After a hectic last night packing the minibus and loading the bikes everyone convened at 5:30am in the White Horse carpark. Wives and girlfriends and sons were there for farewells. We were also surprised to see our Auntie Joyce to see everyone off. A superb effort as she is CXXX years old. Astonishingly she was off for a swim in the sea afterwards (she swims everyday in the sea from April to Novemeber!)
The best news though was that Dave was released from hospital yesterday: some of the lads went up to London to fetch him and so Dave was on hand this morning to see his comrades off.
After a full breakfast on the ferry two riders rolled off and they and the minibus met at the famous Calais Hotel de Ville where the remainder of the bikes were unloaded, the departure photographs taken and they hit the road for the first leg of the tour.
Day 1: Wednesday 12th June: Calais to Ghent
As tradition dictates the first day turned out to be wet and cold. After a brief rendezvous in an obscure village the team arrived in Ypres at the famous Menin Gates for a lunch of hot soup and cheeseballs.
By the time they arrived in Ghent however the sun made a rare appearance and when Roger and Steve finally found the hotel after a delay in traffic the boys (and bear) were tucked into a deserved beer.
You will have noticed that Dave (inflatable version) is with the riders. It’ll be interesting to see if he makes it to Krakow.
In the evening the team went out for some pasta in Ghent after having survived a torrential downpour on the way.
Day 2: Thursday 13th June: Ghent to Schinveld
Here is a video of the Day 2 route. The video is labelled Ypres which is wrong: sorry.
Just to be contrary today decided to be be windy, but at least it was dry.
The first rendezvous was at St. Amands on the banks of the river Schelde, which is still tidal at this point. The tide was low and consequently the ferry the boys arrived at was not running. Fortunately another ferry was close by further downstream and the ferryman ran the boys upstream to St. Amands anyway.
They didn’t have to pay: these ferries are free in Belgium the ferryman pointed out and explained they only charge in Scotland and the Netherlands! Dale disgraced himself by cleaning his shoes whilst on board and received a deserved admonition from the ferryman.
The lunchstop was at Herentals on the Maas-Scheldekanaal. The cafe here didn’t do lunch so Roger and I ran into town to get some sandwiches. After lunch it was time for me to leave the team and Roger left me at the railway station to go home.
Day 3: Friday 14th June: Schinveld to Waltrop
Here is a video of the Day 3 route.
Todays stage took them into Germany, across the Rhine and up the Ruhr valley to Dortmund. They stayed in some huts last night so it looks like Roger had the responsibility of cooking breakfast.
It explains why Dave is feeling a bit queasy and decided to ride shotgun instead of cycling. Snowflake.
Nevertheless by the end of the day Dave was ready for another drink!
After 3 days the team are now about 300 miles (500km) into the ride.
Many many thanks to those that have donated.