Grandad WW2 cycle trip: full frontal assault

posted on January 2, 2015 in Cycling,Travel

Day 1

At 4:45am atmospheric music was piped into the cabin of our landing craft (a Brittany Ferry). Lew, Joe and I went down to the car deck to ready our mounts. Cycling off a ferry is a novel experience I suggest you try at least once. We rolled off the ramp at Caen ferry port, re-secured all the panniers and immediately headed to our first objective, Pegasus Bridge. A short, misty cycle along the Caen canal brought us to the famous bridge. Although the original bridge is no longer in place (it lives at a museum a stones throw away) it was quite surreal. As a member of Generation Y I’d played this level in countless games from Hidden and Dangerous to Call of Duty. And yet here it was, one of the first objectives captured by British airborne forces in the early hours of 6th June 1944.

After taking in the bridge, we rode down to the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Ranville. Still before breakfast time, with the sun just rising, mist low on the flat land and no other souls in sight, it gave an incredibly peaceful aura. After paying our respects we headed back up across the bridge to pick up the Normandy coast and head West. A quick fuel stop (jam, baguette, croissant, coffee) at Luc-sur-Mer and we cruised on to Arromanches where we visited the 360° WW2 Battlefield cinema.

Next stop was the German gun battery at Longues sur Mer. The intimidating concrete bunkers and giant rifled artillery barrels giving a flavour of what the Allies faced once they made it across The Channel.

We cycled on through light drizzle to Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, home to the Normandy American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, both of which now infamous thanks to the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan. There was a lot more pomp and ceremony to this cemetery but it is hard not to be moved by the endless rows of white crosses.

After watching the daily flag ceremony, we saddled up and completed the last 10 miles to the municipal campsite in Bayeux. Having covered about 60 miles fully loaded we had built an appetite so we walked into Bayeux to sample the local cuisine. The service in our chosen restaurant was terrible, but only made us laugh. The lady who served us seemed to have her own agenda, which rarely coincided with serving us any food. Luckily the Pizza Super Souffle I chose was like a calzone on testosterone so I was happy.

After picking up a few supplies, Lew, Joe and I headed back to our 2 man tent to get some sleep in advance of our first ‘big’ ride.

Grandad WW2 cycle trip: planning and preparation

posted on in Cycling,Travel

I remember the excitement in knowing Grandma and Grandad were visiting. I would peak out of the bay window just waiting to get the first glimpse of the boxy yellow Volvo estate pulling up. They were kindly and nice and were probably good enough to seem interested in me prattling about steam engines or Lego. When we visited them everything was comfortably familiar and as reliable and ordered as the old wind up clock which ticked away in the living room. Everything had it’s place, from the fruit ripening in a tray under the sideboard, the gentle ‘blup’ of bubbles rising through the airlock of the Elderflower wine brewing in the cloak room, the big Ferguson TV with buttons which pressed with a satisfying ‘thunk’. I liked how the table was always made in advance of meals, the walks in Knole Park, me and my brother running around the massive garden laid out with beds of colourful plants and shoots of rhubarb. I loved it.
Playing in the garden
Grandad was a quiet man. I remember him being good at maths puzzles and crosswords, which we would cut out of newspapers so we could take them down the next time we visited. He never spoke about the war, but then he never spoke about many things really. I suppose he only spoke when it was really necessary. I guess I must have found out he was involved in the war when I was growing up, but it was only after he died I really had a better picture of it. When we were clearing his house, we found an officers Sam Browne belt with cross strap and swagger stick. We also found the maps. There are thirteen maps in total, freshly printed in 1944, covering Northern Europe. And my Grandad, ever meticulous, had marked on the precise route he had taken – from the beach at Arromanches in Normandy – through Belgium and Holland, and into Germany. Just before he died, my Dad had managed to get him to commit his memory of the war to paper.

The Normandy maps

The Normandy maps

It was whilst poring over these maps and reading these memories I had the idea that we might be able to follow in his footsteps and cycle the route. Inevitably, life got in the way and it wasn’t until 5 years passed and Supreme Commander Lew (capable of organising things) kicked the plans into shape, that we actually did it.

Planning Operation Neptune

Planning Operation Neptune

During preparations, it became apparent though what took the Allied forces a year to do would probably still take us weeks and weeks to cover on 2 wheels. So we scaled back the idea just to follow a bit of Grandad’s route and spend a couple of days visiting the WW2 sites in Normandy. Lew came up with a comprehensive and meticulous plan (he’d have liked my Grandad).

Overall plan

Overall plan

Fixing the Strava ‘Data sync failed’ issue

posted on January 20, 2014 in Stuff

The problem of when Strava says ‘Data sync failed’. But in fact if you check online all the rides are there. It just has an ever increasing number of annoying unsync’d activities at the top of the screen.

Strava Unsynced activities

  • Go to phone settings
  • Tap Applications Manager
  • Find Strava Cycling

Android Application Manager

  • Tap Force stop, agree to the warning
  • Tap Clear cache
  • Tap Clear data (only if you’re sure everything is synced)

Delete cache and data

  • Start Strava again and log in
  • Everything is hunky dory again for a while.


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