In complete contrast to the epic achievements of Rye Wheelers last weekend in The Velothon Wales two members of the Clubs Committee were taking part in a weekend more suited to their style of riding. In a return to the scenic Loire Valley in France Ralph Sperring (Treasurer) and Paul Simpson (Secretary) were taking part in The Anjou Velo Vintage.
An annual event centred on the beautiful city of Saumur it is a weekend of music, dining, old bicycles, period clothing, classic bike and part sales, oh and a bit of cycling. Having taken a detour through Holland to visit a Classic Bike dealer (and an impulse bike purchase by Paul, like he needed another one) and an overnight stay in the Cathedral City of Rouen to take in some of the sights Ralph and Paul arrived in Saumur on Friday night to check into their budget Hotel, find somewhere to eat and prepare for the start of the event and registration on Saturday morning.
War damage to the walls of The Palais de Justice.
The accommodation, The Hotel Dandy Rouen.
Impulse buy, mid 80’s Giubilato.
The Budget Hotel, not. 4 star luxury. The Anne d’Anjou, Saumur.
In the shadow of The Chateau.
The Loire River, Saumur.
On Saturday morning after a Full English “French Style” a short walk into town to register for their chosen ride the Ferdinand La Rustine, a 90K fairly flat course, Ralph and Paul hit the stalls to shop for bike parts, clothing and any other trinkets that attracted their attention. In Ralphs case a very nice old Manufrance Hirondelle Randonuer, Paul was content with finding a few period parts for his current bike collection and a new Jersey for his event collection.
The Event Village.
Classic old Car Show in Event Village.
Ralphs new baby, Manufrance Hirodelle.
An afternoon ride to test the bikes was followed by an evening soaking up the atmosphere in the Event Village listening to music of the period and carb loading for the ride the following day.
Classic Italian Steel.
After an early breakfast Ralph and Paul took their position on the 2nd grid of the start line behind a specially selected gang of suitably dressed and mounted riders.
Obviously feeling out of it, Ralph took a Ralphie (selfie).
After a tense wait worrying that they would fumble getting their feet in the pedal cages and be swamped by the near 100 riders behind , the starter dropped the flag and they were off. Escorted by Gendarmes in vintage apparel and car until safely out of the Town.
Settling down in an easy pace with two new friends from the Wirral called Dave and errr.. Dave’s mate, Ralph and Paul looked forward to the rest stops ( last year these consisted of stops at Vineyards and picnic sites). Alas it was all going too easily and an ominous grumbling from Ralphs bottom bracket heralded the return of last years early retirement. The chain set bottom bearing cup was unscrewing itself and their ride disintegrated with Paul and Ralph falling further back as Paul tried to keep Ralph going by trying to screw his bearing cup back in with his fingers every 2-3 miles. The pair decided to break off at the next opportunity and take the shortest route to the finish and console themselves with a few beers and another visit to the bike jumble.
On this shorter route they happened upon a local bike shop that was open, on a Sunday!! There were a lot of other rides on that day so they assumed it had opened especially. After waiting for a slot in the busy mechanics schedule Ralphs problem was sorted and after a brief discussion as to whether they should retrace their steps to longer route or continue to the beers on the shorter route, the beers won.
After a few more rest stops, a walk through the storage caves of a vineyard and a chance encounter with a lady called Sally from the “Cambridge Raincoat Company” (who needed her saddle raising, and Paul was the man for the job) the pair made their triumphant return to Saumur. The English Gent and Mr Grumpy.
This event is like no other, and the duo will return next year with the bikes they bought this year and no doubt come home with two more. Many happy memories, new friends formed and no disappointment at not finishing their chosen route.
Rex, new friend.
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