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, 1 August 2015

Day 20 Pontremoli to Santa Maria del Giuduce via Pisa

A long day was planned in order for me to meet up with Luke in Pisa which is a slight detour from the Via Francigena as well. And the personal milestone for me is that somewhere today I crossed 1000 miles on this trip.

I left Pontremoli later than planned because of the puncture from yesterday. Hurrying to make up time I covered the 65 miles to Pisa at an average of 14.4 mph, not bad considering all the weight in my luggage. Of course it was mostly downhill or level as I followed the Fiume Magra to the coast.

Passing numerous towns looking down into the valley gave the whole journey a surreal feel. Beautiful towns with castles and impossibly large churches with fabulous names like Villa Franca Babarasco and Caprigilia proudly looking down at us in the busy valley below.

The SS62 was very busy but in good repair. I had to slow down for endless numbers of traffic lights and roundabouts. Italian drivers don't like people to know where they're going. They come up alongside you as you negotiate a roundabout and will have a good look at you before deciding they want to cut across you and turn off. No indicating or any other curtesy like being in a sensible lane.

Eventually at the somewhat grubby town of Aula I diverged from the Via Francigena and carried on the SS1 towards Pisa.

After two very brief stops for milk and pastry and a banana. I'd run out of anything substantial to eat and as I approached Pisa on the dual carriageway SS1 I was starving. Traffic was overtaking me quickly but at least there was less chance of being cut up.

Finally, I arrived in Pisa at 2.15pm and got an astonished look from Luke when I told him I'd pedalled 65 miles to meet him for lunch. Of course the hug was lacking in enthusiasm but that could have been due to my being soaked in sweat.

A pizza and an ice cream later it was time for us to go or separate ways, Luke back to Florence and me onwards towards Lucca.

When I looked at the map last night there was a section which looked very odd. Something like a straight road with a 30% climb which I knew was unlikely. A small Boxhill like zigzag later and I laughed with relief as i realised thecstraight section was a tunnel! Finally someone is on my side😆.

Total distance today 72 miles.


  1. It's not as leaning as the Eifel Tower! Massive congratulations Tom for crossing the !,000 miles - you should feel hugely proud of yourself. Carol

  2. Heartfelt 'DOUBLE' congratulations Tom!! Firstly for surviving 1000 miles of non-stop cycling; secondly for crossing the £5000 mark with fundraising!! Well done brave adventurer!! We're VERY proud of your achievements. Thanks to you, we can sit back, relax and take it easy!!