The morning after the night before!
After months of planning, preparation and training the French 400 Cycle Challenge is finally underway. 70+ cyclists raising money for Bath Rugby Foundation and hopefully completing 400km in three days.
The group met at Wick Farm on Wednesday evening, suffice to say spirits were high, everyone seeming optimistic and perhaps a little fearful of the challenge ahead. I was taken back to my youth as crates of beer, lager, cider, red & white wine were loaded onto the back of coach No 2 (my coach). The boys and girls clearly had a thirst.
By the time we arrived at Portsmouth to catch the ferry, many new friendships were at an embryonic stage. Unsurprisingly everyone gathered in the bar on the ferry, by now, totally unafraid of whatever Thursday may hold.
A rather unwelcome alarm call was received by the entire party at 4.45am. We were transported in our Lycra to the starting line, the cycling groups were announced and lead riders introduced. I was fortunate to be in a group consisting of many personnel who had cycled the length of Ireland a year earlier for the same cause. Hangovers, were compared and graded and I’m proud to announce our main sponsor Flying Pig Renovation had not one but two category ‘A’ hangovers. It was going to be long day in the saddle.
All the groups had their own approach, a couple decided to cycle as hard and fast as they could in order to get to the hotel, get cleaned up and no doubt get some much needed sleep before the less able cyclists started to arrive. Others took a more leisurely approach, non more so than my own group who decided an hour after the first pitstop to take an unscheduled lunch break. We all raised a glass of wine to the cyclists passing us during the next hour as we tucked into our beef, chips and…what do you call that green stuff?… ah yes… salad.
Anyway, I’m pleased to report every cyclist successfully completed 85 miles and arrived safely in Caen having pedalled from close to Cherbourg past many of the Normandy landing beaches, across beautifully scenic countryside and through picture postcard villages. Apparently it rained most of the day but no one really cared, we were out on the road.
As I write this, everyone has been well fed and hydrated, perhaps not the food and hydration experienced by Team Sky during the Tour de France but it certainly did the trick for us. I believe I am currently the only individual not in the bar, which is why this report will not be lasting much longer. It appears no lessons were learnt from last night and the team are feeling ‘no pain.’ Earlier niggles and strains are no more than a distant memory.
If anyone reading this is interested in joining us next year when we take on Italy in June for a few days, please drop me an email [email protected] (I guarantee I’ll reply but not before next week). This is such a fantastic experience for everyone and I genuinely mean everyone, we have boys & girls spanning an age range of 18 – 71 all getting a life experience from the challenge and I believe many lasting friendships will be forged as a result. All in support of www.bathrugbyfoundation.com
There will be a bit of pain (which dissipates after a shower and a drink) together with loads and loads of laughter.
I’m off to the bar – I’ll be back tomorrow with a few words about day two, which includes lunch in the stunning port / harbour of Honfleur – what could possibly go wrong?!