Portraits

Charleville-Mézières, Ardennes, wed May 15, 2013

Afterride: time to think over what you have seen, learned and experienced. Time to draw the portraits of the companions with whom you shared what will remain  a highlight of your life, a story you will tell your grandchildren. Well, this ride was a total success.
Let’ start with the most important: not a single incident or accident in two weeks. Not even a flat tire. A cold but fair weather, mainly overcast but with only two hours of serious rain. Of the 1800 Kms 95 % were  small backroads with absolutely no traffic . Beautiful sceneries all along . So,  what else?
What else?  the camaraderie, the human intensity of such rides.
During the first week in Aveyron we  rode with 11 “Cavaliers de Lafayette ” riders, all French except Chris Davies.
Conversly during the second week I was the only Frenchman of the group, the others being 5 Americans and one  Dutchman. Let me present them:

Mike Hoover aka “Alpha Bravo Charlie”

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Mike is the one who had the idea  to ride from Barclona to Amsterdam. He sent an email to the 45 alumni of the 2010  C2C to ask who was interested, and we turned out being 6 to answer positively.

I nicknamed Mike  “Alpha Bravo Charlie” because he was an air controler and he does not talk very much. Not a big talker, but generous, plain, to the point, pragmatic, easygoing . A great photographer ( I used most of his pictures on my C2C video ) with a real eye  and a sense of originality .   Mike  lives near Indianapolis,  and rides a Surly long haul Trucker.

Chuck Swaney aka “foie gras”

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Chuck is a life lover: he loves foie gras, wine, art, discovering France, lollygagging in the streets of the old towns, and of course riding on backroads.His eyes are wide open and he asks  lots of questions: why are there so many villages in France? what does “rappel” mean? why do people talk so much? His mind is wonderfully open and he seems to always be happy, even when his legs are dead after 80 miles of hills on his Surly Long Haul trucker. Chuck is a half retired radiologist and lives near St Louis,MO.

Christopher Davies aka “chocolate”

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Chris is the nicest guy in the world and always caring. He would do anything to help you, but if you pay him with a chocolate bar, you make his day. Needless to say that our chocolate sprees were source of jokes! A strong rider, a meticulous planner and an excellent navigator, Chris is also an art lover and would not miss a church or a castle, of which there were plenty on the ride. Chris lives in San Francisco and had a career in IT.

Steve Longenecker aka “shepherd”

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Steve joined our small group saying he was not a rider but would enjoy driving the car to carry the bags and rescue us in case of need. We greetly approved of course and we had a wonderful time with him. He was our shepherd. Living retired near Colombus OH, it was his first time in Europe and he reveled in driving along our narrow and curvy roads. It was a pleasure to comment for him in the evening what he saw during the day down the road. Gifted with a deadpan sense of humor, he kept pulling my leg, and I did reciprocate with  pleasure.

Jan Landsman aka “the Dutch train” aka “Teddy Bear”

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Actually the nickname was given to Jan during the Coast to Coast in 2010, because he is a strong rider and has broad shoulders. You could spend  the whole day sucking his wheel protected from headwind by his massive body opening the road like a locomotive. But I  also call him Teddy Bear because he is as nice and caring as his frame is stout and strong.Jan being Dutch is of course the guide on the Belgium and Holland part of the ride, and he was kind enough to provide his car driven by Steve.

Philippe Mélot aka??????

Photo Philippe 2007 copy blog

I let it to my friends to reveal the nickname they gave me, if any. What is sure is that we were a wonderful seamless team during these 8 days and I thank all and each of them for their constant good spirit, kindness, patience and solidarity.

The magic of the ride.

Thanks, guys! See you soon!

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2 Responses to Portraits

  1. Michele says:

    hmmmm… must defer to the band of brothers on this ride but reading your posts and seeing how often coffee (and chocolate) appear makes me think maybe “Philippe Mélot” could be dubbed “Java” or “Jamocha”? Could also go with “Merlot” but “Merlin” captures better the magic you conjure!

  2. Thanks for your comment Michelle! Java? Jamocha? Merlot? Merlin? I suggest that next summer on the Hudson Valley ride we deploy our creativity to give each rider a nickname!

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