Home2Rome Cycle Ride 2009

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1 day left!

Posted by home2rome on July 31, 2009 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (1)

I sit here tonight in a rather nice 4 star hotel, just 25 miles from Rome and only a couple of hours riding from finishing the ride!


Since I last wrote we have had a few very hot days riding on some very poor roads through some annoying hilly parts of Italy! And although the days have been enjoyable, we are both very ready to get to Rome, and finish this challenge.


I will write more tomorrow about the ride as a whole, but in brief it has been very enjoyable, rather challenging and very far from a cycling holiday!


As I said I shall write again tomorrow, hopefully to announce our sucessful arrival into Rome!


For the final time on the road I would like to thank everyone for their support, and if by chance anyone is in Rome tomorrow, we should arrive in St Peters square at about 11am, would be great to see you there!


Best wishes,


Rory

Only 4 days to go!!!

Posted by home2rome on July 28, 2009 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (1)

Hi everyone.


Very quick blog as I am standing at an internet cafe in Lucca, and to be honest I don't have that much energy to stand up for much longer!


Sorry I have not written since getting into Italy but we have not been able to get any Wifi connection, and we haven't passed a McDonalds to use theirs!


As the title suggests we are now only 4 days riding from Rome and after our rest day today here in Lucca I'm feeling ready for the final push to Rome!


Over the last few days we changed our route slightly, which meant the day from the Alps was a 100 mile ride instead of 55. Due to it all being down hill we reached the 55 mile mark by lunch time so to make the next 2 days shorter, and more so the day here to Lucca, we decided to continue riding. In the end we reached the coast, so we can now say we cycled from the Alps to the Med in one day, which I quite like.


Something I didn't really like was the final day in the Alps. By not looking at the route closely enough, I managed to ignore the fact the day started with us climbing the Col d'Izzoard, a climb which is rated one of the hardest possible in the Tour de France, and one that was a lot harder then Alpe d'Huez, and then to make the day a lot harder, it finished with a climb upto 2744 metres, and the top of the Col Agnel, which was the hardest climb I have ever done, and possibly ever want to do! The strangest thing with the climb that we had not experienced before was the affect of high altitude, I am not joking to say when I reached the top even opening a pack of nuts was a struggle!


The last couple of days has been spent riding along the north western coast of Italy, which has been beautiful and very enjoyable especially with the weather being as it is with wall to wall sunshine and around 38 degrees (I hear it's not the same in the UK!), but we were both very much ready for our rest day here in Lucca, a rest day we have both very much enjoyed.


We spent the day as hoped, relaxing and watching the world go by. We met up with Andy from work and his family for lunch, and then had a cycle round the walls, and that has been about it!


And that is all I have to say. Now i feel like I'm in touching distance of Rome, I'm really looking forward to reaching it, but I also think the next few days riding will be very enjoyable. Once again I would like to thank everyone for their messgaes of support, and I would also like to say well done to Ciara for doing a sky dive this week, it's just a shame she did one before me!


I will hopefully be able to post again on Friday, but I will post for sure on Saturday to hopefully announce our sucessful arrival to Rome, so please keep checking back! And pictures will be up soon... I promise!


Best wishes


Rory





Hi from 1800 metres!

Posted by home2rome on July 23, 2009 at 4:58 PM Comments comments (0)

Hi all!


Another update on the ride, and as the title suggests, since I last wrote, we have found ourselves cycling around and up some rather large hills!


I am writing this from a room in the very nice Rif Blanc Hotel in Monetier-Les-Bains, surrounded on all sides by the Alps. We have just finished day 2 in the Alps, and what a couple of days they have been!


Yesterday was one of the headline days of the ride, Alpe d'Huez. Following a 30 mile ride into the strongest headwind you can imagine, we reached the town of Bourg d'Oisans at the base of the climb. After a long lunch to allow a storm to pass, we proceeded to "storm" up the montain.... Well that was the hope. Unless you have cycled the 21 hairpins up, it is hard to understand just how difficult they are. In my case, climbing constantly for just under an hour and a half is not just physically exhusting, it is also mentallly draining too, but I have to say they were the most enjoyable hour and a half I have ever spent on a bike.


Cycling the route riden my so many cycling greats over the years, and seeing their names written on the road in front of me was something I'd been looking forward to for a very long time, and going up it with all the bags and weight, and overtaking people on their carbon fibre racing bikes made me enjoy it more!! Further no one overtook me so I was very happy!


On the way up the views were spectacullar, but as I was trying to set as fast a time as possible, I didn't stop to take pictures on the way up, so if you want to see the views you'll have to cycle it yourself!


Following a night spent in the very friendly Mariandre Hotel in Alpe d'Huez (which we would happily recomend) our route today took us up out of the town and into a spectacular pass. This took us up to 2000 metres, before dropping is, dramatically back down to 1000 metres, in time to start our major climb of the day up the Col Du Lautaret. This 7km climb brought us back to just over 2050 metres, before we descended once again to our rest place for the night here in this charming village of Monetier-Les-Bains.


So that's our Alpine story so far. Full of spectacular ups, and dramactic downs, all of which have been hugely enjoyable, and have come together to form my two greatest days cycling of my life so far. Some "supporting actors" who have played a key role in our Alpine story to this point are the Dutch. Wherever we have stopped over the last two days at least 1 dutch person has asked us about our trip and wished us well, which has been really nice!


For tomorrow we have the biggest climb of all, Col Agnel, 20km upto 2744 metres, or 9003 feet and more excitingly the Italian border.


So for the final time Bonne Nuit, as from tomorrow it will be Buona Notte!!!

I'm Still Alive!

Posted by home2rome on July 20, 2009 at 4:27 PM Comments comments (0)

Hi All,


I thought you'd better hear from me, otherwise you would be wondering. As usual we are getting our daily Mc D carbs (Bev - I'm not sure if you meant these kind of carbs, but where the wi-fi is, you will find us!).


I am aching in places I never new existed but no pain, no gain.


Some messages for you:-


Sheena - I am making sure Rory brushes his teeth and says his prayers, but until tonight I didn't know what he was up to on his bike.


Ciara - glad to hear you are feeling better.


Marie - we were in Vertus the other day and went in  and paid for your glasses.


Jean - our most loyal "Blogger". You are right; your country is fantastic, as are the people. The courtesy and patience they show to cyclists is amazing.


Fr Peter B - Cluny says hi back. The fare to Taize was extortionate and there was no way we were cycling there, so we had a coffee in the sqaure instead.


The Sreawns - PB! I don't think I will ever be able to run again!


Denise and Tracy - get back to work. Glad to see that the only thing you have to worry  about is then lack of fruit. Just to make it worse for you, I am  having lovely bananas and  nectarines every day.


Dr Sarah - The cream and shorts are a God-send. Rory also wants to know who John Wayne is and why you think we would be walking like him!


To the Footie lads - enjoy your night on Friday. We will be spending our first night in  Italy then, but still in the Alps.


Les - I think it is fair to say that Rory has got further than Rhyl this time!


Eddie - if Les says we won, then we won. I bet it was easier for you without my suicidal passes.


Andy - sorry no news for you yet.


Sean M - I keep thinking of your words as I go along. (For everyone else, Sean told me that he could only think of one person stupid enough to agree to this trip, and only one person stubborn enough to complete it).


Roisin, Olivia and Gemma - your messages are great. Keep them coming.


St Peter's Children - your letters are surviving well, although the envelope is looking a bit travel-worn.


Pope Benedict XVI - I suppose your broken wrist means you won't now be cycling in to Rome with us. Get well soon.


To all at King's Close - Hi, I hope you are not missing us too much.


To everyone in Oz. - Your support is great. Thanks. It is amazing to think that because of the time difference, you know what we are going to do, before we do it.


To everyone who has supported us - many thanks. It really means a lot to us.


Last, but not least to Natalie - Rory and I would be lost without you. You are keeping us on  the straight and narrow. I don't know where we would be without you. We both love you and will never go anywhere without you in the future. (For everyone else, Natalie is our SatNav! Who else did you think she was?!).


I am starting to ramble now, and Mcs is about to close, so it's time for bed. I will let Rory keep you up to date from now on.


Night, night all.


Mike

Day 10 Blog - courtesy of McDonald's (again!)

Posted by home2rome on July 20, 2009 at 3:58 PM Comments comments (0)

Hi!

 

Sorry I've not been able to update this blod in the last couple of days but I haven't been able to get internet access, and on the rest day yesterday I had a bad stomach so spent the whole day in the tent, meaning that I couldn't go into town to find a connection. Now, once again, I am sat in a McDonalds taking full advantage of their 'gratuit et illimite' Wifi connection.

  

Since I last wrote, we've ridden another 160 miles, had our first rest day, crossed the half-way point, and all is going well. And I've got over my boredom!!! I'm quite pleased that we've crossed half way now, because instead of saying how far we've come from home, I'm insisting we say how far we've got until we get to Rome!

  

Also, since I last wrote, we've made somenew friends. Firstly there was Tim and Jackie from Gloucester who I spent some time with chatting about the delights of France and the advantages of Formule 1 hotels, whilst watching the storm that I mentioned in the previous post. The second person that we met showed one of the greatest bits of hospitality that I have ever seen! Whilst Dad and I sat in the square of the small town of Laigness enjoying our lunch, an elderly lady came out with a flask and offered us a coffee. Although we both declined her kind offer, we were amazed by her hospitality. This same spirit of welcoming was shown again today as Dad and I sat on a bench on the outskirts of Lyon sending texts to people to say we had past the half way point. As we did another elderly lady went passed and asked if we were lost. Following a short conversation about our journey she invited us back to her house for a drink, and to meet her husband who was from Southern Italy. Once again we declined her offer, but these examples are two of many occasions that have shown us just how welcoming the French are.

 

About the riding itself, it is still going well. I am honestly happy to say that over the last few days we have started to hit some real climbs which I really enjoy. On the high quality French roads, both going up and coming down has been great fun, and when I saw the Alps in the distance today I felt very excited! To be honest, although I am very excited about reaching Rome, I am probably equally as excited by the thought of testing myself on the Alpine climbs, the ultimate goal for cyclists, over the next few days. I know that Dad won't agree with anything I have just said, but never mind.

 

One thing Dad will agree with, however, is that if the conditions stayed as they were today until we reach Rome we will be very happy - little wind, clear blue sky and, once again, temperatures well into the 30's.

 

I'm also pleased to report the cycling tan lines are coming on a treat and, by the time I reach Rome, I think I'll be looking like a zebra with random lines and blotches of colour everywhere!

 

And that is about it for now. Thanks again for all your support!

  

I'll post again as soon as I can, but I don't think it will be for a few days.

 

Rory


P.S. For the lads of Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op in Manchester, you better get training 'cos after dragging this weight around for 1,500 miles, when I get home and onto my carbon bike I will honestly be flying! Just to warn you before our next ride!

 

Day 9 - Rest Day in Cluny

Posted by home2rome on July 19, 2009 at 1:34 PM Comments comments (1)

We have just heard from Mike and Rory saying that they arrived in Cluny yesterday and have spent the day relaxing; the boys have been so relaxed that Rory hasn't even been swimming! As they haven't got internet access, Mike and Rory have asked if we can please update the blog on their behalf.


Both Mike and Rory are doing ok, though a week of cycling is beginning to take its toll on them. Mike is very tired, and Rory has picked up a bit of a bug, but neither have lost their determined spirit.


For those of you that were worrying about Rory's sanity after his last blog, he assures us that he has gotten past his boredom and is no longer trying to determine what he can and can't do on the back of his bike. As for Mike, he says that he hasn't had the time to be bored as all that he is concentrating on is keeping up with Rory's impressive, and unyielding, pace.


Tomorrow morning the boys will start on the next phase of their ride, which will include cycling over the Alps, and won't have another rest until Lucca. 


Thank you all for your continuing support for Mike and Rory. If you have a minute, please leave them a message of support on their Guestbook. 

Day 6! It's finishing with a bang!

Posted by home2rome on July 16, 2009 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (1)

So another day down, and we have now done over a third of the total distance.

The route today was beautiful, as expected, as we headed south through the Champagne region, passing some very wealthy villages and past miles and miles of vineyards. The stunning route was coupled by beautiful weather, with wall to wall sunshine, however with temperatures well into there 30's, it meant stopping off to top up our water bottles at every possible opportunity. Today was probably also the flattest day so far as well, with only one climb out of Reims really worth mentioning, and we were on the quietest roads we've had so far, so, overall, a good day of riding.


I have to admit, however, that today has been one of the hardest for me so far; not because I've hit 'thewall' physically, but because I think I hit 'the wall' mentally. All day I couldn't get over the feeling of great boredom and I found that this made the day difficult. I couldn't be bothered to make another pedal stroke, I was getting very frustrated whenever we stopped, and, at one point, I even tried to see if it was possible to sleep on a bike - which I am proud to inform is not worth trying as I nearly ended up in a ditch. To help over come my boredom further I decided to see what else it is possible to do on the move, here is what I found out: 

  • Applying sun cream - Possible
  • Redirecting Natalie (our GPS) - Possible
  • Resting water bottles on handlebar - Possible
  • Sitting on the stuff on the back of the bike - Not Possible
  • Raving like you are at a night club - Possible (but I did get some strange looks!)

I did try a few other things but I can't really remember what they were now.


On top of all this though, Dad and I spent some of the day trying to decide if there truly is a 'great cycling' road anywhere in the world, and the answer is YES! And we will be cycling it! Those of you who know it will probably agree that the drive at Palazzola is the worlds best cycling road. It's downhill; it's been newly resurfaced; it's sheltered from the wind; and it has an incredible view. Furthermore, it will be our last 250 metres and at the end of it will be a cool drink and a swimming pool, what more can anyone ask for?


But that is still a couple of weeks away, and we have tomorrow to worry about first.

We have no idea what the route will be like, but what I do know is that there is a lake at the end of it, and, if it is hot as it was today, I will be going for a dip as soon as we arrive.


As for now I am off for a shower to get rid of all the dead flies off my arms and legs, and then going to bed!


Speak soon!


Rory


p.s. With reference to the title, I am sat here watching the most incredible electrical storm! Honestly unbelievable!


 

Hi from France and Sorry!

Posted by home2rome on July 16, 2009 at 5:31 AM Comments comments (1)

Hi.

 

Sorry it has taken me so long to get the first one of these up. I have been writing them as we've been going along but on some occasions down to my stupidity/ tiredness and on some occasions down to technical problems I've not managed to post any.

So, sadly this one will be quite a long post to bring you right up to date.

 

Day 1 started really well with an incredible send off by family, friends, colleagues and a camera crew for Manchester TV channel, Channel M. It was great to have so many people come so early in the morning to see us off, and we would liketo thank everyone for coming along, it made the morning very special.


The rest of the day was okay, the weather was fine, and we made good time. Most of the day was spent riding in areas that we know so Natalie (our Sat Nav) wasn't needed much. That evening we stayed with my auntie Marie and her family in Sutton Coldfield and, as she always does, she made us feel very a thome.

 

Day 2 had, on paper, all the aspects needed to make a challenging day: long distance, unknown roads and time pressure, and it lived up to it's expectations. Although very enjoyable cycling through some typical southern towns and villages,London never seemed to get any closer. Finally when we did arrive in Enfield, we were very warmly welcomed by Bevan household and as I headed into London to meet up with some Palazzola friends, Dad enjoyed cathching up with Mark and Bev at home. We would both like to say a massive thank you to the Bevans for letting us stay and for looking after us so well, we both had really enjoyable evenings.

  

With a boat to catch, and 75 miles needed to be cycled before hand, day 3 was another early start, however all the Bevans were out to see us off. After this great start to the day, it quite rapidly went down hill as we tried to get across central London in the morning rush hour. This slow start was not helped by the closure of the road we were meant to be going down, but with the help of a local commuter we managed to reach Tower Bridge for a picture with the envelope containing the letters to The Pope.

After this, the day didn't really get any better. The whole journey was on the A2, which can only be described as a very boring, very long and very loud road, and to make things worse we didn't manage to make up the time lost trying to getacross Central London meaning we missed our ferry. Luckily we arrivedin Dover in time for the next ferry and arrived in France only 45minutes late.

 

After a night in Calais, our first day riding on continental Europe was a bit of a surprise. From previous experience of driving in Northern France we were expecting quite a flat day, but what we got was in fact the exact opposite; mile after mile of rolling hills, not steep enough to really be classed as a climb but certainly long enough and numerous enough to felt by the legs.


This was a view shared by a group of 4 cyclist, from all over the UK, who we met a few times on our way to Arras. On what they described as a 'training ride', possibly for Lands End or John O'Groats, they were taking 4 days to ride from London to Paris, and it was good to have a quick chat with them as we went along.


When we arrived at our hotel in Arras we met another group of cyclist doing the London-Paris ride, but incredibly this was the second time we had meet them, the first time was disembarking the ferry at Calais. Doing the ride for Cancer Research UK, I would like to take this opportunity to wish them the best of luck and I hope the rest of their ride goes well.

  

And, finally, today. Possibly the thing that sums up today are times. It is currently 00.30 here in Reims,and we have only been at the hotel for 2 hours. This is made worse when you think we started at 7.30 this morning, meaning our 115 mile ride meant we were in the saddle for 15 hours, the longest time either of us has ridden in a single day. Although a very sunny day, the very strong head wind was the reason for our very long day, and, combined with the hilly terrain like the day before, it meant we had a very difficult day riding. I am happy to say though that we are now in Reims, showered and ready to go to bed, I am however happy to say that tomorrow is only about 70 miles so we should arrive in enough time to get a big meal and relax before going to bed.

 

That is about it for now, I am very sorry I have near enough just written a list of what we've done, butI 'm too tired to think about how I'm feeling and Dad is asleep. What I can say is that he's hurting, and I'm starting to get a bit bored of getting flies in my eyes, mouth and splattered all over my arms and legs.

  

I would like to thank everyone fortheir messages of support over the last few days, and I would like to send a special thank you to Mum and Ciara for organising our send off. Hopefully tomorrow will be as clear as today, and less windy and it will be a good day.


I'll post again soon.

 

Rory



Day 4 Update

Posted by home2rome on July 14, 2009 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Mike and Rory apologise for their lack of a blog so far but have been unable to access the internet. They are now in Arras (France) and have encountered no major problems on their trip. Both are well and are enjoying their ride - though Rory is sunburnt! 


The boys have promised to fill out their own blog at the next available opportunity so please keep an eye out for their update.


Thank you for your support so far!


OMG!

Posted by home2rome on July 4, 2009 at 5:02 PM Comments comments (1)

Hi Everyone,


It is no longer 6 months away, or one month. It is now next Saturday when we leave. I would like to say that I am fit and raring to go, or I could tell you the truth! I vary between excitment and sheer terror, with terror coming top. But I think we are as ready as we can be.


Hopefully after a grand farewell from our house, our first day's journey is to Sutton Coldfield. A journey of about 75 miles - a good start.


I have been watching the first day's Tour de France and seeing how they make it look easy. Keep watching the Tour in case you see us at the front of the Pelaton!


I don't think I will get a chance to add to the Blog before we go, but whenever we get internet access we will let you know how we are getting on! We also look forward to reading your words of support, which will help us when the going gets tough.


That's all for now folks.


Mike


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