Free-wheeling French challenge for Carnoustie charity cyclists

Sam Holmes (left) checks over the bikes with Scott Francis of Angus Cycle Hub.
Sam Holmes (left) checks over the bikes with Scott Francis of Angus Cycle Hub.

A ‘dynamique’ duo of Carnoustie lads are tackling a ‘Gaul’ing charity vintage cycle challenge to raise money for a good cause.

Sam Holmes and Steven Esposito are cycling more than 750 miles this June to raise money for Mary’s Meals.

Sam, a MAC chief, and Steven, an engineer, are both employees at Michelin Tyre Plc, on Baldovie Road, Dundee, and they will be cycling from the factory to ‘Central,’ the headquarters of Michelin in France.

Steven and Sam will leave from the Baldovie factory on June 8, and hope to be in Clermont-Ferrand on June 19, averaging around 70 miles a day.

They will be completely unsupported on the trip and will have to carry all their own equipment and supplies.

Originally their cycle trip started life as something a little smaller, as Sam explained: “We cycle to work together and have always said we should do something like a 24-hour cycle or cycle around Scotland.

“We wanted to do something pretty mad and then because we were both Michelin employees, we thought - why don’t we do something a bit bigger?

“We thought about going down to the Michelin plant in Stoke and then Steven came up with this fantastical idea about going down to ‘Central’.

“We thought this was a good opportunity as well to take in another Michelin facility at Troyes, and basically use this is a way to tie together the Baldovie plant with them and with ‘Central’. A pilgrimage of sorts.”

Their route will see them cycle to Newcastle, then take a ferry to Amsterdam whereupon they will cycle through the Netherlands to Belgium, into Northern France then down to Clermont-Ferrand.

The pair have sourced a couple of vintage Peugeot racing bikes which are older than they are! Sam added: “The main challenges will probably be the bikes. We’ve got Angus Cycle Hub on board and they found a bike for me and Steven managed to acquire one from a colleague for £40.

“They’ve not been touched since they were bought 40 years ago. They need a wee bit of an upgrade. Michelin are going to supply us with tyres and inner tubes and Angus Cycle Hub are maybe going to help freshen up the mechanisms, wheels, paint and fix the brakes.

“The reliability of the bikes is probably the biggest issue for us, although weather may come a close second, tied with cycling for 11 days in a row without a rest!”

Sam is excited for the adventure to begin. He said: “I’m a bit nervous obviously, it’s a long time to rely on something pretty old. I’m more excited than anything, a bit of a cliche, but you don’t get many opportunities to do something like this and go for it. I’ve done a couple of three or four-day tours, but this is more like pedalling all day.

“Steven is pretty laid back about it all though!”

However, they do need a bit of help getting to France, Steven explained: “We’re also looking for local businesses to support the ride and help us to raise as much money for Mary’s Meals as we can by sponsoring an advert on our matching cycle gear.

“That money will be used to pay for food and other necessities on the way there. Anyone interested should contact us through our Facebook page.

“If anyone knows of anyone who stays along our route that we could bunk up with that would be great as we are trying to minimise costs and raise as much as we can for Mary’s Meals. We’re also taking a small tent for emergencies.”

Sam and Steven are grateful for the support their employers and colleagues have given them.

Sam said: “We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone from Michelin and also Angus Cycle Hub who have helped us get in the saddle for this challenge and we’re looking forward to hitting the road.”

Angus Cycle Hub manager Scott Francis has been helping the boys get ready for the trip.

He said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to help, especially with what they are doing.

“It’s right in line with the Angus Cycle Hub ethos – taking bikes that would otherwise have been scrapped, giving them a new lease of life and doing something good with them.”

You can find out more about their challenge on Facebook at Dundee Randonée, The Charity Cycle From Dundee To Clermont-Ferrand.

You can sponsor them online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dundee-Randonee