Thursday, September 27, 2012

First 5 Days of Riding Into the Pyrenees

Hello Folks!

We have been having a good time riding with our group.  We haven't been writing as often, being a little busy leading the bike tour.  I was very lucky to get a great group of folks, it makes it a lot easier when everyone is still pretty cheerful even after a rainy day.  Our ride started out pretty flat and has getting hilly as we approached the Pyrenees Mountains.
At a Castle Ruin at Lagarde
We had pretty high winds on our first day of riding, and some rain yesterday, but other than that, it has been pretty good.  We have seen some beautiful castles and cathedrals, visited interesting towns, and had some pretty nice places to stay.

View from the Castle at Foix

Saint Vincent's Cathedral in Foix

Our Room in St-Girons
We are in the Pyrenees now.  Today we road our bikes over one of the 'Cols' (mountain pass) from the town where we are staying into Spain.  It was a nice cool day, so it was perfect for an uphill ride, although we did put on our jackets for the ride back down.

There goes Linda

At the top and in Spain

Back down to the village where we are staying
You can see where we are scheduled to be, and have been on the itinerary page that I made for the trip at this link on the tour web site.

More Photos at this Picasa Link

We hope you are all doing well,

Stephen and Linda

Friday, September 21, 2012

A short Warmup Ride

On Friday, we had a little extra time and sunny weather, so we went for a short ride down the Canal du Midi for a little warm up ride.  Happily, everything on the bikes worked just fun, and once we got out of town the foot traffic on the bike trail dropped down to an occasional pedestrian.

The Canal

Linda, Jerry, Susan, and Frank

House Boats

We rode for about 20 miles with the only thing slowing us down being the wind.  On our way back we had the wind at our backs so we made it back to the hotel with pretty good speed.

In the evening, Linda and I went to have dinner with our friends Gilbert and Odile at Gilbert's home on the outskirts of Toulouse.  It was a wonderful dinner and it was great to unwind for an evening.  This morning we are going to start out with a walking tour of the Old City portion of Toulouse.  It is kind of overcast, I hope it doesn't rain .....

More Photos at Picasa

Stephen and Linda  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Second Day of our Trip

Our first real day in Toulouse has been a fairly lazy day, recovering from the Jet Lag.  We met one of the ladies from our trip and did a short walk around the old part of Toulouse.  We had a chance to see a protest march and walk around the city.  It was nice seeing the pretty and interesting architecture and the Toulouse Cows.

Toulouse Cow

We also met several of the folks for my bike tour today, nine folks showed up today.  We walked to supper with a couple of them.  After supper we took a nigh time stroll around the town.  The city is pretty well lit up often with colored lights setting off the architecture. 

Pont Neuf at night

We are off to bed trying to shake off the last of the jet lag.

There are a few more pictures at this Picasa Link.

Hope you are all doing well.

Stephen and Linda

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Our trip Across the Ocean

Hi Folks!
We made it to Toulouse!
From LA:
Our trip from the house to the airport began as you might guess with a few surprises. We had called ahead for a van, and even his notes indicated that we would have a bike box and that we needed a van, but instead the driver showed up with a car. It could have been worse, it could have been a smart car. We were happy to find out that a bike box actually can fit in the trunk of some cars. The ride was tight, because the suitcases had to ride with us in the passenger compartment, but we made it just fine.
Heading down the freeway was kind of a deja-vu experience, the driver was just like Linda, hit the gas, swerve right, swerve left, hit the brakes and repeat for an hour. Linda hated his driving.
The check-in process went so smooth and fast that we had plenty of time to spare. They took our bags so fast it reminded me of air travel 15 years ago. Dare we hope the rest of the flight will go this well? We will soon see.
From London:
The trip over was one of the best I can remember for years.  Everything at the seat, like the audio, video, and reading light worked.  The staff was nice, the meals were good too.  We landed basically on time, so all in all it was a really nice flight.  We made our connection to our next British flight with as much efficiency as you can get at Heathrow.  The Heathrow Airport is absolutely beautiful, it has a modern look, there is a lot of light and glass, is is spotlessly clean, but the people who figured out crowd control must have been in an asylum.  To transfer from one flight to another, we took a train ride, took a bus ride, went through security again, had some people look at our paperwork again.  They have lines to wait in the next line.  After we got onto the plane it all went smooth again.
We arrived about on time.  Our luggage made it as well.  Our friends Gilbert and Odile met us at the airport, and we are now in our hotel.

The temperature outside is perfect and the room is real nice.  We are pretty tired and hope to sleep well tonight.
Good night for now.
Stephen and Linda

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Heading off to France

Hello Everyone!

Linda and I are all packed and heading off on another vacation. This time it will be a little more work since I am actually leading (for the first time) the bicycling trip portion of the ride. Hopefully everything is pretty well taken care of at this point and it will go smoothly.  Luckily my Co-Director who lives in France is one of the most experienced people in our club for this sort of thing, so I am not going as far out on a limb as it seems.

We actually head out to for the airport in about an hour and 15 minutes. After a pretty long flight, we will land in Toulouse and meet up with my good friend Gilbert. I just hope that I don't make him too crazy working with me for the next couple of weeks on this trip. Right now the weather for the beginning part of the trip looks good, but the forecast has been changing pretty fast. There must be a storm influencing things.

I will try to update the blog as much as I can, I may not have as much time on this trip, so the blog may be a little more sparse this time.

We hope you all are doing well.