It’s less than 18 weeks to go now until the start of the cycle ride from here to the Med and we’ve seen a bit of a change in our plans, which means that only my hubby & 2 boys will now be doing the ride.
This isn’t because I’m worried about doing it, (in fact I’m quite sad that I won’t be able to share the experience with them) – but happily because we’ve bought a house in France and I will need to be there. So instead of pounding the canal paths with them I’ll take the role of support vehicle (albeit from a distance) – on the end of the phone to deal with any problems that may arise – from booking accommodation to helping with any difficulties that may happen en route.
It will be very strange as we’ve been planning this as a family ride for quite a long time and so it will feel a bit odd for me to follow their exploits from a distance, but there will be some advantages, particularly when it comes to getting us & the bikes back from Sete to Dartmoor when they’ve finished.
I have to say though that the boys are also happy that they will be able to cycle at their own rate and not feel that they have to stop & wait for me as I potter along at my own ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ pace! They’ve even bought me a basket for the front of my bike to reinforce my ‘old-lady’ status and looking on the bright-side, at least I won’t have to sleep in a tent every night ……… (every cloud has a silver lining!)
The planning though still continues albeit with a few tweaks …………
The route is now fully loaded onto the Garmin & apparently if they don’t deviate from the pink line we’ve drawn on the map – the route from Belstone on Dartmoor to Sete in the South of France will see them cycling 1503.62 kilometres. I did think it might sound a little less daunting if we thought about it in miles – but 934.51 miles still sounds quite a long way but in just less than 18 weeks they will be on their way.
I know that in an ideal world it would be nice to have a set schedule, but we’ve realised that it would be nigh on impossible or a little foolhardy to decide exactly how far they will ride each day. It seems easier to be flexible as we don’t know if there will be things that happen that will delay them for any reason eg breakdown / injury etc. I know that we’re lucky in the sense that they don’t have a set time to complete the ride, so it seems logical to just take each day as it comes – although I think if the boys have their way they would like to complete it within 12 days (quicker if possible!)
The maps are now looking even more complex with camp sites being marked along the way – this isn’t because they are aiming for specific sites, but more to show where the next site will be whilst they are cycling along to allow them to decide the best place to stop each day, based on how the ride is going – we’ve found a few websites to help us find sites, but so far one of the best has been http://www.campingfrance.com/uk and it certainly helps pass the evenings.
We’ve also continued to get all the equipment we need and have made the biggest purchase so far with 3 new bikes. Hours of research had been done, including a trip to the Cycle Show and we wanted to make sure that the boys in particular had bikes that they would be happy to ride ……not just for the cycle, but afterwards too. As such my hubby & youngest will be riding Raleigh Mustangs & my eldest a rather smart Raleigh RX, which all give a comfortable cycling position, but also give them a sturdy bike capable of dealing with the worst that the path along the Canal Du Midi can throw at them, but equally will be great to use to cycle the roads of Provence when they arrive (if they can face ever getting on a bike again)
We’ve also been getting the camping equipment they’ll be needing, including good quality self-inflating roll-mats – I’m sure some will say these aren’t needed, but we’re trying to find as many ways as possible to reduce the need for significant investment in the services of an Osteopath! (Our youngest is road-testing his on his Ten Tors training and so far has found it fine – so far so good!!)
With our Osteopathy budget in mind we’ve also bought lightweight collapsible chairs, to offer them some comfort in the evenings as sitting for hours with no back-support is not enjoyable and interestingly many of the blogs we have read suggest that such chairs are a luxury, but worth carrying – it will be interesting to see if this is the case.
Even with ear-plugs (a good supply will be needed) it’s likely that the boys will all be awake early and there is nothing nicer than an early morning cuppa so another purchase has been a JetBoiler so they can at least have a hot drink before they set off. we did give it a run-out this week when we went for a long hike on Dartmoor and enjoyed a freshly pressed coffee on top of High Willhays – the highest point on the Moor with a quite spectacular view. Certainly this will be much used during the cycle ride.
So with all the purchases the store is slowly filling up – and it will all have to fit into panniers, which will need to be packed with quite a lot of thought is everything is to fit in!
Happily the last few days has seen the weather improve quite considerable and we have managed to get out on the bikes almost every day – I may not be doing the actual ride, but will still do as much cycling as I can with the boys as they train for it. We are very lucky as the Dartmoor way runs straight past our front gate, which gives us great access to some lovely local rides. At the moment we are using the very local Granite Trail http://www.visitdartmoor.co.uk/things-to-do/the-granite-way-p456943 , which follows the route of the old Railway line along the side of Dartmoor to Lydford and beyond – this will actually be the first stage of the final ride from home to Tavistock, before picking up the Drake’s trail http://www.drakestrail.co.uk/ to the Ferry port at Plymouth.
We also have the delightful Exe Trail nearby, http://www.exetrail.co.uk/which offers lovely off-road cycling along both sides of the Exe Estuary from Exeter to Dawlish on one side or the beautiful Budleigh Salterton on the other. These routes will be great training grounds for us as they will be very similar to the trails that will be used in France and cycling along them a few times each day will help to build up the miles too.
So there is still lots to do – we still have to finalise what will need to be packed & finish marking the camp sites on the map – but more importantly the boys need to make sure their legs and (more importantly) their bottoms are up to the 1503 km or approx. 225000 turns of the pedals they will need to make to get to Sete at the end of July!