This is just a quick blog post to say a few thanks to some key people who have made this trip possible.
Firstly, a huge thanks to Emma Timmis for loaning me her bike, tent and pannier bags. Her bike, Bertha, was an essential backup for BikeyMcBikeFace (my Alpinestars) which I’ve now owned for 23 years. At one point in the journey, on my way into Paris, I thought my bike had developed a bottom bracket issue and I was going to have to call on Bertha. Luckily Bikey made a full recovery. Emma is an adventurer and has a great blog so check it out, plus she’s also on Twitter (@runemma).
My local Halfords store in Pontypridd provided a first class service, stripping my bike back to bear bones and making sure it was fit to do the ride. On top of that they provided me with some essential spares that were put to good use when I had two punctures and a loose saddle. A new helmet and cycling top was also gratefully received. Big thanks to Dan, Sam and Chris at the store. They have a Twitter account too: @PontyBikeHut
Finding my way through France was made a lot easier by the maps I’d bought from Michelin. They offered me a really generous discount which helped keep the costs of the trip down. If you fancy touring your way across France, visit their map store to see their full range of useful maps and guides. I used their 1/150,000 scale maps which were perfect for local navigation in France.
DFDS Seaways also provided a generous discount on the ferry crossing from Newhaven to Dieppe where I picked up the Avenue Verte into Paris. Thanks to Michelle and Frank at DFDS for sorting that out. The crossing was brilliant and the ferry was super comfy for a little sleep on the way over. From the UK their ferries travel to France and Holland so it’s worth checking out their routes and fares.
Keeping fuelled up on my ride was supported by my local Tesco Extra Pontypridd. Tony, the Community Champion for the store, provided me with numerous high energy essentials for breakfast, snacks and dinners which kept me going. Thanks also to Therese at VPilates Studio who made me the most amazing healthy, nutritious high energy snacks which became known as ‘power cake’.
Having a vehicle for the France leg of the journey was essential to carry the spare bike, other spares and repairs kit, more clothing, food etc. This was made possible by Mark at Mirror Image Accident Repair Centre in Bridgend loaning the company van. The lean green mean machine was a real head turner through France and was papped a number of times by people who maybe hadn’t seen such a distinctive van before! The van doubled up as a kitchen, pit stop and accommodation on the go. If your vehicle needs some body repairs or paintwork then check them out. They have a website and Facebook page.
A van is no good without a support crew and I was so grateful to have my partner Amy join me, along with our dog Dizzy for the France leg. On the tough days (which most of them were), it was great to have words of encouragement from Amy, tail wags from Dizzy and pit stops for more water. Big thanks to Amy for supporting my crazy plan to bike all this way…couldn’t have done it without you.
One thing that kept me going on my final day was the thought of rolling down the drive to my sisters place, having big hugs, a beer and a BBQ. Thanks to Ellie for an amazing few rest days and for putting us all up. Her cat had to put up with our dog which was an interesting combo.
And…thanks to everyone that has sponsored me on this adventure – I’m still collecting donations on my Sport Relief sponsorship page. I’ve been so grateful for the “hands in pocket” support, but also the messages of support and encouragement via phone, text, Facebook and Twitter. Special thanks to my mum and dad for their support and encouragement too. With me doing this, and my sister Ellie just recently finishing a mountain bike adventure in Peru (check out her blog), I know that’s a lot for parents to worry about ☺