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Day’s 87-92: A nice time in Nice with Matt’s parents!

Hi guys! This is our last day in France. We’ll start riding a bit harder from now so you can expect more frequent blog posts (internet permitting).

Our ride to Nice was a beautiful one. We continued along the beautiful coast road which wound it’s way through Cannes. Before finding our campsite, we stopped at a town called Cagnes-sur-Mer where we met up with Alan, a friend from my Dad’s work who has moved to the area. It was their daughter Gabriella’s 3rd birthday party, and we were invited!

We had a great time chatting away and eating party food & crêpes. It was also a really international gathering too, with people from Portugal, America and South Africa! Eventually, after the birthday candles were blown out and darkness fell outside, we had to move on to our campsite.

The next day, Matt 1’s parents flew in to visit!

We met up with them and spent the next few days exploring the area and eating great food with them. We rode to their apartment and proceeded to go hunting for Moules Frites and beer. After a lovely first evening involving many pints of beer, we rode back to the campsite excited for the next few days.

The next day was spent walking around Nice, viewing the Marc Chagall museum, sitting at bars and taking in the sights of this beautiful city. Matt and I had bought a mountain of food, inspired by the various meals we’d eaten on our trip. We returned to the apartment to gorge ourselves. We rounded off the day by watching the French equivalent to the great British bake off on tv before riding back to the campsite.

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The next day was spent hopping on a sauna of a bus to Monaco, where we took in the sights of Monte Carlo. After this, we headed back along the coast to Villefranches, where we eventually found a lovely quayside restaurant for lunch. The evening was spent eating Spanish omelette and watching yet more weird French TV!

Eventually, the day came when Matt’s parents had to head back to the U.K. Their flight wasn’t until the afternoon though, so we spent the morning playing hilarious people-watching games in the main park in Nice, and had a hearty lunch in an Irish pub. It was awesome seeing Matt’s parents and we’ve had a super few days catching up and having a fantastic time.

Today we’re off along the coast, through Monaco to Italy! We can’t wait to get going!

Matt 2

Day’s 71 & 72: Jacques!

Hi guys, we’ve had another unbelievable stroke of luck!

Our ride north of Sigean went really smoothly, the wind was strong, but either behind or across us so wasn’t so much of a problem. We were making great time across some beautiful French countryside.

Eventually, we had decided that we’d done enough riding for one day, so decided to look for a supermarket to stock up on supplies before finding a campsite.

Matt had gone into an Intermarche to do the shopping, whilst I stood outside guarding the bikes and our kit. As I was waiting, a man came out and started talking as he packed his own shopping onto his bike.

It turned out that he’d been born in Watford, which is where most of my family come from! He also loved cycle touring, and had completed his own adventure in Spain a few months ago! In the midst of the conversation, he suggested that we should come and stay at his house in a neighbouring village.

The words he used were “there’s nothing on TV tonight so I could use some good conversation!”. We thanked this kind man and headed to his village across a lovely cycle path.

When we arrived at Jacques’ house, we were amazed by his collection of prehistoric artefacts. Over a delicious dinner, we chatted about both of our adventures. Jacques had worked in some amazing places, he told us stories of his time in Africa, Brazil and Nicaragua (to name only a few!). We went to bed, inspired by this man’s stories and excited for our own futures.

In the morning, it was suggested that we stay a day to see his village and the surrounding countryside. We were in need of a rest so gladly accepted the offer.

The evening was spent with Jacques, planning our route to Mont Ventoux. He has given us a detailed list of villages to follow. We’re now really looking forward to the next couple of day’s riding.

Now, after a hearty breakfast, it’s almost time to hit the road again. Jacques has kindly offered to ride with us for some of the way, as he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the local cycle paths. We’ll be sad to say goodbye to yet another amazingly kind and generous person. Both Matt and I, both would love to stay in contact long after our trip.

Matt 2

The Sounds Of The Tour

Hello,

Matt 1 here! As promised here is a blog regarding the sounds of my trip around Europe. Music has always played a big part on my life and on this trip I am sure it will be music and reading that will chill me out after a long day in the saddle. After being asked what in particular I will be listening to by a family friend I thought the blog would be a great place to talk about the sounds of my tour. Note: I will not be cycling whilst listening to music.

So for the trip I thought it was important to fill my iPod with a few different things:

1 – Favourites
2 – Something New
3 – Something To Chill Me Out

Favourites:

So I don’t know if you guys have noticed from some of the videos I have edited but my favourite genre of music is indie/rock/alternative. This means my iPod will be crammed full of my favourite bands and solo artists. My favourite band of all time is The Cribs, the three-piece band from Wakefield have been going for over 10 years now and have recently released their greatest hits album Payola. I could not tell you why I like them, probably because my Dad used to play me a fair bit of punk when I was a kid and there are definitely elements of that within The Cribs’ music. My favourite song of theirs is Another Number off of their debut album:

Other bands that will fill up a ton of space will include: Ash, Art Brut, The LIbertines, The Maccabees, The Killers, Kasabian and others. My favourite solo artist is alternative/indietronica performer Patrick Wolf. Wolf has been going for 10+ years and is well known for his extravagant live performances and persona. My favourite song of his is The Magic Position, which is off of his third album:

I will also be putting a ton of other solo artists on my iPod including: Johnny Cash, Jake Bugg, Ben Howard and others.

Something New:

So a few months ago I lost two people very close to me. My Gran & Gramps played a huge part on imagingmy life and I know that they would love everything about the Tour of Europe trip. I know that they will be watching Matt and I every step of the way. One thing I am sure my Gramps will be happy with is that the new genre I have decided to give a go for the trip is Jazz. My Gramps was a huge Jazz fan, one time once having to unplug his radio because he was listening to too much Jazz FM haha. Either way I have decided to get a few albums of some of his favourite Jazz artists. To begin with I have chosen the fantastic Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers. Their most famous piece of music is the beautiful Moanin’: 

Another album I managed to get hold of is the Miles Davis Collection. A fantastic collection of music, which includes the fantastic All Blues:

Alongside these fantastic artists I have picked up pieces from Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, Dr Meaker and Others. The Jazz is guaranteed to be extremely good at chilling me out after a day on the road, and surely has to be one of the coolest genres of music!

Something To Chill Me Out:

So the genre of music I have chosen to use to chill me out after a long day is another favourite of mine… Reggae. I have always been a huge Reggae fan but got well in to it after spending half a year out in Jamaica. I am a huge fan of older reggae in particular with so many great artists to choose from. An obvious Reggae hero being Bob Marley. The Legend album having so many quality tracks it really is too hard to choose a favourite track from it. In addition to Bob Marley I will also be listening to other great Reggae artists including: Jimmy Cliff, Tommy McCook, The Skatalites, Prince Buster, Queen Ifrica and many others. The track I have chosen out of these artists as a personal favourite is by the late great Tommy McCook, a fantastic saxophonist  and founding member of The Skatalites, it is called Last Flight To Reggae City:

I find Reggae so relaxing and will look forward to listening to a ton of the different genres of Reggae I have available to me.

Well there we go! I hope you enjoyed this blog and I will get Matt 2 to do the same sort of one soon. We are having a chat with someone from the Daily Echo tomorrow so will keep you all posted with that. Yet again we invite everyone to the departure on August 1st, which is at 6:30am Maclaren Road, Moordown, Bournemouth. There will be a new video up in the morning documenting a 50 mile training ride Matt 2 & I did recently.

Thank you for reading and the support!

Matt 1 x

Less Than A Week To Go!

Hello Everyone,

So it is less then a week till Matt 2 and I set off on our huge adventure and I have to say I am bloody excited. Everything seems to be coming together nicely and we seem to be on top of everything! In this blog post I am going to take the opportunity to talk about a lot of the equipment we are using on the trip, from jerseys to tents.

Jerseys – We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has helped us get the equipment ready for this trip. That includes Charlie The Bikemonger, Wrights Dairies, June & Gerty, Owayo, Mustard Seed Communities. So to thank them for this we have put their tags/logos all over our jerseys, WHICH LOOK AWESOME!

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Tents – We have decided to go for 2 x 1 man tents. Matt 2 has chosen the Gelert Solo One Man Tent. Matt 1 has decided to go for Yellowstone Matterhorn 1 Man Tent. The reason we went for 2 x 1 man tents was simple, 10 months is a long time and Matt 2 is an extremely hairy man. It will be nice to have a little bit of personal space after a day in the saddle. In addition to this we have ordered Rock Pegs, this was an obvious choice as it means the tents can be put up safely in a number of terrains. The tents are each lightweight, compact and can easily be attached to the bikes.

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All the other items will go in our Pannier Bags – we have chosen to go for Ortlieb Back and Front Pannier Bags. This is perfect as it means we will not be riding with any bags on our back. However, it does mean that we have to go for compact and lightweight equipment and constantly watch the weight of each object.

Lightweight & Compact Equipment Of Interest:
Sleeping Bags (Ultralight), Towels, Cooking gear (Mess tins etc), Cooking Stove (Butane), First Aid Kits, Bike tools/repair kits (Matt 2’s neck of the woods).

Electronics – Matt 2 has done a previous post regarding what we are bringing to film the tour etc. However, we have had a lot of questions asking how we are going to be charging these throughout. We will be using Solar Power. We will be hooking up some solar pannels to the bike, which throughout the day will charge a battery left in one of the bags. The battery is strong enough to charge an iPhone 6 times! So will be extremely useful around Europe. Similar to the setup shown below:

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Ok so I did not want to make this blog post too long, so will call it quits there! Hope it gave you some useful information on what we are bringing and was not too boring ha!

Here is just a quick paragraph about the things to look forward to regarding the trip in the coming week:

Departure Date – We will be leaving this Thursday (August 1st) at 6:30am. Anyone who wishes to attend is more than welcome! We are departing from Maclaren Road, Moordown, Bournemouth.

Media Attention – We have sent out official press releases to a number of newspapers/radio stations/TV channels etc. We will hopefully be featured in a few of these press outlets soon. Some may even be attending on the Thursday. We would like to thank my Uncle Pete and Michael Nolan for all their help with this.

Donations Update – We would each just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated. It means so much to us and we cant believe we have already made it near the £400 mark already! If you would like to donate check out:
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/wheeldealtour

Future Blogs – Based on a recent question from a family friend I am hoping to write a blog in the next few days about “The Sounds of the Tour”. Just a quick post regarding what we are going to listen to around Europe, OBVIOUSLY NOT WHILST CYCLING BUT AFTER A DAY IN THE SADDLE. So if anyone would like to ask any other questions I will get right on to answering them.

Thank you for reading!

Matt 1 x

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

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.