Eneco Tour 2013 stage 6 & 7

I am planning to go to watch stage 6 & 7. http://www.enecotour.com/

Stage 6 riemst - Aywaille
Stage 7 Tienen - Geraardsbergen

Riemst is a decoy. It is located on the rim of Masstricht. As soon as the parcours crosses the Dutch-Belgian border, it becomes like one of Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Aywaille (and its neighbor Remouchanps) is the front yard of Philippe Gilbert. He grew up there.

I am familiar with this area. I am planning to stay at a camping site in Aywaille. This camping site is the one I am planing to stay at during la Fléche-Wallonne / Liège-Bastogne-Liège week in 2014.

Tienen and Geraardsbergen are new to me. Geraardsbergen is close to Ninove and Ronse. These names are familiar to me.

By the way, my Quechua 2 seconds (snap-open) tent broke during TdF this year. I have to buy one. There is a store, French (?) sports goods store chain Decathlon in Liège. I have to make time to drop by. This tent has been part of my vacation activities for the last 8 years. I think I have slept in it for more than 200 nights.

The plan is not solidly definite. I will see.

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [Eneco Tour 2013 stage 6 & 7]の続きを読む

テーマ:自転車ロードレース - ジャンル:スポーツ

  1. 2013/07/31(水) 16:08:51|
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Memories of TdF 2013

This year, 2013, TdF stage layout was not what it supposed to be. They make it clockwise and then the following year counterclockwise alternately. I don't know this year was which but in reality, it was just a zigzag. I drove 5,994 km. This is just what the odometer on my Ka says. This does not include the distance covered by the ferries on the sea (Nice-Bastia).

In 2012 it was 4,981 km probably owing to the fact that the Grand Depart was in Liège, which is in less a couple hundred kilo meters from home.

In 2011 it was 5,440 km. The Grand Depart was in Vendée region, which was almost 1,000 km away from home (Luxembourg).

In 2014, the Grand Depart is in the United Kingdom. They have to go Alps first and in the last week they will be climbing those mystical Pyrenees before heading for Paris.

I hope, as a result of the diplomatic efforts by the state of Luxembourg (been a publicity caravan participant) that we will see a stage which at least touches Luxembourg.

Anyway, I am expecting to drive more than 5,000 km on top of ferry rides. It has been a great while since I last drove on the left side of the road back in Japan. I am so excited about it, though.

I had a Smart (Mercedes Benz Smart) in Japan. This Smart had the driver's seat on the left side (Continental style). I loved it. The only minor prblem was that every time I had to take a ticket (entering a gated parking lot or toll ways, I had to get out of the car. Even in those days, we had ticket machines, not too many but, at the entering point of toll ways that catered cars like my Smart. Old memories.

This year's TdF in three words (well not actually three); Hot and dry, Zigzag meandering and Napping in the seat.

The weather this year up to when we had Le Mans 24 hours was cold and wet. I had long trousers and umbrella with me. I thought I would need them. I was right and totally wrong.

I wore those long trousers on Champs-Elysees to protect my sun-burnt legs from the sun (my thighs were totally scorched on Semnoz). I used the umbrella as a parasol, protection against the sun. Everywhere I turned, it was hot and dry. I only had minor rain in Alpe d'Huez and a major downpour in Annecy (in both cases not during the stage).

Zigzag meandering part was already covered.

Because of the zigzag crazy layout and the inevitable severe traffic jams (too many TdF spectators), I could not reach the planned camping sites on many occasions. When the estimated arrival time at the camping site was past 22:00 or so, I chose to stay on the toll ways; I stopped at a gas station where I slept for a few hours.

When you travel in a sleeper (motor home), it does not matter at all where to stop to sleep.

In Japanese:続きをどうぞ [Memories of TdF 2013]の続きを読む

テーマ:自転車ロードレース - ジャンル:スポーツ

  1. 2013/07/30(火) 23:40:31|
  2. Tour de France
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Tour de France 2014 "Dream Journey" report

I write this as brief and simple as possible.

The intermediate findings and basic agreement among potential participants.

1) A local (Luxembourg) rental service provider.
Its rental conditions:
..needs a reservation fee
..payment of one quarter of full sum on reservation
..rest of the sum due 30 days before the rental begins
..all-risk insurance 1,000 Euro
..needs a 1,000 cash deposit or credit card payment
..the camper needs to be cleaned or 175 Euro to be paid additionally

Around 4,500 Euro for a 4-week rental contract

I have to visit this business and ask some questions. (Questions like..)
a) Estimated quote for our planned rental in 2014
b) Expected mileage of the camper, probably 8 km/litter overall
c) Expected consumption of the toilet chemicals
d) Water price
e) Availability (How soon are campers booked up?)
f) Additional driver fee (insurance procedures)

2) Other expenses expected
a) Fuel: around 800*** Note I)
b) Ferry/Toll charges: around 1,000
c) Supplies: around 200
a) b) c) to be divided among participants

d) Food: absolutely no idea but around 200 per person*** Note II
d) shared among participants but not in included in the calculation of estimated expenses.

f) Traveling expenses (home to the point of joining other participants)*** Note III)
f) NOT shared

3) Chores/Duties to be shared
a) Driving/Navigation Assistance
b) Cleaning (inside the camper/gargage)
c) Shopping (food/supplies)
d) Refilling (fuel/water)
e) Draining (toilet/used water)
f) Cooking
g) Any other chores during the trip

4) In case of emergency (sudden illness or so), we will abandon the original plan and attend the need of the person in need. No compensations of any kind will be required.

5) Non-refundable expenses
a) Motorhome rental fees*** Note IV)
b) Part of Ferry fees*** Note V)

Around 1,100 (40*28) Euro will be pledged and will collected from the full-time participants regardless of their participation.

6) Full-time/Part-time participants
a) Minimum of 4 Full-time participants are required to make this plan happen
b) Full-time participants are liable for the non-refundable rental fees
c) Part-time participants will not be liable for any of the non-refundable rental fees
d) Part-time participants are liable for ferry tickets cancellation fees
e) Part-time participants agree to pay for predetermined amount of fees
f) Food bills are not part of e)
g) Full-time participants are liable for making the ends meet*** Note VI)

If 4 of us agree, I will make an appointment with the rental operator and will have a talk. Otherwise, I will not even bother to talk to them at all.

I) Diesel prices during summer:
Luxembourg 1.20 to 1.25: 5%
France 1.40 to 1.49: Remaining
UK 1.50?? to ?: 10% to 20%

If we pay for the diesel fuel for 4,500 km at the consumption rate 8 km/l in these three countries, the projection will be roughly;
(4,500/8) * 145 = 788 Euro
Fuel cost 800

II) As described in "Tour de France 2014 planning VI"

III) If you live in Rome, Italy and would like to join us in Leeds, UK. Your flight from Rome to Leeds (and the ground transportation expenses to the airport) will be your own. We will pick you up at the Leeds airport. This Pick-up fee will be shared.
If you leave us after a certain stage (for instance) near Grenoble, your flight from Grenoble to Rome will be your own. We will try to see you off at the airport near Grenoble.
If you leave us after the final Champs-Elysees stage, your have to pay for the hotel for the night and the flight home the next day.

IV) Motor home rental reservation is made when minimum 4 people agree to pay for the fees and also agree that the fees are non-refundable.

If a full-time participant can not participate and desires a reimbursement, he/she must find another full-time participant. This is the only way out.

V) Ferry tickets can be only partly reimbursed on cancellation.
The reimbursement policy may be different among ferry operators. For example, I only got part reimbursement in 2013 from Corsica Ferries. Meal/seat fees were not part of the reimbursement. Yes, someone owes me money technically.

VI) We may incur a certain amount of unexpected charges from the rental operator. For example, a heavy traffic jam could prevent me from returning the camper in time. Then who pays for the surcharge? Full-time participants collectively!

In Japanese:続きをどうぞ [Tour de France 2014 "Dream Journey" report]の続きを読む

テーマ:自転車ロードレース - ジャンル:スポーツ

  1. 2013/07/29(月) 15:04:52|
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Tour de France 2014 planning VI

When and if we make it (materializing our Dream Journey), we will be following the tour together.

Can we agree on where to be or what to do? Can we get along?

Getting along part is something I can not guaranty. I hope and I believe there will be no problem at all, assuming that no one is a big snorer.

I have written food bills are separate. By saying this, I didn't mean that we eat separately.

Quite the opposite.

In the morning we will eating croissants together. At lunch time we will be eating sandwiches together. In the evening we will be cooking some hearty meals and eating together.
We will be drinking wine over dinner or opening bottles of sparking wine to celebrate the stage wins by our favorite riders together.

I meant that food bills are so totally unpredictable and can fluctuate so I can not include them in the calculation of the estimated cost per day per person.

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  1. 2013/07/26(金) 23:39:13|
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Tour de France 2014 planning Part V

In the previous entry, I suggested the following plan;

One day up to 5 days participants pay 90 Euro a day (food and drinks excluded).
6 days up to 10 days participants pay 80 Euro a day (ditto).
11 days up to 15 days participants pay 70 Euro a day (ditto).
16 days up to 20 days participants pay 60 Euro a day (ditto).
21 days to full participants pay for whatever remaining to be settled (ditto).

A person who rides our Juggernaute for 5 nights will pay 450 Euro.
A person who rides our Juggernaute for 10 nights will pay 800 Euro.
A person who rides our Juggernaute for 18 nights will pay 1080 Euro.

The figures were totally off the cuff. Disambiguation was inevitable.

There is, however, a reason behind this pricing. Our camper is rented for the duration of 4 weeks (maybe 4 weeks and 1 day??).

The total is likely to be around 4,500 Euro. This price includes the insurance policy which protects us against collision, theft?, any damages made to the equipment or so.

Let's do the math.

4,500/28 = 160.

I) Fuel cost unknown but just for the discussion's sake: 800
II) Ferry/toll charges: (ditto): 1,000
III) Others (supplies, water, etc.) (ditto): 200
800 + 1,000 + 200 = 2,000

***Note: I), II), III) will go up as we have more people on board.

2,000/28 = 70

We will be spending around (160 + 70 =) 230 Euro a day.

230/4 = 60 Euro. It could be more or less but I just don't know yet.

4 of us (most likely full-time participants) will be paying this much.

As I've written, I will make the reservation when I have the commitment from 4 people. These people can not step back anymore. They are committed to pay (160/4 =) 40 Euro a day no matter what, even in their absence. Already 30 days before the rental period begins, we (4) will have paid the full amount.

This amount (60 Euro) includes the chores already described. The dirtiest chores will be taken care of by me but still chores are chores.

We may have a person who wants to join us for days, a week or weeks. How much should he/she pay a day? This person is free of any chores.

I don't expect this person's commitment. This person can be a no show and we say nothing. In other words, I don't ask this person to pay for the reservation down payment or the part of the full amount 30 days before the rental contract begins.

We don't intend to charge him/her for every single foot of toilet paper he/she uses. We don't intend to charge him/her for every single cooled bottle of beer that we had bought.

When we have more people, our toilet chemicals will be consumed quicker. This is just one example. So how do you set the charge for a part participant?

Some might wonder why I did not offer "a flat rate"? Sure, I retract the previous section and can give you this;

a) Any part participants pay 80 Euro a day REGARDLESS of the duration of their participation. This does not include what the participants put in their mouth. Part participants are not responsible for any duties.

b) full participants (more than 3 weeks) pay for the equally divided sum of the remaining debts. Full participants are responsible for duties during their participation (including the final cleaning = 175 Euro worth). This does not include what the participant put in their mouth.

All participants are responsible for the expenses for;
1) the air/surface/sea traveling cost to the point of reaching our Juggernaute.
2) the air/surface/sea traveling cost homeward from the exiting point from our Juggernaute.
3) the air/surface/sea traveling cost homeward from Ave. Champs-Elysées.
4) the exception would be the fuel cost of the round trip to and from the rental company.

***1) For the spirit of comradeship, our Juggernaute will kindly make a pick-up service to the local station, airport or sea port. No charges!
***2) (ditto), our Juggernaute will kindly make a dump-off service to the local station, airport or sea port. (ditto)

The figures that appear in this entry or any other "Tour de France 2014 ...." are not definite. We only know that the layout of the first three stages and no more. The journey following the Tour could end up landing in Brazil if and when ASO presents the details in that way. Then the cost of our journey will skyrocket. French transportation authorities might decide to raise the toll rates in 2014, in the worst scenario, just before our freaking journey. There could be a oil crisis next year and the gas price may go over the chart (ditto). I am not responsible for any of the consequences.

And anyone who demands the nano-accurate lowest rate for participation should stay home and watch TV because that exactly what you get if you want to spend the minimum.

I can only give you a yards-accurate rate or so. When we are short, we have to putt. So, please accept my yards-accurate estimated figures.

I am not intending to make money on this journey. I want to be very clear on this point. As I've repeatedly written, the money collected from the part participants will be pooled and used to make the ends meet. I won't take the surplus home.

So, my dear part participants, I tell you this. As I only accept the participation of my friends and the friends of my friends,

if the pooled sum is fairly priced, everybody will be happy.

if the pooled sum is a bit overpriced, your friend will buy you a beer later.

if the pooled sum is underpriced, you should buy your friend a beer later.

Because, in the end, we (4) will know how much actually we have paid per day when I return the vehicle. The amount could be 60 Euro a day, 50 Euro day or 70 Euro a day. This part participant will be informed of this amount from the friend who had invited him/her.

Are you still not happy?

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  1. 2013/07/26(金) 09:34:43|
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Tour de France 2014 planning Part IV

OK, this is about our "Juggernaute."

I have to make some kind of ruling on the fair system of paying for the incurred expenses for those who join our "Tour" partly or not.

Our motor home will rented for 4 weeks. I will pick it up and later return it. After picking it up, I have to prepare it. The very initial supply of food, drinks and other supplies (You would expect some toilet paper already there, wouldn't you?) have to be loaded by me. After finishing our Tour in Paris, I still have to drive it to the rental company. I have to empty the toilet tank, used water tank, clean inside and fill it up before returning. According to the site I checked, if I decided to neglect cleaning and draining, they will charge another 175 Euro.

Here is the time table.
Pick-up: Monday evening?, June 30, 2014 and loading
Driving to Zeebrugge or Calais (ferry boarding): Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Arrival in Leeds: Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Team Presentation: Thursday, July 3, 2014
The Grand Depart: Saturday, July 5, 2014
Finish in Paris: Sunday, July 20, 2014
Returning the vehicle(after driving home 400 km): Monday, July 21, 2014

I try to make it (the paying system) very very crystal clear for everybody.

There are two main angles to analyse the fairness of the paying system.
1) I am the tour organizer and I provide services to the participants. Thus, I set the prices for everything and it is a "take it or leave it" system.

2) We, all participants, are like a family. There is no bickering over who is paying unfairly or not. We share.

3) A hybrid system between 1 and 2.

If 1) is the case, I charge everyone, say, 80 Euro everyday of the participation regardless of the number of participants. This 80 Euro charge does not include the food and drinks (especially booze).

It is as if you are staying at a youth hostel and everyday a chauffeur driver (me!) picks you up and take you to places to watch the Tour de France. I would say minimum period of participation is 5 days. If I had maximum participants (6) all the time, I would end up making a profit (, which is not likely to happen anyway). If I had fewer participants than desired, I would overpay for my vacation.

The basic idea is that you are paying for the accommodations and chauffeur services. In other words, I take care of draining, loading, shopping, navigation and accounting. Everybody besides me sleeps like a baby while driving.

If you participate for 3 weeks, you will pay 1,680 Euro and whatever you put in your mouth.

If 2) is the case, I divide the sum of expenses by the number of participants regardless of the period of participation. I will not make any profit at all.

It is a spirit of family vacation unless someone's period of participation is less than 5 days. If someone stays only less than 5 days, this person pays the half as other participants. In this case, this total sum does not include the food and drinks. Food and drinks are always as-you-go basis.

Based on the rough and primitive estimate described in "Tour de France 2014 planning", this would go like this.

If we HAD 4 full time (more than 3 weeks is considered full) participants and 2 part participants (one 10 days and the other 4 days).

Rental fees should be divided by 6: 4,500/6 = 750
Everybody but one person (4-day tripper) pays (750 + 375/5 =) 825.
4-day tripper pays 375.

Other charges (except for food and drinks), ferry, toll, supplies or fuel are loosely* summed up and divided by 6. This 4-day tripper pays for the half of whatever other participants are paying like above. In addition to the reduces charges, these 4- and 10-day triper are free of duties.

This 4-day trip may cost around 500 to 600 Euro, I guess.

**"loosely" suggests that those who flies directly to Leeds does not pay for the ferry (continent to UK) but for the inward ferry ride (Dover-Calais).

You may argue that 10-day tripper might pay 75% and 4-day tripper might pay 40% of those full-time trippers. You may manipulate the figures like 65%, 55% or whatever.

If we have a designated accounting genius in our group, this might work because the incurring expenses have to be sorted out everyday.

3) I can make a hybrid paying system.

One day up to 5 days participants pay 90 Euro a day (food and drinks excluded).
6 days up to 10 days participants pay 80 Euro a day (ditto).
11 days up to 15 days participants pay 70 Euro a day (ditto).
16 days up to 20 days participants pay 60 Euro a day (ditto).
21 days to full participants pay for whatever remaining to be settled (ditto).

This way, I will be making absolutely no profit at all. We just pool the money collected from the part participants and make the ends meet. Part participants are also duties-free.

So what do you think?

By the way, I am getting a good feeling about the cost. I will do more research. Now I know about the ferry prices and gas price in UK (roughly the Dutch price). I want to know the stage layout for 2014.

This year it was a zigzag layout. I drove almost 6,000 km. As the transfer distance was so much, I had to rely on the toll ways so frequently. I think I spent more than 300 or close to 400 Euro paying for the toll.

The total cost will be lower than the initial estimate, I think.

テーマ:自転車ロードレース - ジャンル:スポーツ

  1. 2013/07/25(木) 16:09:30|
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Tour de France 2014 planning Part III

I have planning for the Tour de France 2014. I have already some friends who are interested in it.

I need commitment from more than 3 people (other than me, so more than 4 including me) to make it happen.

Andy Schleck has already expressed his feeling that he is hungry (for success) and very motivated for 2014's edition. Fränk Schleck will be also there as they have the contract with the new TREK team.

This is good and at the same time bad.

Why bad? As the interest of people in Luxembourg soars in proportion to the anticipation of Schleck brothers' performance, more and more of them (Luxembourgers) are likely to rent motor homes and go follow the Tour. I am very afraid that I have to make a very early reservation for one.

There are not so many companies offering mobile homes in Luxembourg. Sure I can rent one from some companies based in Germany. Using them (German companies) means that picking up and returning a mobile home to a location in Germany costs me time and (every participant) money. I would like to rent one from a local company.

Making a reservation already costs. I have to pay a quarter of full amount on reservation. It seems that have to pay the full amount 30 days before the actual rental period. In fact, I have to ask participants to pay me before that.

That's is why I used the word "commitment." Once someone is in, I can not let him/her out. In other words, there is no saying, "Sorry but I have a friend suddenly getting married in July so I want out." Sure, you don't have to come join us and are free to attend your friend's wedding but you must pay at least for (your part of) the rental fees and ferry tickets.

There is no telling the future events. I understand that but commitment means commitment, sorry people.

I repeat once again that it is like getting married under Italian laws. There is no way you get a divorce. Catholic church is not so lenient and neither am I.

OK, enough on this topic.

I'll be the only driver. Adding additional drivers will likely cost a bit (insurance procedures as you may know). I won't mind driving for an extended period of time like 10 hours a day. I have done that this year during the Tour. No problem.

I have already written that duties should be divided among participants. I have to make it clear that this is also commitment.

For instance, a designated navigation assistant (not necessarily one person all the time during the trip) must stay awake in the passenger's seat and help me. When I need a drink, this assistant must reach out for a bottle. When we need to make a sudden detour (because of a road closure, etc.), this assistant must consult a paper map to see if we are heading for routes to be avoided like mountains.

The navigation assistant must jump off the car, even in a heavy rain, and help me back up.

I know almost none who can stay awake in the passenger's seat in my life. Everybody sleeps when not driving. Well I don't sleep while driving or not driving.

Bringing a bike is totally optional. Because the size of the motor home, getting a good place in the mountains is very difficult. For example, at the foot of l'Alpe d'Huez, mobile homes were denied access two days before the stage whereas cars were still allowed to come in until the evening before the stage.

If you are healthy and strong, you can climb up on foot. Fine. You have to know, however, that climbing down takes much longer on foot than on a bike.

After the stage, there is this inevitable traffic jam for hours. We want to drive to the next planned location as quickly as possible. We don't want to wait for the walkers to come back too late. So the rule is that participants on foot must not go too far up the mountains.

We will most likely skip one or two stages completely. The stages likely to be skipped will be the ones before the important mountain stages. For example, I skipped two stages; one before Mont Ventoux and before Alpe d'Huez. Getting to the most exciting places is more important than anything. We (all participants) will talk before deciding. We have a democracy. On the other hand, we have a satellite TV on board. We can watch the skipped stage still.

Are you a quick and efficient shopper? We don't have much time for shopping. There's no time for wandering away in the supermarket. We have to do it quick. Designated shoppers must make a list of items to purchased before going into the supermarket. We have a small refrigerator on board. We can stock up for a couple of days.

This is a sensitive issue but I have to write about it. Can you, female participants, "go" in the nature like in the bush? I am talking about the worst scenario but on very rare occasions you have to "go" pick the flowers in the nature. Our mobile home does have a bathroom but what if the tank is filled up? Sorry.

Since I am the only male participant so far, I will be emptying the tank. I can not guaranty that the tank is always empty, you know. And men almost always dehydrate themselves in the nature to avoid the inconvenient situations. This is a gentleman's agreement.

If you are a male participant, you will be doing the dirty job instead of me. 100% guarantied! You'll be doing it almost everyday. Hahaha!

We have a shower and the boiler makes hot water. God bless a motor home! We must use water very very sparingly, though. For this reason, people often go to a camping site even though they travel in a motor home. If you are a cascade shower taker, you can not travel with us. Our motor home will sleep 6 people but does not store tons of water.

Have I scared you off, you potential participants? I am very afraid I have.

If you can not agree with me, you should stay home and watch TV in your living room instead. I highly recommend it.

If, and only if, you can live with the inconvenience described above, you can join me.

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [Tour de France 2014 planning Part III]の続きを読む

テーマ:自転車ロードレース - ジャンル:スポーツ

  1. 2013/07/25(木) 02:47:31|
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Tour de France 2014 planning Part II

I am making a very slow progress on the research. I have found a camper rental site which looks not bad.

I found out that highways in UK are generally toll-free.

Ferry connections are easy to find. I used AFerry.com (http://www.aferry.com/) to make a quick inquiry for the prices.

There are two simple choices.

Choice 1)
I can drive from Luxembourg to Zeebrugge (Netherlands) to catch a ferry to Hull (United Kinddom). The Grand Depart is held in Leeds not far from Hull.
(There is also a ferry connection between Rotterdam and Hull)
This quote is for a camper less than 7 meters long less than 4 meters high and 2 passengers.

Choice 2)
I can drive from Luxembourg to Calais (France) to catch a ferry to Dover (United Kingdom) and then drive up to Leeds.
This quote is for a camper (same as above) and 2 passengers.

This quote is for a camper (ditto) and 6 passengers. As you can see, the number of passengers does not make a big difference. This is not the case with Zeebrugge-Hull ferries because the compulsory booking of the cabins to sleep in makes the price soar with more passengers. If I book a one-way ticket Zeebrugge-Hull with 6 passengers, it will cost almost 1,000 Euro!

Choice 1 looked good first. Less driving. The ferry ride is 15 hours long. Booking a cabin with bunk beds is compulsory. The price difference between Zeebrugge-Hull and Calais-Dover is about 300 Euro. I don't think it costs this much to drive from Dover to Leeds (Fuel and toll). Would I want to drive 430 km to save some money?

Choice 2 has some unknown factors.

Factor a. Driving in UK. I was used to driving on the wrong side (left) of the road. I am not familiar with the road signs in UK. Since I am driving a large car, I don't want to drive it alone in UK.

Factor b. The gas price (diesel) is much higher in UK, I heard. Driving in UK makes the fuel cost soar. I don't wish to drive too much in UK.

Speaking of doing anything at all in UK, I intend to purchase as little as possible there. I will stock up for the initial ratio before leaving the continent.

The price of crossing the Calais-Dover is not high. It takes about 3 hours to cross it. From Dover it is 430 km drive to Leeds. Leeds has a relatively convenient airport. Some of my friends can join me after landing in Leeds, I guess. Since the ferry ride is short, there is no need to reserve a cabin or anything.

I intend to watch the Team Presentation on Thursday. Friends joining me who don't wish to do so can join me later on Friday or Saturday.

Because the plan is renting a motor home, I think taking the ferry is better than using the Euro Tunnel. I think you can not take filled gas tanks into the tunnel.

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [Tour de France 2014 planning Part II]の続きを読む

テーマ:自転車ロードレース - ジャンル:スポーツ

  1. 2013/07/23(火) 22:37:49|
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Tour de France 2014 planning

I am planning for the Tour de France 2014 and I am serious.

I have a plan: Renting a comfortably equipped mobile home and follow the Tour!

To make it happen I need: 4 to 6 people participating (including me).

4 to 6 is the key because:
1) sharing the cost of a comfy camper* is the key as during the high season (June-August) it costs around 120-160 Euro a day (and additional insurance 1,000)
2) dividing the duties* among participating poeple makes the trip easier for me (driver)
3) an equipped camper takes typically up to 6 occupants. A 7-seater seems to be rare.

*a comfy camper is the one equipped with toilet/shower room, satellite TV/antenna, air-conditioner, beds/seats for up to 6 people, awning, bike rack, stoves, refrigerator. In other words, it is a hotel room with a shared bathroom with a kitchen on wheels. It is like staying at F-1 hotel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotel_Formule_1) everyday.

*duties (other than driving, mainly house chores) are taking out the trash, draining the used water, emptying the toilet tank, refilling the water, cleaning, cooking, shopping (for food etc.), navigation assistance, accounting (keeping the track of the expenses) and etc. I know I have to drive 200 to 300 km up to 6 hours a day so these house chores are really a pain.

I think I'll be responsible for routing, driving and emptying the toilet tank. In other words, the real dirty job.

I need to do some research before presenting the plan to the potential participants.
a) Camper rental fees
b) Ferry (Zeebrugge, Netherlands to Hull, UK)/(Dover crossing) prices for a camper
c) Estimated Fuel cost = the mileage of a camper (12 km per litter?) multiplied by 4000 km or 5000 km
d) We don't know (yet) anything about the 2014 stages other than UK stages. Knowing the entire stage layout helps me make an educated guess of the cost
e) Prices for propane gas, toilet chemicals and others

For the next 2 months, I'll keep digging deep into the details to have the more accurate figures. I'll do my best to make the estimate as accurate as possible. I think the rough stage layout will be presented in September or October, right?

I know people are impatient. So I give them the preview. These figures below could be very inaccurate and wrong.

Warning: No promises that these figures are accurate!!!!!

Ballpark figures:
Rental and insurance for 4 weeks: 4,500
Fuel: 800?
Ferry/Highway tolls: for the moment no idea but say 1,000?
Others (water, gas for the stove, toilet chemicals): 200?

TOTAL: 6,500
When divided by 4: 1,625
When divided by 5: 1,300
When divided by 6: 1,090

Food and drink: no idea but for a discussion sake, 200 per person? excluding the booze

The rental fee for the camper is relatively high but it could be divided among the participants.

So one person could be paying up to 1,825 to 1,290 Euro for 4-week vacation. Considering the comfort provided by this plan, I say it is a great deal for other participants.

Yeah, it has to be a great deal since the cost includes the transportation fees, accommodation fees and food.

I have already talked to some friends about this plan. Some are likely to join me in Yorkshire so they don't have to pay for the ferry (Netherlands-Yorkshire) but instead they pay for the flight fees from their home to Leeds. Others have to fly to Europe on their own. So the actual cost for the trip is not the same for everybody.

Just in case some poeple want to join for a week or two, I will say that Camper rental fees are shared in their entirety by all participants regardless of the period of their participation. They (partly participants) will pay for other expenses incurred only during their participation (fuel, tolls and etc.). This is a fair deal, I think.

I am revising the paragraph above. I have to think about the part participants. I will be posting the revised paragraph later.

In Japanese: 続きをどうぞ [Tour de France 2014 planning]の続きを読む

テーマ:自転車ロードレース - ジャンル:スポーツ

  1. 2013/07/23(火) 18:40:45|
  2. Tour de France
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TdF Diary V

Calvi, ... sigh. What a mess! After stage 2, I came down to Calvi.

Oh by the way I saw a well-tanned good-looking guy climbing on his shiny bike up Col de Vizzavona who looked just like Mario Cipollini and the bike had also the name Cipollini on it. Everybody who was a fan of cycling sport was taken aback and looked arround to seek nods among the crowds that he was not dreaming (me too). We, spectators, collectively decided that it was not a lookalike.

It was Mario silently and subtlely plugging his bike brand. Yeah, Italy is close and he might as well have a vacation villa on the island. Who knows?

I did not know the history of Corsica but decided before ciming here that like Alsace area in France this island belonged to another country before being converted to France as the names of towns and villages and family names of the locals do not conform to French conventions.

I did not know, however, that there was a (were?) political movement to get independence from France. This island economy seems to be doing well presumably owing to its tourism industry. Just like in the Pyrenees, we saw grafitis in the parcours showing the name, in initials, of this political group. They were done poorly, though. White spray cans were used but with no style. On the other hand, those graphitis done in the Pyrenees have difinitely finesse or elegance.

DVB-T television did not work in the mountains. I only had a radio scanner. It was s hot day.

I checked out the camping site in Calvi 08:00 that Ichecked in 20:00 the previous evening (11€). I shopped for the day. Casino (supermarket) at 08:30 as soon as they opened. By the time I arrived the top of the last climb of the day, it was arround 09:00. There were people already there. It is only 10 to 15 minutes from the center of the town. I settled and started setting up the flags. Mixed the yellow color into the base white paint and drew "Jan" on the road.

There were not so much competition; I easily single-handedly conquered the hill.

The problem was the exit. At the foot of the hill, the Gendarmerie directed the traffic to go on a detour. Everyone followed and I came back to a different point in Calvi where we were stopped by them again. I was caged in. If I wanted to drive to Bastia, I would have done extra 30km detour or more. Waste of time and money. So I stayed until cose to 20:00. The Gendarmerie said it would be closed till 20:00 but they abandoned the post by 19:45.

In Japanese:
数日全くインターネットが使えない状況でした。マクドナルドは無いし、山の上では携帯電話さえ繋がらない。今はレンヌ近くの 35520 La Meziereという街のマクドナルドでネットに繋がりました。これからサンマロ方向へ向かいます。現地時間日曜日正午
  1. 2013/07/08(月) 19:03:59|
  2. はじめに
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TdF Diary part IV

I had a bit of time to finally experiment with the solar panel at the camping la Matonara (which by the way did not impress me with their facilities but cost reasonablely enough). The verdict: it does not impress me with its performance at all.

Now I'm writing this in the morning on the roadside just 1.5km down Col de !!! It is sunny today but it does not have enough juice to charge my iPhone while I write this. Maybe I wasted my money.

The Grand Départ, not so special anyway, was OK. After that everybody moved to the big roundabout area where the peloton was to come back before leaving for Bastia.

After that I left for a camping site near Vivario, near Col de Vizzabona. 11 € for one night. Checked out 07:30. It is Sunday and people showed up here. Local peeps?

I was expecting (or not expection) those candy vending people here on this island. There they were! Amazing! I saw these (I think the same folks) evey year as far as I can remember. I'll try to photo them so you can see.

The spot I stayed for Stage 2 was just 1 or 1.5 km from the summit of Vizzavona and there were many people. I put up the flags and painted. Not much since the traffic, 12:15 cut off time for incoming cars, settled just before the passage of the publicity caravan.

There were Canadians and Norwegians besides French peeps. Canadian couples were from Quebec, French speaking part. I did the usual thing. I got a bottle of juice in exchange for my service. "David Veilleux" on the road.

"EDDIE" for a bottle of mineral water ( Eduard Boasson Hagen).

Today I got a T-shirt from Carrefour pre-caravan vans. AT-shirt with red polka dots and 100th edition of TdF logo. Nice!

Sprinters were difinitely not having their day. After the peloton passed, I saw groupettos in various tastes. André Greipel out of the saddle with the jersey flying open. Marcel Kittel in yellow sweating like a horse or waterfall led by his teammates. Mark Cavendish like a treasured sheep literally surrounded (not led!) by many of his sheepherders (teammates). Since Cav is shorter than any other QuickStep riders, he just looked caged in like an animal.

Everybody including Kittel himself knew that the German would retain the yellow for one day. I believe Kittel slept in it the previous night.

Drove 110 km to a camping site (la dolce vita!) in Calvi. Used costly roaming service to get online. Surprise! Who won the stage? Jan Bakelants!! Good! I brought yellow color for this occasion.
  1. 2013/07/03(水) 02:35:27|
  2. はじめに
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TdF Diary part III

Many (if not all) riders and staff members who belong to or once belonged to the team(s) I suppot or supported recognize me because I follow(ed) them so frequently. I did not expected this when I started out in 2004. The first race I went to was Rund um Köln. I've come a long way.

If by any wild chance, I won a lottery and got enough money to do so, I would spend it on buying a cycling team. I wish. I live only once.
  1. 2013/07/03(水) 02:35:15|
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TdF Diary part II

Thursday morning, before I slept I found Merida-Lampre's hotel and Cannondale/Saxo-Tinkoff's hotel by chance. So after the check-in I took my bike and revisited the latter. It was the other side of the road from the harbour empty yard where the presentation would later take place.

At the hotel where Saxo-Tinkoff was staying I saw Japanese media people and greeted. I asked and they told me BMC's hotel was nearby and RadioShack-Leopard's hotel was on the other side of the small harbour. So I went and found the hotel. "Costa Salina" housed Belkin, Europecar and RSLT. OK I got what I needed to know. Came back to la Matonara and took a shower and changed. I packed a bit of food/drink, camera and flags and walked to the harbour. I was the first one to squat behind the barrier. It was 12:20.

Last year I showed up at place de Lambert in Liége arround 7:00. I began squatting arround 7:30?? There was a man before me but this man abandoned after a while. And I stayed. This makes me the first squatter for two years in a row! I am not making this up. Let's see what I can do in 2014 in Yorkshire.

I saw TP (Team Presentation) in Brest, Rotterdam, Liége and Porto-Vecchio. I liked the one in Rotterdam and Liége.

I liked the former because it was multilingual although French was missing. The moderators spoke in Dutch, English and Italian.

I liked the latter as the live band accompanied the show although English was missing. The band's female vocalist was from Sicily and helped the moderators communicate with Vincenzo Nibali. So French and Italian were used.

OK I am not sure if I can make it to Yorkshire next year but I am expecting English will be the main language.

If the Grand Depart were held in Luxembourg, a minimum of four language would be used. English, French, German and Luxembourgish. These are minimum. Additionally others could be available like Portuguese or Italian as many people working in the media have various ethnic backgrounds.

This year's show was not bad but not so memorable. Oh by the way, Nicolas Roche was never formally introduced to the public. He is well-know in France and his name was indeed referred on the stage. He is the only one who did not get properly introduced. The roster the MC had got Nicki Sørensen's name on it instead of Roche.

No McDonald's in sight. No free wifi. I had to turn on the expensive roaming option on to get to the net.

Finally Trek announced that it had acquired the license from Leopard SA. It was about the time. Next year, the team will be Trek-(sub-sponsor, if any). There are rumors that staff (and riders) who are strongly linked to JB will be purged. I just hope everybody I like stays.

Friday morning I woke up a bit late. I needed a good sleep. It had been a while since I last slept on my back. I got up arround 9:00 and got a shower. I had to get to the hotel and get the autograph from Jan Bakelants.

The hotel's parking, where people stalked on riders, was not so crowded. In fact, almost deserted. Not so many people came all the way to Corsica after all. I don't know this had been expected by ASO or the tourism office of the island. Norwegians, New zealanders (or Australians) are easy to spot as always. The former wear that Jerseys or shirts with Norwegian flag or letters proudly. The latter have flags and kangaroo figures or kiwi figures (flightless birds). And recent years Czechs have been ubiquitous. They now enjoy their place in cycling sport.

Cycling sport is not too nationalistic. That is what I like about it. A team consisting of multinational riders and staff members aiming the one goal. This is beautiful.
  1. 2013/07/03(水) 02:35:05|
  2. はじめに
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TdF Diary

Now at a camping site in Porto-Vecchio, Corsica. Just several hundred meters from the Grand Depart/Team Presentation site.
Go back in time and leave this captain's log, star date .....

Left Luxembourg around 10:00 Tuesday, 26 June. Drove down to the South. French part of toll way cost me 4.4 and then 5 € or so. Entered Switzerland in the afternoon. Border was wide open and nobody wanted to see my passport nor frisk me. Disappointed.

The wheather was dismal in Luxembourg and halfway through Alsace area. It rained. (pict here)

The sky turned blue passed Colomar, I think. It got sunnier in Switzerland. 19 degrees, which translates into "summer" in Swiss German.

Just before entering the Gotthard tunnel, the outside temperture was 12 degrees Celsius. It went up to 35 in the tunnel. It was still arround 19 on the other side. This side is already Italian speaking ares. I was here two weeks ago to see TdS (Tour de Suisse). I had 1.4 SF (Suisse Franc) leftover. I stopped at a large service area and bought a piece of croissant like bread. Goodbye my last SF!

Having occasional breaks, I crossed the Italian border at 21:00. Disappointment again (meaning no police frisk)! A bit puzzled by Italian motorway signs and Italian words. Anyway I paid 2.1 and 2.8€ for early sections. Then I entered a section with a ticket, which in the end cost me 26.8 € before entering France again.

Arrived at a "Area di Servizio" near Milan passed Midnight, where I had a sleep till 05:00. I was on the road again.

It was a warm night as I had only T-shirt on while sleeping and was still comfortable.

Shortly after being on the road, I needed refueling. Italian word for diesel is "gasolio" I guess. An attendant kindly told me that "normal diesel" and "super diesel" (pict here). I filled Ka up only about 10 litters and paid that attendant. He gave the change after taking his share of the pie (or should I say pizza?). I guess this is the Italian way. French word for diesel is "gazole" by the way.

The weather was good. Temperature above 20 Celsius. I got off the motorway to enter Monaco. I entered (no border check) Monaco arround 9:50. Just drove arround for a while. Then headed for Nice. Arrived in Nice arround 10:30. I went to the port and learned that the port was full. Camions (trucks and rigs) were queuing up. The port worker (for Corsica ferries) told me to come back 1 hour before the departure time.

Decided to wait in town. Found a spot near a park. I had to keep feeding the parking ticket vending machine. I went to a McDonald's for wifi. Got an e-mail from Corsica ferries that the boar was late. Two hours of ETA from Corsica.

I revisited the port 15:00 and checked in. The attendant told me that I should check the ticket as I was alone. I booked for two passengers. The ticket was changed and I was partially reimbursed, not fully but still happy.

The reason for the delay, as you might have already guessed, was the traffic created by TdF, namely the big rigs carrying the stuff for setting up the race venue and plus extra visitors like me. It was simply 100% booked up and unloading and loading took longer than usual. The ferry arrived at 14:15, at which is exactly it was supposed to leave.

Loading took longer than usual and we left Nice arround 17:05? ETA was announced as 22:45. 3 hours later than the scheduled time. I knew I could not check in a camping site by then.

Unloading (disembarking) was also slow as those huge rigs had to leave first. I was on the solid ground arround 23:20.

I had no choice but to head down to Porto-Vecchio and seek for a parking place to sleep a bit. On the way, I learned two things.

One there is a unknown word, which seemed to mean diesel, "gasoil" in Corsica.
Two they built a new stretch of roads toward south from Bastia. I was flying in the air for quite a while on both screens of Garmin nüvi and iPhone TomTom. The black and clean surface of the asphalt confirmed my guess.

Arrived in Porto-Vecchio arround 02:20 in the morning. Tired, I fell asleep in the seat. Woke up and sought for a camping site. There was one nearby.
Check-in: 9:00.

This place cost me 24.8€ for 1 person, one car and a tent for two night. La Matonara just 300 meters from Leclerc.
  1. 2013/07/03(水) 02:34:51|
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