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, 18 July 2015

Day 6 Bar-Sur Aube to Langres

Sassafrassarassa GPS is what Muttley would say if he lived in the modern era.

I followed the GPS track down a quiet road, all the way down a beautiful hill where a dead end was demarcated by an electric fence. Obviously the farmer got fed up with cyclists following their GPS navigation systems through his land. Probably the same farmer who ran me off the road in his tractor, just 5 minutes earlier.

A few minutes commenting on his parentage was followed by several minutes climbing back up the same hill.

But I leap ahead of myself here. The started off cool and wet. Very welcome after yesterday's broiling. See the old man selfie for genuine raindrops on my glasses. These may have changed to tears by the end of the day.

I visited the dreaded Abbey Clairvaux, the important Cistercian Abbey which Napoleon turned into a prison. A sad place that eventually inspired Victor Hugo to write Les Miserable. It is a high security prison now so not very welcoming. Not much is left of the Abbey and I didn't want to see the areas where people were packed so tight that they called them chicken pens so left it at that. More on Clairvaux on the Daily Telegraph Website

The route following the River l'Aube is quite beautiful and there are several waterfalls to be admired through the raindrops on your glasses.

It was coming up to 1pm and I was pretty hungry and I eyed up my meagre stock of a peach and a flapjack. I decided to wait a little while and for a change luck was on my side as I reached a rather pleasant roadside cafe and swapped my peach for an omelette! Of course not quite swapped, the peach was ravenously wolfed down an hour later.

I have finally seem a sign! No, not that kind! This was a sign for the Via Francigena😰 so I'm on the right track.

A harvest in progress is always good to see. This one was followed shortly by the tractor driver incident so I have mixed feelings about the weetabix growers of France.

On the run in to Langres a fleet of cars were parading with tooting horns presumably to celebrate a wedding. Why one of the cars had a "Stig" figure hanging by the neck I don't know but that may be the famous Gallic sense of humour celebrating the demise of Top Gear.

I finally climbed up to the citadel at Langres after 52 miles and the first serious hills of the trip. Langres is a medieval fortified town and well worth a visit. I will sadly give it a miss.

Lastly I just had to come to Chez Nina for dinner. Absolutely delicious meal and Nina modified her menu for me! Easily the best meal of the trip.


  1. French bread, omelette & watermelon for lunch with peach as an after?! 'Samosa' lookalikes in a bed of lettuce salad at Chez Nina for dinner??!! Must admit I am beginning to approve the vast improvement on your diet since you entered France! Enjoy it all barring the 'farmer with an electric fence who has had enough of wandering cyclists'!!

  2. I love your writing style Tom, I feel as though I'm there with you and fancy finding another Nina! I'm pleased she provided you with an oasis after the grumpy farmers anticss. No doubt you will meet many kind and accommodating people along the way but there will always be a farmer - Embrace it all!