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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Cycling the Line


Terry Denham

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I would like to pay tribute here to two friends of mine who set out on Friday on a personal act of remembrance by attempting to cycle the entire length on the Western Front in ten days. They are Peter Vince and Nigel Petrie.

Both men are over sixty years of age and are undertaking the ride from Pfetterhouse on the Swiss border to the Belgian coast without any form of support team and are carrying all their needs with them on their bikes! They are placing a small momento card of their journey printed in French, English, German and Flemish at every village war memorial or war cemetery they pass en route.

When (if!) they reach Ypres, Jacky Platteeuw has very kindly arranged for them to lay a wreath at the Menin Gate ceremony on Sunday 28th.

After leaving Pfetterhouse early yesterday morning, they reached a village called Wildenstein by the end of the day and today they reached Raon-L'Etape after crossing the highest mountains on the route and averaging over fifty miles per day so far.

I would like to express my personal admiration of their efforts whilst trying to forget the fact that that I rejected their invitation to join them (I'm too young!). However, I'm going to be in Ypres for the ceremony on the 28th and buy them a few beers. The even younger Jon Saunders will be joining me for the trip.

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Terry,

great story and I wish them all the very best, can you keep us updated on their progress please?

Regards,

Scottie.

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It sounds like a very long cycle and I wish them all the best. Terry, I too will be in Ypres that weekend staying at Varlet Farm - perhaps I'll bump into you at the ceremony on Sunday.

Kate

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I think that this is a really great journey for them to do. Are they being sponsored at all?

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I have just spoken to Peter and Nigel in Raon-L'Etape and they took up most of the conversation with a description of the wonderful war memorial in the town!

I will keep everyone updated on their progress and they will be producing a written record of the trip which Tom Morgan has kindly said he will publish on his website - Hellfire Corner.

Burlington

They are not being sponsored at all and the cost is coming entirely from their own pockets. They are, however, collecting money for a service-related charity but I cannot say more about this or I would break Forum rules.

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They wouldnt be making a video diary at all would they, this is really unique and should be recorded

Probably a bit late now

John

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They will not be making a video diary (a video camera was not on the list of items they could carry along with the Mars bars and jars of Vaseline!). However, they are making an audio diary.

I forgot to mention that Peter is the individual responsible for getting me 'hooked' on WW1 about thirteen years ago when I didn't know a war grave from a shell hole!

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Progress report from the intrepid cyclists.

Quote "Knackered".

They completed 74 miles today and have reached Pont-a-Mousson - north of Nancy.

Tomorrow it is on to St Mihiel and Verdun.

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Good on 'em!

I've cycled some of the Western Front, bet they can't wait for the flat bits.

Keep us posted.

Me too - I've done the climb from Hamel up the D73 to Thiepval several times but its not got any easier!

I'm looking forward to reading the write up.

Cheers: Terry

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Day Four.

The terrible two have made it to Verdun today and are now curled up in the Hotel Coq Hardi!

They arrived early afternoon and so took the afternoon off - and cycled around the Verdun battlefield to Douaumont etc as neither had been there before! That's dedication after 240 miles in the saddle!

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First problem encountered this evening.

The cyclists have reached Reims - which was not on their route! However, they have had to divert there to find a hotel.

They are booking their overnight accommodation as they go depending on where they reach each day.

I received a text from them at lunchtime when they had reached Varennes. It read simply "Hangover and head winds!"

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The even younger Jon Saunders will be joining me for the trip.

I did want to join them on the ride but apparently the stabilisers on my bike would have slowed them down. I am, however, grateful for the opportunity to join them in the bar on Sunday. Terry's paying :lol:

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Terry's paying :lol:

WoW!! The two words in one sentence that I never thought I'd see together. :D

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WoW!! The two words in one sentence that I never thought I'd see together. :D

And that from a Scotsman????

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The boys have now reached Laon - a town well known to certain members who sampled its delights till the early hours during the Forum trip to Verdun in '04.

The cyclists have had a terrible day battling strong headwinds on the Chemin des Dames.

The plan is that they will now reach Ypres on Saturday and will lay the wreath at the Menin Gate then - but you never know - their strength is waning! I suspect it could still be Sunday!

Jon Saunders and I will be leaving early on Friday in the rescue vehicle so my last update will be tomorrow night. Wish us luck.

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The boys have now reached Laon - a town well known to certain members who sampled its delights till the early hours during the Forum trip to Verdun in '04.

Don't know what you're getting at there at all Terry :ph34r: . However if I'd known Peter & Nigel were stopping in Laon I could have recommended a a nice quiet bar where the Landlord is happy to serve thirsty Englishman until the wee hours of the morning.

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Well - They did it.

On Thursday they cycled from Laon to Peronne.

On Friday Jon Saunders and I travelled over at the crack of dawn and met the chaps in Bapaume in very wet and windy weather. For the rest of the day we acted as support spending most of the time looking for four hotel rooms!

It was a holiday weekend over there as well and everywhere was booked. However, we eventually found enough rooms by splitting the party over two hotels in two different towns and in two different countries! The ride ended that night in Bailleul as a result.

Yesterday the last leg took them from Bailleul to Nieupoort while Jon and I did some cemetery visiting.

After 530 miles in nine days they reached the Nieuport Memorial at 3pm - tired but elated. A wreath was laid on the memorial with appropriate words being said.

Last night, courtesy of Jacky, the two laid a wreath as part of the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate.

Pictures will follow in due course.

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Just caught up with this, well done to the two of them, i can't ride more than 100yds before getting tired!

Mandy

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A fantastic achievement and despite their aches and pains both men were still quicker to get their wallets out at the bar than the comparatively youthful Terry Denham :D

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