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!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Day 13 Col Du Grand Saint Barnard to Ivrea

What a beautiful morning to start an adventure in a new country. I have been to Italy before but never as a cyclist and Italy is an old country that you only imagine in that warm soft focus that European Cinema uses.

Soft focus is not what you want as you roll down the mountains at 30mph. My bike has hydraulic brakes and they have a tendency to boil if over used so I made sure to stop regularly. I did test the temperature of the brake disc once but it burnt my finger so I just took the view that I should assume it was going to be very hot each time.
Apart from the stunning views the journey was incident free. Several cyclists went upwards past me cheerfully calling out "Chao" as they did what was probably some sort of training run. None of them were carrying the dreaded luggage and certainly none of them had a jingling elephant in his backpack. Why jingling? Which genius decided that the elephant needed to have a jingle bell? You realise I have to put up with another two weeks of it?

Having had a day off I decided to be daring and go for a long distance today.
73 miles is ok most of the time but with temperatures in the high 30s it might have all gone wrong.

As I moved further down the Aosta Valley I was hit by a very strong headwind so going downhill required a lot of effort to just keep up to 11mph - slow enough to admire the beautiful town of St Vincent and the astonishing Science Fiction visage of Fort di Bard apparently used in the latest multi billion $ Avengers film.

Then a couple of stunning castles. This area requires a lot more exploring to get a feel for the history. Someone must like all this history, they've left miles of cobblestones here which wreak havoc on parts of the gentleman's anatomy.

Finally a note to myself, don't get ambitious with the mileage here because temperatures are pretty ridiculous. 40C!


  1. It's pi**ing down here and very cool with severe weather warnings! Probably much better cycling weather though. Nina will be pleased the elephant's jingle bell is having the desired effect. Having breakfast now. Stay safe. Carol

  2. Wow! I am just back from my week doing as little as possible in Corsica, and you have been non-stop pedalling the whole time! You must be pretty proud of yourself, Tom. It's already been quite some achievement - but keep on keeping on, both with the cycling and the blogging. Both are brilliant! Bev