It has been 4 months in the planning, but ‘Cycling the Line’ – my attempt to raise 10 grand for our soldiers by cycling the WW1 western front trench system – is fast approaching. This time next month, myself and Steve Habbishaw will be on the Euro Star hurtling towards Basel for the start of our little bike ride in the country…
The plan is to start riding on 31st October (my birthday by the way – who arranged all this?) from Pfetterhouse on the Franco/Swiss border, the westerly point of the WW1 Western Front trench system and cycle our way north east up towards Verdun, through places such as St. Quentin, Albert, Thiepval, Vimy, Ploegsteert, Ypres, and finishing at the Belgian coast on Armistice Day, 11th November. That’s the thick end of 580 miles for any of you that are interested!
Steve and I have been mates for years and we are both keenly interested in military history and such like, this is our little way of saying ‘thank you’ to all the soldiers, sailors and airmen (veterans and those currently serving) who have given up so much to protect our country… With the passing away of the last veterans of the Great War earlier this year, it has made our journey all the more poignant.
I will put the full route on here soon so you can all have a laugh as you discover just how far we have to go and how many places we have to travel through. The first day will be quite easy, approximately 40 miles north to a town called Thann which is at the foot of the Vosges mountains. My brother in law laughed when I told him (in very broken Czech) that I was cycling over the Vosges. ‘Ha!’ he said…’they are not proper mountains’. Hmmm. OK he may live in Switzerland these days spending his weekends on the Swiss Alps, but to me, living in very flat Hampshire, they are mountains, and even a month out, are frightening me to death…that second day is going to be 70 miles of uphillness. Not fun. But, as I keep saying to myself, the soldiers who were there 95 years ago went through a lot worse. At least no one will shooting at me.
So far we have raised just over 1100 quid which is fantastic! More is needed though so if you are reading this and havent sponsored us yet, please do so. You can donate at our secure justgiving page.
Last month I wrote to HRH Queen Elizabeth II, as she is the patron of the Royal British Legion, and told her of our plan. In response I received a letter from Buckingham Palace wishing us good luck for the trip, which was excellent! Corporate sponsorships have been difficult to get however, I have tried companies such as Halfords, Evans, Tesco, Sainsbury, Maximuscle, Fuel Sports etc. but none of them were willing to help us in any way. It is disappointing, but these kind of companies must get thousands of requests each week from people similar to us asking for support.
Saying that, we have been sponsored by Outstanding Branding a great corporate clothing/merchandise company – they have helped us produce some Cycling the Line t-shirts which we will be wearing along the trip and giving away as a competition nearer the event…watch this space! Anyone reading this who wants to help us (cycling equipment, energy supplements, clothing etc all warmly welcomed!) then get in contact!
I will post more details about the ride on here over the coming weeks. Throughout the journey I hope to update you all on how we are going on here as well as on Twitter (my twitter name is @military_search)
Talking of Twitter, I have to say a huge thank you to everyone on Twitter who is helping me so much to spread the word about this ride…Even Jonathan Ross has been promoting our cause! The support has been fantastic – you guys are the best!