Thursday, August 7, 2014
In late July three intrepid cyclists set off for a 1,000 mile ride traversing France, Roscoff – Nice, in pretty much a straight line in fourteen days, writes Steve Birley.
The trio were working to a planned a route of 70-80 miles a day, two-and-a-half days in the Massif Central, an excursion up Mont Ventoux and no rest days, whilst also looking to raise money for charity along the way – very much a case of ‘Ligne de France’.
The cyclists, James Salter from Sidmouth, Jake Cope from Huddersfield and Joe Brooke from Wales, to set off with Emma Compton, another Sidmouth resident, in a support vehicle.
After catching the overnight ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff the group began the serious cycling!
Day one took in 80-miles across Brittany to end the day in Saint Brieuc. Day two took the party along the coast to picturesque Mont Saint Michel. A night camping was followed by a day of cycling south.
Day four provided hot, sunny weather and the cyclists spent the day riding down the Loir Valley with that particular day’s travelling ended at Amboise where the group camped in a purpose built camp site that was situated in the middle of a river!
an official campsite but still weird. I suffered the only puncture of the trip 10 miles from the finish, that’s upsetting!
Bike woes blighted day five, but progress was still made and that led nicely into the next couple of days and the ride up to and over the Massif Central.
Day seven saw the group ride from Gouzon to Clermont Farrand, but day eight provided a serious challenge – a day of cycling in the mountains!
During this part of the journey the group were caught up in a huge thunderstorm.
Alas the support car proved not up to the rigours of mountain driving and a major breakdown hit the vehicle at Ambert, exactly 45 miles into a 90-mile day!
The group waited in the thunder for the car to be recovered.
Next up, more mountain riding – and more heavy rain!
After the trials and tribulations during the mountain trip the group took a rest and administration day during which time news came through that the support car was indeed even more troubled than had been at first feared!
The return to riding next day saw the group descend down to the Rhone Valley. They were reunited with Emma in a nee support vehicle – a hire car – and the group lunched together in Tournon-sur-Rhone.
The day ended with a stay in a hotel. The next day offered a number of route options and they plumped to Mt Ventoux. The cruised through the early miles down the Rhone Valley prior to coming into view of the magnificent mountain – one bigger than Peak Hill in Sidmouth!
Thereafter the group rode through vineyard after vineyard as Ventoux got closer, and closer!
Eventually the mountain was reached and from this point it was a case of cycling upwards, and upwards! There was a 21km climb to an altitude of 1912 metres with the climb an average of seven-point-six per cent!
The summit was 12°C and windy with moments of hill fog, bit of a contrast from the 30°C the group had begun the day in!
After the obligatory pictures it was time for the descent, one they achieved with few mishaps
The next part of the trip took the group from Carpentras for 80 miles to Trets and a 5pm arrival.
The penultimate day’s route was more direct than they had been observing and, at the end of day 13 they reached their destination of Frejus. They had completed a coast to coast ride!
That night the party enjoyed the thought that the following days 50-mile cycle into Nice would be a case of ‘mission accomplished’.
The elements were not kind on that final stage as they were hit by thunderstorms and a massive head wind. The ride though Cannes was a huge headwind blowing sand off the beach into their faces, but they made it to the finish line having successful navigated their way over a distance of 1020 miles.
Making the achievement all the more worth while is the fact that, to date, the group have managed raise over £1,400 for their two chosen charities; RNLI and Help for Heroes.
People can still help the group raise even further money by visiting the website www.justgiving.com/teams/ligneddefrance