Last year we did, what was for me, a trip of a life time. We had planned to ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats but the lure of the sun and safe roads proved too strong and we chose St. Malo to Sandanter. One of our team and his wife did an incredible job of organising the route, the accommodation and the logistics. We rode it with the same ferocity that we would tackle any Sunday ride. The only difference was that the daily distance was longer and the effort would be repeated each day, for ten days. One of the group reminded us on day six or seven that, if in The Tour, we would be on a rest day! As it was the usual Sunday Bunch we road as a team and kept the pace up. Despite our initial worries we completed it and looked forward to the next.
Whilst I never thought that we would ever get seven guys of similar standard together to do a similar trip a plan was being devised to do it again. This time two of the group that missed 2016 would be included. Biarritz to Barcelona seemed the obvious target. It was shorter, missed out the flat stages and we had the benefit of local knowledge in that one of the team is Catalan and was a semi pro racer in his day.
Through his help we planned the route and solicited the help of two of his colleagues whose jobs are soigneur and mechanic to pro teams. The route was chosen based on the average speeds that we achieved on 2016. It was shorter but tougher with nearly the same amount of climbing over half the time. We all chipped in doing different parts of the planning.
One of the great things about these two trips was the fact that we could experience riding them like the pros on a multi stage event. Of course we are not as fast but we did ride at speed, wore the same kit most days, kept together riding through-n-off and had a support crew to look after us. In fact I think that I was the only one carrying a pump and spare tube which proved handy as I twice gave one away and once used one myself. Three punctures over 5,800 km was not too bad (8 x 725km).
The key thing with trip like this is to have the right numbers, too few and the support will be too costly, too many and the group can become unwieldy. It helps to have the same goals and similar abilities. The camaraderie begins long before the trip during the planning and training rides which keeps the group bonded and ensures for some entertaining banter. The latter is important as the days get tougher.
So now we need to decide what we can do next year. If anyone is interested in doing a similar trip please contact me at the shop and we will see what we can come up with. If you want to get an idea of the route and a feel for the trip visit our blog Biarritz to Barcelona – we made it! Or for a picture story visit the face book page: Quest Adventure/Photos/Biarritz to Barcelona