Well, we’re here and raring to go.
A smooth flight over – for most of us - from Newcastle Airport, a quick bus ride to the hotel, a welcome dinner, trying to resist the wine, and now the 50-plus riders just want to get going.
The team from principal sponsor Grafton Group, however, had a trickier journey here. Their route was supposed to involve travelling through the Channel Tunnel, which was closed thanks to French strikers setting fire to tyres on the tracks. A quick detour via Birmingham Airport and the Grafton riders arrived safe and sound, but a couple of hours late but their happy band are usually bringing up the rear!
We’re a mixed group - of ages, cycling experience and backgrounds - but we’re united in supporting the inspirational work of the Foundation of Light.
We’ve all seen the route for the next four days and there will certainly be physical challenges ahead – cycling an average of 75 miles a day in 30 degree heat is not going to be easy – but the difference the Foundation makes to people’s lives will be a motivation to us all.
There’s a bit of nervousness before we set off, folk wondering if they’re fit enough, if they’ve done sufficient training. On paper our first day doesn’t look particularly tricky, but we’ll soon find out. We’re up at 7am in the morning, hoping an early start will mean less hours in sweltering heat later in the day.
The talk is of gels, power bars and other aids that riders will squirrel about their person before we start.
Tour Manager Darren Allgood (known to all as Yogi) gave a welcome speech, with plenty of advice, tips and precautions. Foundation Development Director Ken Teears thanked all riders for their commitment to the charity and outlined what a difference the money we raise will make to so many lives.
So to bed … before the real work begins and what ever happens we won’t leave any of the team behind!
If you would like to support Marco, go to his JustGiving page at www.justgiving.com/MarcoGabbiadini10/