The mileage really cranked up today and over 72 miles were covered. You could see the effect of days in the saddle starting to show. Having already covered 165 miles in the three days before, the prospect of 72 miles was clearly daunting for the riders, particularly as there was a 2 mile hill section at the 40 mile point.
Every ride has special moments where you see people overcome a personal challenge. At the beginning of the day, one of the cyclists gave himself the aim of making it up the two mile hill on the middle crank of his gears. Gritting down, and accompanied by supporters, he made it up the hill in the middle gear. Tears flowed as he celebrated his achievement. Impressive stuff for someone on a recumbent bike.With the increase in mileage, however, also came an increase in fun as it was fancy dress Thursday. A riot of colour was on show with Union Flags, wigs, morph suits, onesies, football shirts being worn by the participants. The peaceful, small French villages of the region had their peace disturbed, albeit fleetingly!
One of our American wounded cyclists told her story at a ceremony in Cerny-en-Laonnois. She was an Explosive Ordinance Device technician, a bomb diffuser. She was with a colleague sweeping an area In Iraq, when they found an protruding lamp cord, a frequent sign of an IED. As they moved to get their kit to diffuse it, the device exploded and both of them were thrown in the air. During their recovery, a special bond grew between the two of them and they married. As she got ready to board the Aircraft to come to the UK, she was given the news that she had been offered a grant to help them have a child and start a family. A true example of light shining from the shadows.
Photo credit Mark Dawson | Help for Heroes