Monday, 24 November 2014

Over a Year on, lots of changes, but whats the next challenge..?

Over a year on, the pains of the cycle ride have some how worn off and the worry is that as I sat at a fantastic Evening of Endeavour II in London, listening to some truly inspirational talks from some of Britains most outstanding explorers I felt the sense of achievement that I felt as we cycled into Rome alongside the longing to complete some on a scale of epic proportions as the gentlemen in front of me had so successfully done. So here it is, in the future there will be a big one to come... what I don't know however Any suggestions for the next one are most welcome. Somehow the bike is still going strong having had even more miles added to it with cycles all across the country, Credit to Merida Bikes UK for their sterling work! Much has changed since then, University has been completed, two of us have set up a black tie shirt company called Rorkes of London so for those looking to spice up your black tie events with a  colourful dress shirt then please do check out our website at

MANY Apoligies to those who I haven't replied to on the blog too.. it has been a busy year! For those that have any questions about our trip, route or any  other details then please do drop me an email at and I shall endeavour to answer your questions!! In the meantime, good luck with all your cycling adventures!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

An Epic 12 Days but a lot of Thank You's due

On behalf of the three of us I think it's safe to say that the last 12 days has certainly been an epic challenge. We've all definitely had our highs and lows throughout but I can't describe how much of a difference you've all made. Everyone's messages of support and donations throughout got us up those never ending hills when the body wanted to give up, and you all helped us push through those extra hours as we battled through France and Italy. We completed the challenge in 12 days cycling a total of 130 hours, travelling almost 1,500 miles. We were unbelievably lucky throughout, with the weather only 12 punctures and 2 crashes. You've all been incredibly generous with your donations and so far we've raised almost £10,000 for Walking with the Wounded.

However one of the most important thank you's has to go to George who has made this whole challenge possible; by coming to the rescue and stepping up to the job, to support us everyday as we made our way to Rome. Throughout our aches, pains, and down moments George was always there with Michelin star pasta for lunch, and every night the camp site was organised and set up. We definitely couldn't have completed it in the time we did without him.. an absolute hero!

So from the three of us now sat in Rome recovering our legs having cycled our way here and done the tour of the city, you have all been so supportive throughout! AN ENORMOUS Thank You to you all and George for everything!!

Much looking forward to seeing you all over the rest of the Summer!

Day 12 – Traffic galore but a gladiators welcome

A simple route for the last day and with only 95 miles to do we were rather chilled. We ate through the miles despite the 40 degree heat on a straight road making it just south of Civitavecchia by 1 pm where we rewarded ourselves with the final swim in the sea, the couscous and pasta combo and numerous ice creams (Living the life).

Once suitably chilled we headed for ROMA… arriving in the city just in time for rush hour we zoomed past all the stationary cars and into the mayhem of the center of Rome. Traffic lights to Italians apparently do not exist as we battled blindly through the pandemonium of traffic.
The Colosseum stood before us we rounded the corner and in front much to our relief Dom our recently acquired giant, waved frantically ushering us through the crowds. Beers at the ready as a group of Americans soon caught onto the palaver of our arrival and started to snap away with the cameras. I’m still not sure what we have actually achieved has sunk in.. but never have we all been so relieved to step off our bikes!

Day 11 – The penultimate day, so close yet so far!

We left pisa at 8am heading for an Island called Orbitello. Unfortunately due to the hills the previous day we were playing catch up on the miles that we’d lost. However thanks to flat roads and the traffic police taking us off the motorway and pointing us in the right direction we made great progress. 

The generic lunch stop was spiced up by George mixing pasta and couscous (For everyone out there who’s laughing.. you don’t know what you’re missing out on). Sat in the front of the car Hamish and I gorged on the secret wine gum supply that had been discovered and we then set off for the Island to the south. The road went on and on, and the campsite never seemed to be around the corner as the light faded. Eventually having added on an extra 3 miles to our 125 we found it. George collected his mate Dom today who has arrived in perfect time to teach us all Italian as we head to Rome. 

Day 10 - Well that was not expected

Setting off from just south of Genoa we had a long day planned of what we thought would be similar to the previous days and maybe even flatter. Oh how we were wrong; we’d reached the foothills of the alps, not what we expected as we hiked up these mountains legs aching and sweat pouring out with every push of the pedal as the temperature rose to 35 degrees by 12 o’clock. The corners wound round the hills and continued to be seemingly never ending. The hot humid and thick air didn't do us any favours as we longed to be the cyclists that were passing us in the other direction at top speed with very smug faces. The peak arrived after 1.5 hours of constant climbing. Never have I been more relieved to see the top of a hill. A rapid descent followed as we rushed to reach our lunch time target in a small village at the base of the mountain. Wallowing in what little shade we could eventually find we paused for lunch. 

The afternoon fortunately was pretty flat in comparison but still incredibly hot, but after 11.5 hours in the saddle we made it to Pisa. A quick turn around and we headed in for supper below the tower. We found a restaurant that was worryingly cheap but seemed great at the time (note to all others…avoid this place). We all thought we’d escaped school meals until the risotto came out splattered all over the plate and the burger turned out to be a school burger by itself and some soggy chips. However the good old Italian ice cream down the road solved all and morale picked up especially as we realised we were steam rolling through Italy and there should only be two days ahead.

Day 9 – The Italian way of life

We made an early start making our way through menton towards the Italian border with passports in hand although it wasn’t long before we got a taste of the traffic to come, this time fortunately just a bicycle race which we decided to tag along on for a small while before they all pulled away from us. We soon crossed the border into Italy before we even knew it with not a single border check to be seen. The journey today was for Genoa although confusingly Genova on all the signs. 123 miles was the ambitious target to be completed. However it was similar terrain to the day before but overcast until lunch so we could plough through the miles. Genova however was not so fun, rush hour in soaring heat created a similarly caotic carnage of cars and mopeds to that of India. Some aggressive cycling in true Italian style (reds are apparently ignored) got us through the haze of the industrial town safely and we exceeded our target and made it south of Genoa. 

A long day but the authentic Italian pizzas settled well in our stomachs yearning for something other than pasta and energy bars. A pretty idyllic evening by the coast until we all stood up and hobbled off (starting to look more decrepid by the day)

Day 8 - Coastal welcome

Despite a bad start, with no milk I can safely say water with alpin is not a good replacement and Quicky nursing his injuries from the day before we headed off in search of the coast. However it was certainly the best morning we’ve had all trip. With our body’s adapted to the sun we made our way south to the Coast, about as good as it gets for a morale booster. Although there was no time apparently for the photos to be taken as we continued on through Frejus along an amazing coastal road arriving for lunch West of Cannes much to Georges disappointment as he had just found time to get his toe in the sea before demands for lunch appeared. However a very rewarding dip was had after and set us up perfectly for the last stretch that day to Nice. With no campsites in sight however the situ became rather more complicated. 

The decision was made to have supper in Monaco (As one does) parking the ford focus draped in Walking With the Wounded and the Ultimate Travel company stickers next to the Ferrari’s and Lamborghinis. Following our surprisingly cheap meal overlooking the port we headed off for a night cycle to just short of the Italian border in Menton where George had found a campsite high up in the hills. Another late night but the end seemed in sight.