The Two Matt’s race to the summit of Mont Ventoux! (video)

Hi Guys!

Here is the long awaited video of our epic ascent to the top of Mont Ventoux. Just watching this video is enough to bring back painful memories for the both of us. It was an incredible ride, up the same road that Chris Froome mounted his assault on the yellow jersey of last year’s Tour de France.

We hope you enjoy the video!

The 2 Matts’s

St Thomas Garnet’s School Visit!

Hello Guys,

Just a quick update regarding giving talks around schools/groups/local schemes. Matt 2 and I would be delighted to go anywhere to talk about our trip, promote cycling and leading an active lifestyle. If you would like us to come in to give a talk please feel free to get in touch using the “contact us” part of the website.
Thomas Garnets
A week or so ago I visited St Thomas Garnet’s School in Boscombe, a lovely school who have supported us throughout the trip! I gave a 20 minute presentation about the trip, answered some really great questions and even bought my bike in to show the kids…. oh and our tour mascot “G-Man” the giraffe.┬áVisit their school website here:┬áhttp://www.thomasgarnets.com/index.html

I would personally like to thank the school for being so supportive and for making a donation! It was also lovely to be featured on the front of the school newsletter!

Coming soon =
a general update about what we have done since life on tour!
the video of our epic battle up Ventoux is nearly ready!
hopefully upload some pictures of us going into local schools etc too!

Thanks for reading,

Matt 1

Day’s 108-112: Riding into Rome!

Hi guys, this is our last post from our time on the continent… Emotional times!

We awoke for our final day’s ride with so much achieved over the previous few months. One thing we hadn’t managed to do however, was ride a whole day with a fellow cyclo-tourist. Little did we know, we’d have achieved even this by the end of the day!

We set off on the road to Rome among pretty heavy traffic. Whilst wading through the cars, I spotted a familiar sight up the road. A figure riding his pannier-laden bike had stopped at the next set of traffic lights! Eager to say hello, we hared up the road towards our fellow cyclist. After saying hi, we all pulled to the side of the road to have a chat. Dasol was a south-Korean on his own European cycle adventure. He too was heading to Rome today and was more than happy to join us for the day!

The rest of the day flew by, descending into Rome was spectacular, yet we were held up slightly by even more traffic! We bade Dasol farewell and wished him all the best for his time in Rome.

After weaving through the streets of Rome, we found our hotel and signed in. We then hit the streets again to try and find a way to the airport, where my sister and mum would be flying in to visit! This was a spectacular failure as trains were astronomically expensive and the bus shuttles were nowhere to be seen!

Eventually we met at the train station! It was so good to see family after so long and we eagerly went back to the hotel to catch up.

The next few days were spent seeing the beautiful sights of Rome, and struggling to pack our bikes and kit into their travel-bags.

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Eventually we made it! We loved our stay at the Irish college, and were very grateful for the receptionist’s help in finding us a well-priced taxi to the airport. All that was left to do was board our plane and head home!

Matt 2

Days 106 & 107: Riding over the lava dome!

Hi guys, blogs going to come thick and fast now we’ve had time to write!

After our rest day in Siena we hit the road again. The ride was an 80 kilometre blast over one mountain, and most of the way up another. The Garmin guided us out of Siena and across fairly flat ground.

By this point in our trip, we’d learned to expect the almost obligatory unexpected mountain pass on our route. We looked up and saw that we’d have to climb, then descend before climbing to reach our campsite on the side of Mt Amiata. Unfazed, we scaled the winding road to the top then flew down the other side. At the bottom of the descent we found the perfect spot for some lunch.

Refuelled, we attacked the side of the dormant volcano and reached the campsite in great time. We were greeted by a super-friendly Italian man and his wife. After setting up camp under the watchful gaze of two grey cats, we left the site to find some food. The campsite owner had recommended a pizzeria to us, but it didn’t open for another hour. We bought a drink each and sat in the main piazza enjoying the evening.

After another fantastic pizza we headed back to the site and settled down for the night. With the cool weather and the early sunsets, it ended up being another pretty early night!

The next day started nice and early, and after a pastry-based breakfast we hit the road and immediately started climbing. Eventually we reached the top of the mountain and began to descend. We threw our bikes into the corners as it was our last chance to experience the sheer joy of a long descent. I overcooked one corner and almost got a face full of barrier but for some last minute bike handling!

From the bottom of the descent, our luck took a turn for the worse. The road we’d intended to follow was closed due to flood damage and the only other route took us over a very hilly area! We stamped on the pedals and began thinking of nearer stopping points than our original plan.

Lunch was wolfed down at the top of a sizeable hill, and we were able to ask some locals for advice for our approach to Rome. Our route adjusted we hit the road, which seemed to never be flat! Eventually, our tanks nearly empty, we found a suitable B&B to stay at and rested before our final day of riding.

We were struggling to come to terms with this fact and spent most of the evening remembering the amazing adventures we’d had over the past few months.

Matt 2

Day’s 103-105: Taking in Tuscany

Hi readers, we’ve been struggling to get a reliable mobile signal so are writing a blog now!

Since before the rain on our exit from the mountains, Tuscany has been stunning. Fortunately for us, the weather has cleared up too. We spent the first day looking around the old walled city of Lucca. It is a must see as it’s narrow streets make it nearly carless! There are people and cyclists roaming between all the beautiful buildings with no trouble at all.

The next day, we got back in the saddle, and rode deeper into Tuscany. On our way, we stopped to view the leaning tower of Pisa!

After this we rode into the hills and found our campsite. The only problem was that it was closed! We found a place opposite that rents rooms, so we negotiated a price over the phone and spent the night inside.

In the morning, the person we’d spoken to on the phone was still nowhere to be seen so we left the money in the room and went on our way. It was only a short ride along the via Francigena to Siena, where we knew a campsite would be open. The short ride gave us a good opportunity to take some photos of the breathtaking countryside!

After a good night’s sleep, we’re off to another campsite on the side of Mt Amiata, which just happens to be the second largest volcano in Italy! Fortunately for us, there shouldn’t be any chance of an eruption in the near future!

Matt 2

Days 101 & 102: Over the Passo delle Radici

Hi readers, we finally made it to Lucca today. It hasn’t been easy though!

Yesterday’s ride started well, we blasted up the road from Modena with clearing skies ahead. After reaching the foothills we realised that there were two roads weaving their way up the valley. One followed the river up a gradual incline, the other was on the opposite side of the river and climbed its way up the side of the valley. We were on the more difficult road! After chugging our way to the top, both of us were not feeling at our best. We descended back into the valley and eventually linked up with the other road. How frustrating!

As we followed this road steadily up the valley, the scenery became more and more stunning. On the plus side we were treated to some stunning views, however both of us were left wondering when the climb would end. The map had shown mountains, but we certainly didn’t expect this sort of road!

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As we continued up the relentless gradient, the wind began rising to a gale! We dived into a well placed bar for some pizza for lunch. After refuelling, we continued our seemingly endless slog up the mountain. It just wouldn’t let up! By the time we reached the summit, both of us were exhausted and it was past sunset. There was a hotel at the top, which who’s sky high prices just wouldn’t budge as we unsuccessfully tried to negotiate. We ended up beginning the descent in near total darkness. Fortunately for us, a few kilometres down the road there was another hotel which were far more responsive to our pleas!

We awoke the next morning aching all over! Fortunately for us, the only way from here to Lucca was downhill. Unfortunately though, the weather had taken a turn for the worse overnight. We descended through the clouds along a freezing cold, wet road for the whole ride.

Eventually, two nearly drowned Matt’s arrived in Lucca and promptly checked in to a well priced B&B to escape the rain. We’ve spent the afternoon and evening attempting to dry our cycling gear, thank goodness that our panniers have remained as solid as they look!

Tomorrow we hope to see both Lucca and Pisa before heading back to the Via Francigena, a brilliant pilgrimage route that runs from Canterbury back in the UK all the way to Rome! With any luck we’ll find a campsite and hit the road again the next day!

Matt 2

Day’s 99 & 100: Through the fog to Modena

Hi readers!

We’ve now been on the road for 100 days! Unfortunately for us though, it won’t be too much longer before we arrive back on home soil. This is mainly due to us beginning to run out of money, but also we feel the time is right to come back and start the next chapter of our lives.

We’ve booked flights from Rome to Gatwick on the 20th and intend to ride back to Bournemouth over the next two days. If anyone fancies joining us for our final two days, we’d be honoured for your company!

Our plans for the rest of our time in Italy are as follows. Today we’re riding over to the walled city of Lucca, where we will spend a day checking out its narrow winding streets. We’ll then make a beeline for Rome over the next few days, having lunch in Pisa. With a bit of luck and a lot of legwork we should arrive in Rome on the 16th, where my Mum and Sister will hopefully fly out to see us. We’ll then look around the city before packing our steel steeds into cardboard boxes, ready to board our flight to Gatwick.

As for the past couple of days, we’ve hammered down the road from Milan and are starting to rack up the mileage again. We had a stroke of luck just outside Piacenza too! We’d had trouble exiting Milan due to it’s busy streets and decided to stop earlier than first intended. A quick search on google found a very well priced hostel nearby!

When we arrived, we found out that the hostel had considered closing for the winter but had reopened bookings about an hour before we’d arrived. This meant we must have booked in within minutes of them opening!

After a good nights sleep we continued relentlessly riding down the straight foggy road through Piacenza and Parma (where of course, we bought some ham) towards Modena. We arrived at our campsite last night in good time and are ready for a potentially mountainous ride to Lucca. For the past few days, we’ve been riding through a thick fog, hence the lack of photos. Let’s hope it clears up soon!

Matt 2