I can’t believe it, the Tour de France has started, the wonderfully jolly music that goes with the coverage is a constant refrain at home and seemingly all of a sudden it’s only 11 days until they start their cycle.
All being well two weeks today the boys will be starting their third full day of riding and by now should be well on their way through Brittany, heading towards Nantes on their journey South, on their own Tour de France (well West & South perhaps)
This last few weeks has been painful in that they just want to get on with the cycle now – we’ve been talking about it for long enough, the route has been planned for months & the kit is piled up – I think it’s fair to say that they’re ready to go.
It has to be said their training at home has been rather disrupted by the ‘wonderful’ Summer weather we’ve been having this year ……
…….although on the plus side this has meant that they’ve been able to put the wet weather gear to the test! Hopefully they won’t need it, but at least they know it’ll keep them dry if they do.
One thing is certain though and that is that they know every lump, bump, wiggle & turn on the Granite Trail at Okehampton & the Exe Trail from Exeter to both Budleigh Salterton & Dawlish and I think they’ll be very happy to finally start the ride, possibly for no other reason than it will give them a change of scenery.
I know that using the same trails is a bit limiting, but the main reason is that they mimic, very well, the trails they’ll be riding en route & have allowed them to get the hours on the saddle, as to be honest most other rides around us on Dartmoor, although lovely aren’t ideal for just sitting on the saddle & turning the pedals for the length of time needed ( although the boys would probably have legs capable of getting them the spotted jersey on any of the Tour de France hill-climbs)
All three of them have managed to get out to France to do some cycling, enjoying the quiet roads & warmth of Provence as they’ve strengthened their legs & more importantly hardened their bums!
The other thing that we’ve had to do is make sure that they’ve done some training with laden panniers – it’s amazing the difference this makes to a teenager, who’s used to blasting ahead of the oldies and has proved to be a bit of a leveller.
One thing we’ve discovered is that teenage boys’ bodies work differently to ours – mainly in that both get a sugar drop (or similar) at different times in the day when they’ll go quiet or more bizarrely start talking gibberish, before coming over light-headed. At least we know this now and can look for it as the last thing we want is for one (or both of them) to keel over! So snacks, gels & sweets will always have to be at hand!
They’ll still be riding this week (although – as may be expected of an 18 yr old -the eldest is off camping & has some other things to do) but they will stop next weekend ahead of their start on 15th July, when they’ll leave Belstone to head to Plymouth to catch the ferry to Roscoff.
That final week will allow them to get the bikes checked over by the great team at The Bike Shed, Crediton (where Tom will be doing his work experience) and finally pack the panniers.
Now to be honest that is going to be quite a task to say the least. Over the weeks the pile of kit that needs to be carried has grown & now has reached quite epic proportions – now I know they have 3 bikes to be able to load, but the phrase ‘like fitting a quart into a pint-pot’ comes to mind.
Of course in the pile there are some things that are more essential than others – the tent, sleeping mats, wet weather kit, travel towels etc are essential, but if push comes to shove the ‘jet-boil’ cooker will probably be left behind along with the other things deemed less important in the scheme of things. At the end of the day they’ll be able to buy a coffee in a bar & eat bread & cheese if necessary.
So there we are it really is the final countdown now, the months have collapsed into days & the realities of what they’ve got to do have really hit home. It certainly won’t be easy (particularly as they’ll be doing it unsupported) and I’m sure there’ll be some worries en route that will need to be sorted out, but it is a fantastic challenge & the main thing is that they will be doing it together – 3 boys, 3 bikes 1 tent and 1500km.
If you would like to support their fundraising for The Wooden Spoon (children’s rugby charity) then please visit the Just Giving Page http://www.justgiving.com/moortomedbybike
Until next time!