Picos Original Riders

Picos Original Riders
Highlights of 2010

Last of the Picos Riders - to Rome Alone!

Our first two charity rides were a huge success - raising over £20,000 for the South East Cancer Help Centre.

The Centre does a fantastic job of supporting patients and carers at the most difficult times of their lives. They make a real difference and you could help them in their work by contributing to our fundraising. Donations can be made via JustGiving.comhttps://www.justgiving.com/Tom-Vaz/ or directly into the Centre. For more details of the Centre and their work see their website at http://www.sechc.org.uk/

After 3 years of rest it seemed time to dust off the old muscles, bones and sinews and do one more spectacular ride in aid of this fabulous charity.

This time I will travel alone for 25 days, mainly following the ancient pilgrimage route to Rome, the Via Francigene, covering a distance of around 1,400 miles.

The route travels through Newhaven - Dieppe - Paris before I eventually reach the Via Francigene in Eastern France. From then on it is pretty simple apart from having to cross the Alps without an elephant!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Day 12 A Day off from Cycling

After eleven straight days in the saddle I am beginning to think that my legs are still rotating slowly in my sleep. Time for a day off! 

Having decided to stay in this peaceful, remote place I went for a walk up the mountain. As I sat down for a breather and to chat to one of my sons who was still in bed in far away London, I could see the St Bernards in their kennel area surrounded by little kids. Suddenly, they were on the way for their morning walk and coming towards me!

I told my beloved son that something urgent had cropped up and sauntered in among the dog walkers.

The kids were so excited to be walking with these gentle giants and their pleasure was very contagious. Occasionally there was a shout of "Madame, le chien fait un caca" and the young lady in charge would come back with her doggy bag to clear up the mess.

Eventually Madame realised that I was not one of her group and told me to clear off. Pretending a total ignorance of French I maintained my dignity and carried on up the mountain to one of the peaks surrounding the pass.

Near the peak is a small ice field so there's a suitable picture of my crocs walking across the Alpine ice field. Surpringly enough, crocs are good for going up mountains but don't really protect your ankles from sharp rocks. 

As you'd expect, the views from this altitude are just stunning. Glaciers and peaks rise magestically ask around and totally dwarf the minor achievement of cycling or walking up here. This is truly the land of the Gods!

If you look carefully at the following picture you can make out the swirls of the road as it makes its way down into Italy but that's tomorrow's story.

After the morning's excitement I visited the dog kennels and museum. The St Bernard is a beautiful animal but I wouldn't want to keep one. They grow to 60 - 100kg and are notoriously hard to train. At least they are gentle so you are more like to be drowned in their slobber rather than eaten alive.

The highlights of the museum include the stuffed remains of Barry III. He died while guiding someone to safety. The barrel belonged to Barry I after whom the kennels are named. Barry I was a legend and apparently saved over 40 people before dying in retirement in Bern.

Jennifer and the other Trustees please note that I'm expecting the Centre to stuff my remains and place them in the downstairs cabinet. I think a pose showing me working on a laptop would be good. I believe certain colleagues (Nina and Carol) would like my face distorted into a smile. This is what it might look like!

It would be good if you could also place my bike on display like this barrel.


  1. Now I'm truly confused. 'Grumpy' or 'Smiley'? That is the question. I'm going to take a view on that after some serious deliberation.

    Crocs on ice??? Very fetching & typical Tom-like! Not sure whether any of our glamorous folks at the Centre could easily pull that one off....!! Maybe a 'Congratulations' is long overdue.....@#~**&<**@#!!!!!

  2. There is no way we are planning to stuff your remains. We are looking forward to welcoming you home for a celebration meal. love Jennifer