Day 7. We are so close, yet being hundreds of miles away we are still so far.
Breakfast was full of happy faces, optimism and unfortunately stale hotel bread. We were in surprisingly good spirits entering the final third of our journey possibly because with the help of Heesom’s friends across the Pond, we had it confirmed that we now have global status. We started the day singing various 90’s tunes such as vengaboys “welcome to Ibiza” to Toploader’s one hit wonder and a bit of shania twain mixed in. Singing was a source of enjoyment, encouragement and enthusiasm and it was a great way to start the day.
We began with a 30 mile stint and the singing was spurring everyone on. 10 miles in, bang and a weird noise. We stopped to find out Max had a nail in his tyre. The decision was made that Max would wait for the van and hitch a quick lift after the repair to catch us up. The rest of the team went to set off…another bang and a weird noise. Nail in Mike’s tyre. The team carried on as the twosome waited for the van for new tyres. Problem was there’s only one space in the van so Mike and Max decided they would fly the next 20 miles to catch up. Before this could happen, Max blew another inner tube after using a tyre which was sliced open from a previous day (why we still had this I don’t know). 5 mins later, Max got ANOTHER puncture. Another repair later and more miles behind, the pair set off to catch the rest of the team. Averaging well over 20mph over the next 20 miles was a great effort, and ensured the team weren’t waiting too long at the break.
Meanwhile, Joe’s cycling skills and Harry’s hand signals both came into question. Whilst signalling and calling ‘stopping’, Joe’s hand found itself occupied because he was signalling to those behind to stop and therefore could not brake. Careering into his team mate with impact that mimicked the attack from a lion to an antelope. Kind of. The physical damage was minimal, the mental damage huge.
The break was an extremely cold one. Freezing and struggling to stand up due to the wind we were up against. Nicky and Dave were fighting to make any sort of grub in this wind, and the team got ready to set off after a quick stop. Skipper of the day Dan made the brave decision to only have one stop in today’s ride as we were making great progress. The stop was also halfway so we made tracks towards the hotel. Battling the elements was tough, but when the wind was behind we were eating up the miles.
We briefly stopped at”Orange” to take a picture of our 3 strawberry blonde team members in front of the sign. Being spurred on as usual by the bobbing head of Theo who has learnt to ride in single file finally! He definitely enjoys riding alongside a friend more than staying out the way of French motorists!
We were eagerly awaiting news of the England squad for the Euros and a mile from the hotel when Mike got yet another puncture. Annoyed, the repair was done relatively quickly and we made haste to our hotel for the seventh night.
We’ve spent more time on a bike over the past week than in bed… Never thought that would happen. After enjoying our early finish and our spacious rooms (compared to last nights cubby holes) we went to the supermarket and went to find a restaurant for dinner.
Finally found an open restaurant. Italian again. They spoke no English whatsoever but were kind enough to play some cheeky Robbie Williams which we happily sung along to. Food was immaculate, happy days.
A whole week of riding complete. Only 2 more days to go. Wow.
Second escort of the trip off the motorway
Setting off on Day 6 getting out of Lyon was going to be a task. Barwick was todays team captain and it seemed the team were willing him to have a mare. We even resorted to reading a compass to ensure we were going South.
We are getting used to the feeling of seeing a mountain in the distance and knowing we’ve gotta get over that and follow Max’s orange bag in the distance fly up and up. It’s a regular feeling but one that still makes our hearts sink. We’ve noticed that the scenery is improving as we are getting further south. Some of the roads, rivers and valleys we are cycling past are like nothing else we’ve seen before.
Lyon was the first place we’ve been to which actually had a laundrette! So we were encouraged at the fact we would be able to finally wear clean clothes on Day 7!
We did 30 odd miles before our first break as per usual. These first 30 were expected to be tough as the hills on our maps were pretty large. Surprisingly we smashed the 3 hills that we anticipated would be a bit of a struggle, and we knew from then on today was going to be quite comfortable (as comfortable as 60 miles can be cycling with no knees).
After this break - at which we were bought various pastries as a treat! - we just got our heads down and pushed on till lunch. We saw the same hitch hiker in 2 towns who waved frantically both times.
Just after first break, Barwick found himself unclipped from his pedal and careered sideways into a helpless Dan who bounced off into the middle of the road. Thankfully there was a gap in traffic and nothing too serious came from it apart from a few stern words.
On the motorway (yes, motorway!) close to our second break Mike got a random nose bleed and we had to stop for 10 mins which everyone was probably quite chuffed about. We then got pulled over by highway maintenance closely followed by police, as it turns out we weren’t allowed on this road…again. Having an extreme sense of déjà vu after the mess that was Day 1, we got escorted from in front and behind us with police motorbikes on the side keeping a close eye on proceedings. Luckily, we persuaded them to escort us another 2 junctions down the motorway as that was where the van was waiting for us. Another treat for lunch, as well as Chiltern Natural Foods and ham baguettes we also had a couple of slices of pizza each as a result of Nicky and Dave feeling sorry for us not getting any last night!
Lunch for a few people wasn’t a nice time. For some reason individuals morale was at an all time low and we needed to ensure we kept a good pace and kept spirits high so that we could get a decent meal and early night tonight. Harry was doing his best to be cheerful, mastering various hand signals and causing mayhem / accidents continuously.
We were at the hotel at 5.45 (earliest yet) and chilled for an hour before the best meal yet. Pizza / pasta followed by chocolate fondants, profiteroles, creme brulees and plenty of ice cream. Short(ish) day tomorrow before a huge Day 8. We can see the finish line.
On a final note, we have actually gone viral. Viewers, followers, donations and trackers all the way from the USA. We’re big time now.
Over 1300 people have read or are reading this blog, yet we’ve only had 400 online donations. We know a lot have been donated offline, but please please show us your support for the final few days!
Dynamic stretching with Harry Paul