Japan Cycling

NZ South Island Gravel Bike Pack

The 2020 tour plan was to cover 1000km and link key sections of 5 trails: Alps 2 Ocean, Otago Central Rail Trail, Roxburgh Gorge Trail, Clutha Gold Trail and finally the Around the Mountains Trail. Start point was Lake Tekapo and end point was Queenstown.

Overall route map: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/29986015

DAY 1 LAKE TEKAPO TO LAKE OHAU LODGE (96km)

Our friend Damien from Wanaka was very kind and drove us to Lake Tekapo for the grand journey to commence. This stage is part of the Alps 2 Ocean Trail. After the obligatory drinks and meal, the stunning scenery started immediately as we made our way to Twizel for lunch and then onto the Lodge which is the only accommodation in this destination.

Route map: https://www.strava.com/activities/3087254912

DAY 2 LAKE OHAU LODGE TO KUROW (114km) (Alps 2 Ocean Trail)

The days starts with an immediate shale trail climb from the lodge to Tarnbrae High Point at 900m. Great views before a technical start to the descent and then a nice flowing trail to the bottom. From here we pass by a couple of dams and then join the gravel for our arrival in Kurow. Great pub meal here.

Route Map: https://www.strava.com/activities/3089644623

DAY 3 KUROW TO NASEBY VIA INFAMOUS DANSEY PASS (93km)

Our final section of the Alps 2 Ocean Trail as we need to cross Dansey Pass for the next trail link. A little bit of nervous chat as Dansey Pass appears on a website called Dangerous Roads. So not sure what to expect but it turns out to be a super scenic run to the start of the climb as we pass through a local lavender farm and are encountered by 4000 sheep on the road being driven to somewhere on the pass. Last 4 km of the climb is a tough slog and care needs to be taken with any oncoming traffic; fortunately not much. A very satisfying day with a stay in former gold rush town of Naseby.

Route map: https://www.strava.com/activities/3092461249

DAY 4 NASEBY TO CLYDE (Otago Central Rail Trail. 110km)

This stage focussed on joining the Otago Central Rail Trail and staying at another gold rush town of Clyde with a couple of very good restaurant option.. Bit of head wind sth send but otherwise a nice gentle day with a welcome cafe along the way for lunch.

Route Map: https://www.strava.com/activities/3095345927

DAY 5 CLYDE TO BEAUMONT (Roxburgh Gorge and Clutha Gold Trail) (100km)

This was the highlight ride day. Beautiful ride down Roxburgh Gorge to connect with a Jetboat that takes you 13km down a dam to then continue the gorge ride to Roxburgh town for a very good lunch. Good cafe choices here. Then a quick connect onto the Clutha Gold Trail for a fantastic scenic run into the the one pub town of Beaumont for the night and a pretty expensive bar tab the next morning!. Felt like to locals jumped onto it.

Route Map: https://www.strava.com/activities/3098033283

DAY 6 & 7 GORE AND OTAUTAU (Largely bitumen en route to Fiordland)

This two stages involved some gravel on local roads and also quiet bitumen roads as we moved through Southland on route to Fiordland. Travel through rolling farmland first to Gore which is famous for fishing (allegedly) and Otauatu which is famous for nothing but has a terrific local hotel owned by a couple of locals who provide excellent hospitality and meals.

Route Map : Gore https://www.strava.com/activities/3100400473. (90km)

Route Map : Otautau :https://www.strava.com/activities/3103422496. (101km)

DAY 8 OTAUTAU TO MANAPOURI AND REST DAY ON DOUBTFUL SOUND FIORLAND (114km)

All very tired as we set off for our 8th day of 100km and a bit of a slog to get to this paradise location. Rest day spent on a cruise on Lake Manpourie and Doubtful Sound which is so spectaular

Route Map: https://www.strava.com/activities/3106756028

DAY 10 MANAPOURIE TO GARSTON (UNEXPECTED GRAVEL SECTION) (124km)

Set out on our 120km stage expecting to spend it on bitumen. Midway on route and over lunch realise we were close to the Around The Mountains Trail. As it turned out it was the 2nd best section of trail we rode. Stayed in Garston which is a neat little spot with great Art Deco hotel, art gallery and brilliant coffee van for the next morning start to the day. Large bar tab again next morning!

Route Map: https://www.strava.com/activities/3112525828

DAY 11. FINAL RUN INTO QUEENSTOWN (67km)

Fortunately we started the day on the final 20km gravel section of Around The Mountain Trail which ends in Kingstown before the final run into Queenstown with spectacular views of the lake on your left side all the way.

Route Map: https://www.strava.com/activities/3115349180

THANKS GUYS FOR A TERRIFIC JOURNEY IN THE MOST PERFECT PART OF THE WORLD

Uganda and Zanzibar 2018

This stage of our 8 week adventure started with a flight from Windhoek in Namibia, down to Johannesburg and then finally flying into Entebbe in Uganda. Not much to do in Entebbe but overnighted at the charming Karibu Guest House which was a nice place to relax and explore their Botanic Gardens.

We then flew for an hour out of Entebbe to Mweya and stayed one night at Mweya Safari Lodge. Our main activity was a sunset cruise on the Kazinga Channel in the Queen Elizabeth National Park which is home to crocs, hippos and birdlife. The lodge had a comfy bar with a 70kg pair of tusks from a bygone era.

  • The following day was an interesting drive to Ishasha Bush Camp which involved some pretty rough and slow going 4wd roads. First stop along the way was chimpanzee trekking in the very pretty and forested Chamburu Gorge which is about 16km long and home to about 30 chimpanzee. This was 50/50 whether we would find them. The walk was very pleasant roaming around tracks and coming very close to pods of hippo in the river which was good viewing in pursuit of the chimps. After about 2 hours walking our guide found 3 on a track which allowed us to follow by foot. They move fast so we were scrambling along the trails behind them. Soon they had connected with about 12 more. Great experience given how hard it is to find them. Then on to Ishasha Bush Camp which is an upscale tented camp with a great African feel on a fast flowing Ntungwe river. Spent 2 nights here and a full day of game viewing in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Pretty park and the highlight was spotting 2 cheetah and the commotion it caused so many animals all warning each other they were on the move.
  • Leaving Ishasha behind we headed to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for a 3 night stay at Buhoma Lodge. Wonderful treetop lodge with a great feel and staff. Went on a community walk which included coffee grinding demonstration and banana gin making process with an old local Henry. Then up the hill to visit a pygmy village which is where some got relocated from the forest. Pretty miserable existence but they seemed happy.
  • Day 2 of our stay was the gorilla trek which involved a very scenic but steep 90 minute climb up one of the hills. Fortunately they were easily found in the forest once at the top so had a great experience viewing them eating and moving about. Joy’s trip highlight.
  • Our final day was a 3hr trek to the waterfall which was a very pretty walk thru rainforest to a decent set of falls. Huge thunder and lightening storm mid afternoon which was refreshing. A great location for a few days, excellent lodge, some good people to chat to around a coals fire in the evening and of course the gorillas.
  • Arrival into Zanzibar was shitful when we missed a connection and spent 8 hours in Nairobi airport between midnight and 7.30am. Finally arrived to a very quaint arabic influenced Stone Town. Staying at Mizingani Seafront Hotel which is very attractive and historic in its design. Stone Town is a bit rundown but that is part of the charm of the myriad of narrow alleyways busy with a mix of tourist and normal daily living. Great to walk around. Waterfront has been rebuilt and very vibrant at night with eating markets making a good cheap choice to enjoy the sunset and all the activity of locals diving into the ocean.
  • The first of our two fulldays was spent exploring the alleyways finding two good coffee shops in Puzzleword and Zanzibar Coffee House. The second was has great staff and pick of the bunch. Visited the slavery exhibit which was hugely interesting to understand the brutal past and also strolled past Freddie Mercuries house where he spent his first 8 years.
  • Our final day here was spent further wandering the streets, visited the local food and market, some more historic buildings and then had my 60th birthday dinner at the new Hyatt hotel.

The last few days of the trip were spent on Kendwa Beach on the north east coast of Zanzibar. Great water and the whitest of sand. 


NZ Bikepacking: Queenstown to Christchurch

Day 1 Arriving Queenstown

After settling in to the bustling adventure destination of Queenstown we headed out for a days exploring before heading off on the bike packing epic adventure. Stunning scenery wherever we looked which raised expectations big time of what might be ahead.

The route for our day of Queenstown exploring https://www.strava.com/activities/1986942964

Day 2 Leaving Queenstown for Wanaka 77km @ 1062m

Our first stage took us through Arrowtown which is a great old mining town and a logical spot for the first coffee break before you head up and over The Crown Range. Quite a European climb with great views across the valley toward Arrowtown and beyond. Then a wonderful descent off the range and definitely stop for lunch at the Cardrona Hotel which has an historic bar and outstanding beer garden.

Mistake for the day was we did not realise there was a gravel track to Arrowtown.

Queenstown to Wanaka Route https://www.strava.com/activities/1988739092

Day 3 Wanaka to Haast 142km @ 1220m

After a great dinner in Wanaka with Romans’ friends we set out on our Queens stage which turned out to be the prettiest riding imaginable. 18km’s after leaving Wanaka we had a 35km section that first hugged lake Hawea and then after crossing The Neck we tracked Lake Wanaka and then refuelled at Makaroa. (this is the only spot with food so you must stop!!). Met a wonderful couple of bike packing brits who shared information on there NZ journey which was stored for another day. After refuelling it was a gentle and steady climb up and over Haast Pass cycling through beautiful rainforest, stopping at a couple of waterfalls and cruising with a light rain falling. A brilliant day and then stayed in Haast enjoying our first NZ pub meal.

Wanaka to Haast Route https://www.strava.com/activities/1990468102

Day 4 Haast to Fox Glacier 124km @ 994m

Once again, a very pretty start to the ride for the first half of the ride with snow capped peaks all to our right, had a quick stop at Lake Paringa and then salmon chowder at the salmon farm cafe at the 60km mark. Stop here for lunch before pushing on to the very pretty Fox Glacier.

Haast to Fox Glacier Route https://www.strava.com/activities/1992124082

Day 5 Fox Glacier to Ross 140km @ 1430m

Another very stunning day leaving Fox Glacier for Franz Josef Glacier. Coffee stop at Franz Glacier and a little gravel track to base of the glacier. very green undulating ride with a sensational lunch stop at first cafe as you come into Hari Hari. Terrific owner with delicious food. From here rolled into the old mining town of Ross with its water filled mine opposite one of the oldest pubs in NZ.

Route map to Ross https://www.strava.com/activities/1993622740

Day 6 Ross to Kumara 103km @ 770m

This stage was about 85% gravel on the West Coast Wilderness Trail. Super pretty trail using old rail lines and tracing water races created during the gold mining days 100 years ago. Stopped for water at Cowboy Paradise and chatted to the owner who is developing a stop for cyclists. There is accomodation here if an alternative stop to Kumara is preferred. Awesome views from his new balcony. For us it was off to Kumara for another great pub meal.

Route Map to Kumara https://www.strava.com/activities/1995458357

Day 7 Kumara to Bealey 83km @ 1230m

Today was the day we headed east toward Christchurch over Arthurs Pass. After leaving the Otira Stagecoach Hotel which is a simple lunch stop with a pretty fascinating hotel with all sorts of collectibles and historic photos. Definitely stop here before taking on Arthurs Pass with its challenging kilometre or so of plus 20% pinches in it. After cresting the top we spent the night at the Bealey Hotel. Stop for a night here as it is remote and gorgeous.

Route map Kumara to Bealey https://www.strava.com/activities/1997438249

Day 8 Bealey to Christchurch 135km @ 996m

Our final day leaving Bealey started in rain. This hotel is a must as the location and views are stunning, meals are sensational with their own Aussie pastry chef. Burger is brilliant as is the apple strudel. Leaving Bealey we had a tail wind all the way to Christchurch which was a welcome assist on ur final day of this awesome NZ route.

Route map Bealey to Christchurch https://www.strava.com/activities/1999020182

Botswana And Namibia 2018

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The Self Drive Adventures 31 day trip through Namibia and Botswana started in Windhoek Namibia staying at Londiningi Guest House where we spent the first couple of days getting cars and filling the car with provisions.

Day 3 we got moving and headed to Ghanzi which is about 500km toward Botswana border and drove through part of the Kalahari desert. Stayed the night at Tautona Lodge and immediately upgraded to this room. A bit soft we know!

Day 4 was another bitumen leg of 290km to get us into Botswana and camped in Maun at Audi Campsite. Terry had mechanical problems with his gear box which luckily was easily fixed by a mechanic.The afternoon involved an exciting flight over Okavango Delta.

Day 5  was much excitement as we entered Moremi National Park in Botswana which involved 4wd mode through some sandy conditions and spent two nights camping and game viewing. Camp site was called Third Bridge which was great with showers, shop and plenty of nightlife to avoid. Stay in your tents!! 4 elephants wandered straight through our camp site one evening and then back around our site later that night under a full moon. Later that night a couple of lions were around camp as we could hear their noise as well as some other animals looking for food. Very special.

Day 6 was a full day of game viewing from Third Bridge with our super experienced guide Duncan. Game included leopard, elephant, zebra and others. Elusive lion not spotted here. In the afternoon while we were out viewing a few elephants wandered into camp, had a dust bath and then hung around until later that night. Exciting stuff having animals wandering around so close and reinforces not to get out of the camper at night!!

Day 7 we had an exciting 80 km 4wd trip over to Khwai Conservancy for 2 nights without any facilities. Drive included 2 river crossings and some challenging sandy road. An elephant was in the camp site when we arrived. During dinner a hyena strolled past us a few meters away while eating. A bit of a fright!

Day 8 was another slow going dusty and fun 4wd section of about 90km. Lots of sand and a couple of bogged cars to pass getting to Savuti campsite inside Chobe National Park. Day 9 spent on safari in Chobe involved another leopard spotting, elephant and 1200 year old boab tree.

Day 10, 11 and 12 were first a transition day from Savuti to Kasane, from there we spent 2 nights at the beautiful Victoria Falls Hotel, visited the magnificanet Victoria Falls and ended the day with a sunset cruise on the Zambezi. Daryl got very sick and had to pumped with all sorts of drips and injections in a 24 hour period to get him going.

More shots of the hotel and the merry group on the sunset cruise.

Day 12 included the drive back to Kasane for our sunset cruise which delivered a great spectacle of around 60 elephants walking along the river as we passed.

Day 13 and 14 involved leaving Botswana behind and a drive back into Namibia to Divundu which was about 450km to a unique and quirky tree house camp site called Ngepi. Great spot to relax for a day before continuing this great trip.

The following day 15 was a 500km trip mostly on bitumen to Grashoek to visit and stay at the traditional bushman Ju/Hoansi and visit their museum and participate in activities of their traditional life. A good fun event with Guido and Daryl partly making a bow and arrow and then “hunting”. Day 16 was a transition day to get us to Onguma via Groetfontein and resupply if needed. Very comfortable camp site at Onguma with some animal watching at their restaurant waterhole.

Days 17 and 18 were spent in Etosha National Park working our way through it at our own pace and exploration. A terrific park and spotted our only lion but from about 300m away! excellent game viewing of herds of giraffe, elephant, zebra, oryx and on it went. Spent the second night at Okaukuejo Camp and witnessed a great nights viewing at their floodlit  waterhole which presented, elephant, giraffe, rhino and a few other smaller animals. Excellent setting and great to see the rhino.

Day 19 was an exciting day of 4wd as we left Etosha. Spotted some rhino in the distance so tried to access them but they scampered away. Our destination was Khowarib Waterfall Camp and the day was around 200km with much of it in 4wd. The ride into the camp after Etosha was great fun as we travelled down wide, dry, sandy riverbeds with the scenery changing a lot. Very interesting drive and great fun when a number of cars raced through the section Dave bogged in at the start. Scenery covered in last 50km or so was outstanding.

If Day 19 was fun then Day 20 was just even better. Not a long day as it was about 110km to the most amazing and desolate Armspoort Camp or Daves Camp. Along the way we stopped at Khowarib pre-school to meet the teacher and kids and drop some donations. Everyone very excited with the kids singing some songs for us. Then we headed off another exciting day of 4wd traversing ever changing landscape until arrival at our moonscape camp sit. Another great day!!

Day 21 travelled through some very variable dry landscape and finished winding our way down a very pretty river that required about 90 crossings. Very shallow but heaps of fun and pretty. Raced an ostrich at 40kmh. Dropped in at the Manchester United bar for a longneck beer. Staying at Puros tonight which is a shady camp spot with elephant roaming near by. Went on an evening search for desert adapted elephant and also stopped in at a traditional Himba community. A very meagre existence for people to choose in 2018… but happy I assume.

Day 22 and Day 23 were remote slow going 4wd (100km each day) driving in very barren rocky terrain. Very gritty, shaley 4wd driving  and moving through some very desolate dry country south down Crowthers Trail. Camped in the middle of what was effectively the desert on a very windy cold evening. Great fun around the camp fire in middle of nowhere.Day 23 a relatively short drive but very slow going through some gnarly rocky trail that was ripe for causing punctures. Fortunately none happened. Again the country and hills kept changing from grassy plains to shaley mountains to vistas with significant mountains in the distance. Saw elephant and giraffe on the way to Palmwag Lodge. Stayed in some comfortable canvass huts overlooking a drinking hole, complete with elephant.

Day 24 was about 170km through the Valley of Desolation which was exactly that. Very stark, dry country that was again spectacular. Headed south through slow going tracks moving between high and low range 4wd. Guido got our one and only flat tyre. Tiring drive but plenty of variation to take in. Camped in a riverbed surrounded by mountains. Great camp site, 5 dampers were cooked, music playing and the drinkers drinking.

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Day 25 was a continuation south to Swakopmund (270km) which started with the most amazing gorge/riverbed drive looking at the most stunning geography and geology. Slow going on rough rocky tracks. Great to arrive at our destination and shower and relax. Stopped at 2500 year old welwitschia tree and at at Cape Cross Seal colony and quick visit to a ship wreck.

Day 26 and 27 were rest days in and around Swakopmund and stayed at Meikes Guest House. Time included wandering around town, drinking coffee at a good coffee shop and of course dinners. Also had a  great morning of quad biking and viewing 2500 year old skeletons people, whales and other animals and footprints of elephant, rhino , lion etc. Very interesting history and exciting to race around the dunes on quads.

Day 28 travelled to Sesriem; the home of the Sossusvlei Namib-Naukluft National Park red dunes which were viewed evening and morning of Day 29. Along the way we drove through Kuiseb canyon and Bad Lands, stopped at Tropic of Capricorn and at Solitaire for an apple pie at McGregors. A popular must do stop.

Morning shots of the dunes.

Day 29 was a short 120km day from Sesriem to a magic rocky camp site called Namibgrens. On the way a very steep Spreetshoogte Pass had to be driven with gradients greater than 20% all the way. A good challenge for Joy.

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And then our trip finished on Day 30 with a drive back into Windhoek. A brilliant trip led by Dave Van Graan and outstanding itinerary put together by Self Drive Adventures. Every day on this trip was outstanding. Cant wait for the next African adventure.

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CAPE TOWN 2018

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Arrived Cape Town 18 June to start a significant African adventure covering Namibia, Botswana, Uganda and Zanzibar.

Staying in a very cute restored farmhouse in the middle of the city which has been restored by a French couple who have created a traditional French provincial experience. Hotel is called La Grenadine Petit Hotel.

First couple of days exploring included a stroll through the Bo-Kaap district with distinct coloured house of the cape malay people, a city walking tour and then a visit to the oldest vineyard of Groot Constantia.

Our next day was a day of understanding more about apartheid, forced removals such as District 6 and the history of Robben Island.

A day of starting at the Saturday markets , followed by a visit to the super impressive Zeitz art Museum and ending at Kirstenbosch gardens where they spent 50 years eradicating all the plant life that did not fit. Impressive vision and stunning gardens and backdrop.

Perfect day for a tour of the Cape in our rented car. Very easy place to drive so off we set for the most stunning coast and mountain scenery.

Sunset on Signal Head very spectacular.

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And a few more shots from Signal Hill.

Our final day was out around Stellenbosch visiting a couple of wineries of Muratie and Lazenac and then driving the spectacular Franshoek Pass.

 

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Italy Cycling 2017

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The ’17 trip started in Venice for a few days and was then centred on Rovereto and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

A little about Venice which is situated across a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by bridges, of which there are 400.] The islands are located in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, an enclosed bay that lies between the mouths of the Po and the Piave rivers.

The name is derived from the ancient Veneti people who inhabited the region by the 10th century BCE. Venice has been known as the “La Dominante,” “Serenissima,” “City of Water,” “City of Masks,” “City of Bridges,” “The Floating City,” and “City of Canals.” Anyhow……………

Our time here was lots of eating courtesy of Brento’s research, drinking courtesy of Brento’s penchant and wandering about.

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Off to Rovereto

Rovereto was an ancient fortress town standing at the frontier between the Trento – an independent state until 1797 – and the republic of Venice, and later between Austrian Tyrol and Italy. Rovereto is east of Riva del Garda (at the north-western corner of Lake Garda).

Bit of a bike problem for me on arrival with the electronic gears so I sat out the first ride, which apparently was pretty tough and of course involved Brent taking a wrong turn and then having to do extra climbing. This usually happens! Boys heading off from the hotel on the first ride.

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The Brentonico Loop from Rovereto was 90km and 1800m of climbing. headed south from town and then into the hills above Lake Garda.

Ride Map   1089457371

 

Next day was kind of a rest day with some hills around Rovereto and then down to Lake Garda to find the lazy buys who were being pretty lazy! 74km and 1500m of climbing.

Ride Map  1108492718

 

Our final day around Rovereto was the Monte Baldone climb but first it was a trundle up a bike path to Trento. One un named rider claimed he smelt coffee at Trento and stopped there. Truth is he smelt a tough climb and pussied around town. Sigh…. as Hodgey would say. Off we set and a difficult climb it was, but a great ride in all. 95km and 1960m climbed. Much less for the un named one!

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Ride Map  https://www.strava.com/activities/1108492995

 

Off to Cortina d’Ampezzo

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But first, a little about Cortina. When Italy entered World War I  most of the men were fighting for Austria-Hungary on the Russian front. After the Austrian recovery in 1917, the town was occupied again by the Tyrolean Standschützen.[14]Following Italy’s victory in World War I, Ampezzo was ceded to Italy in 1920. 

After the war the city was renamed “Cortina d’Ampezzo” (Curtain of the Ampezzo Valley), adopting the name of one of the six villages that made up the territory of Ampezzo.

Cortina d’Ampezzo was chosen as the venue of the 1944 winter Olympics, which did not take place due to World War II. Hosted the Winter Olympics in 1956, resulting in it becoming a world-famous resort.

The Ford Cortina, the UK’s best-selling car of the 1970s, was named after Cortina d’Ampezzo.  Anyhow……………….

First ride was Misurina Loop with Tre Cime. Terrific first ride through the valley before starting the climb to the the time with cars and busses. Steep last section with bus stalling on a steep corner allowing someone to take the opportunity to walk. Brilliant lunch by Lago di Misurina… which will be visited a few times this trip. 56km with 1470m climbed.

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Ride Map 1108492902

 

The Giau.. the bloody steep side! Off we set on a very comfortable downhill 20km cruise away from Cortina. Then a couple of warm up climbs on which we got passed by an electric mountain biker. Note to self..Must get one! And then the Giau which was steep and quite did me over. So much that I staggered onto and electric fence at the top. 97km and 2600m of climbing.

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Ride Map.  1108493186

 

Next up was La Villa Loop and a couple of the brothers missed this stunner. (Hodgey sigh again on behalf of them) 84km and 2200m of climbing over 3 peaks.

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Ride Map. 1108493308

 

A bit of a rest day next. This was Hello Boys or The Giau and Lake Misurina ride. Brent was coaxed into half this ride when we conceded a coffee and rest after the first 5km. For those who went on, we went up to Lago di Misurina for lunch. Also went up the gondola for a bit of a look around an old fort for the rest of the afternoon. 

Ride Map. 1108493145

The queen stage…for most. A Hodgey sigh again given Paul and Brent drove part of this. The Sella Ronda Loop was 116km and 3200m of climbing involving 5 climbs. Fairytale country on this loop.

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Ride Map. 1108493638

 

The final day was a bit optional. Dave and I took off for another loop that included the Giau. Turned out to be 68km and 2100m of climbing. No idea what the others did. Maybe Misurina for lunch.

Ride Map. 1108493363

Group Shots

Caribbean Sailing May 2018 St Lucia to Grenada

img_3543The Dave Russell sailing extravaganza 2018 started in the beautiful northern part of Saint Lucia.

After a relaxing day and 2 nights at the Rodney Bay Gardens Beach Resort it was onto the catamaran for our southern adventure.

But first a bit about Saint Lucia.

There was no European presence until its settlement in the 1550s by the notorious buccaneer Francois le Clerc, a.k.a. Jambe de Bois, or Wooden Leg. Peg-Leg le Clerc set up a fine little base on Pigeon Island, from whence he issued forth to prey upon unwitting and treasure-laden Spanish galleons. Around 1600, the Dutch arrived, establishing a fortified base at Vieux Fort.

The first attempt at colonization occurred just a few years later, in 1605. An unfortunate party of English colonists, headed to Guyana on the ship Olive Branch, landed on St. Lucia after having been blown off course. 67 colonists waded ashore, where they purchased land and huts from the Caribs. After a month, the party had been reduced to only nineteen, and those were soon forced to flee from the Caribs in a canoe.

By mid-century the French had arrived. The British were not happy and Anglo-French rivalry for the island continued for more than a century and a half. The island’s first settlements and towns were all French, beginning with Soufriere in 1746. By 1780, the British launched their first invasion effort at the “Battle of Cul de Sac.” By 1814, the island was finally theirs.

The country became independent within the British Commonwealth in 1979. the economy seems to be primarily tourism, and then thins like offshore banking, banana exports and coconut oil.

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They won Gold in the 2018 Commonwealth Games Womens High Jump. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levern_Spencer

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 SAINT LUCIA SAILING

Day 1, we sailed from Rodney Bay having spent the night on the boat, leaving around 11am. Our destination was Soufriere and moored in the stunning Anse des Pitons. the sailing was around 17nm arriving around 2.30. Mooring ball was our option.

Anse des Pitons is a town with excellent land based accommodation if you were island hopping. Hotel and self contained villas. A great option or addition to staying in Rodney Bay.

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ST VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

The first Europeans to occupy St. Vincent were the French. However, following a series of wars and peace treaties, the islands were eventually ceded to the British. The French settlers cultivated coffee, tobacco, indigo, corn, and sugar on plantations worked by African slaves.

Like the French before them, the British also used African slaves to work plantations of sugar, coffee, indigo, tobacco, cotton and cocoa. When the British abolished slavery around 1840 the plantations went into decline and depressed world sugar prices kept the economy stagnant until the turn of the 20th century.

A crown government was installed in 1877, a Legislative Council created in 1925. Independence was gained in 1979.

Day 2

Sailed from Anse des Pitons on St lucia to Keartons/Indian Gallows on St Vincent and took a mooring ball. We enter a new country and customs processes are required which were done the next day in Bequia. Sail length was approx 36nm and moored about 60% down the west coast.

Rain squalls and a pod of spinning dolphins added some extra interest at end of the day. Beautiful tourquise bow and stern mooring spot. Locals on hand to help. Dinner on land at Rockside Cafe with Rosie the German owner of 16 years. Great dinner and cheescake to finish.

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Day 3 and 4

A short sail of 16nm from Keartons to Admiralty Bay Bequia. Mooring ball. A pass by cruise by an old concrete settlement set in side of the hills of Bequia is an interesting aspect from the 60’s. Attempted utopia that failed. A beautiful bay with many restaurants and bars. Lunch at Jacks Bar on beautiful swimming beach at end of Princess Margaret beach walk.

Good cafe and cake for coffee at GingerBread Cafe. Dinner at Max Pizza with Jazz. Great pizza and night.

Next day toured by taxi to the local turtle sanctuary and conservation guy. This fellow has been committed to this project for about 30 yrs and released about 800 turtles around the islands. No government backing so hopefully will continue when he cant do it any more. Turtles get released to all the islands nearby. Lunch at Lower beach which is accesable by dinghy or taxi.

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Day 5

Sailed about 26nm from Bequia to Tobago Cays. Spent afternoon snorkelling and exploring the island where turtle sanctuary is. Saw one lizard on the island but no turtles in the water. Dinner on board boat in a very pretty location. Wind is constant here as there are no island protecting boats. This mooring is a must do for at least one night when down here. kite surfers also add to the attraction in this spot.Mooring ball.

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Day 6

A short 4nm motor from Tobago Cays across to Saltwhistle Bay on Mayreux. Lovely protected bay with hotel style accommodation and great spot for lunch and drinking by the beach under the palm trees. Great spot for at least one night and maybe 2. Dinner on the beach with bbq fish.

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Day 7

Another short motor to Clifton on Union island to do the immigration check out of St Vincent and the Grenadines, some shopping and then motored to Chatham Bay and took our first anchoring on Union Island. Beautiful bay and had impressive lobster dinner.

Day 8.

Sailed south to Carriacou which is the northern island and part of Grenada. Stopped at Sandy Island which is directly off L’Esterre Bay for snorkel and lunch. Beautiful spot to stop. The sail there was approximately 20nm and then another 4 nm to Tyrell Bay. Motored around the corner to Tyrell Bay which is where customs for Grenada is required. An average location but necessary to enter the country! Spent the night on mooring ball.

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Day 9 (and final)

Approx 35nm sail day which was a real good final sail day. Left Tyrell Bay around 8.30. Arrived Molinierre Point around 12.30 tied to mooring ball and snorkelled around a whole lot of statues that have placed underwater, some on the sea bed, many standing straight and one woman sitting on a park bench. Very unique and worth a look. Then short motor to St Georges and anchored just sth of the harbour. Final dinner and then a couple of lazy days at Radisson in Grand Anse Grenada.

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New York 2018 ( transit to Caribbean)

New York Day 1

Staying in Soho district at a very modern and super comfortable hotel called the Arlo.

Started the day with a healthy breakfast at Sanctuary T which has an outstanding range of new age tea’s and flavours.

Late morning activity was a visit to The Met on a busy Saturday. Some interesting exhibits from all centuries including Picasso, Faberge Egg, and some modern american artists. Probably prefer MOMA but both need visiting.

Then the rest of the day was spent exploring The Highline, very good coffee and average lamington at an Oz café called Bluestone Lane in Greenwich Village.

Dinner at Bistro Les Amis in Soho which was French/Italian menu. Good food and wine.