Category Archives: Biking

Biking from Les Gets to Yverdon les Bains

Setting of at 07.46
Setting of at 07.46

A bright and earlyish start from Les Gets on my streamlined bike sans panniers so considerably lighter and better balanced, I think. According to Strava I did the 28 miles to Evian in 90 minutes so I easily made the 10.10 sailing to Lausanne. Interestingly the price at £20 was exactly the same as crossing the English Channel.

I managed to stop at a bricolage (DIY) and pick up a packet of colliers (Ty-Raps to us UK folk). As the one holding the GPS had broken. Plus I made an improvement to my bracket by taping a bungee onto it that pulls the bracket down & thus keeps the lid closed with the instruments facing me.

The miracle of the day was finding an Orange store in Lausanne where the guy supplied me, instantly with no fuss,  a  nano SIM for the iPhone allowing 300MB of data transfer plus additional data upto 500MB all for 10CHF. Apparently the 10CHF is also a credit for calls etc and additional data at 1CHF per day. It’s worked very well so far today although, according to the excellent My Data Mgr App  I’ve got through 26MB so far today 🙁

Switz bike route signThe ride itself this afternoon was on the Swiss Route 5, infinitely better signed than the UK 1 with no obstacles provided by the authorities to slow you down. The route is a mixture of roads, forest tracks, limestone gravel, concrete etc etc. It takes you through suburbia, forest, vineyards, orchards, fields, industrial estates etc so is amazingly varied 🙂

The promised rain only happened in one heavy shower although I would have hated to be in The Jura today!!

Yverdon is a disappointment, still haven’t seen the lake & only found one expensive hotel The Hotel du Theatre . The most amazing thing for me is seeing so many people smoke, totally weird.

Two lots of Strava data today:

The morning and the afternoon

and pictures here




Starting the next stage of my mega bike ride

Zurich RouteTomorrow I’m reluctantly moving on from my lovely apartment in Les Gets towards Zurich so that I can meet my big brother & nephew next weekend for a 70th birthday bash (and I’ve heard a whisper it’s his wife’s birthday too 🙂 )

I’m fully recovered from the ride here and the excellent Thierry has fitted the bike with new chain, rear gear cassette and brake pads. The dreaded rear pannier’s have been despatched home with my neighbour, as I’ve been assured by Sally after speaking to Pete that a tent isn’t necessary 🙂

I’ve spent the last few days trying to sort out my Etrex 20 with maps and in a moment of sheer stupidity lost my OSX application library – which interestingly broke all my Chrome extensions in a very nasty way, the dangers of using an offline backup service. 🙁

NB: All that follows is for Mac OSX users.

What I’ve learnt about Garmin maps is that you can fill your Garmin Etrex up with highly detailed Open Street Maps, essentially for free by visiting Velomap and downloading the desired country(s). Installing Garmin Basecamo & Garmin MapInstall. Unzipping the maps using The Unarchiver, setting the destination to the Application Library/Garmin /Maps folder (be careful here!).

Then using Mapinstall pop them into the Garmin. I now have all of France, Germany, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary & Romania installed on my recently purchased 4GB micro SD (€8 from GITEM in Morzine).

To work out the routes I’ve been using Bikemap to create a track. A tip here if you want to modify someones existing track, download the gpx file to the desktop, create a new track in Bikemap and upload the gpx file, then you can edit it. To make the track into a route I used the cool JavaWa tools. I then used Basecamp to stuff the route into the Etrex. Tomorrow is the test 🙂

However, that’s only the backup sorted :-). What I really will use is the iPhone and the Gaia app, I’ve uploaded the tracks to the iPhone via email. Then used the neat Gaia utility to auto download the relevant Open Street Map tiles to the iPhone that cover the tracks, so in theory it all works offline.

Apologies to anyone tracking me but my SFR MiFi unit has used all it’s 2GB of data so I’m off air until I can reach a SIM shop in Switzerland…




Instrument bar for an Altus bar bag.

One of the annoyances on the ride down to Les Gets from Cambridge was that at every cafe stop (of which there were many)  I had to struggle to disengage the GPS & iPhone from their handlebar mounts plus the iPhone couldn’t be used in landscape mode due to there been no space left on the handlebars.

So on the way I was thinking of schemes to overcome the problem. If  somehow I could attach the GPS & iPhone to my Altura Dryline Bar Bag then with one click of the Klickfix quick release I could remove the Altura bar bag, GPS & iPhone in one swift easy movement and head straight to the cafe with all my valuables.

Obviously any system shouldn’t affect the bag water proofing, map case use or ease of access to the bag for taking quick shots with my camera.

Altura bar bag with iPhone & GPS mount
Altura bar bag with iPhone & GPS mount

As all good design the answer was cheap & simple 🙂 Take an old aluminium broom handle from the scrap bin. Hacksaw it to the right length, then crunch the ends into a flat using a vice, bend to right angles (very slowly & carefully). Put a hole in each end then attach to the sides of the Altura lid using penny washers and M4 bolts.

The map case slides underneath allowing space for The Bikeline books, even better the broom handle bar keeps the map case  firmly in place.

The Topeak iPhone 5 case fits perfectly and can be used in landscape or portrait mode and as a bonus can have the power cable in place with the auxiliary battery pack in the Altura bar bag. (Use an IKEA plastic bag clip to hold the cable in place and seal the iPhone in anything but the worst conditions.). The Garmin handlebar mount fits on well.

Now to give it the 2000 mile test and to work out how to fix the Silva wind gauge……

The centre pull generation,

Geoffs bikeToday the excellent Thierry at Nevada Sports here in Les Gets gave my Dawes bike a good going over. Tightening the headstock, replacing the chain, replacing the brake blocks, oiling all the pull wires, fixing the broken pannier rack & resetting all the gears.

He mainly specialises in downhill mountain bikes. Fixing with his team about 100 a day giving amazing service & turn around times, broken spokes, air in your brakes, duff suspension forks, broken gears you name it & it will almost certainly get fixed whilst you pop around to the patisserie for a cake & coffee.

What I have noticed whilst hanging out in Thierry’s workshop is that my bike is now an antique with centre pull brakes, Sally’s new bike is side pull as all new bikes are now. Yet when I was a kid all I wanted was a bike with Weinmann centre pulls 🙂 so in 50 years they have had their time been and gone. Kind of makes me feel very old. But here’s the weird thing, derailleur gears are still all the rage, so another childhood dream of having Campag gears (only invented in 1949) can still be fulfilled. But maybe its like my dream of buying a Lotus Elan when I had the chance to buy one I bought a Porsche instead 🙂