Channel to the Med 2019

Rob Giles

After completing LeJog in 2017 my brother Dave and I were looking for a new cycling challenge. Two friends who we met on LeJog had decided to attempt the Channel to the Med Ride so we decided to join them and in June 2019 we gathered on a damp morning in Ouistreham, Normandy with 28 other cyclists to begin our ride across France to the Mediterranean city of Nice.

The weekend of our journey coincided with the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Landings so when we arrived at the site of Pegasus Bridge on the first morning we encountered hundreds of uniformed army veterans paying their respect to those who defended the bridge all those years ago. Quite moving.


The route across France

The ride itself was full of spectacular sights, savage climbs and much to our surprise some quite inclement weather, for which we were totally unprepared. The first week from Normandy across the Central Massive saw us regularly completing 70 miles a day and involved long climbs over a number of spectacular cols and equally long fast descents as we made our way back down into the valleys. During the week we encountered some quite severe weather with heavy rain and on one day a hailstorm of epic proportions which settled on the top of one of the cols and made cycling impossible.

Having made our way across the Central Massive we began our journey through the dramatic mountainous region of the Ardeche and the incredibly stunning scenery of the area. With Black and Red  Kites and Honey Buzzards a common sight we were able to get some fantastically close views of these magnificent birds.

Having made our way over a number of savage climbs we were faced with the challenge that is Mont Ventoux. Setting off early we arrived in the town of Maulacene where we purchased the usual cycling memorabilia and set off for the summit. Fifteen miles of almost incessant climbing on gradients of up to 14% saw us arrive at an incredibly congested top with everything from cyclists to camper vans and numerous motorbikes. A great challenge and one of the most memorable days of the tour.

From then on it was wall to wall scenery as we made our way through the Verdon Gorge into the city of Nice for a glass of champagne and a dip in the Med.

All in all a fantastic adventure which tested our cycling and fitness skills to the limit. Our tour providers were a Derbyshire based company called Peak Tours who transferred our baggage, accompanied us on the ride, provided regular ‘brew stops’ and some wonderful picnic lunches in some fine locations.

Our group was a very mixed one with cyclists aged from 30 - 75 and from all over the world including Iceland, Australia and the USA and as the tour progressed, we enjoyed getting to know a great bunch of people. If you are looking for a real cycling challenge and a great holiday combined, then I can thoroughly recommend attempting The Channel to the Med.

Some pictures of a magnificent trip