Hello and a happy new year to all... in advance, apologies for the length of this post, but please read on..
By way of an intro, for the past 5 years I've been involved, along with approx 25 others, with a charity cycle ride, which usually takes a week in July/August and covers approx 500-600 miles (or anything between 60 and 100 miles per day). Of the whole group there are only a couple who I'd say were "cycling club" material, with perhaps the majority of others leaning towards the "very unfit" or even "clinically obese" categories. I am neither "cycling club" or "very unfit" so must be.... moving onto the next point..
As a group, we'd typically raise anything up to £50k in the process and because it's been so successful, it's not something I'd want to interfere with or change in any way - but it's given me another idea which is more of a long-term goal rather than a new years resolution!
Later this year I have a birthday which unfortunately isn't my 21st or 40th..so am considering doing something really daft to "celebrate" and thinking maybe I could raise a few quid in the process.
At the moment this is purely at the concept/thinking stage so all I can see are lots of reasons for NOT doing it, eg. it's too far, it'll take too long, it'll be too expensive, it'll be too hot, etc etc.
I'd really appreciate it if anyone with any CONSTRUCTIVE suggestions could either post them within this thread or alteratively use the PM facility to email me. From experience I can say that it's often small contributions (by that I mean ideas not money) that make the difference between something being a success or not so please don't be shy in coming forward with suggestions. One of my favourite motivation-type sayings is "The easiest way to get a good idea is to have lots of ideas."
So..in no particular order, these are some of the things I'd like anyone's advice or opinions on -
1 - Ferry Route.
Assume cycling starts from point of getting off the ferry, eg from say Calais, Cherbourg etc. Taking into account a shorter crossing route may well be quicker and/or cost less but mean further to cycle. Would be good to hear any experiences and advantages/disadvantages or peoples ferry crossings. I've only looked at Dover to Calais and Portsmouth to Cherbourg so far, should I be looking elsewhere?
2 - France (travelling through it)
Most people who have driven to Spain will be familiar with the most common driving routes, but remember this is cycling so we're not interested in motorways, or dual-carriageways (except short distances or where unavoidable). Would be good to hear any experiences from anyone having taken a more scenic route through France into Spain. The preference in Spain would be to follow a route that takes in mainly coastal areas, so my initial thinking was to start by making a fairly straight line from the ferry port down to Perpignon on south-east corner of France. Does this sound logical? Is there a "better" way?. The route should be scenic but with at least a few "challenges" along the way! A google on Calais to Perpignon, suggests a distance of almost 600 miles so I'm assuming a scenic route will be perhaps up to 30% longer than this.
My initial thought on "budget" in terms of miles to cycle versus time spent, would be somewhere around 1,000 miles or approx 70 miles per day assuming 14 days, so it's worth taking this into account along the way.
3 - Spain (travelling through it)
As with above, be interested to hear of any scenic routes taken preferably not too far inland (but appreciate that may be a contradiction in itself). Moreira (north of Alicante) is a prime example as very rugged, challenging, yet still on the coast.
4 - Accommodation
Again, referring to the more scenic routes, would be good to hear from anyone who's done maybe a "camper van" type trek across France and into Spain. An opportunity here also for any expats from UK or Ireland who run establishments along the way (we'd stop somewhere every 30-35 miles for a half-hour "pit-stop" and then need a decent hotel for overnight including evening meal and breakfast).
Be great to hear from any seasoned cyclists with experience of doing anything similar. Please bare in mind anyone doing this will be very much an amateur in terms of cycling but will have trained locally and be physically fit enough by the time it happens (estimate October 2009). Average daily speed in previous runs has been as low as 10mph to give you some idea.
6-Possible Relay Alternative
Not too sure how the logistics of this would work, but my thinking is we might get a lot more involvement from people who would need to give up say just one day rather than do the whole trip (eg group of 3 or 4 cover say 70 miles, then hand over to a new group for next stage).
7- Are you interested?
Lots of variables here in a very big equation. I've already seen the most unlikely people complete the most unlikely challenges so I know it's certainly possible, and very probably do-able. Drop me a PM with your direct email address and we'll go from there.
Thanks to all of you for taking the time to read this. Lets hope it works better than all those broken new years resolutions!! - Pat
This message was last edited by growler on 1/2/2009.