Day 1: Lille to Noyon – What a first day – even more eventful than expected 😅
We did really well and managed to leave Sharewood at 8:10am. The first 40km were easy and enjoyable, with everyone in high spirits. Riding with the Gruppetto was a real pleasure. It was so great to see everyone on their bikes, having fun and enjoying each others company.
Just to give some context, there are two groups of riders taking part. The Peloton is made up of the core team of riders who’ll do the whole ride, from Lille to Sanary-sur-Mer. The Gruppetto is made up of the folks who’ll do mini-stages, riding alongside the Peloton. The idea here is to encourage as many people to take part in the experience. People who are not really into riding a bike can take part in a little stage and get a feel riding a bike in a group for fun, rather than say just commuting to work.
After an easy debut the rain started falling about 15 minutes before Douai, the end destination for the Gruppetto. The idea was for them to catch the train home, but they’d had such a good time that they decided to ride back to Lille instead of taking the train as planned. Even the rain couldn’t deter them! What was meant to be an easy ride of 45km turned into nearly 100km, half of which was in the rain. A real achievement.
Meanwhile back with the Peloton, the rain continued for around the next 3 or 4 hours. The roads were treacherous, covered in mud, and we even had 3 flooded sections to negotiate – not easy when the roads are more like farm tracks and have pot holes galore. It was during this section that the punctures started to happen. I think we had about 6 in total. I had one, and there was no wonder I flatted as the foreign object that had pierced the tire and tube was like an ancient sharks tooth! Maud had to come to my rescue as my spare tube was defective. It wouldn’t be the last time I called for assistance today unfortunately.
After a stop in Hermies for a picnic lunch the weather started to clear up and we made really good progress with a favourable tailwind. Life was good after the awful weather and we all dried up after being soaked to the skin. One thing that didn’t change with the weather was the frequency of the punctures. Maëlle held the record with 4 in total – but I feel partially culpable as she was on my daughters bike and the tires were fairly worn. In the end Maud rescued the day again, and took Maëlle to the bike shop in Peronne to get some new rubber to get her back on the road.
The rest of the afternoon was really lovely, with good weather, nice roads and high spirits. But just before arriving in Noyon, as I was dreaming of dinner and a hot shower, I was stung by a wasp. That was scary for me, as I’m allergic to wasp stings. I had my Anapens handy, injected myself with the life saving adrenalin, called the ambulance and waited, as calmly as I could. Fortunately I was with Thibault, Elouan and Yohan – all of whom were great. Reassuring and calm. The ambulance arrived, took me to hospital, where I was checked over. Everything was super efficient, and I even managed to get replacement injectors for the following day’s stage. I even made it in time to get showered and make it to the restaurant in time for our booking.
Day 2: Noyon to Paris
The day started with a good breakfast and we managed to get ourselves on the road by 8:15am, which meant we’d be fine, all being well to meet up with the Gruppetto made up of members of the Paris team at 1pm.
It was great to be riding in perfect conditions; cool and sunny. We made good progress with no flats at all, in comparison to the 6 the previous day.
The countryside and towns were slowly changing, with the red brick houses of the north giving way to the lovely stone houses of the Île-de-France region. Paris was getting closer.
Going through Compiègne was great. It’s a beautiful town with the gothic Hotel de Ville in the centre. I’d like to go back and see the town again, at a more leisurely pace.
Our first checkpoint with Maud was at Raray, just beyond the beautiful Chateau. We got fueled up with more isotonic drinks and bars, and carried on to Gressy.
The ride was thankfully uneventful, and we all managed to get there on time. We had a picnic with our friends from the Paris office, took a group photo in front of the Marie (see above) and headed off. There were 24 of us in total and we pedaled our way into Paris along the Canal de l’Ourq. It’s a beautiful way to get into the city, with forests and wildlife everywhere. It’s amazing to see such a green route into a massive city like Paris.
Just before we hit the city proper, we split into small manageable groups to cope with the hectic Parisienne traffic. I rode with Fred, Maëlle and Nicolas Graziani, who was the guide for our group. Maëlle had just finished her longest rides ever over the last couple of days, and had managed to ride all the way from Lille to Paris. She’d done really well, as her bike wasn’t ideal and she’d certainly suffered. Once she gets onto a decent bike, there will be no stopping her.
Once we’d left Maëlle at Gare du Nord, we headed south towards the Seine and the West towards the office in Issy-les-Moulineaux. Riding through a busy city like Paris is not everyone’s cup of tea, but we are all pretty used to riding in urban areas and loved it. You have to be hyper aware riding through Paris. It’s so hectic. There are loads of cycle paths, but they are often shared by pedestrians, delivery drivers and badly parked cars. After stopping at le Place de la Concorde and the Eiffel tower for photos we made it to the office and met up with the rest of the Peloton.
Once we’d settled ourselves in the hotel we went and had dinner on a peniche on the Seine. For me it was the delicious crispy skin trout with aubergene and carrots. A big improvement on the rigatoni of the night before.
Day 3: Paris to Montargis
We woke up to a nice hot morning in Paris, most of us having being bitten alive in the night by mosquitos. Having said that, everyone was still in good spirits and up for the day ahead.
After another huge breakfast we all set off, all feeling relieved that it was a Saturday morning and the traffic would be a bit lighter than normal.
The start of the journey was nice, although really hilly right off the bat. Soon we found ourselves heading south down la Coulée Verte, a really verdant cycle path that snakes its way out of the city for 10km or more.
Then we found ourselves heading out along a main road, which eventually turned into the infamous A6 – at least it was fast.
On a somber note, we were all gutted to see Thibault having to give up the stage early. His knee had been playing up, and today it became unbearable for him. Fortunately we’ve learned this afternoon, that there is nothing too serious going on and he’s going to be able to join us again in a day or two.
Once we eventually got out of Paris, after about 45km we started to ride through some amazing countryside. The forest de Fontenbleau was magnificent, and then having tackled a tricky gravel path we almost stumbled upon the Chateau. Absolutely magnificent. It gave us all a buzz to have made it so far in such a short amount of time, relatively speaking. We carried on, leaving the chateau round the back through part of the beautiful gardens.
After our picnic lunch we swept through more beautiful countryside, before finishing off the ride to Montargis along the Canal du Loing. It’s a mixed route; some tarmac and lots of gravel, with some sketchy sections. We all managed to keep a good rhythm even though it had been a really hot day, and some of the gravel sections were pretty heavy. The canal itself and the Marais are absolutely stunning. You could see the bottom of the canal really clearly – I would have been tempted to have a dip if I’d had my trunks in my saddle bag.
We eventually arrived in Montargis soon after 4pm. It’s a good hotel and we’ll be eating here later. Vincent’s volunteered to go and do the washing for us, but he was saved by lovely hotel manager who’s letting us use their washing machine.
Overall a good day – sad to lose Thibault, but glad that he’s going to be coming back soon.
Day 4: Montargis to La Charité-sur-Loire – Thibault is back!
Thibault was able to see the doctor and get the knee thoroughly checked over. It turns out that there is nothing serious going on and he can continue. He’s been given a knee support to protect his patella and looking at the results yesterday, when he was back on the bike, it’s doing the job. Riding 120km again is no mean feat and he managed the ride well. Fingers crossed, all will go well for him over the coming days.
In terms of the day overall, things started with the best breakfast yet. Bacon and eggs – I couldn’t believe my eyes. It’s been ages since I had bacon, so I had three rashers and loads of scrambled eggs. That, along with muesli, yogurt, fruit and a croissant. I don’t think I’ll be losing any weight on this trip!
We were all up and ready early, and on the road by 8:15am – we’re definitely getting better at this. It certainly helps when the sun is shining and you know it’s going to be a scorcher. Today’s ride would be the easiest yet, at just over 120km and pretty flat. We started off really well, all sticking together for the first 60km while we gunned down Le Loing heading south, passing the sleepy towns of Le Loiret. The ride was stunning, with beauty every which way you turned. It’s June right now and everything is so green and lush.
Next we headed on into the Yonne where we passed the les-Sept-Écluses on the Briare canal which were built under Henry IV as part of the work to link the Mediterranean with the English channel. We then managed to lose Jérôme, but were able to find him pretty quickly and get to our first meeting place with Maud.
We kept a good pace going all day, stopping for lunch with only 30km to go. Ridouane had a sharp pain in his back and decided to skip lunch and continue without stopping. Fred and Jérôme went with him. Unfortunately Jérôme had a fall and hit his head. Our guardian angel, Maud rushed him to hospital for checks and thankfully everything is ok. He has a bruise around his eye and a stiff neck, but is doing well. It was great to see him at dinner in good spirits.
The last 30km were hard and into a headwind. It was also seriously hot at about 34 degrees. The short climb in La Charité-sur-Loire was going to be challenging, but we were all ready for it and managed it fine.
We were all disappointed to find the hotel was closed until 5pm. Ironic that it was the first time we’d made it to the hotel early, and had to improvise to rest up after the hard stage. There was a shady terrace in front of the hotel, so fortunately we had somewhere to recover.
After about 45 minutes of waiting around a few of us decided to go and take a dip in la Loire. That was a good move! It was beautiful and so refreshing.
Dinner was at 7pm and was fantastic, the best yet, with a nice glass of Menetou-Salon. It’s a local wine and it was great to be able to sample something from the region. If you’ve never tried one, the whites are made up of 100% Sauvignon Blanc and are similar in character to a Sancerre, but without the price tag.
Day 5: La Charité-sur-Loire to Bourbon-Lancy
I was writing my journal this morning when the rest of the team were out doing pre-ride yoga. That’s what I call motivation! Yoga before breakfast.
Talking of breakfast, it was another success. It seems like every day we’re eating a little bit more for breakfast. I think everyone is probably thinking the same thing…. if everyone else is eating SO MUCH then it’s ok for me to do the same. Anyway, I know I’m going to at least burn it off over the course of the days ride.
After breakfast Jérôme went to go and see the physio and was told he could get back on the bike, as long as he felt up for it. That’s all it took, and he’d be joining us after our lunchtime stop for the last 30km or so. It was brilliant to see him get back on his bike and ride; it was psychological boost for everyone, not to mention Jérôme.
Going back to the beginning of the ride – it was an absolutely perfect day to be on the bike. It was a lot cooler than the previous day, and felt almost fresh as we headed out back across the Loire from Nièvre in Bourgogne- Franche-Comté back into Cher in Centre-Val de la Loire. The Loire splits these two large, diverse regions in central France. We’d be hopping from one side of the river to the other throughout the day, and would eventually end up back on the Bourgogne side by the end of the ride.
This part of France is quite sparsely populated, and a treasure to discover. The landscape is soft, with gentle rolling hills, waterways and abundant wildlife. It’s agricultural land too, with livestock like Charolais cows and flocks of sheep dotting the countryside.
Right from the start it seemed that we were really in cycling country as we passed lots of other people and groups on bikes. We even past a heavily laden group who were also heading for Mont Ventoux. I hope they manage to leave their panniers somewhere as climbing Ventoux with all that stuff would be a challenge even for Tadej Pogacar!
Yet again, we managed to keep a good pace. It was a little bit slower than the day previous, and that was intentional. We’re going to have to save as much energy as possible for the challenge ahead. We might have been halfway through the ride, but we still had pretty much all the climbing ahead of us. Sticking to about 25km/h we made relatively short work on the 106km stage .
One of the highlights was lunch. Anything to do with food, generally is a highlight. But it really was great. We met up with Maud and Jérôme at a little place called Lamenay-sur-Loire on the banks of the the canal latéral à la Loire. Jérôme had used his charm asking the lady if we could park up and have lunch outside her house, as it was a perfect shady spot for lunch. She was so kind and said we could even use her outside table and chairs. So when we all arrived it was great to not only have loads of goodies to tuck into but also a civilized place to enjoy lunch and have half an hours rest. When we left we knocked on the door to say thanks and took a photo of the group with Lily centre stage. What a lovely woman.
The rest of the ride flew by, and only took about an hour. We started to climb, and headed into Saône et Loire where the landscape once again changed. We were now in the rolling hills of the southern part of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté heading for the Spa town of Bourbon-Lancey. It was good to get the the hotel a bit earlier, which gave us time to get the bikes ready for a longer, harder day tomorrow.
Tonight is an early night for all, as tomorrow is going to be a hot one. It’s going to be breakfast at 6am and departure at 7am to give us a head start on our trip into Beaujolais country.
Day 6 – Bourbon-Lancy to Sarcey
It was an early start today, as things were about to get serious. One thing about going south in France is that you benefit from generally better conditions to ride, but the topography makes you work a lot harder. The stage was over 130km with 1300m of altitude gain, going from the Saone et Loire into the Rhone.
I’d been really looking forward to this stage as it was going through Beaujolais and it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for ages. I wasn’t disappointed. The first 70km was really easy, with no hills to speak of, and then things changed dramatically. Things started to ramp up just after Charlieu and from then on in, it was all up and down.
The landscape has really changed over the last couple of days. It feels so much more southern now. The landscape isn’t exactly scorched as much of France has had lots of rain over the last few weeks, but it was certainly looking more sun kissed than the north. On the climbs you could smell the southern pine trees, common to the region.
Once again our route took us past lots of little villages, built in the golden stone famous in the area. We went through Ronno, a lovely little town, with a beautiful church that was originally built in 1085. I took a moment to have a peek inside and was greeted by a charming lady who beckoned me in to have a look around. But almost as soon as I’d started to mooch around, I heard my riding partner, Fred speeding past so decided to get going to catch back up with him to avoid riding on my own. I’m going to have to come back to visit in the future.
About 10km from the finish line Fred and I stumbled across our first Beaujolais vineyard. It was great to have made it into this far, only about 40km North West of Lyon. I took a photo and then carried on towards the hotel – it was starting to heat up; a cold drink and the hotel pool as our reward for the days exertion.
Given the hilly nature of the course we rode in several groups, according to how much effort we wanted to put into the climbs. Everyone handled the altitude gain well, even after 6 long days in the saddle.
On the topic of groups, it’s interesting to reflect on the team dynamics. We all get on pretty well, but we’re a real mix of personalities. Doing an adventure like this comes with risks when it comes to how people are going to get along, when they’re sharing the same space for almost two weeks none stop. The first stage was challenging, and tested the fabric of the team. It was a good test though, and apart from a few minor disagreements, everyone dealt with the adversity well. The second stage was much easier, as the weather was lovely, and things went well, with no punctures or stress.
It’s clear that the group are becoming closer and getting to know each other better. We have a common goal and working towards it together is really satisfying. Everyone gets involved around the dinner table to discuss the pros and cons of the following days stage, dissecting the data; distance, altitude gain, route profile. We might be getting more tired but we’re not getting grumpier! We’re having lots of fun.
Day 7 – Sarcey to Tournon-sur-Rhône
Today was another perfect day for riding. Great weather, a good breakfast and an early start made the steep climb first thing bearable. We were all psyched up for climb and ready to get it done, so we could all enjoy the long descent and flat profile of the route that would take us past the West side of Lyon, down the Rhône valley towards Tournon. Take a look at the profile to see what I mean.
The climb started as soon as we left the gates of the hotel in Sarcey. Once we got over the peak, we’d be leaving Beaujolais and heading into the Rhône valley. The incline was gradual and fortunately mostly in the shade. It rose up sharply and soon we we’re out of town and climbing through the forest. There was nothing on the road and you could hear the world around you, given the slow speed. That’s one of the things I love about climbing, it gives you a chance to take in your surroundings, enjoy the birdsong and hear the wind through the trees. Doing a challenge like this is great, but covering large distances like we’re doing requires a descent tempo or you end up finishing at dinner time and have no time to recover properly for the following day. So going up is the perfect time to take things in.
Once we made it over the Col de la Croix du Ban we headed into the Rhône valley. It was a lovely descent, and gave us a chance to recover from the early effort.
Soon we made it to the Via Rhona, an 815km long cycle path that can take you from Lac Leman in Switzerland right the way down to the beaches of the Camargue. The stretch that we took into Tournon was mainly excellent, but we avoided a few sections that were a bit rough for our road bikes (and weary bums from our long days in the saddle).
The section of the Via Rhona between Lyon takes you past the vineyards of Côte Rôtie, Condrieu, Saint Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage and the famous Hermitage. The vines here are on steep terraced slopes and are a labour of love for the people who make them. These are generally very low yield wines, and they command a high price tag. Although, looking at the slopes, you realise that these wines are not easy to make.
Just before we hit Tournon, we went deeper into the valley, past fruit trees laden with apricots. They looked so big and juicy – way bigger than the ones we find back home the shops and markets in Lille.
We had the best surprise when we arrived at the hotel. They’d just finished installing an outdoor pool two weeks ago – what a stroke of luck! It’s a hot afternoon, so I’m going to sign off now and go for a well earned dip!
Tomorrow we head into the Southern Rhône. Can’t wait!
Day 8 – Tournon to Vaison-la-Romaine 119km
We all managed to sleep well in Tournon, which was important as we were about to face the hardest day yet. It was already warm when we set off at about 8:30am and thanks to Komoot we ended up having to carry our bikes only after about 5 minute of riding. Komoot works really well, but occasionally the surface information is not totally correct.
Other than this initial blip, the rest of the morning was easy. The group split in two and we settled into a nice pace. The route took us through the Rhone valley, riding past fruit trees with the vineyards of Saint Joseph and Cornas to our West.
We were all mentally prepared for the hilly section of the ride and had fueled up on bars, gels and drinks with Maud just before Montelimar. The heat was rising fast, and we knew we’d be in for a tough afternoon with more than 1000m of climbing in store. One of the first hills was le Col du Colombier at 436m. It’s a lovely climb that takes you out of the Northern Rhone and into the vineyards of the Southern Rhone.
The character of the southern Rhone is quite different to the northern Rhone. The topography is different, with the vines generally spreading out over the valley floor. The wines here are predominantly made of Grenache, with other grapes like Syrah and Mourvèdre adding spice to the mix. In the northern Rhone the wines are more singular, with Syrah being the grape used for reds.
Our timing was perfect for the lavender fields, and one of the good things about riding into a headwind in the heat was that every so often we’d be hit by the beautiful scent of lavender. One of the bad things about the headwind was that progress was slower than usual, and the heat meant we were going through water fast.
The stage profile too, meant that there were not many flat sections, with lots of difficult short climbs that over the course of the ride, started to take their toll.
By this point in the ride the group was split into 3 groups, which isn’t surprising as it’s much easier to ride this kind of terrain at your own pace. We rode through the town of Grignan which was an absolute delight. We managed to ride our bikes through the town, but only just as the space between the houses was so small, there was room for one bike and one pedestrian at most. It’s a place I will definitely return to as there were some lovely looking restaurants, and the smell of Provençal cooking was irresistible.
There were more gravel sections to come too, and one of them was particularly sketchy with a nasty corner and an angry dog that didn’t do the heart rate much good! These are the kind of things you have to expect I suppose on a tough stage like this! The important thing to do is to stay calm. Being the 8th day, we managed to do just that and kept on pedaling.
The final hill into Vaison-la-Romain was a killer, but we made it in the end and were pleased to find our hotel with nice rooms, and a swimming pool to relax our weary legs.
A mega day. The hardest one yet.
Day 9 – Vaison-la-Romaine to Lourmarin – 82km
Today’s stage was a disappointment even before it began! We all knew the on afternoon before, that the queens stage up Ventoux was not going to be possible because of storms. It was such a shame as we’d all worked so hard to be in the best condition possible to tackle ‘The Beast of Provence’. On the positive side though it does leave the door open to a possible reunion ride in the future, which will give us the motivation to keep up the training!
The rain was relentless, and we pushed back the departure until 11am as the forecast looked more favourable later on. 11am came and it was still raining hard, so we had no choice but to set off down the steep hill out of Vaison-la-Romaine. Soon after that though we started to head up a steep gravelly climb with rivers of rainwater running across the track at intervals. Going up the hill I saw signs for Domaine de Mourchon, and vineyard run by Hugo Livingstone, who I knew during my time working in the wine industry. It’s beautiful up here, deep in the heart of the Côtes du Rhône, but we were not seeing it at its best, that’s for sure.
After the short climb through 100 year old grenache vines we took on the treacherous descent carefully. Unfortunately, Vincent flatted just before the end of a particularly bad gravel section, so three of us were already at the back of the pack. We changed it as fast as we could in the pouring rain and headed on.
We were skirting the base of Ventoux, hammering past the vineyards of Sablet, Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Beaumes de Venise racing to get to the first checkpoint in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. We were hoping to catch the group in front, but then Fred had a flat. And then another, and then another. This day was going from bad to worse. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, I felt an insect hit my neck and to my horror felt the sharp heat like pain of a wasp sting. The second time in the space of 8 days. Not great for someone who’s anaphylactic!
This time I was calmer than the last (although I did swear quite a bit initially!) I took my injectors and did what was necessary. We called the amazing Maud in the service van and she arrived quickly. I sat in the van for a while, to make sure everything was ok, had a sandwich and then grabbed my prescription for another box of Anapens.
The pharmacy was in Pernes-les-Fontaines and after I’d collected my prescription, we passed the fanciest bike shop I’ve ever seen (all top drawer Italian bikes and components : lofficina), so we stopped and Fred bought what would be a lifetimes supply of inner tubes for any normal human being. We left Maud, passed through Isle-sur-le-Sorgue (not the nice bit though) and carried on into the Luberon, where Fred had another flat! We were laughing and in good spirits as the rain had stopped and we were at least drying off a bit.
It was clear that Fred’s back tire was worn out, and when we stumbled across another bike shop in the Luberon we stopped and he bought a tire. He was going to tie it round himself like they used to do in the good old days of the Tour de France, but soon realised that it would comfortably fit in his back pocket – as long as he gave me all his snacks (off which there were many!)
Back on the road again, we were getting close, with just the punchy climb up to Bonnieux, and then the descent to Lourmarin on the other side. The climb was testy, but really stunning after a long day of mainly faffing about, spending more time off the bike than on it. The descent on the other side was absolutely wonderful – around 10km of winding roads through gorges and forest.
We arrived at the hotel to the wonderful sight of all the team waiting at the bottom of the hill cheering our arrival. It was great to have made it, and so nice to see everyone welcoming us home. What a team!
Day 10 – Lourmarin to Sanary-sur-Mer. The last day! We’d almost made it.
We woke to clear skies and the promise of a tail wind, which was great, given the shenanigans of the previous day. Everyone was in high spirits to have made it so far, which made up for what was probably the worst breakfast of the trip so far.
After what was a very bready affair, we set off to meet the Gruppetto in Aubagne. We had to be there by 1pm, so it was another early start. We rolled for the first 20km as a group, but when the road started to pitch up, we split into smaller groups, so we could tackle the ramps at our own pace.
I couldn’t resist being in the breakaway for the last day. It was great to push on a bit with Ridouane and Fred. They’re in their element here as it’s their back yard. Both are fit and used to the hills. I live in Lille – and it’s totally flat there, so it was going to be tough to stay with them (but in the end they went easy on me)!
It was so exhilarating, to race through the final KMs towards Aubagne with the two members of the peloton from the Sanary office. We hit Aix-en-Provence faster than I thought possible and walked our bikes through the crowded centre. It was market day and there were people everywhere. Going through the centre of a city with your bike is often not to be recommended, but today, it couldn’t have been more appropriate. Here we were at the end of our trip, slowly making our way through the stalls of charcuterie, cheese, fruit and veg and wine. Fred was so happy to be back in his home patch, and hearing the southern French accent made him smile from ear to ear.
After Aix, the next stop was Aubagne. We had a pitstop to grab a coffee and a croissant (we were too quick for Maud!) and then carried on towards our waiting friends in Aubagne. The sun was shining, the mistral was blowing (in the right direction) and we were there before we knew it. The route was lumpy, but we all had a bit of extra energy, probably as a result of excitement of finishing the challenge.
It was really something, rolling up to our friends in the Gruppetto in the restaurant on Cours Voltaire. Two long tables were set, ready for our arrival – our final pit stop lunch, only this one was going to be more relaxed and refined than what we’d been used to for the last 10 days. Much as I’ve enjoyed our picnic lunches (they’ve been great) it was nice to go at a more leisurely pace for the final stop before our last push into Sanary-sur-Mer. The atmosphere was great with live music and dancing, right next to the restaurant. The rest of the peloton arrived soon after us and we all demolished our meals before heading off again into the heat.
The last part of the final stage was difficult, with some testy climbs. Fortunately, the wind was blowing us in the right direction so it was easier than it could have been. We were riding with the Gruppetto now, savouring the last few KMs together. It was a good job they had electric assistance on their bikes as the hills would’ve been a nightmare without a fair bit of training.
This run in went so quickly and before we knew it, we were riding along the stunning coast road from la Ciotat to Sanary via the vineyards of Bandol. On arrival at La plage de Portissol we were greeted by friends and family. It was a wonderful feeling to have all completed the challenge. We’d made it!
There were medals for all the finishers, photos and lots of cheering and shouting. Once done, we all finished off the day’s exertions with a dip in the Mediterranean, before heading back to the hotel on our bikes, proudly sporting our medals, wearing flip flops and swimming trunks!
I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together, and pleased to have made new friends on the way. I can’t put into words how much of an achievement this has been for us all. Just realising that everyone finished, is unbelievable. I really expected there to be people drop out through injury or exhaustion, but no, everyone battled on.
Some of the group will keep riding their bikes and go onto have more adventures. Others will be happy to move on, and return to using their bikes for the daily commute. Not everyone has caught the cycling bug, but some have, and that’s fine.
It’s going to be strange to go back to work next week, and I’m sure there’ll be some catching up to do. I’m looking forward to life getting back to normal again, but I’m sure there’ll be some adjustment needed. One thing I am totally sure about is that we’ll be out as a group again soon, testing our new found climbing legs against the Kemmelberg and the Monteberg!
Now it’s time to head to the restaurant and fuel up for the long trip home tomorrow.
Well done to all the riders who’ve taken part. What a blast we’ve had!
I would particularly like to thank all the people who took part in this crazy adventure
The Support Van Driver :
The Peloton :
Thibault Le Lay
The Gruppetto :