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.

Day 6 - Summer has arrived

We left for Bollene on day 6, the sun has turned out in full. After Tom having been requesting south of france heat and saying that it would be flat jinxing is the only word that can be used to describe what followed. The day was a sizzling heat that we were certainly not used to from being up in Newcastle. Stopping halfway for lunch on a football pitch we sheltered in the shade drained of energy and regretting wanting sun. After the routine a la cuisine of pasta and dolmio sauce we were raring to go with our NUUN electrolyte and numerous flap jack to keep us going.

The first crash of the trip came just after lunch as Quicky clipped the tyre of Hamish losing control and hitting the road, nothing serious and we were back on our way. The afternoon only got longer and George only being able to find a campsite further on from the planned stop the day seemed to go on for eternity battling against a very strong head wind. We eventually arrived just up the road in Montdragon as the wind closed in and the restaurants closed up for the night. McDonalds much to the horror of Tom became the only option, the drive through was a gleaming beacon and after some very dubious french from Hamish getting the order completely wrong we finally managed to get some food down us. We returned to the campsite to the gale force winds, relieved to see that our tents were still standing - yet the wind only got stronger resulting in not the greatest of nights. 

Day 7 - Roundabouts were never my forté

Leaving our stormy campsite in Mondragon we headed for Brignoles. Another long hot day; the weather has had a dramatic change from the North of France. The day despite the heat was pretty average with the generically tiring and continuously rolling hills. All was going well however and we were making good progress. George had gone ahead after lunch and found us a Premier Inn esq building ahead of our designated stop so we made last dash for it.

Just passing our original stop off point turned the day from what was rather boring to what at the time seemed rather serious and definitely an eye opener to the perils of cycling and the dire driving skills of the french. Quicky leading the way over the roundabout whilst all rushing to our final stop was hit by a car that hadn't seen him. Not a good two days for him, but Mish was quick to remind him that all bad luck comes in threes (Just what was wanted to be heard as I got up off the road). An apologetic driver and a very lucky escape left him with only a few cuts and bruises, fortunately with the bike and Quicky all in one piece we headed to our stop.

The hotel room was much needed as everyone was feeling rather worse for wear. An american style Buffalo Grill (that due to faulty lights said a dubious Buffalo Ill) stilled provided us with the much needed steak that we'd all been craving. An eventful day in the end, but we were very fortunate.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Day 6

Today the route will take us from the small town of St Genis Laval (twinned with Cirencester, Gloucs) to Bollene, covering over 180km in 30oC heat, with plenty of water and suncream needed. However morale is high having realised we are ahead of schedule and the coast is nearly within sight!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Sore Bums, Big Hills but we're on track!

Day 4 

A long day of burning heat, remnant mosquito bites from the night before, more than our fair share of hills and caused many low moments amongst the team. However after Hamish forced fed us all Kendle mint cake, we cruised the last 40 miles in 2 hours with a lot of downhills! 

After a hearty meal in a restaurant we're now all crammed into a hotel room but ready for another long day from Nuits St Georges to Lyon....just over 110 miles.

Hope you're all well back in the UK!

Still Alive and powering on


Day 2 was by no means an easy one, faced with gruelling hills and heavy freight traffic the boys cycled 125 miles, from La Fére to Troys showing great perseverance and enthusiasm throughout the day despite some niggling injuries. On arrival in Troys, at around 10:00pm we had some difficulty locating Troys Camp Site despite the fact that George had already been there. Then after some first class flirting we managed to negotiate a 50% discount, and despite the lure of an onsite pool, we were all quick to bed

Today (day 3) the boys will cycle from Troys to Dijon along the D971, passing through the Champagne region, however there will be no time to stop and taste.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Our lifesaver and knight in shining armour

We almost forgot about one of our most integral parts of the team...George Coleman! This man answered our call for a support car driver a month or so ago with huge amounts of enthusiasm and energy. 1st year at Newcastle University studying International Business Management allowing us to use, and probably abuse, his knowledge of the french language. He will be setting up our meals throughout the day, pitching our tents and the end of the day and keeping our moral high when we hit rock bottom. For anyone that doesn't know this Saint, I have added a picture below and please add him on Facebook by following this link ( He will have his finger on the pulse all the way so any questions during should be directed at him.

On another note...we have hit £6,000 which is an amazing total! So thank you to everyone for donating and please keep on helping us reach our total by telling your friends

"I heard France is really flat"


Route sorted...despite our misconceptions France is not flat! However i'm sure you've all been eagerly waiting for our route to be released so that you can all keep and eye on our progress! 

Having set off tomorrow night from London just to get out of the City and away from the traffic day 1 will start from just North of Maidstone;

Day 1: Maidstone to Dover to St-Omer  (124 mile)

Day 2: St Omer to Crey-Sur-Serre (114 miles)

Day 3: Crey-Sur-Serre to Arcis-Sur-Aube (105 miles)

Day 4: Arcis-Sur-Aube to Pouilly-en-Auxois (123 miles)

Day 5: Pouilly-en-Auxois to Anse (106 miles)

Day 6: Anse to Montelimar (106 miles)

Day 7: Montelimar to Trets (110 miles)

Day 8: Trets to Eze (124 miles)

Day 9: Eze to Genoa (116 miles)

Day 10: Genoa to Stagno (112 miles)

Day 11: Stagno to Orbetello (118 miles)

Day 12: Orbetello to ROME!! (95 miles)

All the support from everyone has been incredible. So thank you so much to all those who have supported us so far!! We've raised almost £6,000 so far! Please help us reach our total by donating at

An Incredibly kind sponsor

On behalf of the whole team I'd like to thank 'The Ultimate Travel Company' for their incredible support and generosity in joining our challenge as our main sponsor covering our fuel and transport costs as we tackle our challenge to Rome to raise awareness for our injured soldiers and for 'Walking with the Wounded'.

With summer on our door step, this hugely experienced travel company is the only place to go to get your tailor made holidays. Planned down to the smallest of details they will take you to any country around the world to guarantee you a truly unforgettable experience. Whether its relaxing on a beach in the Maldives, going on a riding safari into the realm of wild lions and elephants; the untamed wilderness of Botswana's  Limpopo Valley or whether you fancy trekking through the Himalayas to Nepal's native villages the 'Ultimate Travel Company' will leave you never wanting it to end. 

Plan your Ultimate summer with these incredible tailor made holidays! Here's their website for all those who need to escape their home in search of a summer that will certainly not be forgotten! 

Thank you so much again to 'The Ultimate Travel Company' for their generosity and to all those reading this for your support.... Please keep checking back here as we embark on our voyage - we leave tomorrow!! 

Following Africa’s great game herds by hot air balloon
A safari in the Linyanti Reserve and the Okavango Delta
Baros Maldives

Sunday, 2 June 2013

BBC Radio Solent - Nick Girdler Show... 11:30 TODAY!

At 11:30 am we will be doing an interview on the Nick Girdler Show on BBC Radio Solent today (02/06/13) please tune in at to listen and give us some support!
5 days left to go please keep up the support!!!


For all those who were unable to listen to the radio interview today it can be found at 2:31:55 on this recording! 

Friday, 31 May 2013


7 Days and counting till we depart from London on our challenge. Anyone around on the eve of the 7th would be fantastic to get as much support as possible!
Thank you so much to everyone that has donated and supported us through the way way! Please keep spreading the word...
Donations can be made at

An Enormous THANK YOU to ------> 21Pro

It's arrived! A Huge thanks to 21Pro who have been unbelievably kindly and sponsored us a couple of cameras and lots of gear to go with it! This small company has been so generous, we're all looking forward to trying it out and making the video of our challenge (almost certainly being dominated by Mish falling watch this space for the release!)

Take a look at their website...we all know that you've always wanted one! Great value and great quality! Check them out and like them on Facebook!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

A Successful few weeks of Media

If you at all able to get hold of a copy of the Gloucester Echo today please do as we are all featuring in it!

Importantly a HUGE thank you needs to go to Richard Taylor & Nicole Le Marie from the London Metro, Caroline Fisher at the Gloucester Echo and Chris Gregory from the Basingstoke Gazette for all taking such an interest in our Challenge, and the work of the charity to take time to help raise awareness of the sacrifices being made in Afghanistan by our troops and the incredible work 'Walking with the Wounded' is doing. Can't thank them enough for all their help!

If anyone can help us broaden our media reach at all and help us raise awareness, please comment below and I will get in contact as soon as possible! 1 week to go before we head off, so please continue the amazing support!

Basingstoke Gazette
Gloucestershire Echo

London Metro

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Big thanks to NUUN

A huge thank you to NUUN for taking such an interest in our challenge. Working my way through the different flavours of electrolytes NUUN have very kindly sent us!
Much needed for as we trek across France and Italy in 25+ degree heats!
Keep spreading the word of our challenge... 7th of June London To Rome and we're off!!
Check out their website at for the whole range!

Monday, 20 May 2013

A perilous weekend of Training

Apparently backwards High-Fives aren't the best idea whilst cycling along the road... Hamish suffering from one of his wounds as a result! 

2 crashes and 2 punctures over the weekend.....we're getting there! 

Please keep supporting makes such a difference

2 weeks to go...Thank you for all the support so far

It's been a busy last few months and a particularly hectic last couple of weeks with exams dawning and the departure day rapidly approaching! We've just reached the half way point on the donation front and everything is finally falling into place so a MASSIVE thank you to everyone that's been so generous and supported us so far! Still looking for a sponsor for our support car and kit!

Keep your eyes out for us in the London Metro in the next couple of weeks...

The Challenge - 3 students, 12 days, 1300 miles, £8000, London to Rome

This summer the three of us; Jonathan Quicke, Hamish Van Gruisen and Tom Kerridge will be cycling half a mile for every British soldier wounded in Afghanistan since 2001. In doing so we aim to raise money and awareness for 'Walking with the Wounded' and, the incredible sacrifices that are being made by our troops. 

Having persuaded Hamish that the Tour De France route was overly ambitious, we have settled for 1,300 miles from London to Rome cycling over 100 miles a day leaving on the evening of the 7th and aiming to reach Rome 12 days later. 

It's an incredibly worthwhile cause so please if you can support us along the way by following us here and on twitter (londontorome13) and if you can, please donate at

More updates to follow...