Former Sunderland striker Marco Gabbiadini is taking part in The Ride of Remembrance, a cycle challenge from Brussels to Paris to commemorate the 70th anniversary of World War Two’s end. Raising money for the Foundation of Light, he will be passing through some of the towns and landmarks associated with the conflict on the 320-mile route.
Here is the second instalment of his blog for Echo readers...
After a quick breakfast and a team photoshoot, we were on the road by 8.30am.
We glided through the Brussels suburbs and then knifed through some beautiful rolling Belgian country, scenery reminiscent of County Durham, stopping twice for drinks breaks before lunch.
And that’s when the challenge began, not a challenge of distance, but one of coping with the heat. One rider measured a temperature this afternoon at more than 40 degrees – not the best weather for cycling.
We passed through some beautiful Belgian towns, including Huy which will be part of the Tour de France in about a week’s time. Spirits were lifted in one village as we turned onto Rue De Paris, unfortunately Paris didn’t lie at the end of that particular road just another climb!
We’d hoped today was going to be a gentle introduction to our Ride of Remembrance, but a combination of the overbearing heat and some wicked ascents right at the end of the day meant we were all extremely grateful to pull into the charming small town of Durbuy.
The heat of the day had really got to us all and I even had my first ever ice bath, prepared by my mischievous roommate and son Jules. Afterwards I was grateful and just hope it helps my recovery, over dinner it turned out most had tried the same trick, I’ll keep you informed.
The organisers have decided that in order to avoid the worst of the heat, we’re going to set off extra early tomorrow morning – before 7am. It seems a sensible decision as the heat is extremely draining, and the route to Sedan tomorrow involves some cheeky hills, as soon as we set off.
The day will be made easier with more regular stops and the fantastic support from OSE European, who are the logistics partner for the ride.
We’re cycling 76 miles, climbing a total of almost 6,000 ft and passing through part of the Ardennes Forest, site of the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler’s last attempt at turning the tide of Second World War. Apparently, we’ll be passing American and German tanks, relics of fierce fighting throughout the area.
We’re hoping to be able to pay our respects – it is after all the Foundation’s Ride of Remembrance.