A two year break and now a new trip is brewing!

Happy New Year everyone!

You may have thought you’d seen the last of our cycling adventures. If you did you were wrong!

Some of you may have seen Wilf and I at the Wirksworth Festival back in September, selling tea, coffee, soup and cakes, under Ar’tea Fartea. If you didn’t you missed out! If you did you may have noticed that we were raising money for another charity bike ride.

Selling tea,coffee,soup and cake at Wirksworth festival.

Many thanks to everyone who bought from us over the festival weekend and a special thanks to    Aisha Sobey for donating the amazing macaroons.


That’s right we’re planning another trip, more details to follow soon, but we hope the next trip will be even bigger and better than the last!




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Arrival in Die!

After reaching the summit of the Col de Rousset we had a very very long downhill with plenty of virages! On the way down we sped through the town of Chamaloc admiring the lavender fields and the smell that came off them. As we travelled down it also began to get a lot warmer and we realised just how cold it had been on the tops.

Following photos courtesy of Phil Richards

panto 07 sony-73


The Hill down from the Col de Rousset.


We finally made it to Die!



Arriving at 8:30 in the evening we were then told that Rob and Chris who were also cycling from Wirksworth to Die were arriving the next day!

We therefore went to bed and at 7:45 the next morning met with Brian and Jerome of Die, who were both very fast cyclists,  set off to meet Rob and Chris. We met them in Crest and on the return exchanged stories of our trips…

With Rob and Chris at the sign for Die.


We were also very pleased that my grand-parents, Jacob and Pam who set off with us, originally heading for the North of France and who we shared sections of the trip with  – who we had left the day before, camping on top of the Vercours also made it down from the mountain!


We were then invited to some lovely meals at Lyliane’s and Jerome’s and Valerie’s. With live music from French and English musicians!


I was even persuaded to perform the Ken’s song to an international audience!


We even had a reception with the Mayor of Die! There we were presented with Rosettes, a book for Wirksworth Library from Die’s twinning association on the history of the Tour de France and a 200 euro donation to Amnesty international!


We also met with a Marianne, a member of the local Amnesty group who have now made links to the Wirksworth Amnesty group.


We then had a brilliant two weeks in Die swimming in the river, climbing and walking in the mountains.

climbing in Die

We would like to thank everyone in Die for their hospitality, with special thanks to Tiedal for making us feel very welcome and translating for us, Francoise and her family, Lyliane, Jerome and Valerie, the twinning association of Die, Marianne of Crest Amnesty group and Pam Taylor and Phil Richards for liaising with the twinning association and providing the excellent photos.

We would also like to thank everyone who’s helped and encouraged us with the trip, with special thanks to David Beacham of Cyclewirks for the maintenance training and Tom Windsor for building my bike.  Both bikes thanks to David and Tom made the journey with only one puncture between them! Wirksworth Outdoors for providing jackets that kept us dry as we cycled through the rain! The Wirksworth Amnesty group for their encouragment and support, Bob Ledbury for his help in looking for grants, Anthony Gell School Foundation Governors for their £200 donation towards the trip, Rural Derbyshire School Sports Partnership for their support and donation of the cycling T-shirts, and our Headmaster David Baker for his generous sponsorship and for being the first to do so. Thanks also to the New Zealanders in Oxford who gave us some custard and the French family who made us breakfast! 

I would also like to say a special thanks to Tom  Allen who sent me a copy of his film Janapar, the story of his cycle ride around the world that first showed me the adventures that could be had on a bike.

Thanks also to Buxton Adventure Festival, which starts this Friday, for organising the excellent speakers at last year’s festival, especially Dave Cornthwaite who inspired us to do the trip.

Thanks also to everyone who has sponsored us. We have so far raised over £2,400 for Amnesty International. If you haven’t donated already and would like to please visit https://www.justgiving.com/twowheelstwintowns/

It was an amazing adventure that we both really enjoyed and we hope that there’ll be many more to come.


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The End.


The rain eventually stopped. We set off from Feurs for Vienne and encountered our first proper hills!

Hill sign


wilf on hill

We were amazed at the vast scale of the Rhone and the amount of hydroelectric power being produced. Finding there was  no campsite at Vienne, we faced another 14km cycle ride to Condrieu. We passed many vineyards before arriving and thankfully there was no rain! However discovering that my Spork had broken I was forced to use a tent peg to eat my pasta.

Tent peg

The next day as we travelled on to Chabeuil we spotted some Coypu.


These massive creatures, fortunately herbivores, are also known as water rats, look somewhat like beavers and have very large front teeth.


On arriving in Chabeuil we got our first view of the Vercours plateau.  It was here where we could either choose to take the high road over the mountains or the low road down the valley.

We went to bed fairly certain that we would take the high road. However after a not very good night in the tent our decision was beginning to change. We also looked again at the map and realised that taking the high road would be considerably further than going down the valley and would involve crossing over at least 3 cols. Then a text message arrived from the other team of cyclists cycling to Die…

“We took advice from a local cyclist who almost choked when we said we were considering the north route. There is some serious hill climbing to be done if you choose that route. We are going in from the West.”

At this point we were almost certain that it would be more sensible to travel down the valley. However as  the mountains glinted in the early morning sun we asked some local people on the campsite whether they thought we’d be able to make it up the mountains. The moment that we mentioned going over the mountains both looked very shocked and began shaking their heads, one said “C’est tres difficile”, (it’s very difficult) the other added “C’est trop difficile” (it’s too difficult!).

We looked again at the map and after much deliberating we decided it would be silly to take the low road and miss out the mountains that had be deemed to difficult to cross by bike!

We did however decide that we may not make it down from the mountain in one day and that we should stock up with supplies. We went back to the people who had told us the route was too difficult to ask whether there was a boulangerie between Chabeuil and Die over the mountains.

The answer was very clear “Non, il n’y a rien. Il y à seulement faune. C’est très sauvage.” (No, there is nothing. There is only wildlife. It’s very wild there.)

They looked very worried and returned with two loaves of yesterday’s bread that they said we had to take.

Thanking them we started packing up our tents thinking of disasters on the North face of the Eiger and “Touching the Void”. We were just about to leave when the man who had said that it was “Trop difficile” came up to us with a jar of jam, some apricots and some Pain d’epices (French gingerbread) carefully wrapped in cardboard. At least if we became stuck on the mountain we would not starve. By the time we left the whole campsite had heard of what we planned to do and we left to a chorus of “Bon Courage” and “Bonne Route”.

We hit the hill as soon as we turned out of the campsite and I began to wonder whether we had made the right choice in going over the mountains.


The road wound all the way up the hill until we finally made it to the summit of the first col!

Col des limouches

After reaching 1086 metres there was a very long descent to an altitude of 641 metres. This was followed by more uphill climbing.

virages 2

wilf on bend

We were somewhat disappointed that it wasn’t “très sauvage” on the plateau as we had been told. In fact we passed many villages which contained bars, schools and even libraries!

We soon reached the top of the Col de la Bataille passing under a tunnel that revealed spectacular views.

col de la bateille me on mountain mountain tunnel

Looking at the map we realised we were still a long way from Die and we began to wonder about wild camping in the mountains. We ate the jar of jam and peddled on. We were just about to stop when we saw the first sign for Die.

Die sign d

We carried on up and down stopping only to unjam Wilfs chain.

oil and Wilf

We travelled down into Vassieux en Vercours, a village that played host to many members of the Maquis (french resistance fighters) during World War II and as a result the village was awarded the “Ordre de la Libération” for its assistance to the French resistance.

We thought that from there it’d be all down hill but we were faced with yet another uphill  to the Col de Rousset!


To Be Continued….








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The Rhone Alps and a sign for Valence!

We made it to Nevers half way through France! Here we stayed for a night on the municipal campsite which was beside the Loire. In Nevers we looked round the cathedral which was accidentally bombed by the RAF during the war! It had therefore been rebuilt and contained some interesting contemporary stain glass windows.

Due to Wilf complaining about the size of the tent and the smell of both my socks and me I offered to sleep outside. Which to begin with was a good idea. There was a brilliant sunset and stars in the sky.


I slept brilliantly only to be woken by thunder and lightening! There was however no rain hoping it wasn’t going to start I rolled over and went back to sleep only to be woken, slightly later with rain hitting my face! I quickly retreated into the tent and slept soundly till the next morning.

The day started slightly overcast but warm with no rain and we set off for Fours where someone told us about a good campsite and we hoped to meet Wilf’s family there.

Luckily it was only 50km away as it started raining and thundering again. We quickly set the tent up and sat in there reading until the storm passed.


Luckily the sun came out and we managed to make use of the lake on the campsite!



We also finally made use of the tarpaulin given to us by the New Zealanders in Oxford!


The rain also led to the slugs coming out.


We didn’t leave the campsite until 11 due to the fact it was sunny and there was a lake! We then realised that it was Sunday and we had no food and had just 1 hour before the supermarket 5km away closed! We quickly packed everything away and cycled as fast as we could to the supermarket. We brought some food and set off again only to realise we didn’t have any meths for heating our food! It was now 11:45 we arrived back at the shop with only 5 minutes to spare before it closed! Being only a small village shop we were unable to get any meths but purchased some gazpacho soup and more bread and cheese, before setting off again!

By this time it had begun to rain…


We found shelter under a table tennis table and ate lunch by which time the rain had begun to stop.

Travelling only 500 metres the rain got heavier and we fled for a bus shelter!


The storm finally stopped and we set off again!! Travelling 60km down a cycle route until we came to the end of the road!


We got back on the road and after a lack of vegetable roadkill in France we came across a record amount of roadkill!


We collected 6 records of multiple different genres!



We are now ready for the disco when we arrive in Die!

We then travelled a further 40km before arriving in Puilly sous Charlieu after travelling over 100km! And passing into the Rhone Alpes!


Die we seem to remember is near the Alps!

Today we cycle from Puilly to Feurs finally hitting some big hills!


We were going to continue to Vienne however on Feurs we saw another storm coming towards us!


We quickly retreated back to the campsite at Feurs where we’re sitting in very heavy rain. To entertain ourselves we decided to wash the trangia’s, having not been washed that well since the start of the trip.

They went from this:



To this:


We also saw a sign for Valence!
We are nearly there!


Wait! I think its stopped raining….

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Along the Loire

After we left Fallaise we planned to cycle to Nogent. However we never made it…

We set off cycling quite late at about 11:30. Cycling along in countryside very similar to England and along a very good cycle path, it wasn’t long before we’d done over 100 km and we were beginning to get hungry and tired. Then after cycling about 120km we saw a sign for Nogent another 40km away. Deciding it was getting to late to carry on we stopped at a farmhouse. We walked up the drive to where a woman was watering the plants. “Bonsoir Madame!” I said.

She looked very startled to see us and replied “Bonsoir”.
“Avez vous une place ou c’est possible a reste pour un nuit dans une petite tente?” I said attempting to ask her if we could stay the night.
She very quickly , to our surprise, said, “Oui! Bien sur!”.

And after being shown to a water tap we spent a very pleasant night beside a wheat field.


We set off early the next morning past where we could have stayed in Nogent. Travelling along past loads of wheat fields being harvested in the very hot 28 degrees! We travelled 108 km and arrived at a house near to Chateaudun that belonged to a friend of Wilf’s family. We stayed here for our rest daysafter two days of over 100 km! Doing nothing except eating and sleeping!

We left on the Tuesday feeling very relaxed and well rested! After a thunder storm on Monday night which we had missed being inside the house the day was much cooler and slightly overcast which made the cycling much easier. We arrived at Meung Sur Loire and finally saw the Loire!


We travelled along it and spent a long time trying to get past dèviation near Orleans and Olivet! We went past Orleans university just trying to head west not having a detailed enough map to negotiate through the suburbs of Orleans… We finally made it asking a man for directions to Sully Sur Loire.

“C’est loin á Sully une trés trés loin!” He said. He was right! it began to rain as we left orleans getting heavier and heavier. Luckily he had recommended the campsite at Jargeau slightly nearer to Orleans than Sully and so we set off there.. We put the tent up in the rain then realises we’d lost the lighter! Having no idea what the name for a lighter was I set off in the rain doing mimes until we eventually got one!


During the rain we made a grave error getting the map for the following day wet. Luckily as the sun came up it began to dry! Having no idea of what day or date it was I forgot it was my birthday! It was only until I turned my phone on that I realised!

We celebrated with some Flan.


And a magic baguette!


We also made it to some fields of sunflowers!


Then disaster struck!

Having not very much money before the trip I had sought to find a cheap bike lock… Finding one in TK Max for £3.99 had at the time seemed like a good idea. However coming out of the super market and trying to unlock the bikes we discovered a problem.


The code had definitely been 1470 and yet it wouldn’t open. Mine and Wilf’s bikes were now locked together would we spend the rest of the night stuck in a car park?

Luckily we had some pliers with a bit of wire cutter at the bottom!


After some bending we managed to break the lock! Hiding every time a gendarme walked past!


We had a brilliant night however camping at the municipal camping at Chatillion watching the sun set over the Loire.

This morning I attempted to make an omelette having fried the lardons and added the egg without checking the opened packet of Comte I tipped it in. Unbeknown to me during the night ants had crawled into the packet!


I think the added protein really enhanced our performance today!

There has also arisen a number of difficulties in carrying food and forgetting I’d stored the bleu d’auvergne in my wash bag I discovered this as I came to brush my teeth…


We also cycled up our first hill today into Sancerre a very interesting town that because we only had the road Atlas we didn’t realise was up a hill!


The view from Sancerre! And the chocolate we tried to treat ourselves to when we got to the top!


We’re now on the municipal campsite at Charité sur Loire. Another very nice town with a campsite on an island in the middle of the Loire which we swam in today!

Tomorrow we go past Nevers which we believe is about half way between Caen and Die! So we’re nearly there!

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We’re in France!

Bonjour! We have just spent our first day cycling through France and are currently resting in Falaise!

We left Hook Norton and travelled down along small winding roads to Oxford.


Travelling down Oxford canal dodging in and out of ducks and swans before arriving in Oxford. We then spent a good couple of hours looking for a bike shop and after asking different people for directions, all of whom said different things, we found it. Wilf bought a new pair of tyres something he had been meaning to replace but didn’t get round to.

We then stopped the night at Oxford campsite. Camping next to a couple from New Zealand and a family from Caen. We talked a lot about the trip and when we left we were given a fry up, two twins of custard, a tarp and directions for the best way of getting around Caen from the ferry avoiding the 4 lane motorway!

We then travelled down through lots of villages of thatched cottages until disaster struck!

Wilf spotted yet more vegetarian road killed squashed on the road!


Leaving them on the road we cycled on and found where the raspberries must have tried to escape from! And so stopped to help liberate some more!


These were then eaten with the two tins of custard, when we arrived in Farleigh Whallop at Inwood Camping a great campsite within 19 acres of woodland!


We also decided it was time to do some washing and brighten up our very bright T-shirts donated by Rural Derbyshire Schools sport partnership.


Wilf tending to our washing on our bike washing line!

We were then only 32 miles from Portsmouth and so arriving 2 days earlier than expected we managed to get on an earlier ferry!


We also managed to look round Portsmouth visiting where Charles Dickens was born.


As well as discovering that Kens mini market has gone nationwide moving into the fast food industry.


We also had time to have some of the UK’s finest cuisine, fish and chips and a deep fried Mars bar!



We then boarded the ferry unknowing at this point that the journey would be incredibly uncomfortable, having not been able to afford a cabin!


Trying to sleep on the ferry was no easy feat!



We did however arrive early this morning having had some sleep,(we think!).


We then travelled across the Pegasus bridge and past many other historic sights, before arriving in Falaise!

Where we had a relaxing day visiting William the Conquerer’s castle, looking at the towns abbey and viewing an exhibition on the occupation and liberation of Falaise.




Travelling only 63km today, tomorrow we are planning to travel to Nogent with no idea of what we’ll find there!

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We’ve set off!

Thanks to everyone who came to see us off on Sunday! It was brilliant to see everyone.sorry if we left anyone behind on Sunday who was cycling and if we didn’t have time to talk to you it wasn’t intentional!


We’re currently in Hook Norton a place famous for its beer. Another ride of about 50 miles today with some surprising hills towards the end. It was also at this point that we began to feel like we were in France as the sun beat down on us from above.


We travelled along part of the Fosse way, an old roman road and it was along here that Wilf got the first Puncture of the trip!


Hopefully it was also the last!

On day one we cycled 54 miles travelling down to Allestree before going up Ford lane. It then took us some time to find the cycle path but eventually we got on Route 6 that goes all the way to Melbourne!

In Melbourne went into a small supermarket where we found a reduced Swiss role and reduced custard for £1.30! Asking ourselves what Jack would have done if he’d have been with us we quickly bought them!

We then continued going past the site of the battle of Bosworth and cycled up a canal to a place called Upton.



We also spotted some vegetarian road kill just outside Upton!


Today the plan is to cycle through Oxford and to camp at Abingdon.

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Are we ready?

So finally we face just one night before our adventure starts! It seems a long time ago that we first said that we would cycle to Die. The date was set and the ferry booked months in advance. It seemed very far off something that wasn’t going to happen for ages. I don’t think we can yet believe that we are actually going to depart tomorrow.

We spent the rainy day today checking everything over and working out exactly what we’ll carry all the way to France.


Here I am with my bike fully packed! For the last week or couple months we have been carb loading! Something that seems like a good excuse to eat lots of food.

It is almost two months since Wilf and I last went on a bike ride together so hopefully the carb loading will have paid off and we’ll be much faster now!

If anyone would like to see us off or even cycle with us tomorrow we will be leaving Wirksworth at 10 o’clock from the market place.

It’s also not too late sponsor us! If you’d like to donate some money to Amnesty please visit www.justgiving.co.uk/twowheelstwintowns

We’re hopefully going to continue to post to this blog as we travel through England and France, depending on the wifi!

We would also like to thank everyone for their support so far.

We’re hoping that all this rain will result in lots of sun on the trip.


Hopefully red sky at night cyclists delight!

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3 days to go!

Theres now only 3 days left until we depart! We’re hoping to set off at 10 am on Sunday 20th July from Wirksworth Market place if anyone wants to set off with us or see us off.

The panniers are slowly filling up now as we gather everything together ready to go.

We will be packing a solar charger and power bank with us kindly donated by Mobile Solar Chargers http://www.mobilesolarchargers.co.uk   We are very grateful for their support and hopefully should the sun be shining (fingers crossed) we’ll be able to update the blog as we cycle along!

Solar panel


We are going to travel across the channel with Brittany Ferries who have generously donated a free crossing from Portsmouth to Caen.

Brittany ferries


We are also very grateful for the money donated by the Barley Mow in Bonsall. Who run a French night on  alternate Tuesdays for people wishing to practice their French. We’re also very sad that we’re going to miss the world championship hen racing  on the 2nd August hopefully we can teach some french hens the rules! http://www.barleymowbonsall.co.uk/




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Only 2 weeks to go!

Just 2 weeks to go until we depart from Wirksworth for Die. The last few weeks have been very busy as we prepare ourselves and I’m sure the weeks to come will be even busier.

We have been fundraising for Amnesty (and Independance!),as well as learning how to fix our bikes and are beginning to look more at our route.

cake stall
Here we are at Wirksworth Farmers market selling cakes for Amnesty International and Independance. We managed to resist eating cakes for the whole morning and raised £140 that was split equally between Amnesty and the dance group.
We were then asked to give a talk at Anthony Gell Schools sport presentation evening. We agreed believing that there would be a small crowd of people. We were shocked to find we would be talking in front of 400 people with Olympian Ross Davenport as our warm-up!


The sports presentation evening. Photos courtesy of Phil Richards.
Congratulations to everyone who won awards and thanks to everyone who donated money to Amnesty, we raised over £100!
We have also been working with David Beacham from Cyclewirks (Wirksworth’s very own bike maintenance service) and Tom Windsor, author of ‘Derbyshire and the Peak District mountain bike guide and we are very grateful for their advice and expertise.
group shot
Mending bike
David replaced the Bottom bracket and gear cable on Wilf’s bike curing the annoying clicking noise that Wilf’s bike had previously made.
Wilf attempting to true a wheel
He also showed us some basic maintenance that he thought we ought to know. We hope that we will not need to do anything to our bikes on the way to Die but if we do we’ll be ready.
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