I’m sure I speak for all the drivers (a.k.a. butlers/valets) when I say driving the support van for the E2E ride has been a privilege and a lot of fun. Although I've taken my turn at riding too, I picked an easier week to tackle by bike than the week I drove the van, (I’m no mug) and driving has given me an even greater respect for all the riders. Following the group in a week when they maintained a relentless, steady pace up and over the Pyrenees and then over more and more big climbs through Lumbier, Tudela, Atienza, and Gomara on the way to Madrid has left me in awe of the heroic four guys who are covering the entire distance as well as those accompanying them.
Then again, there's so much more to this ‘ride' than just cycling a huge distance. The sense of perspective you get from travelling through countries thoughtfully is a real education. There is something hugely valuable about covering the ground slowly and taking time to engage with the locals that increases the enjoyment of travel. We were passing through innumerable picturesque villages and towns which are authentically Spain. Sleepy, elegant, classic structures are sparsely distributed over dramatic landscapes. The geology of Spain is fascinating and varied- rock types change several times on each stage, and the roads we travelled generally hug and respect the natural features rather than blasting through them. As was the case when cycling in France, gaining a lasting impression of the variety of the beauty of the French countryside, and the warmth of French people, this whole experience has brought many of us closer to our neighbours and developed a deeper appreciation of at least two of the countries of Europe.
The physical challenge of this journey is easy to see, and the sense of reward at the finish will be obvious to all of us who have turned a pedal and wobbled along for Tour de Sands. What comes as an added bonus is the appreciation of life being lived at a different pace and in a cause that means so much more than cash.
The audacious vision that Jerry had in planning this ride has most surely been delivered, and more. We have all taken part in, and benefitted from, something that truly honours life.