London to Varese

800 Miles from London to Varese for Luke and Leukaemia


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It’s donation time!

We’re chuffed to announce that today we gifted £4,500 to Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research – our chosen UK Charity (http://leukaemialymphomaresearch.org.uk/) to support their excellent work. Thank you to the charity for all their support and engagement over our little (not so little) pedalling based adventure!

At the same time we’re thrilled to announce that we have a lovely pile of 13,000 Euros winging its way to Italy to support the building and furnishing of a new family room at the Ospedale di Circolo in Varese. We can’t wait to get out there and see the plans and have a look at what all the kind donations will be going towards. Thanks again to everyone who donated and made it happen…(And no – we’re not cycling there this time…)!

Much love from all the Team

x x

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Thank you

With apologies for the delay whilst we’ve gotten back to real life and generally recovered, there is of course one thing very important thing we’ve yet to say: Thank you.

Thank you to absolutely everyone who donated, encouraged, followed and supported us – we did it! Not only that but we raised an unbelievable £15,450 in the process and it’s all down to you all, so again – THANK YOU! 

The trip was better than we ever could have imagined. We enjoyed beautiful vistas in Belgium, expensive beers in Luxembourg, straight flat roads in France and some alpine action in Switzerland, before rolling into the sun baked town of Varese right on time.

There were some easier days and some tougher days, a few lows but plenty of highs (don’t feel sorry for us!), all washed down with tens of thousands of calories worth of energy bars and espresso. Luke was by far and away the most unlucky / aggressive / plucky rider, managing to get to the end with 3 more-than-minor crashes to his name – with everyone else staying mostly upright.

There are so many stories and anecdotes that we’d love to share but won’t because they’re either too rude or too boring if you weren’t there….but take our word for it that we had an absolute BLAST spending 2 weeks with each other achieving so much for such a great cause.

A big thank you goes to the town of Varese, its mayor, journalists, doctors and police outriders who warmly welcomed us and gave us a reception we couldn’t have dreamed of ever getting.

We’re chuffed that we will be donating €13,000 to the Ospedale di Circolo in order to build and maintain their new Haematology unit family room, and the remainder of the funds you have all kindly donated will go to Lymphoma and Leukaemia Research who do great work here in the UK and who have been very supportive.

With any luck we’ll be able to take a trip back out to Varese later in the year to see the room being built and furnished and hopefully opened and enjoyed. In the meantime we’re all enjoying a well-earned rest from the saddle.

Luke has put together a highlights reel from the trip below – we hope you enjoy it at least a small fraction as much as we enjoyed gathering the footage!


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The Finishing Line

First and foremost, apologies for the 48 hours of radio silence, we have been busy getting to the finish line and getting some R&R.

We made it!

We left beautiful Lugano yesterday morning accompanied by various locals, including the local Avis cycling club and none other than Olympic and World road race champion Nicole Cooke.
Bl_LGBfIcAAlw7o.jpg-large Bathed in glorious Italian sunshine, it was a fairly short and easy ride to Varese, made even easier by the accompanying police outriders who ensured that the roads were cleared in front of us and that red lights were just something for other people to worry about.

The first stop was the Mayor’s residence, where we were greeted by the Mayor, local press and various supporters.
thb.aspx After lots of photos and a fantastic impromptu speech from Luke after he was put on the spot, we put in the final, very short leg to Ospedale di Circolo, where we were greeted by more supporters, family and friends, the fantastic medical staff that looked after Luke and patients currently being treated by the haematology unit.
tmax600x480_46727961_IMG_1739 After many more photos, some spraying of bubbly and a badly needed lunch provided by the hospital, we made our way back to Luke’s parents home where beer and lasagne were provided aplenty.
10299546_10152784603344502_5817434256284427621_n We will provide you with our reflections shortly once we’ve had a chance to reflect and tot up the total amount raised (for now, it is far more than the target we had set ourselves!). For now, we’d just like to thank all of the many people who have supported us, the list is long and we have so much to be thankful for. We couldn’t have done it by ourselves.

Looking forward to seeing everyone soon!

Love,

HbR


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Day 11 – Mountain Passes and Naked Arses.

Wow, we never thought we would say this, but reaching the end of today is a bittersweet moment. On one hand, we’re glad we have the worst behind us, on the other, nothing will surpass what we saw today for beauty.
You could say the day didn’t start well – less than 3 metres down the road and we had two sublimely graceless dismounts. Tim and Edd clearly still haven’t got the hang of balancing.


The second bit of bad news – a friendly local, no doubt with our best interests at heart, informed us that ALL the mountain passes were still closed. Ah, right.

Not be done out of a trip up and over a mountain, we carried on to see how far we could get. We’d come this far after all!

We therefore identified the most open of the high Alpine passes available to us and decided to go as far as we could. Cue a VERY long ascent. But by hook or by crook, the loss of gallons of sweat, the deep burn in the thighs, random singing/talking to ourselves and the prospect of the top, we made it to the summit. However, the descent down to our destination, on the other side of the pass remained under many feet of snow.

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Whilst it was sad for us to be unable to go down the other side, we went to our slightly longer and harder Plan B – cycle all the way back the way we came, a hairy descent, with an additional 1,400ft climb and get a train through the mountains, via the Gotthard Tunnel (which cyclists are not allowed to use) and to where we sit right now, with a cold beerski in each our hands. To be clear, as a result of the fact that the passes were closed, we had to climb a lot further than planned!

A long day and one we are unlikely to ever forget. Here’s the perspective of what we climbed:

10 Eiffel towers;
34 Big Bens;
3 Mount Snowdons;
10,000 foot long bratwurst; or
1,811 average sized Englishmen.

A year ago we struggled up a flight of stairs, which makes today’s achievement all the more remarkable. And, most importantly, we are one step closer to Varese.

mountainpan

Lots of love

HbR


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Day 10 – Taking scalps and climbing Alps

Today saw us leaving flat Switzerland and heading up the switchbacks into real Switzerland.

As we began to see the miles between us and Varese rapidly reduce, there was (and still is), of course, one large remaining challenge, the Alps.

We started the day in the pouring rain in Langenbruck, and made our way to Luzern in record time thanks to the fact that the bad weather made us 100% antisocial and determined to reach our destination as soon as humanly possible. Things cleared up as we reached Luzern for a quick bite and we then headed up the hills, where we were met at the end (in Hasliberg) by Luke’s parents, who kindly filled us with raclette, crepe suzette and beer.

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Tomorrow we are heading into the mountain passes, most of which are closed due to snow, and we’ll just have to see where and how far we end up. In the meantime, here are some photos of (1) Tim and Edd trying to keep their heads dry whilst having lunch in Luzern,  and (2) an obligatory Alpine scene (with a lingering hint of our wish for better weather).

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Nothing but love,

HbR


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Day 9 – Cow bells & energy gels

It had to happen at some point – a day so very easy. So easy that our arrival almost took us by surprise, had us questioning our GPS devices, Swiss geography, town names and our minds. Of course – we’re just a well-oiled machine that can knock off 70 miles in Switzerland like it’s a simple jaunt to the shops. Maybe.

As easy as the cycling was though, it was tough to say our goodbyes to the Ehrhart family who had been so very kind to us over the last couple of days. After a typically delicious and splendid breakfast, we were on the road by 9am, headed for Switzerland. The amount of pork and choucroute residing in our bellies should have bent our bicycle frames, but somehow they have survived the day.
photo 2The toughest part however, was saying goodbye to Mr William Mathias. We’re not sure there are any words that can describe this man. He was an incredible support, a real Bon Homme. Cheers Will, from all the team.
photo 1But back to the ride – with perhaps a contender for the best road we have ridden down. 4 miles, straight, forest on either side. So long you would see a car in the distance and not actually pass it for about a year. Magical. More of that please.
photo 3Another milestone reached – over 600 miles covered, and we’ve hit our 6th country. It’s nice to ride in Switzerland. Unless you anger a driver who proceeds to park their car across the cycle path a mile down and stand waiting for you, legs wide and arms up on their hips. JP smiled and all was forgotten.

A quick 1,000 foot climb and we have arrived. Time for a beer. Well-earned me thinks.
photo 2Thanks for reading, and much love.

HbR


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Day 8 – Rest Day in Alsace

Our favourite day so far! Today we enjoyed not being on the bikes and sampled all that the Alsace region could offer us, which was very welcome indeed.

Our kind hosts, the Ehrhart family of the Henri Ehrhart wine producer (http://www.henri-ehrhart.com) looked after us so impeccably that we really don’t want to leave at all, let alone by bike! We started the day with a well earned lie in and then a leisurely brunch to set us up for the day. We then took in the beautiful sights of Riquewihr – an historical fortified town for a lesson in local history and plenty of wine factoids!

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Probably our favourite activity of the trip so far was then our guided tour and tasting at the Ehrhart winery. We saw the production line, learnt about the bottling and fermentation processes and then performed some important quality control on about a dozen varieties of Rielsing, Pinot Blanc and Guwertzraminer! Needless to say our palettes are refined and accurate (as we expected they would be) and after this trip don’t be surprised if we go into production ourselves!

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We then enjoyed a wonderful home cooked meal with the Ehrhart family and feel relaxed and full and ready to face the Alps, of a little sad to leave this beautiful corner of France.

A huge huge thank you to our kind hosts and wonderful wine producers the Ehrhart family who have made us very welcome, looked after us beautifully and have boosted our morale immeasurably!. If you are ever in Alsace or looking for a nice bottle to enjoy over dinner – look no further!