This video is of the team before they cycle through the heat and hills from Saint Cirq-Lapopie to Albi. The film doesn’t quite do it justice but it was very cold and the camp site was literally in the clouds. Read more...
We have a huge amount to do in order to get ready to take on this ride, however one of the most important part of any cycling challenge is how on earth we are going to actually get there in one piece and in the time set! That’s why we have decided to dedicate an entire section of this website to the route we will be taking. This will hopefully give you an idea of the beautiful places we will get the chance to cycle through, as well as the kind of hills we will be hitting to reassure you this is no walk in the park! So Enjoy and hopefully you will get an idea of how stunning landscapes and long roads can be the biggest challenge of all.
London – Dover: Mile 1 – 80
Starting Elevation – 30ft
Max Elevation – 636ft
So the first day is a big one, we will be leaving ExCeL London, our place of business, and setting off on our journey full of enthusiasm for the task ahead. This is important as this jubilant feeling will almost immediately leave us as we hit the big hills coming out of London, but hey, it’s a good place to start. Our Journey here is all to do with getting ourselves out onto the country roads, where we can really open the bikes up and start eating the miles. Remember, day one is our time to shine! Fresh Legs, optimism, months of preparation, what more does a cyclist need to go gun hoe out of the traps. We will snake our way through the South East of the country, leaving the glamorous surroundings of Dartford and Maidstone behind us before hitting the Garden of England, or better known as the county of Kent, where hills that frighten pro cyclists will wait to engulf us. By the time we have reached Dover, the first 80 miles will be behind us. Then its on to the Ferry and onwards to France! With the white cliffs at our back, we will begin preparations for day two, most probably by having a cheeky pint in the bar on the P&O ferry. Come on, you cant blame us!
Day 2 – Calais – Fillevers
Start elevation – 2ft
Max elevation – 712ft
Day 3 – Fillevers – Beauvais
Start elevation – 172ft
Max elevation – 607ft
Day 4 – Beauvais – Versailles (Via Paris)
Start Elevation – 230ft
Max Elevation – 774ft
Stage 2 is the 175 mile trip from Calais to Versailles which we will do in 3 days. The most important element to cover in this section of the trip must be, of course, doing it via Paris!
Picking up from where we left off, with the white cliffs becoming spots on the horizon and France stretching out before us, it’s good bye Blightly and hello to the roads of Northern France! As we begin to ride out from Calais, it should stay relatively flat for us, and fingers crossed, with no head wind, we should have a relatively easy kick off to the French stages of the journey!
The route will take us south through Amiens where we will finish the second day of the stage. This town is famous for its part in WW1 where the Battle of Amiens was the beginning of 100 days of offences which ended the great war. It is also home to the tallest Gothic Cathedral, the aptly named Amines Cathedral. This will be an incredible place to set up camp at the end of a long day in the saddle and will certainly be one of the highlights of our trip through France.
As incredible as Amiens will be on this trip, we still have day three of this stage looming ahead. Leaving the giant cathedral behind, we will achieve what many past sovereigns of our great nation have attempted in the past, and ride into Paris! All be it on a bike rather than a trusty stead. Rather less romantic, but trust me, we will have worked just as hard to get there.
I have to admit, I have travelled this path once before, and it was described to me as ‘no big deal, just a bit undulating’ this was not the case! It was very difficult indeed. I’m assuming that the situation won’t have changed an awful lot, I’m under the impression that it takes a couple of million years to change a landscape, so I’m anticipating the same again. But it will be worth it when we see the Eiffel tower in the distance! Then it’s on to the end of Stage 2 and setting up camp in Versailles just a few short miles South West of the great capital. Full of culture, pride and perhaps a bit of wine, we will once again start to prepare for Stage 3, probably by having a pint in the camp site bar… again.
Day 5 Resting Day at Versalles
Day 6 – Versailles – Olivet
Start Elevation – 466ft
Max Elevation – 604ft
Day 7 – Olivet – Issoudun
Start Elevation – 466ft
Max Elevation – 535ft
Day 8 – Issoudun – Bonnat / Moulin de Piot
Start elevation – 436ft
Max elevation – 1503ft
Day 9 – Bonnat / Moulin de Piot – Sait Leonard-De-Noblet
Start Elevation – 436ft
Max elevation – 1024ft
Stage 3 – The bread and butter, the hard graft and none of the excitement of setting off, and still a good week or so away from the business end where mostly adrenaline will carry us forward.
This may all seem relatively gloomy, and your right it will be, however we still have some interesting places that we will get to see and visit. These are not glamorous, The Grimsby of France if you will. But at the same time they will add to the experience because we will travel to places that we would never have gone to unless we were doing this ride. Because of that, I’m rather excited. Will and I fully intend to take this opportunity to see what France can throw at us in terms of terrain, weather and culture… and do our best to soak up the lot.
So we will continue to head south, in fact, I will now stop mentioning the fact we are traveling south, if we started going any other direction we would be in trouble! Olivet is our first port of call, a 73 mile journey that should be relatively straight forward. The worry on this stage is when we start to hit Saint Leonard-de-Noblet the climbs start to get a bit more difficult. The starting elevation of the ride is only 1024ft but we will hit the heights of 1831ft in a matter of miles!
We will pass through Vatan, Bonnat and Olivet as we power our way through this stage. Small market towns and pictures landscapes await. Finishing post will be Saint Leonard-de-Noblet where we will start to plan for the perils of stage 4. After a hard hill climb we will begin preparations with ice baths to sooth the pains of our legs, and yes, you guessed it, most probably a pint in the camp site bar. Salute!
Day 10 – Saint-Leonard de Noblet – Saint Hilaire Peyroux / Le Chazal
Start elevation: 342ft
Max Elevation: 1624
Day 11 – Saint Hilaire Peyroux – Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
Miles – 73
Start Elevation – 346ft
Max Elevation – 1591ft
Day 12 Resting Day at Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
Day 13 – Saint-Cirq-Lapopie – Albi
Miles – 89
Start Elevation – 185ft
Max Elevation – 2411ft
Day 14 – Albi – Carcassone
Miles – 88
Start Elevation – 633ft
Max Elevation – 3294ft
Stage 4 is going to take us to the very edge of France.
By this point we will be shells of our former selves, but within touching distance of our goal! Yes Spain will be just over the horizon, so it will be at this point that we will be saying our good byes to France. Before the old girl takes her final bow from the adventure of this ride, she will give us some farewell joy in the form of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie. Now I would at this point like to thank the World Wide Web for all the help in picking out facts about the places we will be visiting, and this next one is great. Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is actually part of group of villages in France that belong to ‘The Most Beautiful Villages in France’ Association. I kid you not, its true. But this places does come with a draw back as it’s situated on top of a steep cliff. Something to do with the village defences. They certainly were not taking us into consideration when they planned that one.
Moving on from here we start to take a more southeast direction as we head towards the coast. It’s on the approach to Canet-en-Roussillion that we will first sea the blue of the Mediterranean Sea, which I expect to be quite an emotional moment for us. Its at this point where I have no issues telling you that I will be celebrating this by having a large, ice cold beer, most probably on the beach. All that’s left for us to do is approach the border and prepare ourselves for the final stage of our epic journey. Watch this space!
Day 15 – Carcassone – Canet-en-Rossullion
Miles – 62
Start Elevation – 2ft
Max Elevation – 1106
Day 16 – Canet-en-Rossullion – Torroella de Montgri
Miles – 80
Start Elevation – 0ft
Max Elevation – 633ft
Day 17 – Torroella de Montgri – Barcelona
The final 2 days of our trip takes us over the border and into Spain.
It will have been 13 days of cycling and a welcome site. The sea will be our constant companion from here on in as we take the coastal roads towards Barcelona. Along the route we will finally be rewarded with some flat runs. We won’t be cycling on the beach, but as close as we can, which means its good old sea level for the majority of the time. This will be a welcome break to our tiered, aching legs, and allow us to complete these last two days in a respectful time.
Our first point of call and final night of the trip will be in Torrolla de Montgre, a small town on the north of the Ter river. My final fact is a good one, I think. Torrolla de Montgre was once the Royal Port for the Kings of Aragon before the river started silting up and a new port was founded at Palamos. Ah intresting stuff J
No intruduction needed for our final point of call. Barcelona, the Catalan capital, base to the greatest football team the world has ever seen and the home of our very own Berta Navarro Pero! It’s now nothing but comfortable beds, good food, wine and company from here on in. After a couple of days we will take our leave and head back to London, which 2 weeks previously was where we set off on this amazing journey. We will, before you even ask, be flying home, happy to be swapping a set of wheel for a set of wings this time I imagine.