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 latest instalment of his blog for Echo readers...
OUR target was the beautiful French cathedral city of Soissons, but boy did it take some reaching.
Again, we left our hotel early, leaving the impressive Chateau Fort Hotel just after 7am. It was just as well we did – Day 3 was our longest and certainly the hottest so far.
The challenge wasn’t dramatic climbs or plunging descents, it was mileage. It’s tough when you’ve been in the saddle five hours and you haven’t even reached half way. Our eventual journey was 98 long, tiring miles in duration, with some riders taking well over 12 hours to reach Soissons. The heat was unbearable, especially as the trees and shade of yesterday gave way to fields of wheat offering no respite.
The courage, determination and stubbornness of all of the riders had to be admired – and the Foundation of Light can be proud of the effort put in today.
We’ve also had a number of mechanical dramas to contend with and the heat has had us concerned about each others welfare but the fantastic team spirit got us through.
As well as the tremendous effort put in by the cyclists, and leading riders, huge credit must also go to the support team led by Allgood Cycling who ensure we’re fed and watered on time, and also plan around any roadblocks and road works – a few of which we had to negotiate today.
It’s amazing how different the small towns and village we barrelled through today were from the places we passed through yesterday. Separated by only a few miles, they have a completely different feel to them, most dominated by a manor house or chateau and a church. Unlike the Belgian towns, most of the French towns had a small bar or café – a few of which came to the rescue of several groups of riders during the long hours of today’s ride.
On the way we passed several Second World War cemeteries and First World War memorials, all beautifully cared for and well looked after. We also stopped off at the Ardennes War Museum.
Because of the length of ride, today’s dinner was served late, but no rest for the wicked, it’s another early start tomorrow for out last leg into Paris. For this leg we’ll be joined by Allison Thompson who will join husband Sean on a tandem to the French capital.