Category Archives: Pre-Tour

A letter from Mustard Seed!

Hi guys, only a matter of hours before we set off!

We just thought we’d share a letter we’ve just received from MSGR Gregory, the founder of Mustard Seed Communities, our chosen charity. It means so much to us that they are following our tour with interest!

Here’s a reminder of our Virgin money page, should you want to donate to Mustard seed.

Please click here to donate!

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Excitement is Building!

Hi guys & gals!

Just over a month until we leave and things are coming together nicely! Yesterday was spent in Charlie the Bikemonger’s putting the finishing touches to our bikes. They are now ready to be loaded up and ready to go!

Our Bikes

After much research and advice from our various contacts, our choice for bikes happened purely by chance.

Matt 2 had heard through social media that there was some German TV filming going on not far away and they needed some cyclists to use as extras. As it was a nice (if a bit chilly) day, he thought it would be a good laugh to go along! In the end, the film crew didn’t have time to include the cyclists. However, Matt got a lot more out of that day than a few £’s and some food!

Another cyclist at the filming just happened to be a Bikemonger by trade. Matt got chatting to him about touring, and it happens that not only had this guy been touring himself many times, but his shop stocked some pretty darn good touring bikes! Matt then looked these bikes up on the internet, and found that these bikes ticked all the right boxes. After chatting to Matt 1 about this discovery, the decision was made. They’d tour Europe on Surly Disc Trucker’s.

For all you budding cycle tourists out there (I know you’re hiding somewhere!), we thought we’d put together a few points on what we looked for in our bikes. We’ll take this opportunity to go through the features of the Surly Disc Trucker and explain why it was the number one choice for us.

Frame & Forks.

Key point- made of steel. Steel was our choice. It’s heavy compared with Carbon and Aluminium, but it is far easier to weld. If we are in a distant corner of Europe and need a frame repaired, all we will have to worry about is the language barrier and finding someone with welding tools!

Crankset.

26/36/48t. Key point- granny gears! The crankset offers us a brilliant range of gears, which will be invaluable when hauling our gear up the numerous mountain ranges on our tour route.

Brakes.

Disc. Key point- Safe and reliable. Having disc brakes will help us on long descents as they can offer superior stopping power without overheating like many standard rim brakes.

Gear shifters.

Old school bar-end style. Key point- Easy to adjust and fix. As opposed to many of the gears used on road bikes nowadays, there is less indexing on bar-end shifters. Far simpler to fix when they brake. (we love the old school look too!)

Saddle.

Brooks B70. Key point- Old school leather that moulds to your bum! This was an extra that we decided to add to the bike. After looking around and remaining undecided on Brooks’ saddles, we looked around and noticed that many other tourers choose them. Following advice from Andrew P Sykes (Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie, cyclingeurope.org) we decided to go for it. So far they are hard, but are breaking in nicely!

Other features on the Disc Trucker were that they include 2 spare spokes on the frame of the bike, and all frames are drilled for pannier racks as standard. Charlie also stocks wonderful items called wisecrackers. They fill the double purpose of being both a headset spacer and a bottle opener!

wisecracker

Surly really seem to look at small details of touring, which all culminates in a bike that looks, feels and rides as a tourer should. Solid, yet comfortable.

The Bikemonger’s

Bikemongers

Having ordered our bikes, we endured a few weeks waiting while Matt 1 finished off his commitments with university. Charlie (the Bikemonger) had been kind enough to allow us into his workshop so we could learn (and input) how the bikes were put together. This was brilliant as we could pick up all the information on how to adjust the gears, calibrate the disc brakes and generally gain a deeper insight to how they work. Hopefully this knowledge will come in handy if our bikes decide to break down while touring! We even brought our cameras along so you, our awesome followers could gain a glimpse into this process too. We hope you enjoy!

Tour of Europe Bike Construction on Vimeo.

Matt 2's noble steedMatt 2's steed

How can I donate?

Hello Matt 1 here!

Just a quick blog post to say that we have finally managed to set up a donations page! It has taken some time due to various paper work needing to be filled in etc. On this note, I thought I would write a blog post regarding donations and the different ways you can help the Tour of Europe.cropped-2_matts_logoii.jpg

Virgin Giving – http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Tour_Of_Europe

This money goes directly to Mustard Seed Communities and is a very simple way to donate. This page can also be used to keep up to date with us and how much we have raised so far! Raising money for this charity is the main aim of this trip and all donations made on this page go directly to the charity. As I mentioned in a previous blog, Mustard Seed really is one of those charities where the money goes straight to helping the residents of the charity.

Donate towards Equipment/Accommodation etc – 

If you would like to support us using a different method then you can by donating money directly towards our equipment, accommodation and living costs. Equally, if you would like to support the tour by discounting any prices on equipment and accommodation it would be greatly appreciated.  This would severely help us achieve our goal of cycling across Europe and is massively important to the Mustard Seed Communities Charity; because as previously stated one of the main aims of the tour is to raise awareness of this charity. We are meeting some important people on the way around Europe, holding various interviews etc. The trip could not go ahead without these donations, and we are so grateful for every bit of support.

What can we offer you in return? –

We massively appreciate every single donation. In return for specific donations we can offer you something in return:

1 – Write a blog regarding how important your contribution has been, showing you where it has specifically gone to help the tour (this is specifically aimed at the second method of donation).

$T2eC16dHJHEE9ny2srK!BRZ!Bbyb!g~~60_352 – An opportunity for your business/logo/name to be put on our cycling jerseys. This could be great publicity for specific businesses etc due to some of the media coverage we are receiving. Newspaper articles etc.

3 – An opportunity for you to cycle with us, if you would like to cycle with us during any part of our journey then simply get in touch and make a donation. It would be fantastic to meet so many different people and allow you to grab your own piece of the Tour of Europe.

How could we get in touch with you regarding the above? – 

Message us on either Facebook, Twitter of WordPress  We will try to get back to you as soon as possible. We will be setting up an e-mail address soon, which will hopefully, work alongside the website we are currently constructing.

Thank you so much for your continued support,

Matt 1

P.s – we will hopefully be writing blogs more frequently. The past month has been unbelievably busy for both of us and we apologise.

Training with Matt 2 (part 2) Pre-Wiggle sportive

Hi Readers!

In addition to the previous post on training, I thought I’d write a short introduction to a sportive I’m riding with this weekend. The Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive is set over a gruelling course which follows many of the roads in the New Forest. A few friends and I will be tackling the “epic” 84 mile course.

On Tuesday I rode around much of the course and gained a good idea of which areas to be worried about. To name one, Blissford Hill includes a 25% incline which threatens to force many cyclists to get off and walk. On my recce ride, I managed to grind my way to the top, but the incline definitely has earned my respect! Below are links to the Garmin Connect and the Strava logs of this ride.

Garmin Connect - Sway-Lymington-Highcliffe
Strava - Wiggle Sportive Recce

I’ll take some photos and video as much of the ride as possible, along with the usual Garmin Connect and Strava logs. Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for some good weather! Expect another blog post early next week (that is if I’ve survived the sportive!)

Thanks for reading!

Matt 2

Training with Matt 2 (part 1)

Hi there readers, Matt 2 here!

Many people have been asking both of us about how we are going about training for the tour. I have been riding long rides (50 miles +) at least once a week, most weeks since the beginning of winter. I began by getting in touch with my local cycling club, Bournemouth Arrow CC, just asking for what regular rides go on in the local area. They put me in contact with a very experienced local rider who sent me a long list of all sorts of rides leaving at various times each week from all over the Bournemouth area. All levels of riding are very well catered for, which instantly put me at ease as I had no idea of the level I could ride at. I promptly joined a steady group which leave every Saturday for a fair distanced ride to and around the Burley area of the New Forest (most Saturday rides involve a loop around Burley, mainly for its fantastic tea rooms!). This ride went really well and I felt welcomed into the group instantly.

In the following few weeks, I built up a good enough level of fitness (or so I thought) that I could begin trying to mix it with the big boys! These guys typically do a 60-70 mile loop at a strong average pace, meeting at the tea rooms in Burley before heading their separate ways. I was very wrong on this first ride, as I was left behind from the group on one of the first climbs! A couple of riders, who I know very well now dropped back to see me to the tea rooms safely. This was needed as virtually every muscle in both of my legs had cramped up at this point.

Since that day, I’ve been slowly but surely building up a reasonable level of fitness, and now really enjoy the Saturday morning rides, painful as they are!

Garmin 810Recently I’ve purchased a cool new gadget: the Garmin Edge 810! I bought it both for its brilliant reputation as a cycle computer and for it’s effectiveness as a mapping tool. Both features should help us out massively when in Europe. The live tracking and auto uploading features should also keep all our followers in the loop as to where we are, and how well we’ve been riding! So far the Garmin has far surpassed my expectations.

Throughout my training I’ll be uploading data to both Strava and Garmin Connect. Both of these websites are fantastic for analysing rides, especially Strava’s “suffer score”

Last week I did a 50 mile ride around the New Forest with some friends. It was my first opportunity to use both the GoPro camera we’ve bought for the tour and the Garmin 810.

Here is a video which contains a few clips from this ride, as soon as we find a decent editing software we will be pumping out videos of a much higher quality:

Ride 03/04/2013 from Matt Wallis on Vimeo.

Garmin Connect - Sway-Lymington-Highcliffe
 

The Garmin Connect log for this ride can be found by clicking on this icon.

Strava - Sway-Lymington-Highcliffe
 

The Strava log for this ride can be found by clicking this icon.

Q & A With The 2 Matts

Q-AThis weeks blog post is in the style of a simple question & answer session. We have both had a ton of questions asked ever since the hype around the Tour of Europe has been growing. We thought this would be a fantastic opportunity than to answer some of them in a blog post! The first few questions are a real mixed bag; some are about the trip, others about cycling and the rest just general questions about us. As always, Matt Scott is Matt 1 (M1) and Matt Wallis is Matt 2 (M2).

What does the Tour of Europe mean to you? (Hannah Byrne)

M1 – Personally, I see the Tour of Europe as an adventure that will severely push my body to the limit. It gives me an opportunity to travel, witness an array of cultures, meet new people and see the fantastic continent of Europe. It presents me with an opportunity to re-connect with the charity that I care so much about (Mustard Seed Communities). Realistically, the trip also gives me another year before I have to go back into the real world and actually get on with my life!

M2- Over the past year or so, cycling has pretty much taken over my life! Coupling this with wanting to travel seems like the perfect way of seeing Europe. As with Matt 1, immersing ourselves in the cultures of each country will be an amazing experience, especially on two wheels. Finally, I’ve always wanted to test myself on some of the epic climbs that the pro riders conquer in races such as the Tour de France, the Vuelta a Espania and the Giro d’Italia, so am looking forward to the 7 deadly ascents!

Why have you decided to cycle the whole trip? (Gordon Scott)

M1 – To be honest I am huge fan of Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor’s long distance motorbike trips, like the “Long Way Round”, and stupidly wondered whether it would ever be possible to do a trip similar to theirs on a pedal bike. After stupidly mentioning the idea to Matt 2, I sit here months later writing this blog in preparation for the trip of a lifetime. I also decided upon cycling because it has always been a big part of my life, I understand that this tour may not be as risky as some of Boorman and McGregor’s trips but you can’t fault it for distance and physical strain due to the cycling. My real love of cycling began at an early age when I was introduced to the Tour De France in the lower years of primary school, for me it really will be the best way to experience Europe.

M2 – Pretty much hit the nail on the head there, Matt!

On that note, what is your favourite Tour De France memory? (Gordon Scott)

M1 – One of the moments that always springs to mind is when fan favourite Thomas Voeckler managed to first take the Maillot Jaune, in 2004. No one expected it at all, Voeckler managed to gain the race leaders jersey in a breakaway which finished 9 minutes ahead of the nearest rival. Not only that he then went on to hold it for a further 9 days, at one point holding on to it by the skin of his teeth with what I seem to remember being a single second. That moment completely captures the true fighting spirit of professional cyclists. Another favourite moment of the past few years is the obvious victories of both Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins in the Green and Yellow Jersey competitions, real British sporting role-models!

M2 – Pretty simple for me, Mark Cavendish being lead out by the yellow jersey of Bradley Wiggins to win for consecutive years in last year’s Tour. To think you (Gordon) were there makes me pretty jealous!

Who is your sporting hero, Matt (1)? (Jamie Sandhu)

M1 – Surprisingly, my sporting hero is relatively unknown. I have always been a huge AFC Bournemouth fan and have watched them my whole life. My all-time favourite player is John Bailey. Bailey was a tiny midfielder who really used to throw himself about and despite his size was a huge physical presence in the team. I always looked up to him has a player as he always gave 100% effort whenever he had the opportunity to, something any sports person can look up to! He is still the only Bournemouth player to ever score at Wembley, a huge game to decide the prize everyone wants in football…. The Auto Windscreens 1998 Shield.

Will you be documenting the build up to the departure more frequently? (Various)

M1 & M2 – Yes! We are both keen on trying to document as much as we can regarding the build up to our trip. It is quite hard at the moment simply because Matt 1 is in the final stages of finishing his degree, so is quite busy. However, it wont be long till the work stops and the build up to the Tour can be fully presented at all angles. Matt 2 has already been preparing for this by buying various gadgets and by practicing his video recording skills, so videos will not be far away! We have also been getting better informed regarding the editing of videos and which will hopefully allow us to get loads of videos and information regarding the trip out. Subjects we want to cover are training, equipment, building our bikes, general planning, and a few videos you may not expect!

And finally, why are you going with each other? (Phyllis Scott)

M1 & M2 – We have both known each other since the first day of secondary school. We have pretty much experienced a lot This took us so many takes!together and share the same passion for cycling. By working together we really believe that we can make the most of this Tour, make it as high profile as possible, raise a significant amount of money and awareness but also enjoy it as much as possible. There will definitely be times where our friendship is tested but we are both pretty laid back really and I can’t think of doing a trip like this with anyone better…. We aren’t gay… honest!

That is all for now, hope you enjoyed reading as much we have enjoyed answering the questions! Feel free to leave more questions in the comments section, or on our facebook or twitter accounts. Please also remember to subscribe to us here on wordpress! The donations page is being set up in the next few days, we are only waiting on a bit of paperwork from Virgin Giving to confirm Mustard Seed as an acceptable charity for the trip.

2 Matt’s x

Mustard Seed Communities Official Charity for the Tour of Europe

Matt & Kimone MSCThis blog post is all about the charity that we have selected to raise awareness and money for by doing the Tour of Europe.

Background Information on the Charity:

Mustard Seed Communities (MSC) is a non-profit organization. MSC began in 1978 as a home for abandoned and handicapped children on the outskirts of Kingston, Jamaica. Through the years Mustard Seed Communities have spread across the Caribbean nations and recently into Africa, building additional facilities in Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Zimbabwe. Committed to providing not just for our children but uplifting the marginalized and forgotten of society as well, MSC has involved itself in numerous outreach programs. The majority of communities are dedicated to the care of children with serious physical and mental disabilities such as Down’s syndrome, hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. MSC also cares for children affected by HIV/AIDS and pregnant teenagers.

In addition to the care of children, MSC is dedicated to the improvement of the communities in which they are based. MSC employs over 300 local workers, offering jobs, training and economic viability to people who would otherwise have no opportunity to break out of the cycle of poverty which grips their lives. MSC strives to introduce skills into the community and to empower its people to become more self-sufficient. When they build each of their new MSC facilities the local community has to be involved in building the home, furnishing it and eventually working in it as caregivers. The home then belongs to the community and the community derives a sense of pride and satisfaction knowing that it can look after its own children with disabilities.

Mustard Seed a Personal Affiliation?

Matt 1 has a very personal affiliation with MSC after previously volunteering with them for 4 months in Jamaica. His aim was to Bocciabring sport to the children of the charity and to leave a sporting legacy for the charity to stick to once he was gone. In his time out there he managed to introduce a number of new sports to get everyone involved, the biggest success was Boccia; a game for disabled athletes which is based around throwing balls at target balls, with a very simple to follow scoring system. It allowed children who had never experienced sporting achievement to feel it for the first time. An emotional experience to say the least…

During his time in Jamaica he was lucky enough to join in with various MSC events, like sports days and P.E lessons which evidenced the clear talent of many of the children/young adults whose lives had been touched by the charity. One of the most surprising moments of his trip came when he was challenged to a 100m race by a 14 year old HIV positive girl….. to his absoluteMSC Sports Day disgrace she absolutely slaughtered him… He has still not got over that race to this day but did learn through experiences like this that the children were better at expressing themselves through aspects like sport, art and performing arts. This is why it is his firm belief that donating to this charity really can give the children the opportunities to actually express themselves.

Ultimately, Matt’s time out in Jamaica was a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and experience the excellent culture of the locals, something which the Tour of Europe is all about. After having an unbelievable time out there he eventually had to undertake the hardest day of his life and leave the charity and the children, but promised that he would return and always choose MSC for any future charity events he had planned. And this is where the Tour of Europe comes in! It is a fantastic opportunity to get MSC well-known as a charity over Europe and who knows even world-wide! Any support you can give would just be fantastic. A donation page for the trip will be set up very soon (within the next week).

Thank you for reading,
Matt 1

Links:

To find out more about Matt 1’s trip to Jamaica check out his gap year blog:
http://mattscotty.wordpress.com/

To find out about Mustard Seed visit their website at:

http://www.mustardseed.com/site/PageServer?pagename=mustard_seed_index

Our route – Part 1

This blog post is all about part the general route we intend to follow across Europe.

After deciding to cycle around Europe, we thought we should sit down and plan the route we will take. We need a route that allows us to see as much of the rich culture and beauty of the continent as we could fit in. We think our plans so far will achieve this.

Due to the epic distance we will cover on Tour of Europe, this blog post will be split up into a few more manageable chunks, if only to put our own minds at rest!

France

Poole-Cherbourg and Beyond!

Due to living on the south coast of Britain, we decided that we should catch a ferry over to mainland Europe. On the 1st of August 2013, after a short ride to the docks at Poole, we will set sail for Cherbourg, where the Tour will properly begin!

From Cherbourg, we will head south, aiming to loosely follow the coast. We will pass through the cities of Rennes, Nantes and Bordeaux. Heading further south, we will encounter our first massive obstacle – The Pyrenees.

The Pyrenees

Road cyclists’ heaven, but hell for the legs!

Between southern France and northern Spain we will encounter the Pyrenees mountains. Anyone who has watched a summit finish on the Tour de France will know how brutal some of the ascents can be!

This is where you can have a say.

We intend to ride several of the famous grand tour ascents during our Tour of Europe. To make it more interesting we have decided to let you, our fantastic supporters, choose which ascents we tackle. Look out for a future blog post to cast your (potentially damning) vote!

If we survive the Pyrenees, we will head down into central Spain.

Spain & Gibraltar

The heat is on

If we are still alive following our battle with the Pyrenees, we intend to cycle through Spain to Madrid, then head for Gibraltar. Through this leg of the journey we will need to be well prepared to handle the heat that we will inevitably encounter.

National Day

The race is on

One long range target we have is to reach Gibraltar in time for their National Day on the 10th September. This will give us 41 days to travel from Poole to Gibraltar.

Please help us!

We will need all the support we can get to achieve this, so please share this with anyone who may be interested in our tour. Share our Facebook page, tweet about us, even good old fashion word of mouth still works!
Both Matts are working hard to make this journey of a lifetime interesting for all who follow us. Remember, this is just the beginning!

This is the wheel deal

So here it is, post 1 of our blog!

In this post, we intend to let you know:

  • Who we are
  • What the Tour is
  • What this blog is for
  • Why it is “the wheel deal”

Who are we?

2 Matts – 1 Passion

We always been keen on all types of sport and have had a big interest in cycling throughout most of our lives. We both grew up and moved on to different sports, but still maintained a burning passion for cycling. We both attended university, studying for sport-related degrees (Sport Rehabilitation and Sport Management respectively).

What is “The Tour of Europe”?

Travelling Europe – By-Cycle

After deciding to go travelling following graduation, we thought we would do something a little different. Both of us obviously have a love of cycling, and this love has only been stoked by Team GB’s massive success in the velodrome at the 2012 London Olympics. We thought we could combine our passion with cycling and our longing for an adventure by cycling across Europe whilst also being able to raise money for a suitable charity, starting in the summer of ’13.

After many people said this was a pretty extreme idea, we decided to see how far we could take it!

We have drawn up plans to cycle through France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Germany (among many other of the smaller countries- we haven’t forgotten you!).

Throughout the tour we hope to meet new people, see amazing things and raise awareness of our chosen charity, Mustard Seed Communities.

Along the way we will be videoing, blogging, tweeting and facebooking so you can follow us through every up and down of the tour.

What is this blog for?

Before – during – after

Before this we leave we intend to document our preparation, from creating websites and getting support, to getting in shape and maintaining our bikes.

During the tour we will write about everything, from the people and places we see to punctures in the pouring rain, miles from anywhere.

Following the event, we don’t have much planned, but even to have this blog as a relic of our epic adventure will be enough for us.

Why is this “The Wheel Deal”?

Distance, Dedication, Strain, Support – All of this is the wheel deal

After deciding to embark on our epic tour, we both decided it would be a great idea to involve a charity. This is where Mustard Seed Communities (MSC) come in. During the summer of 2010, Matt Scott carried out aid work in Jamaica for MSC. During his time there, he aided the local community by carrying out sport coaching at various schools, arranging sports days, and running sessions for the local children. This allowed the charity to reach out to some of the most deprived children and aid them in expressing themselves and having a good time! Matt wrote a great blog during his time in Jamaica, it can be found HERE.

Coming soon…

  • A piece from Matt Scott on MSC and his time in Jamaica
  • A piece from Matt Wallis on where we intend to ride
  • More content on our twitter- @wheeldealtour and our website – wheeldealtour.com

PS- Please like our page on facebook, all content will be tour related and we promise there will be no posts purely for “likes and comments” (though your input is always very appreciated).