So that’s it, a couple of years of chatting about it, a good 6 months of planning & more money spent on bikes & equipment than I even want to think about!
This afternoon Andy, George & Tom clipped their shoes in & finally started turning their pedals on a trip that will see them head from North Dartmoor to the pretty, sandy beaches & warm sea of Sete in the South of France, between them turning the pedals about 750,000 times!
Tom has had a great lead-in to the ride having spent the week doing his work-experience in The Bike Shed at Crediton. http://www.bikesheduk.com/crediton-store From the start the team there have really helped make sure that the boys have the right kit for the ride & certainly Tom really benefited from his week there, with him even servicing the bikes to make sure they were fully up together for the start. I think this will make Tom Chief-Mechanic for the next couple of weeks!
Needless to say there were a few last-minute worries about whether the weight of their loads would be too much for the racks they’d had fitted, but after several checks with the luggage scales it all seemed to be fine.
A few things though that had been packed, got unpacked like the teabags & sugar – not heavy, but after discussion it was decided that it would be much nicer just to have a good excuse to pop into a café each morning, so they got left behind.
One of the biggest worries (inevitable when travelling with teenagers) was making sure they had all the charging cables that would be needed to keep the Garmin, 3 phones & kindles going en route, together with the necessary power packs. You can’t help but wonder how different it must have been doing a similar trip before the appearance of mobile phones etc.
So at 2.30 ish today they left Belstone & headed out along the lane that runs from the village to the old Railway Station in Okehampton, where they joined the Granite Way http://www.visitdartmoor.co.uk/things-to-do/the-granite-way-cycle-route-p250623
They followed this across Dartmoor to the pretty village of Lydford before heading on to Tavistock, where they picked up the Drake’s Trail on towards Plymouth http://www.drakestrail.co.uk/
One of the first things they have to master is actually getting smoothly through the Cycle Trail gates without clipping their panniers – so far the ‘scores on the doors’ are Andy 5, Tom 3 & George 1 – happily no damage or falls though.
There was a particularly happy moment when they arrived in Yelverton & saw the first sign for the Velodyssey – the EuroVelo route they will be following for the first few hundred kilometres in France. http://www.velodyssey.com/ Knowing you’re on the right track certainly tends to help!
After 40 miles & about 3 1/2 hrs in the saddle they eventually arrived in the bustling Barbican where they discovered just how difficult it is to park fully-laden bikes – apparently the answer is that it’s not easy at all & it’s a skill that they will have to master over the coming days! But having managed to dismount they settled down to killing an hour or so with a Fish & Chip supper, before they cycle the last 3 miles across to the Ferry Terminal to catch the night ferry to Roscoff.
The first stage was always going to be a bit of a worry, with inevitable concerns ranging from punctures to total bike failure, but all in all it seems to have gone well & the bikes (and I think boys) certainly seemed to be happy with the loads they were carrying.
So that’s it – all bar the last 3 miles across the Hoe the first day is done and we can now start looking forward to tomorrow’s early start in France.
For years we’ve watched bleary-eyed cyclists pushing their bikes off the Ferry into French soil & have always thought it looks like the start of a great adventure, although perhaps a little less exciting when they have been wearing full waterproofs with rain dripping off their noses!
This time though it will be Andy & the boys & the start of their own little adventure through France.
I hope you enjoy the blog & if you would like to support the boys in their fundraising for The Wooden Spoon Charity whilst en route then you can do so here. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/moortomedbybike