My lovely wife bought me your book as a birthday gift & because I very rarely read-I’ve only just picked it up in the last 3 weeks or so & been reading it after work.
Like yourself,my grandfather fought (& survived) all the way thro’ The Great War WW1, wounded at Ypres,but fought in both big Somme battles plus many more. He was fighting as a Machine-Gunner (Vickers) for The British Army …..even though he was German!!😳 (But that’s another story!)
I was a member of my local district cycle touring club as a young lad & have done some great rides as a youngster & even found myself jumping back on a ‘pushy’ & taking my lad on a ‘Tour d’Elba’ (Seriously Steep & F’in Hot to boot!!🥵).
I thought your trip sounded amazing,I definitely want to follow in your footsteps with my wife in our motor home/ bikes/ scooters etc!
Those guys riding on shale,bomb holed tracks with fixed wheels were obviously from another planet-personally I don’t think any of the modern day cyclists would stand a chance against them on like for like kit (I mean fixed wheel-no gears, no domestiques, no Sat nav, no gels,no team crew, no dieticians, no back up etc) Absolutely Awesome!!!
The distances they were doing,carrying all their spares etc!! - I could just see Chris Froome slogging up Alpe d’Huez with half a dozen spare tubes/tyres around his neck-just in case!!😜
Well done to you Sir for such a great book,obviously researched in massive amounts of depth (goes without saying), but also written with appreciation of their formidable physical & mental aptitude & attitude.
I loved the way, as a cyclist you also managed to include the various ‘birds tweeting’ or the fantastic views from the bike, the smells/colours of the fields,the weather-some day’s beautifully hot for you - other days not so!
At the end of your book you list all the riders entered back in the 1919 race & what country they were from - basically France, Belgium & the odd Italian. When/who was the first English (British) competitor & more importantly who was the first one to complete? & how long did it take for a lot more other countries to start taking part Ian……I presume Henri Desgrange would not have let any German participation-with his strong patriotic stance (quite rightly so in my view!) on their previous Alsace invasion/ occupation??🤷♂️
By the way, I’ve never done/written anything like this ever before in my life but I thought your book was such a GREAT read for so many different reasons, I wanted to let you know (& you did ask at the end of it.)
Well done Ian once again & many thanks, I wish you well.