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!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Day 7 Langres to Besançon

I must admit that there was a certain amount of trepidation when I thought about another 60 mile ride today. So much so that I didn't book a hotel and almost convinced myself that I was looking forward to another night in the forest with the hammock.

Don't get me wrong, I love the hammock but there are routines that men of a certain age must follow and after a week on a leather saddle a new routine has begun. These things are best, not attempted when mosquitos are all around waiting to bite into the tender parts of a man's body...

Anyway, the day started with the promise of cloud cover and a high of 26C. I was a bit perplexed with the lack of eggs on the breakfast buffet - just a message saying to ask for them. Well I did ask and the young lady still assuming that I spoke French, launched into a monologue from which I could only assume eggs were off! Why she thought I spoke French was because I brilliantly deduced that a long sentence with a Paddington Bear stare meant that they didn't take credit card payments.

So without eggs and as much protein as I could get from croissant, bread and cheese I left to enjoy the downhill run from the hotel on my route. Excellent roads to myself and everything going great!

After 20 miles I decided to eat my stolen pear from breakfast with a flapjack and that seemed ok. A short while later I was sat in a country bar where the barmaid read out bits from the newspaper and the old gentlemen laughed and discussed things loudly - a bit like in Emmerdale or The Archers I guess. Definitely not Eastenders because the last gentleman to join the group came in buttoning his shirt and shorts and shook everybody's hand including mine!

This is the life I thought but they all had women at home feeding them lunch and the bar restaurant looked like the last meal it had served was to one of the dogs lying around inside so I said my fluent merci, my au revoir and left.

By now the temperature was a fierce 30+ and so a few miles down the road I rolled up outside an Auberge,  simply called l'Auberge in a little hamlet called La Madeleine. I gasped for a coke and the lady threw her hands up and ran to fetch me a coke and a bottle of chilled water. This was followed by a rather nice piece of (free) gateau and an offer to refill my drinking bottle with cold water! Absolutely brilliant! 

As I moved on through Cussey sur l'Ognon I saw the most beautiful river scene I have ever seen,  a couple of kids fishing, waist deep with swans, dragonflies, fish all in and over the water.

Finally the twist in the tail, the headwind had really picked up and it is hard work plodding along the smooth, nearly level roads. Imagine my delight when I realised the blessed GPS had plotted a route up every hill into Besançon and I had 8 miles of very hard work to do at the end. At one point I cycled past a gypsy camp with a family picnicking in the middle of the road and instead of throwing stones or curses as I'm used to from around our area, they shouted "Courage Monsieur". I believe this is a good thing?

Anyway the hills are good training and I am better prepared for my ride into the Juras Mountains tomorrow. Oh and the unmentionables are much better, thank you for your concern! 

Total distance today was 64 miles.

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