Monthly Archives: May 2009

Hertz? It sure does.

33-HERTZ004We’ve got some old family friends staying wit us at the moment. As many do, they flew Ryanair to La Rochelle and hired a car from Hertz, Ryanair’s preferred car hire partner.

Anyone who’s hired a car will know that every opportunity is taken to squeeze a few extra quid from the punter…reduce the excess by buying more insurance, additional drivers, kids’ seats…and of course we all know the No 1 Golden Rule: Never Return a Hire Car Without a Full Tank of Fuel. Find the petrol station closest to the airport, fill the car to brimming and crawl back to the drop-off point, or find yourself stung for topping it up at criminal prices.

Not so any more, it seems. At least, not at Hertz (I haven’t checked out the other major car hire companies). Be warned this summer because there’s a new scam in town, and you might not notice it in the small print.

When our friends picked up their car, they were told that they’d been charged for the full tank of fuel. Charged a decent amount too: 110 euros for a tank that holds 55 litres (that I did check…Toyota Corolla Verso D-4D if you’re interested). So that’s 2 euros a litre, roughly double the current average around these parts. Not only that, they also had to pay a service charge for the privilege of someone filling the tank…

But that’s not the best bit. You might assume that should the car be returned with a similarly full tank (like in the old days), the 110 euros would be credited back. Not so. Hertz wants you to return the car with an empty tank, because you get nothing back for fuel you haven’t used.

I’ll repeat that. Hertz wants you to return the car with absolutely no fuel left in the tank.

Now, how realistic is that? I mean, it’s not uncommon that visitors don’t use a full tank of fuel during a stay with us, so what are they supposed to do? Syphon the fuel out in the airport car park? And even if you did use the full tank, how easy is it going to be to coast into the drop-off area on the last fumes? Realistically there’ll always be some fuel left in the tank…which is pure profit for Hertz. It’s outrageous.

This little scheme is called the Mandatory Fuel Purchase Charge and you can read it here.

I think it’s disgusting.

50km for £50

cea5_1On our merry way through the Pyrenees last week, Les Veloistes Gentils came up with another bike-based charity event: 50km for £50. It’s hopefully one which might prove more accessible to a greater number of people than a 650km jaunt through the mountains but which should also be great fun.

The premise is simple. Buy and make roadworthy a bike for less than £50 and then join us on the morning of Saturday 29th August as we ride 50km around Regent’s Park and its environs. Collect sponsorship money for doing so and, after the ride, sell the bike and give that money to charity too. Easy.

More details will appear on the LVG Ning as they get arranged, so sign up and start searching eBay…

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Day 6: Pau to Biarritz

LVG mission accomplished smallA later start in Pau, and rather wet. In fact it was grey all day as we blasted along the undulating route across country. Quite a quiet peloton…some tired bodies and the end of our little adventure adding to the grey conditions. Fantastic to arrive at the beach in Biarritz, see friends and family and jump into the huge waves. We’re better cyclists than swimmers, that’s for sure.

All in all, an amazing trip. The Pyrenees are an incredible environment in which to cycle, and even better when shared with good mates. I’ll hopefully get an idea of the total amount of money raised for charity over the next few days and more photos will be appearing on Flickr here.

Days 4 and 5

cimg1090Day 4 of the ride was our biggest climbing day, straight out of Luchon and immediately up the 14km climb to the Col de Peyresourde (1,563m). Really tough climb but all the lads made it and a fantastic descent to lunch in Arreau. Post-lunch, and straight into the 12km climb to the Col d’Aspin…technically easier but in the heat of the afternoon sun and having already climb the Peyresourde actually much tougher. So it proved for me as I came to a stop 2km from the stop. Rather upset with myself. Another fast descent into Bagneres-de-Bigorre.

Day 5 saw us heading back up towards the mountains and taking the turn at St Marie de Campan towards the legendary Col du Tourmalet (2,115m) thoug we already knew that the snow would mean a halt at the La Mongie ski resort. That still meant a 13km climb up to around 1,800m…hard, but rewarding (as was the run back down). We came out of the mountains this afternoon and had a very fast ride over relatively flat terrain throgh Lourdes and onto Pau. About 120km covered in all and a brilliant day.

More photos here.

Days 2 and 3

towards-luchon-small1Day 2 of the ride from Mirepoix to St Girons was a relatively flat 86km save the 4km climb out of Foix to the Col de Bouich at 599m. Cloudier with some rain but effectively a bit of a recovery day for the lads. Big dinner in St Girons, earlyish night before the bigger climbs to come.

Day 3 was brighter though thankfully a litte overcast and quite cool for the 6km climb up the Col de Portet d’Aspet, the first time we’d got up to higher than 1,000m. Good effort all round. Very fast and quite dangerous descent navigated safely before another climb post-lunch up the Col des Ares (797m) and a brilliant fast descent. The last 12km or so of the day’s 82km total was a quick blast along a relatively flat road in fantastically sunny weather to Luchon, where the team holed up in a bar next to a bike shop that was raided for new kit. Chris and Helen from Pyractif popped by to say hello…they’re coming back tomorrow to lead us over the Peyresourde and Aspin (hopefully).

Two of our fittest lads and strongest climbers, Toby and John, decided that they hadn’t done enough and have gone up to the Superbagneres ski 18km climb to 1,800m. The rest of us were happy wih showers.

More photos can be found here.

Day 1: Perpignan to Mirepoix

towards-mountainsLong, hard day from the Mediterranean coast. Nearly 160km, uphill and into a stiff headwind almost all the way. Two cols climbed…one at 514m and one at 601m and more than 1,500m of climbing in all. Everyone pretty tired this evening, as you’d expect, but pleased to have covered the distance and in fantastic sunny weather and in stunning scenery. Plenty of sore bits (sunburn, saddle and legs).

Photos from today can be found here.