PARIS OR BUST ?

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The Tour de France is in full swing and provides me with very entertaining viewing for 21 days through the month of July. I love to listen to Paul and Phil taking us through the French countryside with all the stories of Chateaus, Monasteries and  beautiful old Churches as we ride with the peloton beside famous French rivers and through wine growing regions.

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The famous duo

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During my motorcycling heyday I always loved the “big” events and of course as a trials rider the Scottish Six Days was my No1 event every year, and back in the 70’s we rode about 1200 miles in those 6 arduous days.

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1970 into the unknown!

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1974, my fourth ride

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It was tough as always

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Bottom of Ben Nevis

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1976 on Edramucky

The Tour is 3540 kms this year which converts to 2199.654 miles on its equally arduous journey from Dusseldorf to Paris and as I pedal my way towards my objective of 3000 for  the year the question is will I knock up the 2200 miles before the peloton arrives on the Champs Elysees.

Today I surpassed my last year’s total of 2031 having ridden 155.40 miles in the last week…… not bad for the near 71 year old up here at 7000′.

Monday 17th July, a rest day for Le Tour, and they certainly need it, whereas I’m at 2106.60 on my quest to get to Paris before they do. 93.41 to pass the finish line so time to get out there and knock off a few more before the afternoon thunderstorms arrive.

Road work signs everywhere as I try to leave Dolores and then the “Flag Man” single lane and the follow me car! Hard work trying to keep up with the pilot car and a lot of wet tar on the tires which are picking up stones and gravel. Two stops to clean tires but hit another 25.08 in pleasant conditions. However, need to ride somewhere else until they finish resurfacing this 2 mile stretch.

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The plan for Tuesday will be to try and get up the hill out of Dolores for the first time and this will no doubt force me onto the 39 tooth ring! Well, steeper than I thought!!! 3 stops and down to the next to lowest gear, but I finally made it without a heart attack. No K.O.M. shirt for me in the near future.

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The top of Dolores Hill

While doing some Tour de France research I noticed that in the early years when the roads over the mountains were little more than cart tracks riders carried their own tires and tubes, much like the two tubes I carted round Scotland on my 8 rides.

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Of course in the post war era just about everybody was a “smoker” and many riders were often seen smoking while riding and stopping for a drink or two. Sounds more like my sort of event!!

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In my experience people who drink and smoke don’t have much need for drugs and doping.

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Can’t see Chris Froome doing this for me but a lovely idea

Wednesday and after yesterday’s mini mountain climb I’ll be back to my standard ride down the valley towards Telluride. Only a smidge under 50 miles to go to Paris! After watching the grueling ride up and down the Alps I’m feeling quite tired just taking in other’s efforts!  I’m late out of the start and forced to cut things short after 21.23 miles but I’m just outside Paris at 2171.51 although storms are now part of the daily forecast.

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Serious hail and then heavy rain

Thursday and another gripping run through the Alps but then it gets pretty black and the thunderstorms arrive for a NO RIDING day. The rain carries on all night and Friday’s forecast is not any better and is currently cool and cloudy.

Never mind off I go, I’m not going to be defeated when I’m this close and 25.71 goes in the book which leaves me at 2197.22, or 2.78 miles from Sunday’s finish line! ……………………… Well the afternoon thunderstorm has arrived although today its just light rain after the cracks and booms of the early afternoon. I also need to get up to the light on the sign and fit the new tubes I bought at lunchtime. It does look a bit clearer out to the west so maybe one beer and all will be well?

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Artwork complete and now the lights are on

Brenda has been up the scaffolding and painted the name and redone the hummingbird to great effect. Finally it stops raining and starts drying up so I can get those new tubes in the sign lights, all done and ready for dog walking and a short ride to the Brewery for beer and pizza. Another 4.45miles clicks over so I’ve made Paris before the Peloton.

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That’s me in the blue shorts on the far left

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Done it!

TONY DOWN

BACK TO THE GARDEN

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The peace and tranquility of a Groundhog Sunset

After our short, and much needed  break to Groundhog, it was back to the garden and finish up all those projects.

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Where we left it

When we left we had just started the irrigation trenching for the front bow beds around Scuffy and the side rose beds. Those are now priority 1 for completion.

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Driveway and the stretch to the Maple done!

Second project is the main Cozy Comfort sign which had developed a very nasty “lean”. Many contractors had been approached to get this sorted but none had come through with any realistic bids. Cliffie our painter from last year had the job done in 3 days.

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The Leaning Sign of Dolores

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Looks like a job for Cliffie

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Come-a-long pulls it back to “Plumb”

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New concrete and collars

Now the sign is back upright the painting of same needs to be done and Brenda has this in hand with new lower signs and then painting of the upper half. I will be replacing the neon lights when she is complete on the paintwork.

Weather wise still up close to 90F and just coming into the start of Monsoon Season which is a variable feast with afternoon thunder storms and dark skies. Sometimes the storms move on and don’t dump until they get up the valley and have Rico in their sights.

Sadly for everyone our local bar across the road continues to be an unmitigated disaster. The layout is awful, it lacks any sort of theme, and the service is virtually non existent. They say the are starting pool competitions on Thursday evenings but have two tables crammed in a tiny room and NO LIGHTS over either table!! They even plan on charging a $15 entry compared to $6 everywhere else, why, oh why, don’t these people ask???

Therefore we don’t go there and continue our pool at the Montezuma where I’m still top of the leader board with a win last week and second this week. In other pool stories………….

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“Hey guys, can I get a shower around here?”

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“Damnation, that’s good!”

Cycling is now back on the menu for morning riding before the afternoon winds and rain arrive. 25 miles a day is now my target number and currently I’m at 1927.71 which is a bit behind my planned numbers on the 2017 quest for 3000.

Before I can knock those numbers up I MUST finish this irrigation job and after review I have some more serious maintenance weeding to do.

After much watering the grass is greener but the weeds are enjoying it too! The Cone Flower bed gets done and I finally manage to plant a catch crop of radish and little gem lettuce.

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Cone bed ready

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Little Gem and French Breakfast are in !

With all my current weeding tasks done back to hiding the irrigation pipes and freshen up the Scuffy beds with some nice rich topsoil.

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Pipes and tube everywhere and now the “hiding” begins

More trenching and under the steps and onward through the rock piles but eventually the main pipe has gone and fresh topsoil can be added to the rather lack luster sand and gravel.

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Passing the first set of steps and new soil goes in

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All hidden through the rose section

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Looking good as I get to the “bow beds”

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Scuffy irrigation done

Well finally its all done and Brenda’s friends say it looks good so I guess my work on this one is done!

While this has been going on the cucumber which had taken a beating from the high winds has made a comeback and is in full leaf mode again so hopefully we will get more fruit in the future.

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Very pleasing to see new growth

Not to be outdone our free gift “Tom” has put out a couple of trusses and has fruit forming.

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Freebie going well

Didn’t get my tomato pie up at Groundhog but it was on the menu as soon as we got back and it was ……….DELICIOUS!!!

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YUMMMMMMEEEEE!!!!

TONY DOWN

 

 

READY TO HOG ?

Almost there, new tags for the Safari, extra coolant, and booze onboard. Brenda working overtime getting the bus spick and span ready for Friday’s departure.

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Ready to roll

The only garden task for Thursday is an irrigation  system to be installed across the driveway and out to all the Scuffy beds. If I can carefully lift up the Christmas power cord to the Maple I can make it into a utility trench then bury the last section when we get back.

Of course there will be the mega shopping and loading with enough food to last a week even if we are only away for 3 nights. I will be on wood, the fire pit and fishing items and after last year’s complete underside clean out I hope this will be easy.

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Trench complete, cable and pipe in, my, its only 2015!!!

The utility trench gets completed, more and more “stuff” goes on the bus but I still have much to load but I’m good on wood, and there seems to be plenty of room for fishing stuff and the fire pit.

Friday morning, last minute shopping items and after an age loading we finally depart. First portion up the hill (which one day I will cycle up) and then the bumpy road until the sign saying “Pavement Ends” which last year was awful as it was non stop washboard which the Safari hates!! Clearly they have graded it and about 10 miles of a reasonably pleasant surface and my mind is already thinking this is GOOD …… but then its back to washboard for about 8 miles with the speed way down at 10mph. We roll into our reserved slot a little after 1400 and survey the scene.

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Out of Dolores, nearly the same shot as last year, but today its not pouring down with rain

Time to set up camp so out with all the tables and chairs despite the strong westerly wind. Many tales of GOOD fishing and bag limits, now need to get some info on good areas and what they are taking as bait.

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Weekend set up complete

The duty walk round to collect nature’s flowers and her display should last a couple of days. Humming bird feeder out with the cat on duty!

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Natures free bounty of flowers at 9500′

Many margaritttttttas later, its supper time with lamb chops and our very own mint sauce, delicious! An excellent film “Sully” completes the evening and tomorrow we will try the fishing thing one more time.

Nice morning but a dose of apathy in my camp. Pleasant enough but more than happy to just relax this morning doing absolutely nothing! A little snooze, amazing how tired gardening can make you, and being up at 9500′ there is no rush to do too much.  A walk round and people have been catching some good looking trout and the bait is our old friend “power bait” .

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Custom made rod rest by a bored stone mason!

After lunch and some bloody Mary’s I stumble down to the lake for a couple of hours. As I arrived people either side of me catch a fish but then absolutely nothing until I leave at 1800 so another zero for me!

Brenda paid a short visit along with beverages and now I’m back on the BM’s. The celebration fire that was for the 4th has already been started by the idiot Redneck fraternity and has now burnt out to the annoyance of the organizers who were planning on a 1930 start time!!

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The “Big Fire” destroyed by rednecks playing Horseshoes!

With no fish to fry (again) its ribs which are just about ready and smell wonderful.

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Ribs and corn …… Yumeeeeeee!

Try the fishing game tomorrow when there is a competition (not that we are doing it) …… a bit odd as they have changed all the boating regulations so you can only launch a small boat with a 20 horse motor or less and then have to pay $20 when you take it out. Other choices are two “party barges” at $200 a half day or the mini fishing boat we tried last year at $70.

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Decidedly pissed off campground owner has the embers rekindled and the fire is off again and more wood arrives.

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The day finishes with more drinks and a dog film which is amusing and touching if you are a dog owner.

Sunday, a bit cooler and not so much wind, back to bloody Marys and our last bowl of Brenda’s chicken liver pate and some cherries before a session of “revenge cribbage”.

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These are GOOD, what’s for lunch ?

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The last of the pate!

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Cribbage time

As we finish the decider there is a sudden change in the weather, skies darken and the wind suddenly increases to about 45-50 mph and people are taking cover and trying to protect their belongings.

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Getting windy……. note the flags!!!

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Whitecaps on the lake and tents lifting off

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Not good!

Tents and easy-ups are taking a hammering as helpers try and get awnings and covers stowed. Lightning and thunder, whitecaps on the lake and some ominous black clouds.  After about 20 minutes it blows through and peace returns. …….. the bar-b-q is lit and we shall have steaks, and if she gets her way SMORES.

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Now that’s a GREAT steak!

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Yumeeeeee!

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Smores it is then

Monday morning and not too windy so after breakfast time to load up and be on our way. Within a couple of miles there is a Jeep upside down where it has rolled after some incident on a straight road?

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Ooooops

Finally off the washboard road and the high speed rednecks in their super vulgar Dodge pickups.

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Free Prime Rib ?

Almost home, only 90 minutes on the return trip, …….. a pleasant break from all things and now back to it.

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Glad you are back

TONY DOWN