Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

For more information on the Cafes I have visited and the latest cafe cycle news go to http://www.cake-crusader.co.uk/

Cake Crusader Book

There is now a Cake Crusader book available where you can follow my journey from humble local trips to world record attempts and near-death experiences. How did a simple method of keeping track of decent cycling café pit stops turn my life upside down? Track my adventures into Europe, up mountains and right across Great Britain as I become a 'rising star' on social media. Will I prove my critics wrong? Should cheese scones be served hot or cold? Do I really have nothing better to do with his time? A must read for lovers of cycling and cake or anyone wanting to make it big in the virtual world


Friday, 22 June 2018

Across the Pyrenees Day 6. (Climbing Col de Pailheres)

Across the Pyrenees,

Day 6,

Ax les Thermes to Saint Cyprien.

The final day of our trip had the second longest climb and it started right out of the hotel. But before that it was the last chance for a hotel to deliver me the Ultimate croissant. It turned out to be the best breakfast croissant of the week but it lost points for being mini and currently holds second place overall with one more croissant opportunity to come later today.



It had been raining during our petit dejeuner but the clouds were now clearing and the day warming up as we set off up Col de Pailheres (18.2 km, 7.1% av, 12 % max, 1300 m ascent). Once again Des (the machine) challenged me to race to the top and  once again he shot away at the start. A kilometre in he had built up a decent lead and was almost out of sight. I was sad that he learnt nothing from yesterday and had not remembered it was a marathon not a sprint.



I caught him up at about 3km and although Des was determined not to let me pass as soon as we hit the first steep slope he was entering my manor and I knew he needed to be taught another cycling lesson, that hopefully he will never forget. So that’s what I did.



It was very cold and cloudy on the rest of the ascent so I was looking forward to getting my warm clothes from the van when I summited.



But apparently I had done it very quickly and beat the van up. Claude said it was the fastest he could remember (probably due to a. Des”s domestique work at the bottom and b. He has been trained to say that) so I’ll be getting the colouring set out as soon as I’m home to make myself an official fastest climber certificate.


As it was cold at the top and very misty, then there was no time to stop so after I had put my jacket I set off on the down hill part. Although I seem to be good at getting up a Col I’m not so tasty going down, especially with the number of hair pin bends on this descent. 



Once down the steep bit it was another more gentle rolling ride to Axxt and our cafe stop. As I entered the town Des caught me up clawing back the 10 or so minutes he lost on the climb.



Le Central cafe had no croissants but they directed me to the local patisserie which really delivered. It was the last croissant in town and turned out to be the best I have found to date and I crowned it the Ultimate croissant.



When bit by bit the other members of the party eventually arrived they all told me that it was the best coffee all week, my hot chocolate had been good too making central cafe Axxt the number 1 cafe and I will recommend it for the TdF riders stop at for refreshments.


By the time everyone had got to the cafe, had some coffee and got ready to set off again, the villagers had arranged a leaving party for me and Des as we had become part of the local community.


From here things petered out a bit as it was a further 70 mile ride along some fairly flat roads although with wind behind we flew along.



There were two more mini cols to hop over but not worth writing home or very blog about. As we got nearer the sea the roads seemed to get busier but with our new found peleton skills we made it there in one piece.


We had accomplished the mission and made it to the Mediterranean. It was so hot by this point I did find myself diving in for a celebratory cooling off.


So what have we learnt.

1. If you get up all the climbs first and become the self appointed KoM winner then no one else but you seems to care., however often you mention it.

2. It is possible to find very good croissants in France (quel surprise) although occasionally not as good as the ones at Heathrow airport

3. The best cafe I find on a trip is often the last one and readers may start thinking I’m doing it for dramatic effect (I’m not).

4. I’m now in the mood to watch the Tour de France when it starts in a couple of weeks although I could have just read the build up cycling weekly and saved a lot of effort.


Cafe ratings
Hotel du Fronton, Itaxassou. 5.8
Cafe Du Souloe 5.4
Terrace cafe Tourmalet 6.1
Tourmalet summit cafe 5.9
Le Faisan Dore 7.3
Le Globe 8.1
Le Central, Axxt 9.1

Croissant ratings
Venue Freshness Frenchness Flavour  score
  Heathrow         4      3     10.9      17.9
  Bellevue hotel         5      4      12.7       21.7
  Krakada patisserie, Itxassou          7       7.8        14.1        28.9
 L’Auberge de l’Etable, Montory        7.5       7.3        13                      27.8
Chez Pierre d’Agos         2        2         6       10
Terrace, Tourmalet         7.8       7.5       16.4     31.7
Top Tourmalet         2      2.5        8      12.5
Hotel Pons      8.1     8      17.       33.1
Le Faisan Dore      5.6   6.8    13.8     25.9
L’ Horizon hotel      8.3      7         17    32.3
Le Globe cafe      7      7.6        15.8     30.4
Patisserie, Axxt      8.2      8.1      17.2      33.5
13
15

Stats
 Miles
 Average speed (Mph)
 Time riding (Hrs:mins) 
 Metres climbed
 Familiarisation

 Day 1 
 81.9
       15    5:27   1751
 Day 2  71.5
        13.37    5:20    2010
 Day 3 
    60
      11.4     5.05    2499
 Day 4  84
       14.7    5:55    1836
 Day 5  65.3
       13.1    4:59    1787
 Day 6 
      95.6
       14.34    6:39    1777
 Overall
 458.3
      13.71
   33:25
 11660

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Across the Pyrenees Day 5. (Climbing Col de Port and Col de Marmare)

Across the Pyrenees,

Day 5,

Lorp Sentaraille to Ax les Thermes

After yesterday’s long day and steep climb there were some tired looking bodies at breakfast this morning so the hopes of holding a tight peleton to the first climb looked small. And small was the best way of describing this mornings croissant offering which was a shame as it was a very good one but I couldn’t have a mini croissant stealing first place.



The morning was a day of peletons, punctures, pastry’s and panting. Surprisingly we started cycling in a nice peleton along by the river and held it together.



Two of our group decided to make a break for the next cafe stop and were rewarded with a long wait as a puncture needing attention. As self appointed team inner tube changer I volunteered to fix it. The first tube I was handed turned out to already be punctured so also had to be changed for one which turned out to have a broken valve. Eventually a proper British inner tube was found and I had us back on the road just as our support vechile arrived. (Thanks for turning up, I said).



A short stop at the next cafe, which turned out to have excellent (if not winning croissant) and apparently the best coffee of the week, got the group back together. It was voted our finest cafe to date and one worth the TdF riders stopping out if they require refreshments during the race.

.

Yesterday, fellow group member Des challenged me to race up the next col (col de Port, 12.6km, 4.7% av, 6.5% max, 630m ascent). I was a little worried as it was not steep enough for my liking and as Des is pretty speedy on the flat the incline may not take it out of him. As we started he shot off into the distance but I remembered the story of the tortoise and the hare and before half way I passed him.



Des has much to learn about pacing a climb and today I felt I had helped by teaching him a cycling lesson, all part of the service. Although as it turned out later he is a quick learner. With no one left to race I was passed by a small French rider and I took him on instead as we battled each other up the rest of the Col until he did me with his sprint finish. Damn you little French cyclist.



After a rather long lunch break and now over an hour behind schedule it was time for a long descent to the start of the next (see below) and steeper climb.


This was an unnamed climb but over 2 miles long and very steep and by now it was very hot. Once again Des threw down the gauntlet but I was more confident on this terrain. I went for a pacey start but despite his heavy breathing Des was hanging on. As I drew ahead slowly I thought he would give up but he kept at it as the gap only slowly grew and I made it up first knowing I had had to work pretty hard to maintain my maximum KoM points (although nobody’s counting).

It was so hot a quick shower under the local village tap was order of the day.

From here we had the most scenic section to date through 12 miles of lumpy road with magnificent views that the camera barely does justice to.

Sadly the final col (col de Marmare) was closed so we could only do the first 6km. When I arrived I discovered Des was a fast learner as he had ridden the previous section quickly and was already half way up the climb. Despite my best effort I had no chance to catch him and by the time I got to our bail out point I found he had already set off for the hotel. I had already more than enough KoM points to give up one here and be crowned King of the Mountains tomorrow (although no ones counting) so I didn’t mind his win.


I gave up the chase and enjoyed more splendid views before arriving at the Hotel way before Andrew allowing me to claim the double bed (again). It’s tough love but hopefully he respond with a faster time on the final leg to the Mediterranean Sea tomorrow.

Cafe ratings
Hotel du Fronton, Itaxassou. 5.8
Cafe Du Souloe 5.4
Terrace cafe Tourmalet 6.1
Tourmalet summit cafe 5.9
Le Faisan Dore 7.3
Le Globe 8.1

Croissant ratings
Venue Freshness Frenchness Flavour  score
  Heathrow         4      3     10.9      17.9
  Bellevue hotel         5      4      12.7       21.7
  Krakada patisserie, Itxassou          7       7.8        14.1        28.9
 L’Auberge de l’Etable, Montory        7.5       7.3        13                      27.8
Chez Pierre d’Agos         2        2         6       10
Terrace, Tourmalet         7.8       7.5       16.4     31.7
Top Tourmalet         2      2.5        8      12.5
Hotel Pons      8.1     8      17.       33.1
Le Faisan Dore      5.6   6.8    13.8     25.9
L’ Horizon hotel      8.3      7         17    32.3
Le Globe cafe      7      7.6        15.8     30.4
12
13
15

Stats
 Miles
 Average speed (Mph)
 Time riding (Hrs:mins) 
 Metres climbed
 Familiarisation

 Day 1 
 81.9
       15    5:27   1751
 Day 2  71.5
        13.37    5:20    2010
 Day 3 
    60
      11.4     5.05    2499
 Day 4  84
       14.7    5:55    1836
 Day 5  65.3
       13.1    4:59    1787
 Day 6 

 Overall
 362.7
      13.55
   26:46
 9883

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Across the Pyrenees Day 4. Climbing Col de Peyresourde, Col des Ares, Col de Portet

Across the Pyrenees,
Day 4,
St Lary to Lorp Sentaraille
After yesterday’s climb up the Tourmalet todays ride was meant to feature 3 more Cols that are TdF regulars although not such famous ones. But first it was time to see how the breakfast croissant at Hotel Pons faired


It proved to be a good one and came out with highest mark to date although it was slightly under cooked in the middle. I’m sure France can still do better.

It was pedals down early today as we had a leisurely start down the valley. Last night we voted Margaret (from Oz) as captain on the road in order to get a peleton organised but I spent the night briefing against her and forced her resignation first thing this morning giving me the job instead. And we looked pretty damn good.


It was then time for the opening and longest climb of the day. Col de Peyresourde (9.6km,7% Sv, 11% max, 690m ascent ). This one had dramatic views of the mountains and will feature on tour this year.

I was pleased to make it to the top with my maximum KoM points in tact (although nobody’s counting).

Leaving the summit I tried to keep pace (and failed) with Andrew on a fast descent to our next stop.

The cafed scored well as the hot chocolate and coffee was good and had an authentic French feel.

However the croissant didn’t really deliver having seen better days.

We set off again for the next climb but halfway up we hit the start of s run of bad luck as we found the road had been closed and the rest of the climb was off. As it wasn’t a  very steep one other members of  the group had laid down the gauntlet to challenge my KoM record so I was quite relieved.

So we had to take a detour involving lunch by a small lake or pond as we say in the uk.


But as we set off round the mountain we got hit by the dreaded freshly tarred road and the ride turned into a hike for a couple of miles as we learnt our lesson from earlier in the week. Unfortunately this messed up people’s cleats instead of their tyres.

But with detour over it was off to the start of  our steepest climb this week Col de Portet d aspect (4.3km,9.5%av,15% max,410m ascent). Not that it’s a race (but it is) I was told that 2 of the group had set off already. Not being a competitive person it was quite out of character as I demanded to know how long ago they had left before leaping on my bike to try and chase them down.

I’m sure you will be glad to know that I did make it to the top first and collected maximum KoM points (not that anyone’s counting)

This just left a 25 mile ride to our hotel which was predominantly down hill. Thanks to a breakaway with over 50s team member Paddy (with me in his slipstream) I just snuck into the hotel car park ahead of him for my first stage win, although it’s not a race.


Despite the disappointment of having to miss a climb we had still covered 84 miles and ascended over 1800m. I also found the best croissant and cafe to date. Just two more stages and 4 more climbs until we reach the Mediterranean Sea.

Cafe ratings
Hotel du Fronton, Itaxassou. 5.8
Cafe Du Souloe 5.4
Terrace cafe Tourmalet 6.1
Tourmalet summit cafe 5.9
Le Faisan Dore 7.3

Croissant ratings
Venue Freshness Frenchness Flavour  score
  Heathrow         4      3     10.9      17.9
  Bellevue hotel         5      4      12.7       21.7
  Krakada patisserie, Itxassou          7       7.8        14.1        28.9
 L’Auberge de l’Etable, Montory        7.5       7.3        13                      27.8
Chez Pierre d’Agos         2        2         6       10
Terrace, Tourmalet         7.8       7.5       16.4     31.7
Top Tourmalet         2      2.5        8      12.5
Hotel Pons      8.1     8      17.   33.1
Le Faisan Dore      5.6   6.8    13.8. 25.9
10
11
12
13
15
Stats
 Miles
 Average speed (Mph)
 Time riding (Hrs:mins) 
 Metres climbed
 Familiarisation

 Day 1 
 81.9
       15    5:27   1751
 Day 2  71.5
        13.37    5:20    2010
 Day 3 
    60
      11.4     5.05    2499
 Day 4  84
       14.7    5:55 1836
 Day 5 
 Day 6 

 Overall
 297.4
      13.65
   21:47  8096
 6260