Distance cycled ……… 80 miles
Total distance cycled during the ride ………… 865.4 miles / 1392.4 km
So boys how would you sum up the final day in 3 words……… Fatigue, Joy, End!!
Firstly apologies for not posting this blog last night, but it was all a bit overwhelming, being back together as a family after nearly 7 weeks & on top of that there was the journey back to Provence & some food to be eaten!
After the hideous day’s ride that saw them reach the Medieval City of Carcassonne the boys were exhausted. Riding along the rutted dirt track, effectively through a field (towing the trailer) had taken it out of them & had also taken a toll on their bikes.
Tom, as Chief Mechanic sat in the stairwell of the hotel wearing a very fetching head torch, fixing the bits he could, tightening brakes etc, but there was nothing he could do this time to replace the spoke from Andy’s wheel that had pinged out & plopped into the Canal along one of the roughest bits of track!
At least they knew this hotel from a previous visit https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g187151-d1810147-Reviews-Campanile_Carcassonne_Est_La_Cite-Carcassonne_Aude_Languedoc_Roussillon.html. ………and so were able to have a good meal & a good night’s sleep before heading on for their final day’s ride to the finishing point at Sete.
Yesterday morning saw them set off again with Andy singing ‘Three Wheels on my Wagon’ and with a few worries, especially whether the wheels would survive the day. They certainly couldn’t risk hitting a trail (or lack of a trail) like they had the day before, so once again had spent the evening looking at the maps and working out a route that would take them along quiet back roads.
It turned out that they had chosen their route well and the roads took them through pretty canal-side villages & beautiful countryside. They passed through Ventenac-en Minervois and Le Somail, both places we had visited with the boys when they were younger, so again it turned into a lovely trip down memory lane.
Their route tracked the Canal, but the open roads were great to cycle along with a good surface, pretty views & very few cars to worry about. The only slight fly in the ointment was a puncture to one of the trailer wheels, but even this was quickly mended!
They found they actually preferred cycling through the lanes to pottering along the Canal as apart from it being easier cycling the views were so much more varied and they enjoyed riding through the sleepy little villages. As they said once you’ve seen your first hundred boats they all get a bit ‘samey’.
They made great time in the morning with a strong wind in their backs pushing them on to the finish line at a steady 15mph, almost willing them to get there as quickly as possible.
After passing Narbonne with its incredible Cathedral, which sits dramatically above the City’s skyline and can be seen for miles in every direction, they stopped for lunch in the small town of Salles D’Aude.
They then started the final push towards the old port of Agde & then the finishing straight along the coastal path to Sete.
All went really well as far as Agde and then everything nearly ended in disaster when after a wrong turn they found themselves having to cycle about 5 km along a major road around the town. The route was packed with summer traffic and very impatient drivers, forcing their way past, causing the boys to have to take avoiding action on more than one occasion- not easy, especially for George who was not only carrying his panniers but also the trailer again as his was the only bike without ‘wheel-problems’. The road was also on quite a hill, so it wasn’t even a bit they could sprint along – the only thing they could do was turn the pedals & hope that no-one actually hit them. It was as they were going along here that another of Andy’s spokes pinged out – would they actually get to the end?
Happily they did manage to hop back onto the cycle route at the earliest opportunity and were finally able to breathe again.
From here it was a relatively simple route along the cycle path into the resort of Marseillan-Plage, where there was an emotional reunion with Mum, who had cycled out from Sete to meet them.
The last few kilometres went along a lovely multi-use trail that runs directly behind the massive sandy beach that runs from Marseillan Plage right into Sete. The day couldn’t have been more perfect, not a cloud in the sky & the Mediterranean a spectacular blue shimmer.
And then it was done – the last pedal turned and the boys unclipped their shoes, as simple as that.
The bikes were loaded onto the car & they didn’t even dip their toes in the Med as the whole sense of finishing the ride was just so overwhelming.
The boys had done it – they’d cycled from Moor to Med – a fantastic adventure & an incredible achievement for a dad & his 2 teenage boys.
The trip had been months in the planning, although it had been thrown into doubt at times when George suffered his devastating concussion injury in Rugby and Tom had dislocated his shoulder (twice).
The fact that it had even got to the point where they turned their pedals to leave Dartmoor was an incredible achievement and showed great determination on everybody’s part.
Cycling the last few kilometres with them was lovely and I was so incredibly proud to watch them cross the ‘finish-line’. The fact that they had completed their journey in less than 2 weeks was incredible and they should be very proud of themselves & what they have done.
They have been using the ride as an opportunity to raise money for The Wooden Spoon, a rugby-based charity that supports projects for disabled and disadvantaged children across the UK. Thank you to everyone who has supported their efforts to date, it’s really kind of you to help them on their way and the money will be going straight to a great cause. The Just Giving page will remain open for a few days yet, but will be closed soon.
Thanks for following the adventure over the last couple of weeks – I’ll post a couple of more blogs over the next few days about their thoughts & useful tips for anyone thinking about doing the same.
For now though this adventure is over ………….. Although I’m already hearing suggestions for what could be done next year – watch this space!
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