It’s with an extremely heavy heart that I (Lewis) have decided I can’t continue. After 6 months of planning and preparation with only one real objective in mind for 2019, I’m absolutely gutted to be writing this from England. C.2,500 miles in training, several 100 mile plus rides, weeks and weeks spent planning the route and hotels, a new bike, equipment and more reading up on nutrition than you can imagine, I couldn’t have felt more ready. But life isn’t always fair, around the 100 mile mark on day 2 I felt my knee start to ache. Day 3 started in pain, requiring treatment inside the first 15 miles and Day 4 was one of the most agonising days of my life, as my eyes streamed through pain with my knee screaming at me on every pedal stroke, but also the impending disappointment knowing that this couldn’t continue. Unable to even bend my leg on the evening of Day 4, I knew deep down that anymore riding would start doing long term damage and despite by heart telling me stopping was not an option, sometimes we must listen to the head and advice of others. So with a suspected torn MCL (medial cruciate ligament) I have headed back to England to have it properly checked out and not be a burden on the team.
My disappointment to one side, I couldn’t be more impressed with what the team are achieving and how deep they are digging. This is a truly epic challenge testing both body and mind, the boys will need to continue to show the amazing levels of courage and resilience to make it to Nice and should be extremely proud of themselves when they make it. A massive shout out to Paul for making this happen and for looking so strong on the bike. From having barely ridden a bike 6 months ago and not being the youngest in the squad he is absolutely smashing it, remarkably impressive and i’d encourage you all to dig team to support his incredible effort, along with his band of merry men.
Best of luck boys, I have full faith that you’ll smash it and I can’t wait to see you all in Nice.
Down but not out…. the planning begins for the next adventure
A day of ups and downs, quite literally. Despite being the shortest ride of the trip so far at only 92 miles, it was by far our most climbing yet. Heading off out of Champagne the rain had yet to move on and we were met with a day consisting of nothing but ‘light drizzle’. Having yet to see a coffee shop or bakery open, owing to a Sunday & Bank Holiday Monday, were were extremely excited to toast the first working day in France with a coffee shop. The place was set, Europes largest man made lake, lake Der-Chatecoq. As we reached the 35 mile make along the shores of the lake, ready for our caffeine boost, we were again left disappointed. We indeed found the coffee shop we had set out for, however there was no signs of life! So it once again it was back to the trusted, and now slightly despised, Peanut Butter Trek bars for the nutritious boost we longed for! Continuing on from the lake we headed deeper into rural France, only now with the front wheel often above the back wheel and the small ring engaged. A challenge too daunting for most, but these hills had the gaffer licking his lips and out he jumped for a few 1000ft of spinning, only this time without any electrical assistance. The gruelling countryside continued, along with the hunt for any establishment that didn’t serve chemically induced carbohydrates, fruitless and with spirits low the route then kicked us where it hurt, by taking us on main road from Chaumont to Paris. With 18 wheelers bombing passed our sanity and safety was in question, the only slim benefit being the hot fumes and dirty gasses coming from the lorries providing a little warmth on another glum day. Eventually after over 70 miles of turning the pedals, we found trade in France, in the form of a Carrefour Express. In we pilled to get our hands on real food and what a delight it would be…… Unless that is if you are George! George has some interesting food habits, as we have learnt on this trip, our favourite prior to this stop would have been the Mozzarella Pizza he ordered and asked for no cheese, but Mozzarella!?!? This was obviously done in George’s very best French, otherwise known as loud and aggressive English with lots of hand signs! Now back to the Carrefour, whilst the other lads were rapidly demolishing their sarnies, crisps and candies, George was having a slow sinking feeling as picked apart his Chicken bagel, with a building disgust about the fact someone could even consider using cream cheese in a bagel….. Unable to to even touch the bagel knowing that it contained the substance so detested to George, he eventually made do with part of Pauls donut and some crisps. The last 20 miles did little to build morale, with the steepest and longest climb of the trip so far coming in the last mile, made worse by some directional challenges from Nick’s snake version 3.0 GPS system. But at 4.45pm, almost 9 hours after departing Champagne we had made it, tired, hungry and thirsty we couldn’t wait to relax, refuel and get some rest. This is when we discovered HotelF1, it’s fair to say we were warned and the concept of communal showers was a slight concern, but nothing could have prepared us for this. The warning signs begun at the price of breakfast 3.5oEuro’s, a 3rd of the price of anything we’d consumed to date, then there was the very shady middle aged waster, clearly spaced out of his head, dressed head to toe in camo, looking like he had arrived at a crack den, with the only likely way out being in he back of a hurst. But it was not until we actually put our head into a room that we realised quite how terrible this place was. An executive decision was made very quickly to make a serious upgrade to a swanky hotel in the middle of town. The severity of the situation was made clear by the speed in which the Hebden’s were willing to spend £60 extra pounds of their hard earned without a second thought. And what a great upgrade it was, in the middle of the most vibrant town we have found so far, Chaumont, a safe garage for our bikes, a bathroom larger than most of our bedrooms and double beds so we could get nice and cuddly with each other. The night kept getting better, we pooled a wip, concerned it wouldn’t last more than a round, only to discover a round cost 25Euros!!! On learning about 3Euro pints, Dean started planning his next summer holiday to Chaumont! Dinner didn’t let us down either, by far the best meal we have had to date, clean, fresh Italian, with the only slight downside of no music in the restaurant. Fortunately George had had a few beers and wanted to ensure there was no cheese on his salad and hence the void was filled!
Day 4 Done.
Hero of the day, the gaffer himself Mr Steve O, making it 50 miles on a road bike with trainers on. Extremely impressive effort, from a man who truly leads by example.
Negatives of the day, now in to his 3rd day of dreadful knee pain, it’s looking touch and go if Lewis can continue.
A tired start to the day this morning, with all of the boys feeling the affects of the 223miles from the two previous days, a serious struggle but as soon as the lactic acid cleared and the legs started working properly we got underway. Today was the longest day of the ride with the plan set to ride 124 miles with 4850ft of climbing. A solid start with 60 miles racked up by midday and stop 1 with a well enjoyed lunch of some of France’s finest delicacies. The second half of the day was considerably harder, 4 punctures and hours of torrential rain, helped everyone to understand the importance of Teamwork and that every single person on this trip has a very important job, the support team were busy making sure that the riders could crack on with their day and ran around making sure the “Wheels could keep turning”(Apologies for the pun!!!!) With regards to todays highs and lows lets just say the following:
Highs: 124 Miles Complete – 68 by lunchtime/The Gaffer putting some miles in/George not being hungover
Lows: Speeding Ticket for an un-named Van Driver/Torrential Rain/4 x Punctures/Driving through the Champagne Region and drinking no Champagne/814ft climb at 100 miles/The amount of Broken glass in Reim
Day 2 was a day of many wrong turns, getting stuck finding alternative routes due to gravel Canal Paths, a few punctures, some pigeon sausages, a hungover team member, a pony in Lidl, a BMW wing mirror that lost the fight, a few comedy crashes, and a solid team effort from all of the boys on a long day that covered some serious miles. As a team we have now covered 223 miles in 2 days, so the fatigue is setting in but its time to kick on now and push into day 3. Thank you so much for the ongoing support, messages, emails and kind donations, it really does mean so much, and you will be amazed what motivation that gives the team. Onwards and definitely more upwards on Day 3……..
So upon waking at 5am and seeing the weather conditions, as you can imagine there was some nervousness about what we were about to embark on, we planned everything with great attention to detail, such as training, nutrition,routes, bike setups, and planned speeds but the only thing we couldn’t do anything about was Mother Nature. The good news is that after battling gusts of 25mph, driving rain and 100 miles, and a few mechanical issues the Team made it safely to Dover. Upon arrival and some serious delays to the ferries due to the Force Nine Gales the team jumped onto the Ferry and enjoyed a few post ride beers to celebrate the end of day 1. After a quick shower change the boys headed off to to sample some local French Cuisine, meals with plenty of grilled cheese and a couple more beers to wash it down. Day 1 complete and some tired heads happily disappearing to bed at 930pm ready for round 2 tomorrow……..lets see if a certain team member enjoys the French Hen do he stumbled upon.