Thursday 28 August 2014

Day 17 (57 miles) The Final Day

We did it!! We finally cycling into Winchester at about 1.45pm on the 26th having cycling 1,294 miles from Rome to Home.

The final day was a relatively easy day of cycling. Our legs badly needed it by this point! We were set on our way by a full cooked breakfast thanks to Fred's Grandparents. We can assure you that it beats porridge every day. Staying in a nice comfy bed was also a great treat after so many nights our faithful tent. The weather did initially try to ruin our final day as we set off in the rain again. But with the excitement of the final day Archie and Fred pushed on hard and covered the miles pretty quickly. By this point our bodies were so used to getting up and cycling that it just felt natural. It feels rather weird not to be doing so much cycling now.

The rain cleared and we were able to have a dry ride into Winchester. the only mishap being the  huge number of puncture we had. Fred had two, and Archie got one at the top of the hill overlooking Winchester. What bad luck having not got one all trip!Jack, who's elbow is still pretty bad, joined us for the final few miles which was nice. It was such as shame we were not able to do all the final day as a three.

Archie had been given the task of navigating to the front of Winchester Cathedral. An easy task you would think as Winchester is his local town. But he managed to get very lost. The result being that we crept up behind the welcome party having come in the wrong way. As with rest of the trip it was no surprise it went wrong in some way!!

A huge thank you to all the people who very kindly turned up to greet us. The welcome banner, champagne, and cheers were all very much appreciated. It was such a great feeling that we had finally done it. After all the broken bikes, cars and bodies it was just such a massive effort and achievement to get to Winchester at all.

Thanks for all your support throughout the trip, and also for reading this blog!!! We hope you have had as much fun  following our trip as much as we have had doing it. It has certainly been a proper adventure.

Archie, Fred and Jack

Monday 25 August 2014

Day 16 (85 wet miles)

After a few short hours in our room in Calais we were up early, the alarm was set for 3am, for our Eurotunnel back to the UK. We waited with bated breath to see if Hearsy would start…… to our delight she did. We were never in doubt…..

We caught as much shut eye as we could during the crossing, and pulled over into a Waitrose Carpark (we do have some class) on our arrival to rest up for a few hours. In true English style it was raining very heavily, which did not bode well for today. We were in two minds as to what for what to delve into for breakfast. On one hand we were right next to Waitrose, which offered some quality treats, or porridge. In true Rome2Home style we went for porridge as we had done for everyday of our trip so far. We weren’t about to let standards slip from porridge to Waitrose.

Fred and Arch, set off into the rain for what proved to be the wettest day of our entire trip! Jack waited for Fred’s parents for come and chauffeur him Fred’s Grandparents house, where they have very kindly put us up for tonight, as he is off driving on strict orders from the doctor.

The cycling started into a very strong headwind, perhaps our idea of cycling along the coast was not so cleaver after all. With the rain lashing into our faces like darts, piercing our skin, all there was to do was to put our heads down and keep peddling away. We were pounded by the downpour for hour upon hour, our shoes became swaps, our jackets became soaked through and still we powered on like the true warriors that we are. The highlight of the day was peddling along Hastings promenade with a fierce wind and sea. At some points the rain was so strong that we simply had to pull over and stop, we just couldn’t see a thing!

Our lunch break in Lewes proved to be a bad idea, with no dry kit or any kit with any warmth, we got very cold very quickly. This made the thought of going off into the rain particularly unappealing and quite a challenge at the start as our legs had got so cold.

We eventually arrived, absolutely soaked, after 6 hours in the constant rain. The warm shower waiting for us on arrival was our motivation throughout the day, and was much appreciated.

For any of you who are interested we will be arriving into Winchester Cathedral between 1.30 – 2.00pm. The rain is not an excuse for not coming! We spent many hours soaked today, so we are sure you can survive a few minutes!!

Sunday 24 August 2014

Day 15 (20 miles – till a crash)

Today was not an ordinary day on our Rome2Home trip. It started as normal, Jack being last to the shower, awful porridge, a wet tent and leaving few minutes late. But, it soon went down hill…

Jack and Arch were smashing through the miles a good rate this morning. The only interruption was going through a street market, where dismounting was essential to weave our way through the crowd of mingling people. Luckily we avoided hitting anyone of the many French who insisted on walking in front of us. However, this was when our luck ran out……. Jack had a pretty bad crash and ended up in an ambulance being driven sirens and all to a specialist hospital. Don’t worry too much, it was only his elbow!

Basically he fell off, landed very heavily on his elbow and now has large hole (going down to the bone) in it.

Picture the scene, Archie says to Jack “err Jack, you have got a rather large hole in your elbow.”

To which Jack replies, “Bollocks, I don’t believe you.”

“No mate, I am being genuinely serious here. It looks pretty bad.”

At this point the pain catches up with Jack, “This F*&!?)^ing  hurts. I can’t see it though.”

Cue picture taking of elbow, it being shown to Jack, then a realization by us both that it was pretty damn bad. From this pint on Jack is chiefly lying on the floor in a lot of pain.

It became more of a disaster as Arch just couldn’t get hold of Fred in the support car. So in panic he started waving down cars and knocking on doors to ask someone for help. A very kind French couple stopped their car to helped us out. They called an ambulance, gave the ambulance crew their address and outlined the wound. They then stayed with us until the ambulance arrived, and even left their number to call them if we had any further problems. Such kindness from complete strangers was truly incredible.

An ambulance arrived and we were rushed off to hospital at full speed. At this point we finally go hold of Fred who picked up the bikes that we had left at some random French persons house, and gave him the address of the hospital we were going to.

Jack had lots of X-Rays and saw many doctors, and they finally got onto fixing his elbow. They cut a few bits out here and there, stitched it up a fair bit, before releasing him with strict instructions not to use it for the next 15 days.

By this point the day had sort of passed us by, so we grabbed some lunch and started to drive to Calais. Cycling after all that had happened, especially trying to cover the 80 miles we still had to go, was just not feasible. On the way we paused to stop and pay our respect to some WW1 cemeteries near. It was a rather humbling experience, and rather put the suffering and stress of today into perspective.

We have checked into a room in Calais, we thought it might not be great for Jack to camp with such a wound! Hearsey was playing up a bit, just some stuff leaking out of her…… fingers crossed she makes it!

What an end to our last day on the continent…..

Saturday 23 August 2014

Day 14 (120 miles!!!)

Today was a very big and long day. We set ourselves an ambitious challenge and we succeeded in completing it.

We started the day learning two important lessons. One, that when you buy porridge it is very important to get he right oats. Not ones for Flapjacks, like we had done, but for porridge. Dam you Mr Oats, (no pun intended, he was actually our French teacher) for not teaching us that vital bit of French. Two, that adding peanut butter in the attempt to hide the disgusting taste is a truly awful idea. Even Archie who has never fussed about the porridge before, struggled at finishing it.

At least it gave us lots of sugar for the big day ahead of us. Arch and Fred, did the first shift and covered 55 miles, in just over 3 hours of continuous cycling. A huge effort, which included going past the remnants of a festival the previous night. The roads were littered with intoxicated French youths, who enjoyed shouting/cheering and occasionally offering us crates of beer!

Jack in support managed to go to the wrong Hirson, the other was an hour away, so meeting up with the hearse was slightly delayed. Fred and Jack were going well till Fred got the first puncture of the trip. Having fixed it, he then got another one about 5 seconds later. What bad luck… A spoke on Archie’s bike broke while this happened, but was just about able to carry on with a very wobbly wheel.

After a quick lunch we were back on the road, for the final push to the campsite. We arrived in good time, and Archie had managed to sort out his broken spoke so we are all set for another big day tomorrow.

This post makes today sound rather easy. I can assure you it was not. A lot of “digging deep” had to be done by all of us. It was pretty dam tough at times, and our legs are defiantly not thanking us for it now. A similar distance is planned for tomorrow, so we will just have to grin and bear it. After our top effort today, we are sure we can do it.

Day 13 (85 miles)

After struggling to get out of Metz, but not as much as when we were going in, the rest if the morning went smoothly. Yet again it was rather cold, so windproof coats were the order of the day. It was very much the case of trying to push hard in the morning so that we would gave more time in the evening in the campsites. We passed as planned briefly into Luxembourg, but by accident into Belgium. All good for racking up the countries we have visited along the way. The landscape was like most of our experience in France, very undulating and open.

Our lunch brake was made rather more interesting by various food exchanges with our fellow picnickers. It started with some campers who couldn’t eat all their watermelon, who gave some to us. We too couldn’t finish it, so we passed some onto another set of picnickers. They very kindly gave us some delicious cake in return.

We then plugged on to Douzy, where our campsite was for the night. It was very cheap, only 14 Euros, but you could see why. Some of the facilities were Spartan at best. There was no free Wifi, so we headed into town to find some. The first place we stumbled upon was a rather nice hotel, so we bought 2 cokes between the 3 of us and settled down to drink hem as slowly as possible to maximise connection time. We booked our Eurotunnel ticket, and have ambitiously planned to cut our final 4 days into 2. The plan being to give us a true challenge to finish with. So for those who are interested we will arrive in Winchester on Tuesday 26th August!!! How exciting! Hopefully see some of you there…

Thursday 21 August 2014

Dat 12 (100 miles)

We started the day earlier with German efficiency, a 6am alarm, which would have annoyed most people on their birthday. But not Arch! Fred was feeling ultra organised the night before, so we had most things packed and ready to go as the sun started to creep over the horizon. We were gone before most of the other campers had even stirred in their sleeping bags.

The morning was very cold indeed, with a bitter wind, which made the initial cycling rather unpleasant. Frozen feet and ice-cold hands were all we felt as we sent off. The roads were relatively quiet, but extremely undulating. This does make cycling rather annoying, as it is hard to get a rhythm going. It felt like doing interval training (doing short bursts of intense exercise with rests in-between) as we would power up a short but sharp hill, and then roll down the other side. Thankfully it is a little bit more interesting than long, straight, flat roads. Only in little bit more though. At about 9.30pm we crossed our last major mountain range on the flanks of the Rhine valley. My comparison to our Alp adventures, the climb to an altitude of 500m seemed, dare I say it, easy.

Shortly after the climb, Fred swapped with Jack, and the Rome 2 Home peloton carried on going up and down yet more small French hills. We cruised through some beautiful French scenery and historic, shutter filled, little towns. At some points we thought we thought we had somehow ended up in England, as the scenery looked so familiar.

A lunch break, with great views over an agricultural French landscape, was made all the better by Archie’s Birthday cake. It blew the day’s food budget a 2.5 Euros, but was defiantly worth it! It was then a supposedly short final push into Metz, but with Jack and Fred navigating that was never to be the case. Somehow a 10 mile detour was taken, but all was well as they arrived into camp with plenty of time to spare.

Tomorrow, Luxembourg beckons…. When we now look at a map home does not seem so far away…..