I have just returned from an amazing 3 weeks European cycling challenge with Bike Dreams which took 44 Aussies, NZers and Europeans from Nice, France through the Pyrenees to Barcelona, Spain. Our route took us over several of the mountain passes which the Tour De France covers, however our trip was 2,000km as opposed to the tour which is 3,500km.
As I rode down some of these mountain passes at 65kmph thinking this speed was extremely daring of me, I had to remind myself that the Tour de France cyclists were going almost that speed ending these mountains! I'm not sure they would have had time to enjoy the beautiful countryside and villages which I could never tire of - I seem to be forever hopping off my bike to takeanother photo of the lavender fields, churches, sunflower fields, cute houses with bright coloured shutters, narrow cobblestone lanes and the majestic mountains with villages perched way up in the sky. Surely we would not be climbing up there! ...but somehow we managed, engaging low gear to chug our way up the winding roads often with the sound of cow bells along the way making the task of limbing a more Enjoyable experience. Every climb and pass was unique and the exhilaration of reaching the top never seemed to lessen.
If you are a cyclist you will understand the importance of coffee stops - each coffee stop was an experience and a welcome reward ....and the chance for me to try out my high school French. The locals loved it when we brought life to their sleepy town and often we surprised them by descending in numbers they were not accustomed to - a quick trip down the road for change or a quick recycling of the coffee cups and everybody was happy.
We certainly were not the only cyclists out on the country roads. We were treated with respect and motorists were polite and didn't honk us off the roads. We even had a designated bike lane through one of the tunnels which we certainly appreciated as it was 5km long.
The Pyrenees was not my first ride with tour company Bike Dream, last year I did Les Dix Alpes which starts in Lake Como in Italy, across the border into France ending in the buzzing city of Nice. The challenge and training was huge but the rewards were even better. Fundraising for kids' cancer research made the trip even more rewarding and I feel good that I have been able to make a difference. My challenge was not nearly as tough as kids suffering from cancer whose challenge goes on for years. Three Australian kids die every week from cancer, I knew I could make some difference.
You can too.
Do you have a bucket list? The Kid's Cancer Project have challenges to suit all tastes, levels and abilities.
Check out The Kids Cancer Project website!