A Final Blog from the Four Mikes

As the Four Mikes 2019 Tour wraps up, and the participants fly or drive home (thankfully not cycling back – phew), some thoughts have been sent by Mike Carney and Mike Burton.  So without further ado…

From Mike Carney:

This journey to Rome was meant to be flatter but longer than the Via Francigena of 2016.  However, we had not reckoned on the location of the  hotels  chosen by Malcolm and the difficulty of following the Saint Francis Way.  Had we followed the road from Padua to Rome, not only would it  have been be more flat, but the desired side trips (to Hockenheim and Modena) produced a 97 mile detour of which the last ten miles were a climb steeper than Joiners Lane in CSP.  On this trip, we cycled over 1400 miles  and  climbed over 60,000 feet.  As every parent or guardian knows,  kudos from sons and daughters does not come freely…. so to receive a text from my daughter saying ‘wow that is impressive!’ is praise indeed.  I just think there must be an easier way of getting it!

From Mike Burton:

Having finished the trip and celebrated our arrival in Rome, it is only fitting that we should spare a thought for the machinery that has helped us along our way. 

Firstly, Lydia the Trusty Transit has coped flawlessly with all the steep hills and winding streets to and from our hotels. The minor wing-mirror damage inflicted by Malcolm is hardly noticeable, and he only hit unoccupied vehicles so it doesn’t count. Her dash-cam served as an extra cameraman to capture all six of us riding together on our short day to Assisi. Rather than publishing this footage on the blog we have saved it for later, so make sure you come to the slide-show evening. Not only this but the dash-cam caught red-handed the perpetrator of a nasty crash, who tried to claim the young lady he hit was on the wrong side of the road. Luckily no serious injuries, and the evidence was greatly appreciated.

Denise’s satnav helped Lydia to find all of our hotels, in spite of people arguing with her and on at least one occasion directly disobeying her. And she never complained, though I’m sure I detected a raised and slightly impatient tone on the times we chose to know better than her.

I had high hopes for my new [tame] orange gravel bike, designed to take tough treatment like this. Three punctures and a cracked rim during the Germany-to-Rome ride section was not ideal; she was put to shame by the other bikes, and to quote my school teachers “could do better”.

Father Michael’s Specialised Allez could put in a good speed, but in spite of being nurtured along by his delicate caring hands, the rear brakes hit self-destruct and denied Father Michael the well deserved pleasure of a speedy descent down the Dolomites towards Florence.

Mick Claridge honed, tweaked, tuned and lightened his Forme Stealth Black Shadow extra-light [note: it is a bike, not a fighter jet ] to within an inch of its life, hence the amazing 53 mph top speed he achieved on descending from the Brener Pass. But unfortunately it did let Mick down once, exploding both the rear tube AND tyre.  Luckily the support crew were nearby!

Which just leaves the Carney machine, completing the full distance from his house in Chalfont St Peter all the way to the seat of St Peter in Rome, with no failures at all. His tender care probably helped, at one point as we completed a very bumpy section he sounded almost distraught with concern as he dodged the bumps and stones saying “Ahh promisssed er ahh woodnt tek er uver any boompy roobish or owt” . 

So top prize in the Mechanical Awards goes to Mike Carney’s admirable steed!

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