Stage 4: Breaking the 800 km barrier (Parthenay – Yrieix)

By August 5, 2016 Lifestyle

Mum and Dad set off this morning after a lovely breakfast at 7:30 am. It was foggy. An hour or so later, the sun broke through the mist and tandem paradise unfurled before them. They saw an eagle soaring overhead & Mum spotted wild boar frolicking in a nearby field.

It seems they have reached a turning point in the journey. The headwind has finally given up and turned into a more amenable cross-tail. The rain has disappeared completely and temperatures have soared (just like that eagle) to a sumptuous 24 degrees.

12 hours after they left Parthenay I text Dad asking if they’d made it to Yrieix  yet; ’42 k to go’ came the short reply. At least the Garmin was allowed to do it’s job today; it only took them down the occasional ‘shortcut’ (ie. dirt track) and delivered them perfectly to the door of their rural B&B (14 hours of pedaling later).

They were met a few kilometers away from their accommodation by the owner of the B&B, a chap from from Oxford who’s been living out in France for a year. This lovely man took the trouble to drive out to find them in his van and guided them safely to his door. He must have had the patience of a Saint – apparently to get to the place you have to ride up and down numerous hills – tandem speed up hill is pretty much walking pace, or maybe even slower. Anyway, they must have been trying their hardest as (no doubt to my parents utter delight) he offered them each a beer when they finally got there.

Dad admitted tonight that they were ‘getting a bit tierd’. Thank god for that! I thought they must be super human! They have now covered well over 800 km in 4 days – and that’s including over 8,000 m of ascent. Yep, they have climbed to the cumulative equivalent of the Himalayan ‘death zone’.

Unsurprisingly, both are reporting discomfort in the ‘nether regions’ (I love parent-vocab). But thankfully Mum’s dodgy toe is pretty much fine – seems like her big toe is the only part of my mother that is a fair weather cyclist.

Dad also admitted that doing over 200 km on a tandem for 4 days in a row is ‘a little bit too much’. Funny that! He thinks 150 km would be more enjoyable. I’m now starting to get a little worried – Lee and I are planning to pack Mum and Dad off home on a train and  ride the tandem back to the UK ourselves for our honeymoon. Their smiling faces have set the bar very high for extreme-endurance-happy-(ish)-couple-tandem riding.

Dad also said we should get Boris a service before we ride it back (yes, the tandem is called Boris). Apparently things are getting a little worn.

I said bye to Mum and Dad, safe in the knowledge that they were about to tuck into a French themed supermarché feast of baguette, fromage, tomatoes & vin rouge. (With a biére on the side for Dad of course).

Keep the prayers and/or cross-fingers going folks, it seems to be working!

Tomorrow, they have a day off, and will tackle just 104 km to Carrenac.

Not sure where tandem paradise has got to. Here's a grey town somewhere in France instead.

Not sure where tandem paradise has got to. Here’s a grey town somewhere in France instead.

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