It's 25 days until I fly out to Europe. Since I have 2 bikes, I'm going on a round the world ticket which gives me 2 x 24kg of luggage instead of just 20kgs. The down side of this is that one leg of my journey is horrendous, and this year its to be the first leg when I go from Melbourne to London via Auckland and LA. Normally I 've done this leg on the way home..but not this time. Luckily I have 4/52 to get over it.
I will arrive at Heathrow in a jet lagged and bedraggled state midday on Saturday July 26th where I'll be met by my niece and whisked away to rural Wiltshire for a week. Then I go to stay (trapped!) with my coach for 7 days of training and racing before returning to rural Wiltshire for a final 2 weeks of house/ dog sitting while my niece and her family are in France.
The area where they live is close to:
**Lambourn, which readers of Dick Francis novels will recognise as a horse racing centre,
**and the White horses of the chalk downs
to mention just a few things that I will visit while out training. There are some pretty vicious escarpments there too...
On August 22nd I move to a hotel in Heathrow since my flight to Munich leaves at the ungodly hour of 0700 the next day and since its an international flight and I have to be there 3 hrs ahead of take off. Once in Munich I have a bus trip (already booked door to door to my house in St Johann in Tyrol, Austria) that will land me in amongst a whole town/region of racers all there for the World Masters Road Championships. This will be my 6th visit. Normally I spend the week prior to the championships at Deutschlandsberg in the Steiermark region in the southern part of Austria where there is a series of masters races, but my recovery just ain't as good as it used to be and so very reluctantly I've had to cross it off my list .....
St Johann is very near Kitzbuehl a famous downhill skiing area but St Johann is more of a Nordic skiing centre rather than downhill. As is obvious from the photo above, it stands at the confluence of 2 rivers and is at risk of being flooded if the weather is at all wet as it has been for 2 of my trips there.
I stay in a holiday house very close to the race parcours and within very easy reach of a supermarket, registration the start/finish of the road races and the centre of the town. It has 4 double rooms and is self catering. The hosts live in another house on the same block and are extremely nice people. I've been booking the house for either myself or people I know for the past 5 years so its just like going home. This year my sister and I, Lorraine from Perth and Anke from Holland are sharing it..other times we've had my niece and her family, a family from Sydney and a couple of times just one other person..but no matter how many there are it's always a bargain.
While I'm playing on Austrian roads, Alex is representing Australia in the World MTB Orienteering Championships, being held this year in Poland. Its a real shame they're both held during the same week..but nothing we can do about it. At least his phone calls wont be in the middle of the night!
After the races in St Johann, my sister returns to London and Alex and I meet up in Belgium for a week. After a stay overnight in the Brussels Airport Sheraton Hotel (wildly expensive but since it is only 29 paces from the arrival hall it's an attractive proposition for someone with as much luggage as I have!) we move to Geraardsberg (Grammont) to a house called 't Vijverhof. No doubt I'll find out what it means in due course. It looks very restful and although we will certainly be needing a rest, its not planned that way 'cos we're going to ride a few of the cobbled Hellingens of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. The Kapelmuur is our closest. I will be hiring an MTB rather than risk my own racing machine...'sides which I need the granny gear that an MTB has..somehow I don't envisage a successful climb on my 39/25 combo. We will also venture into France and visit Roubaix and the Forest of Arenberg.
Apart from the cycling, we will visit the WW1 trenches and Waterloo. A VERY busy 6 days after which Alex will go and visit the rels in UK and I will fly back home, allowing myself a week to recover before returning to work.