Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tour de Rêves, a charity bike tour of the Deux-Sèvres



Tour de Rêves charity bike ride Deux-Sèvres French Village Diaries
Tour de Rêves Tour Four
photo copyright Megan MacDonald 2017

Those of you who also live in the Deux-Sèvres might have seen my photo (and Adrian’s) splashed across the centre pages of the February edition of The Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine, where our charity cycling challenge was launched.
 
Tour de Rêves charity bike ride Deux-Sèvres French Village Diaries The Deux-Sèvres Monthly
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly Magazine February 2017

Welcome to the Tour de Rêves

Tour de Rêves charity bike ride Deux-Sèvres French Village Diaries
Tour de Rêves 4-9 September 2017
This September Adrian and I along with Sarah and Rob Berry (from The Deux-Sèvres Monthly) will be attempting to cycle around the Deux-Sèvres department following a 6 day, 400km (or maybe a little more) figure of eight route devised by Adrian.

Starting on Monday 4th September in Secondigny, in the centre of the department, we will make our way south to the Pays Mellois, then west to the Marais Poitevin and Niort before heading to the north of the department, that for me at least is very much uncharted territory. From Parthenay to Thouars to Bressuire, Adrian says we will find hills, but hopefully the flatter terrain in the south will have warmed our legs up nicely by then, well, that is my ‘fingers-crossed’ plan.

Why Tour de Rêves?
Rêves is the French word for dreams and also the name of the French children’s charity that Sarah has chosen to raise money for. As you might have guessed, Rêves makes dreams come true for children with serious medical issues. In her own words:

“I chose the Rêves charity simply because I can’t have children myself, so it would be wonderful to help others”.

Tour de Rêves charity bike ride Deux-Sèvres French Village Diaries
My Deux-Sèvres research
On a personal note, a cycle tour of the Deux-Sèvres is a dream idea for me. The Deux-Sèvres has been our home for over twelve years, despite never having heard of it until we started house hunting and found ourselves meeting with an estate agent in Chef Boutonne, a small market town in the southern tip of the department. Over the years I have come to love it here, but ashamedly the north of the department is still a bit of a mystery to me. I have started my research already and over the coming months I will share my findings and we can learn together about the history, the chateaux, the Romanesque churches, the Donjon, the rivers, the wetlands, the fairytales, the pilgrimage routes and the food we are hoping to see and sample. Oh yes, Deux-Sèvres might be relatively unknown, even to the French, but it’s not short of interesting places to visit.

France (with a lot of help and encouragement from Adrian) has made me into a cyclist and cycle touring is the perfect way to explore. You see what would only be a blur of landscape from a car window. You smell the fields, verges and hedgerows as you cycle along. You feel the contours of the land, the sun on your back, and sometimes the wind and rain in your face. It is a 100% experience and I’m excited to be off exploring once more, despite the physical and mental challenge cycling 400km in six days is going to be for an almost 46 year old. 

Tour de Rêves charity bike ride Deux-Sèvres French Village Diaries
My winter training zone
I might be used to days out on my bike, but six days in a row and cycling in a team is going to be a new experience for me. Sarah and Rob might be new to cycling, but Rob is no stranger to sports and exercise and Sarah is five years younger than I am (with longer legs). I already know I slow Adrian down when we are out on the bikes and know I have to be careful and remember my limits, so I’m worried I will be the weakest link in our group. The what-ifs of living with epilepsy can be a challenge for my mind everyday, but with training, careful planning of rest stops and meal breaks, and not setting too fast a pace, I am determined I can do it.


How you can help
Nearer the time we will let you know how you can donate to Rêves (collection boxes will be placed in various locations along the route), but we are also looking for business sponsorship. 

We need cycle tops so we are recognisable to the cheerers, wavers, encouragement shouters and cyclists we are hoping will join us along the route, and maybe you can help us with these? 

We would also be very grateful of any help with accommodation for the Marais Poitevin, Parthenay and Bressuire stages. I can assure you that any offers of help will receive lots of (free publicity) shout-outs here on my blog and on my social media accounts, also from Sarah in The Deux-Sèvres Monthly tour publicity, and you may even be able to have your logo on our tour shirts. Please contact Sarah info@thedeuxsevresmonthly.fr if you would like to help.


We are all very excited by the planning of this challenge and hope you will enjoy joining us on our journey.

You can read the full article from The Deux-Sèvres Monthly online by clicking here.