'We fly over and drive through countries but when you cycle in them you become part of them.' Jerry Watson, 3 June 2017, Elviria.
Having just returned from completing the last leg of the Tour de Sands e2e ride in southern Spain we now know how true Jerry’s observation is.
When we re-joined the team in Dos Torres, with c240 miles to go, it was clear that something had changed. Positively. Over a long dinner on that first night, essential preparation for the finely tuned athletes present, we listened to the amazing experiences in England, France and Northern Spain. We laughed at the catch-phrases that always emerge on such tours; "it's just a hill"! We looked with pleasure at the amazing bond that had developed between the Fab Four (Jerry, The Pauls and Mac who rode every mile) and the support van (the van and its volunteer drivers have, rightly, become legends).
Each day we donned our cycling gear, had breakfast and mounted our bikes. Each day we knew where we were heading and trusted each other that we'd get there, safely, together, whatever challenges arose. Each day we knew that we were raising money for a great cause, and honouring the lives of both those who are no longer with us, and never forgotten, plus, importantly, those that are.
Each day we trusted the journey.
With every passing mile from Dos Torres to Elviria, the beauty of rural Spain, its wonderfully friendly people and its excellent food and wine seemed, somehow, to absorb us into its landscape. I don't think any of us were prepared for this or for the benefits that came from us having to slow down our normally frantic pace of life. It was an unexpectedly all-embracing experience, and all the more enjoyable because of it. It subtly changed our perspectives.
When the team left Easton-on-the-Hill the destination was Elviria, 1,600 miles away. As the tour progressed, and as we observed when we sat down for dinner that night in Dos Torres, the next overnight stop, the next country, indeed Elviria itself had ceased to be destinations. They were, they are, just another moment in a journey that is all our lives. We have, in many small ways, all changed.
Tour de Sands, Honouring Lives. I do not think there is a better strap line. But if there is it is "Trust the journey."
Louise and Karl Chapman.