Our taper plan, sans bikes, which Claire conspicuously failed to mention to Crankstar Coach Steve was to spend 5 days in Epernay, 4 days in Amsterdam and 5 days in Berlin before a quick flight down to the South of France to meet the tour group.
To avoid carrying the bikes during this time, we planned to leave our bikes in storage at Charles de Gaulle airport and collect them before flying south. Fortuitously it turned out cheaper and easier to simply ship them direct to the hotel for our arrival in two weeks! #winning
Our first 5 days were spent at the Villa Eugene Hotel on Avenue du Champagne in the former house of the Cattier Champagne family. We toured the caves of Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot, Cattier, Castellane and Georges Cartier treating ourselves to obligatory tastings along the way and spent our evenings in a variety of local restaurants tasting more champagnes with dinner.
We then headed north to Amsterdam for the next 4 days in search of windmills and canals only to find them littered with drunk (and or stoned) 16 year olds on their school holidays. Although we did our best to dip in to the Kulcha (read: culture) pool and enjoy this city: no number of architectural wonders, Van Gogh paintings, sculptures, museums, history tours or canal cruises (all of which were incredible I must say) could shake the feeling that we’d found the Surfers Paradise of Europe.
An early flight on EasyJet (who doesn’t love a 4am wake up call to watch people pretending their 25kg suitcases are legitimate hand luggage) and we were off to Berlin for the final 5 days of the taper.
Berlin is a genuine revelation amongst the European capitals that I’ve visited over the years. Sure, there was the Berlin Wall, Hitler and the Nazi occupation as well as the persecution of the Jewish people in its past to provide sufficient historical interest- but the city has been completed destroyed twice in its history (the most recent in 1945 where 80% of the buildings were destroyed) and as an Architect it was incredible to watch the city regenerating itself with such regard for its history.
With a couple of flights to make our way to Toulouse followed by a meet and greet with the other 36 people on our Alpes, Pyrenees and Paris tour, the taper was over and the rides could begin. The only thing that I didn’t think through was the likely effect that 3 or 4 bakery treats, plus wine or beer every day for two weeks would have on my ability to climb a Hors-Categorie climb in the 39-27.
Perhaps I should have thought to pack a compact crankset?
Cameron is the Club Captain of the Kangaroo Point Cycling Club and will be blogging his way around France with the support of Claire the Treasurer and Aaron the President of the Kangaroo Point Cycling Club.