hit the road and begin our adventure. The first day’s route took us from Gatwick, across the countryside of southeastern England to Dover, where we stayed overnight before catching the hovercraft to Calais in France the next day.

It was such a delight cycling through the quiet, lush English countryside. It was of course a challenge to to ride on the right side of the road (by which of course I mean the left side). Particularly difficult was navigating a roundabout – I remember it requiring considerable concentration not to just follow my instincts. On the first day we would see  castles and churches, countryside and lambs and even the famed white cliffs of Dover. The details of that first day are pretty fuzzy – blame it on jetlag and a number of years (the photos are fuzzy too – we’ll blame that on poor scans of old slides)

Adjusting the Load on an English Country Road

A Lamb Keeping an Eye on Canadian Cyclists

Riding on the Left

Stopping to Visit a Historical Site

English Town

Peaceful Countryside

White Cliffs of Dover

We spent our first night in a hostel in Dover. The next morning we made our way down to the Dover HoverPort for what I recall was a quick but rough ride (vibrations, not waves) across the Channel.

Hovercraft

On the other side I set foot in France for the first time – Calais. We explored the historic city a bit that afternoon

Bell Tower at Calais' Hotel de Ville

The next morning we loaded out bikes onto a train headed to Paris. I was so impressed with how easy it was to take bikes on the train

Arrival of SNCF Train in Calais to take us to Paris

We would spend a few days exploring the City of Light before heading out on the road for the real beginning of the cycling adventure. Stay tuned for further posts as I reminisce and retrace  our route.