> Tour De Europe

Being a keen cyclist I have often had the yen to ride a longer distance over several days and to go somewhere as a result. Quite a few friends had done Land’s End to John O’Groats as part of a supported group, I fancied doing something different.  My initial thoughts were that a more audacious achievement might be to go from John O’ Groats to Sicily. Having planned a route it would be about 3200 miles and 300,000ft of ascent, optimistically it would have been about 33 days of cycling and staying at lots of B&B and carrying limited kit. Then at a family meal, discussing the event my brother in law David, he said that he was interested in doing a long European trip in his camper van so maybe we could buddy up, we would have to work around other commitments though. We looked at potential dates and came up with a compromise cutting the route down by half and settling for starting from Oundle and reaching a half way down the west coast of  Italy. So my TDE dream was born, this my daily log and learnings along the way, sorry if I got a bit carried away (War and Peace and all!), but it was fun, there are some good pictures if you get bored with the text!

At 7.45 in the morning Oundle looked a bit grim, overcast and rainy. My friend Lawrence had turned out to do the first 30 miles or so with me, a true mate as it didn’t look like it was going to be the most pleasurable ride. The first stretch headed out to St Neots via Kimbolton.

The weather was much brighter but cool, a slight frost on the ground but no rain, still some distance to go in northern France. The roads are fantastic in comparison with our pot holed efforts. I took a mixture of small county back roads and some major roads, we were passing through some of the natural park forested regions so generally undulating terrain, and forest roads.

This was a good idea given I had already done 800 mile and 36500ft of climbing. Also we were just up the road from Montreux and Lake Geneva. A quick scan of the internet and David had discovered a local railway museum, we popped in though it wasn’t actually open a couple of the enthusiasts were there and got talking in German with David and discovered there mutual love for all things train like.

Setting out from Rappalo, after fighting through the scooter traffic in town I was soon climbing up the coast road and looking back on some stunning views in the morning sun. Dropping again into the next town Chiavari it soon became obvious that the day was going to be quite hard work.

Get a brother in law with a camper van and a yen to do something similar is a must; brilliant support and makes the whole experience more comfortable and enjoyable than sleeping in bus stops and living on petrol station food.

Here is the route and my strava profile for the event, some of the days I replanned due to circumstances or in a bid to avoid gravel tracks, or just to reduce distance and climbing.

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