In this their 3rd year of taking part in this festival of “Vintage” cycling, music and dressing up, Ralph Sperring and Paul Simpson managed to convince Paul Wilson and their Wives to join them. Having driven down on Thursday, Ralph in his splendid Citroen DS, the 3 couples looked forward to an extended weekend of the best France could offer, and some Cycling. They weren’t to be dissapointed.
Ralphs’ glorious Citroen DS.
Having checked in to the budget accomodation;
The Wheelers Team and assistants set about the first of many nights “Carb Loading” and the occaissional impromptu “Turbo Session” for the first of the planned rides for Paul S and Ralph, The “Authentic” on Saturday.
Shopping for accessories and looking out for the next possible addition to the Simpson and Sperring Cycle Collections.
Or just soaking up the sights and ambiance.
Saturday morning arrived and for Paul S and Ralph the “Authentic, route des Gravels” ride and Anjou’s fair attempt at a L’eroica type ride. It was a 130k mix of on road and gravel/sand tracks and with a few stiff climbs thrown in. The course was marked in the French way, arrows painted on the road, but this still didn’t prevent Paul and Ralph (and quite a few others) going off course. Hearing the calls of more music and food and sensing that Paul had ceased to enjoy the hills some way back Ralph graciously aggreed to cut the ride short and they returned to soak up more atmosphere (beer) at the Festival Village. 80k completed, but no one needed to know and no one seemed to care as we rode over the finish line in Saumur.
After a post event recovery drink another evening was spent in Saumur, some sporting the latest in Club Social KIt.
On Sunday Paul S and Ralph were joined by Paul Wilson for what was sold as a nice esay social ride stopping at plenty of refreshment stops and whilst it lived up to the Social prommiss it certainly wasn’t easy and had more hills than the previous day. Paul W and Ralph’s steeds were blessed with 14 gears apiece, Paul S on the other hand was on his 1939 Claud Butler unfortunately fitted with a 4-speed Sturmey Archer.
They looked the part and set off behind a rather splendid looking group of starters.
A wonderful ride through the wonderful Loire Valley ensued, picturesque villages and countryside, some testing climbs (more for some than others) interspersed with refreshment stops that were much more than just that. Well organised with food and drink a plenty and some with a bit of dancing thrown in.
What a way to spend a weekend, and after a little trip on the last day to a local cave to stock up on a few essentials the group headed back home to Blighty, not an uneventful trip for me (thanks for the rescue Ralph and hope to get the Jag back next week).
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