The Plan was to get from South London to Landry, a small village close to Bourg Saint Maurice in the French Rhone Alps. It involved many stages and means of transport, but the bit that stressed me out the most was going through central London with a massive bike bag at rush hour on Monday morning. There was only one flight that arrived in Lyon in time to catch the train to Landry and it flew out of Luton, so I just had to get on with it.
As I stood in my lounge with bags packed, it occurred to me that my Scicon bike bag looked rather like a Shetland pony (about the same size anyway!), so to ease my stress I decided to call it ‘Ned’. Just one of my many survival strategies.
As I left the house and arrived at the main road, I saw a 322 bus at the bus stop, and although I had planned to pull ‘Ned’ to Brixton station, I decided to see if the bus would allow him on. The bus driver raised his eyebrows, but said if I could get the thing on without his help, I could take a ride. Easy! It was a great start and my trip across London to Luton was pretty straightforward, apart from a wobble (4 faults) on the concourse at Kings Cross. The shuttle from Luton train station to Luton airport was rammed, so I allowed a woman to rest her bag on mine, which unfortunately dislodged a bag in Ned’s ‘internals’, so by the time I got to the oversized bag counter, he was trotting along at an extremely jaunty angle and had to undergo major surgery. There were bits coming out all over the place, but once the top bar bag was re-secured everything seemed to settle down.
The journey from Lyon to Landry was pretty easy. I was going to say ‘like falling of a horse’ but I think it takes things too far. Getting from Landry station to the chalet was the last challenge of the day. The village has a petrol station and a butcher, and if it was Midwest USA it would probably have tumble-weed blowing down the main street. It was dark and the station platform was more grass than concrete and I was alone as the train pulled out of the station. My four-wheeled friend and I faced a half a mile of uphill, with a section of 9% at the top. I know because I’ve cycled it on many occasions. I clipped the two strap handles together to make a harness and attached it to the front of the bag, then got inside the harness and pulled the bag along with my hips, like being attached to a sledge. It must have looked like I was undertaking some kind of bizarre challenge or new sport, and it was only the fact that it was dark and deserted that allowed me to do such a thing, but it worked really well. Necessity is the mother of invention indeed.
So, a whopping 13 hours later my bike, my luggage and I arrived for chapter two of my alpine 2016 adventure.
(picture of women at Lyon train station using a pedal powered phone re-charger. I think she was playing Candy Crush Saga)
If you are transferring your bike to and from Heathrow, Gatwick or City Airports the easiest option is to use these guys. portr.com. They deliver to and from any of the above airports to your home. I will be checking them out on the way back as I fly into Gatwick. I am hoping they expand their business to Luton and Standstead!
Post script: Unfortunately ‘Ned’ lost a hoof on the homeward journey. As it was one of his rear ones, the bag was surprisingly stable on three wheels and my journey was not adversely affected. I will be ordering some new ones for the next trip.