It was a heavy night last night for the Captain. I even got a telling off from Bingo: severely reprimanded. It’s not for the first time but when I get older I’m definitely going to calm down.
It’s Sunday in France so no breakfast! This team is brilliant as they dived straight into the van and raided our supplies. Great help from East Kent Foods and Billy & Tina. Thanks for all your support, the lads love it, you have been brilliant supporting our little adventures.
We leave just after 8 with clear blue skies and a slight breeze. What could go wrong.
Soon we were out of the town, then onto the first road of the day. We only had two! Not sure what’s in the flap-jack Billy or the home-made one from Cathal’s Mum Caroline but it made the lads crank the speed up, 25mph, then 28mph rising to 31mph on the flat straight roads.
Young Ronnie (showing his class [Young Ronnie = Rylan: Ed]) and training from his cousin.
To be honest it wrecked me. I spent a couple of hours on the back, thinking what am I doing, getting in at 3am in the morning and then riding with these young fit guys. They are great company and it’s brilliant riding.
I have to apologise to Glen after a little swear word when he offered me his wheel. I’m just not feeling it at that moment. Obviously it’s nothing to do with the fact he is from Canterbury!
When the the Moses clan offered me their wheel I took it with an open heart, even putting up with Carl’s insane banter was a blessing. Mark and Carl towed me back to Glen and Marc Tonks and I made my apologies with a wry smile.
I was back in the the chain gang and then guess what? We have a stop. I feel so much better after a little beer!
We met Eric for a little stop whilst a professional cycle race was going on. They were a bit surprised as we rolled by.
Then I got on the wheel of our own professionals Glen and Dave. They pulled Bingo and I through a stunning 30 odd mile run in. Typically Bingo took the lead as we entered Châteauroux then led me in for the stage win. The four oldest guys first home. It may be a bit different tomorrow.
Now we are sitting in the pub garden waxing lyrical about the ride. A truly great team.
Note that the following photos may not be in the right place or refer to the right time of day. It’s often hard to see what’s what! No worries it’s not that important. I was given no information on why they were dancing in a fountain or whether they got arrested and Dale stole the Policeman’s helmet or indeed why they were arrested by a British Policeman. I guess some things stay on tour.
On the Road
We are still thinking about Kobi and all his incredible family. Keep going and we are sending you all our love.
Remarkably the donations are very close to £5000. Top effort all around and many thanks to all our contributors.
After eating all we could last night I was surprised to see the full complement at the breakfast bar in morning. Fair play to the lads they are a team – all pulling together.
Little side note, nothing much was doing on the breakfast table this morning. Sunday in France is great! “We will sort it as Stubby” says “there is always a McDonalds”! “Not on my watch” I reply.
We left just after 8am through the urban outskirts of Paris. The team did well keeping to the traffic management, all that is, except Carl who likes to go the wrong way around roundabouts. Living dangerously and keeping us all entertained – absolutely brilliant.
Finally got out of the city and the lads are putting in some miles but at the same time holding back for us old ones. We were eating up the miles.
Eric pulling us towards the 35 mile refreshment break, and received some ice creams. Naturall the more riders had a beer – not keen on ice cream!
With two beers in my legs off we went. May be it’s not great for a team but once again, they pulled us through. Steve Richards is riding like a diamond. Cathal is marshalling the younger contingent to keep the pace.
We keep the pace up as we got into the arable farm land south west of Paris. Not much around – just the odd farm hamlet. Eric tried to find a refreshment stop to no avail but the young scout’s up their game and found the only cafe in the area. Pity they only had two pint glasses, obviously Bingo and I took control of them.
After getting suitable refreshed we rolled on to Châteaudun around 10 miles away.
We all re-convened in the vibrant town square where some kind of medieval fete was going on.
After finally being allowed to check-in – the hotel had beren closed all afternoon – we sorted ourselves out and came out for the evening. Fortunately there was plenty of choice from food-stalls are aroiund the square and we were soon tucking in. Naturally a few more beers were required. It’s been a hot day.
it has been a privilege to ride with such a great, strong bunch of blokes all pulling together and riding as a great team.
Once again thanks for all your great support and are thoughts are always with Kobi and his amazingly supportive family and friends.
As you can see we have reached 120% of our target on the charity collection. Massive effort from everyone. Big thanks all round.
What a great night and meal in the town we was in last night. The hospitality they showed and the love of our tour was something to be proud of.
Woke in the morning to the lads pulling together to make the best breakfast feast they could; porridge, cereal, toast and lashing of sweet coffee. Keith is trying to restrict my coffee but as usual I am rebelling a bit.
Hitting the Road
So we are off just before 8am. Unfortunately 4 guys missed the team photo. They waited at the main gate, but this was not the Captain’s choice.
The same as always it’s difficult to find our way out of the eerily pretty town. But once we did we were onto the rolling roads past the arable fields and through some forest roads. It was superb riding and we ate up the miles until our first stop at just over 40 miles.
Pitstop at Huppy
We all reconvened at the Cafe La Marmite in Huppy. You either love it or hate it – we loved it. All there except Eric who apparently had little accident in the supermarket. Let’s keep it at that for the time being.
Then it was back on the brilliant roads eating up the miles. All the lads working as a team and all coming together. The young lads Rylan, Linney and Cathal were up front riding like the wind and leading us out.
Lunch at Gournay-en-Bray
We pushed on to the pin drop that Eric had done – fortunately he is back in the game. He’d prepared an excellent picnic, Rylan and I had a few ice cold beers. All good.
Pin drops are markers on an online map that you use to indicate where you are so others can see and a rendezvous can be agreed – it usually works.
On the Road
Then we are all back on the road for the final 40 or so miles. No dramas, just hard strong riding.
Everyone was looking for a pub in the last 10 miles, but nothing could be found. Dave Austin and I even rode all the way around a church at the top of small hill, there is always a pub by a church, but not but this time though.
Finally we found a bar 100m from the hotel, so normal service was resumed.
We didn’t have the lush settings of the previous hotel in this place but it is a pound cheaper!
Had a meal in the Chinese restaurant next to the hotel which was eat as much as you like. Naturally the lads were happy.
All in all a good day in the saddle
All day the contributions kept coming in. Very much appreciated.
Woke up to a cloudy damp morning, birds singing and chirping. I was feeling a bit concerned, just hoping all the room bookings work out. It’s always tricky with a big group. I’m sure it will be fine, just me being a bit nervous. Naturally ‘Nothing can go wrong’.
First meeting for the the Aylesham contingent was at the Market Square. What a fabulous send off. Many thanks to Stacy, Kobi and all their caring family for taking the time to see us off, very much appreciated. Typical Aylesham send off – a big thanks.
Then we off through the lanes to Dover to pick up the rest of the lads adjacent to the White Horse pub by the church ruins, another team picture then down to the docks. Still the archaic procedures going through the numerous check points – finally on to the ferry.
The Real Start from Calais
Finally off the ferry on to Calais Town Hall, starting are little warm up ride a gentle 45 mile ride to Citadel de Elle de Montareuil- Sur-Mer.
We made a small refreshment stop in the quaint market town of Samer at the cafe de agricultural. We had to as it was raining a little! Lovely ride through the small rolling lanes, very little went wrong though a little puncture about half way. Later I took little tumble on the wet cobbles up to the citadel, nothing serious.
It’s a stunning place to stay and we have booked the whole place, so plenty of beds.
Eric was superb, very much appreciated mate, we could not do this without the support.
And last but certainly not least many many thanks to all that have donated. So pleased to be able to support a wonderful caring family, you are a credit to your self Stacy, Jason, Kobi and the whole family – respect.
It’s fantastic that the target was passed today on our first day on the road. Thank you to everyone who has made a contribution so far. Hopefully we can push on and raise a little bit more. We cannot thank you enough.
The team did a last training ride around East Kent last Sunday. If they are not ready now they never will be. Fortunately they are.
As you would expect the idea was for the whole team to meet for final discussions and plans, with a little ride first. Sadly as is often the case the refreshments got the better of everyone and in any case no last minute arrangements needed to be made.
Dave will be thankful that other team members picked up his Helmet and Garmin which he left behind in the pub. Fortunately his head is screwed on so at least that wasn’t lost.
As is now traditional the team compete to see who can prepare the best cakes:
In fantastic news the sums collected for the charity have now surpassed 80% of our target.
The Vätternrundan is an annual 315km (197m) sportive in Motala Sweden where the route circumnavigates the Vättern lake.
This was the last big training ride for me and Bingo before we set off for Barca 22. When I say big I mean massive; 197 miles in just under 12hrs. A truly epic ride with great company.
It happened to be Bingo’s birthday w/e as well. Happy 60th birthday Bingo; fair play “young un” only someone as bonkers as you would do such a ride. A great achievement.
I was only a late replacement for Glen, who unfortunately could not make it, so I came in as the able reserve.
The tour started on Wed 15th June when Bingo picked me up around 14:00. We loaded the bikes and very little else as we are getting used to packing light for Barca 22.
We are off and full of nervous engergy. To be honest i was more nervous of the driving than the long ride. The drive took us through France, Belguim, The Netherlands, and then we caught a ferry from Puttgarden in Germany to Rødby, in Denamark then finally up to Motala on the banks of lake Vattern in central Sweden. All in all it was 23 hours on the road. We found the campsite and set up camp, had a few beers, something to eat then to bed.
We woke to to a beautiful morning on the lakeside and decided the only way to start the day was to go for a swim in the lake! It was a bit cold at first, but well worth it. The area is absolutely stunning so we went for a walk in the forest and then back at the tent for breakfast.
It’s still only 10am and we have over 12hours to wait before we set off on the ride at 01:28am Saturday morning. We have a little lie in the sun then a slow walk down to the town to sign on. We enjoy the beautiful scenery and eat as much pasta as we can. After that it’s a slow walk back to find we had a new neighbour pitched 1/2 inch from our tent!
He was a decent fella with his wife from Stockholm. Eric was the new Ray and was very keen to tell us it will start raining at 11:00pm and finish at 05:00am the next day. ‘No way’ we said looking at the clear blue skies above.
We managed to do what has never ever been done in living memory on tour and went the whole day without a beer! Well nearly as we did have a few with our dinner, but that does not count, then back to bed to rest until 23:30
We woke up to rain pounding the tent – bloody Eric the viking and his weather! It was really miserable getting ready in the pitch black with it chucking down with rain. Not much was said, just some grumpy comments, then we rode 4km down to the start.
The rain kept on coming as we waited in the start gate for our designated start time of 01:28. It was all very professional as the lead out motorcycle took us out of the town in high winds and pouring rain. I was at the front (no reason why as I could not see a thing) so all I could do was follow the motor bike.
After he pulled off, expecting us to carry on the ride, we had over 30 cyclists following me. All good fun – honestly. The first 3 hours were really hard work, however Bingo got on the wheel of a really fast group. I just tucked in behind them splashing through the puddles and the sound of the wind whipping through the jackets and rain capes and giving no protection at all against the rain.
Finally the dawn broke and we came to the first food station. What was on Bingo’s mind was meatballs, ‘I want my meatballs’, but none could be found and we made do with doughy donuts and sweet coffee (more on that later).
It was the same at the next food station – no meatballs (who’s had all the meatballs). Bingo even spotted an empty tray with evidence but could not find them, much to his anoyance. Once again made do with doughy donuts and sweet coffee! At last the sun was breaking through so Eric the viking was right about that. He had however made no referance to the wind!
On we pushed finding some good wheels to push and pull us along. I’ve never had so much coffee so I found I was flying along, taking in all the beatiful scenery. We stopped for lunch (still no bloody meatballs), but made do with a pasta dish and salad (who eats salads when riding?).
It was full steam ahead now against a strong head wind but keeping up a good pace, through the undulating route, expertly managed by over 4000 volunteers, making all the junctions akin to closed roads. Sure Bingo and I said thank you to every one of them. The Swedes staying mainly silent but when you break the barrier and they then become very chatty, and mainly moan about the hills – not really hills just a few long inclines.
Finally we were up to the last food station and still no meatballs!, but plenty of sweet coffee and donuts. The final 25 mile was against a very fierce headwind but we pushed on easing up the long inclines and fighting the wind on the descents, before entering the picturesque town of Motala with hundreds of spectators clapping us through the final few miles. A great tough ride.
Normal service was then resumed and we headed straight into the bar for some well earned refreshments. The first guys we spoke to Bingo mentions the missing meatballs. They laughed and said 2nd food stop in the gym hall by the massage tents! His face was a picture. If we was not so knackered I am sure we would have gone back for them. As for myself lesson learnt; ‘stay off the beer’ the night before, drink the the sweet drinks on offer and ride hard.
We were two very tired cyclists but loved every minute of it I think. It was a relatively quiet night as the Swedes are not noted for their party atmosphere,. We had a few beers at the campsite then bed for a well earned rest. We had to get ready for the long drive home again in the morning.
No major issues on the drive home just a bloody long way.
‘Happy Birthday Bingo’, it been a pleasure and privalge to spend your 60th Birthday weekend riding with you, cheers mate, ‘Bring on Barca 22’.
Once again many thanks to all those who helped make “Vatternrundan 2022” a truly memorable experience – excellent.
Not to mention all those who have donated. We have passed the 50% mark now, and really appreciate your continued support.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day for the annual ride. Once again Linney pulled out all the stops to get this ride on and keep the tradition going.
One word of note; it is ironic that we struggle to get 15 players out on a Saturday, then get nearly 30 out dressed in womens clothes. Moral of the story is to change the kit to heels and suspenders and see if that helps! Seriously girls get your fingers out for next season. 🙂
A special thanks to the support team; Budgie working as international rescue, Lisa always ready with refreshments and Sara on photography. As always a big thank you to the hospitality from all the pubs, clubs and weddings parties. We had fabulous support from everyone one of you. You are all a credit to our community.
A great time had by all as you can see from the photographs capturing special moments along the ride.
Another great ride visiting 8 local pubs, and showing them the Aylesham talent. Lots of young ladies on the ride this year which is great to see, let’s hope we can attract some of them to play rugby next season. This year’s ride just so happened to be the same day as the local LGBT festival, which made it even more comical
However our thoughts always turn to Kobi and his awesome family. Our thoughts are with you young man. All the very best from all at SCWRFC, with the very generous help from the patrons of local pubs we managed to raise over £200. In total we have now collected £1700 and are about 40% towards our target. A massive thanks to everyone.
Please support Kobi and family and help us raise enough money to give them the best break ever when the time is right.
We had great hospitality from the landlord last night, though its not the ideal preparation for a tough day in the saddle.
Our team was a bit lighter this morning due to prior commitments, weddings in the village etc. So with weary eyes and broken bodies we set of to enjoy the Dorset countryside and hills. We are heading for Weymouth, then up the peninsula to Portland Bill. Should be great training for Barcelona.
We had a fine weekend away with tough strong rides and riders. All the preparations are coming together, for Barcelona. Before that we have a few more training rides. First we have the annual Snowdown Colliery Welfare Rugby Club fancy dress ride next Saturday followed by the Tour of Sandwich on the Sunday. After that Bingo and I go off to do the Vatternruden epic 24hr sportive in Sweden the following weekend.
Good news on the charity side, we have passed the £1000 mark, that’s just over a quarter of our target, please follow the links above to the Just Giving site.
Even though ‘nothing can go wrong’ things inevitably do. Today started with a couple of mechanical problems. First Carl’s drive was knackered. Owen the mechanic from the ride did his best to clean it up and get it going as best he could. What a great bloke from the valley’s of Wales he is.
However the biggest issue was a broken spoke on the captain’s bike. For the first time ever I had to get in the van and go to the local bike shop. Great service though. I was the first one in the shop and I soon had a new back wheel and was off. Being very cnscious of Moey’s wise words I re-started from the start and pushed it through hard, strong and fast and managed to join them at the first feed stop. The lads relaxed when the (self appointed) captain rejoined the team.
We enjoyed a lovely ride though the stunning Dorset (and Jurassic) scenery past castles and Manor houses and the village of Tollpuddle famous for its Martyrs. That’s why we are who we are as they kicked off the fight for worker’s rights and the idea of socialism: respect to all of them (not forgetting our own Wat Tyler and the Peasants Revolt: historical Ed).
It was a great ride with great company. What more can you ask for? We said our goodbyes to two legends on the bike who need to get back for a wedding: Carl who’s inspirational words keeps us going and Mark his son the most helpful strong rider in the team and my lead out man. Mark has led me to two 1st stage wins (not bad for the oldest rider in the team) which puts me up on the leader board once again.
They both fully deserve the speech and medals kindly donated from the lad from Canterbury, who will gingerly be able to get a word in now Carl has gone home.
We are currently down in Dorset and Wiltshire doing the Wessex 300. That is three consecutive 100 mile rides around the Mendips hills. It’s all good training for Barcelona.
We’ve got a good turn out will 11 of the team down here; Cathal, Carl, Mark Moses, Marc Tonks, Stubbsy, Conor, Mark Jordan, Glen, Bingo and Me. We’ve just left the youngsters at home as they are fit enough already!
Not the best preparation for a long difficult training ride; skin full of beer and a massive meal, washed down with a full English breakfast in the morning. The true athletic start. The hotel is excellent with a cracking host plying us with bevarges all night with no fuss.
Woke up to a lovely sunny crisp morning, all met at the start, no issues just our normal confident start, left around 8:30 after Carl had finished chatting to all the riders as per normal.
Great tough ride with some vicious climbs including King Alfred’s Tower gets up to 22% incline pretty tough going. Only one little mechanical nothing that can’t be sorted. We just get on with it along with the usual banter and sarcasm that gets us though it.
All in all a great 120 miles and a lovely day all capped off with a few refreshments at Yeovil Rugby Club, just what we all love.