REPORT FROM THE TOUR – BE THERE LIVE!
In 17 stages or 17 days to the destination
Grandfather, father and two sons want to cycle the Way of St. James together, i.e. 2,066 km with a total of 19,950 metres of altitude. The family is accompanied, supported and cared for by their best friend. Their goal is not only Santiago de Compostela, but above all to collect donations for their heartfelt projects in West Africa and Ukraine.
There are 17 stages to master in 17 days. That promises a lot of exciting impressions for us which we report on live here:
Day 17 – Tour 15 from Villafranca del Bierzo to Portomarín ends differently than planned
Stage 15, 10 August 2022: 60 km, 1069 hm, 1060 tm, Ø 17,9 km/h, Ø 30 °C
We have made it, the boys are back at the start. All four cyclists are highly motivated and develop great ambition to cycle many kilometres for the good cause today.
A bridge that has collapsed in two places becomes an incredible challenge for the entire charity team. Not only the cyclists but also Klaus have to accept unbelievable detours and even wrong ways.
Instead of pictures of cyclists on the saddle, we get pictures of bicycles on the shoulders of cyclists.
The motto remains: Never give up!
Klaus in trouble
And for the first time we experience that our Head of Logistics can also get into trouble.
Things turn out differently – completely differently than planned
Our team is in distress and has to make an incredibly difficult decision.
While we here in Germany eagerly hope for rain, the charity crew is caught up in heavy thunderstorms and extreme downpours. They continue their stage anyway and get completely soaked. After a temperature drop of over 20 degrees in completely wet cycling gear, the cyclists have to freeze extremely and can hardly keep their bikes under control. But this is exactly what is urgently needed when riding on wet roads, especially on the steep descents.
Werner, as an experienced tour captain, puts health above everything and decides to stop the stage at kilometre 60. The mood in the entire team is depressed. They find themselves in a conflict of conscience. The motive of the Tour, namely to collect donations for West Africa and Ukraine, has always driven them so far and made them overcome extreme difficulties, and now they are supposed to give up? All 5 actors feel it as a defeat, which is hard for them. Yet it is incredibly courageous to give up and pack up in front of all the tour chasers, donors and supporters. And it is really strong to carry on the next day with your heads held high. So guys, cheer up, after all, your fans want to arrive in Santiago with you tomorrow!
A great team looks ahead
Day 16 – Tour 14 leads to Villafranca del Bierzo despite bad luck and breakdowns
stage 14, 09 August 2022: 127 km, 1352 hm, 1548 tm, Ø 22,8 km/h, maximum temperature 42 °C
It’s not a good idea to look at your mobile phone early in the morning. The tour planning does not bode well. The next three days will be tough. Today we go from Leon to Villafranca, the tour is demanding and although Santiago is finally approaching, everyone is aware that this is only the first stage in the final sprint.
Pech und Pannen – Teil 1
Sorgenvoll blicken Werner und Karsten zurück. Sie haben Paul und Caspar verloren. Was ist denn bloß passiert?
The Pilgrims’ Bridge of Astorga
The closer you get to Santiago de Compostela, the more impressive the pilgrimage experiences become. Walking or cycling over the Pilgrims’ Bridge of Astorga is one of the special experiences on the Way of St. James.
Well-deserved break but Caspar and Paul are unlucky
Finally a break! Klaus has prepared everything and awaits the cyclists at the rest area with healthy and regional delicacies. It tastes good, but it’s not enough to get the boys fit again. Caspar’s knee is in trouble again and Paul is exhausted. In contrast, Werner seems like a fountain of youth. In a good mood, completely relaxed, he is looking forward to the mountains. We wonder if there is anything that can shake him?
Bad luck and mishaps – Part 2
Despite enormous experience, Werner has never experienced this before.
Unbelievable, Werner remains calm! Thanks to his great experience, every move is perfect.
Aber was wäre Werner ohne Klaus? Ganz bestimmt wäre er nicht so gelassen. Werner weiß aus langer, guter Erfahrung, auf Klaus ist Verlass. Und Klaus bleibt, auch wenn er einen Notruf vom Rad-Team bekommt, ruhig und gelassen und denkt neben allem erforderlichen technischen Equipment auch an das Auffüllen des Trinkwassers.
Never give up – das Charity Team braucht Unterstützung
Was für ein Tag nach so viel Pech und Pannen braucht unser Team unsere Unterstützung. Und wie könnten wir sie besser motivieren durchzuhalten, als durch unsere Spenden?
On the highest point of the Way of St. James
Our motivation seems to have arrived. Werner and Karsten have made it, they have reached the highest point of the Way of St. James. We didn’t expect anything else from Werner, but Karsten amazes us a lot. Besides his job and family, he hardly had any time to train before the tour. On the contrary, the organisation of the tour put an additional strain on him. Now he is gratefully lying in his father’s arms. An uplifting feeling that he would have wished for his boys as well. Maybe the two of them need a special motivation and we should make a resolution for tomorrow to donate Paul’s and Caspar’s kilometres. How about a donation of 1,- per kilometre?
Day 15 – Tour 13 from Burgos to Léon at high speed
Stage 13, 08 August 2022: 130 km, 650 hm, 620 tm, Ø 36 °C, Ø 27,6 km/h
The Charity Team starts the new week in a good mood and highly motivated. The conditions are perfect, great weather and finally there is a tailwind, i.e. our team is moving forward twice as fast. This could be the fastest stage of the tour:
Ein neuer Rekord: Ø-Geschwindigkeit von 40 km/h und Spendenstand von 26.289,- Euro
Can that still be topped? A speed of 40 km/h on average is enormous, even with a tailwind, and cannot be sustained for an entire tour. A donation level of € 26,289 can certainly be increased. After all, our crew has not yet reached the finish line 😉
A good feeling to cycle the Camino de Santiago for a good cause
Day 13 – Tour 12 from Navarrete to Burgos
Stage 12, 06 August 2022: 116 km, 1362 hm 1026 tm, Tageshöchsttemperatur: 35,8 °C
Our team starts the last stage for this week. After extreme temperatures well over 40 degrees, extreme climbs of well over 1,500 metres in altitude, there is an extreme headwind today and cycling against the wind demands extreme strength. No one can explain this better than Karsten, our “head of communication”.
The beauty of the Camino de Santiago:
The closer the Charity Crew get to the holy tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, the more intense the pilgrimage impressions become. Unfortunately, the magic of the Camino de Santiago can only be guessed at from pictures.
Panoramic view of the destination of the day and week: Burgos
Buen camino! Happy Way of St. James!
Since the Middle Ages, people have been making pilgrimages to Santiago via the Camino de Santiago routes. Their reasons are manifold. Whereas in the past atonement and penance were the main reasons for setting out on this long journey, today the reasons are much more varied: curiosity, inspiration, adventure, spirituality and self-knowledge, deceleration – to name but a few. The fact is, each person has their own reason for walking this path. Werner, Karsten, Paul and Caspar set out together with Klaus to collect donations for their heart’s projects in West Africa and for the people in Ukraine.
After two weeks of extreme exertion and some low points, we know that the team has reached its limits several times. Each of the actors at very different points, for very different reasons. We therefore ask:
- When you look back on these two weeks of the tour – what particularly moved you?
- Did worries and fears come true? Or did things happen that you didn’t expect at all?
- How did you manage to keep going? and
- How did you motivate yourselves for the last 5 stages?
Before our team deals with these questions, we would like to give them a quiet and relaxing Sunday. Gather your strength for the final sprint and maybe next week, when you’re back on your bikes, you’ll have time to think about it!
From the bottom of our hearts, we wish you “Buen camino” – a good Way of St. James!
Day 12 – Tour 11 from Roncesvalles to Logroño
Stage 11, 05 August 2022: 144 km / 1.570 hm / 2.110 tm
If you look at today’s route of our charity team, you can see it goes right through Pamplona.
Pamplona is the capital of Navarre and lies on the Way of St James south of the Pyrenees. Pamplona’s most famous attraction is the Fiesta Sanfermines, the bull run through the streets of the old town in July.
There are some places you should visit in peace and quiet, and Pamplona’s old town is one of them. But the peace and quiet doesn’t work at all for our cyclists today. They struggle through the bustling city centre, narrow streets full of people and hardly any time for sightseeing. At least the crew offers us a (somewhat blurred) panoramic view of the landmark of the old town, the Plaza del Castillo (Castle Square), also known as the living room of Pamplona’s inhabitants because it is the centre of social life.
The day in pictures:
The day in words:
While the pictures of today’s stage look very beautiful and hardly give an idea of how great the exertions are for our team today, the video, recorded shortly before the day’s destination in Logroño, shows how exhausted the cyclists are by now after 12 days on the Camino de Santiago.
What does the exhausted charity team actually do in the evening?
Sure: relax, eat and drink something healthy and go to bed early!
Or does someone still have enough energy to dance?
Day 11 – Tour 10 Continue to Roncesvalles (Spain)
Stage 10, 04 August 2022: 66 km, 1461 hm, 602 tm, Ø 28,0 °C, Ø 17,4 km
The joy is great, today we are heading for the Pyrenees and from France we are finally going to Spain.
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is an important place on the Way of St James and also the last stop on French soil. Here, numerous pilgrims stream through the pilgrims’ alley every day to have their pilgrim’s passport stamped. The Charity Team also goes purposefully to the pilgrims’ office and all cyclists get the coveted stamp
(We are sorry, today’s videos are only available in German.)
Started 11 days ago in Trier crossed the Spanish border today
Today is a good day for our team, all cyclists master the long climbs in the Pyrenees. A short stop just before the summit chapel, because today is also a good day for donations:
Day 10 – Tour 9 from Captieux to Orthez
Stage 9, 03 August 2022: 118 km, 730 hm, 750 tm
After yesterday’s heat battle, we wish our team a much cooler and more relaxed tour.
However, while our team starts the day in France, the weather service issues a heat warning for Germany. This makes us uneasy and we wonder what it will be like on the Camino de Santiago in France?
Fortunately, we receive a message from Karsten that gives us hope. We will of course stay in touch and report further.
Sorry, today’s videos are also only available in German.
Day 9 – The hottest stage leads via Bazas to Captieux
Stage 8, 02 August 2022: 126 km, 1100 hm and a maximum temperature of 42 °C
It wasn’t planned like this, after yesterday’s tough stage it was supposed to be a bit more pleasant today. But the weather doesn’t cooperate at all. On the contrary, it was already 32 °C at the start at 9:00 am. In the course of the day, the temperature rises to 42 °C. While in Germany even simple activities are difficult at maximum daytime temperatures of 32 °C, our team is doing high-performance sports at over 40 °C today.
No wonder that it is impossible to report in detail about this day. We are glad that everyone arrived safe and sound at their guesthouse in Captieux after this heatstroke and order the team to have a quiet and restful evening.
Way of St James France a Unesco World Heritage Site
After a very strenuous tour through heat, rough roads, steep mountains and up to 18 % gradients, everyone is completely exhausted. While the crew tries to cool down a little in the still very high temperatures, we leaf through Werner’s tour planning. Up to now, we had been almost exclusively concerned with the physical exertions of the Way, but now our attention is drawn to the cultural significance of the Way of St James.
The Way of St. James is a huge network of pilgrimage routes that covers the whole of Europe.
The French Camino de Santiago is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, apart from the spiritual aspect, also offers an impressive cross-section of medieval architecture.
Today, the route takes our teams past Bazas. Bazas was a bishop’s see until the end of the 18th century. As the seat of a presidential court, it also had central administrative and legal functions, so that it quickly established itself as the most influential place in the region. Bazas has outstanding monuments. Among them, the Gothic Cathedral of St. Jean-Baptiste des Bazas is the most significant.
Despite the enormous strain, there are a few photos from Bazas taken by our bicycle pilgrims:
Day 8 – The toughest stage leads to Issac-Sandanet
7th stage, 01 August 2022: 147 km, 1,558 hm, 1810 tm, Ø 22 km/h; top speed 65.7 km/h
After a one-day break, the charity team sets off again on the Way of St. James. Everyone knows that the 7th stage is a tough one, so they need an extra dose of motivation today: the team gets in the mood with the motto “Never give up” and starts cycling.
Current donations amount to almost € 20,000
Just in time for the start of the hardest stage, we received the news about the current donation status: exactly € 19,889 have been raised. If that doesn’t motivate us to keep going, it certainly does the irrepressible desire to raise even more.
No one can describe the hardship of today’s stage without being there live, so we’ll let every cyclist have their say.
Let’s start with Karsten:
We are sorry, but todays videos are only available in German.
Paul has enough puff and comes to speak at the first stop:
Tour captain Werner reports highly motivated:
Caspar, the youngest in the team, gives his all, but how’s the knee?
Half the team crossing the finish line:
What a tour! We suffer with them and think that day 8 demands too much from the charity team.
Great tribute to Caspar and Paul. It is a great strength to recognise when it is no longer possible. That’s exactly why Klaus is there to catch you at any time and bring you safely to the day’s destination. (And maybe he will have his say soon ;-))
Werner and Karsten we take a bow. Respect for this great achievement!
Dear Charity Team! We can’t take away the pain and agony, but the people you help with your tour are incredibly grateful.
Greetings from Sierra Leone, West Africa
Work has started on a drinking water well in the schoolyard of the Primary School in Bo, Sierra Leone (West Africa) and today we received a moving video greeting.
The construction of the drinking water well is as arduous and sweaty as your tour! But in the end, everyone is happy about the fresh water.
Tour No. 6 – The royal stage of the first week leads to Limoges
Stage 6, 30 July 2022: 131 km, 1,751 hm, 1,709 tm, Ø 30 °C
Today our team starts the last stage for this week. The conditions are good: not too warm, a bit cloudy and a lot of attacking spirit to conquer the first king stage of our charity tour. The tour logbook shows the following profile for today, 130 km with a very demanding 1,500 metres of altitude.
After 8 hours of hard work in the saddle, it turns out that things could be worse: our tour tracker shows exactly 131 km distance and 1,750 metres of altitude difference – 250 metres more than announced by tour captain Werner. He compensates us by organising suitable places to take a break:
- At kilometre 72, Klaus awaits us with delicious food. Simple is always best: baguette, cheese and salami.
- The next hefty metres in altitude with three longer climbs lead through the blazing midday heat – before we overheat, the tour captain finds a shady spot – the little hut on the mountain.
- Up and down we go. Small breathers help with beautiful views of small villages, a lot of agriculture, rivers that mostly have very little water and, of course, castles, palaces and manor houses.
- Even vitamins are provided for: endless kilometres of blackberry hedges invite you to snack.
- Until, at kilometre 110, we all have empty water bottles. Oh horror, Klaus is too far away. A bar appears like an oasis – or is Werner’s route planner not so bad after all. Never have 4 ice-cold Coca-Colas and 4.5 litres of water tasted so good!
- Driven by our mission – we cycle together and with all your support for people in need – we reach our accommodation after 8 hours in the saddle. Finally the first week, 784 km, with all its joys but also sporting challenges are mastered. Hurray, tomorrow is a rest day!
We wish you all a wonderful Sunday – thank you for your accompany, your donations are our reward and above all do so much good and we promise to continue on Monday!
Day 5 – Onwards to Urciers
Stage 5, 29 July 2022: 121 km, 881 hm, 814 tm, average 28.0 °C
New day – new power and a warm good morning from the Charity Team:
We are sorry, but the video is only available in German.
What does Klaus actually do?
You probably also think Klaus has the best job: driving the tour van comfortably while the others pedal away. Today we get to the bottom of it and find out that Klaus is the man for “almost everything”. In the morning he starts his day in the paddock to get the bikes fit. It continues with packing the van for the onward journey, then preparing the food for the breaks and ensuring delicious and relaxed breaks for the racing bike crew, filling up the provisions in good time, remembering to drink enough fluids. Have an eye for beautiful picture motifs to provide the coverage. In the evening, it’s time to do the laundry and don’t forget to provide a little fun and games to distract the 4 cyclists from the pain and suffering. Then, of course, it’s far from over, because the bikes need a suitable and safe place to spend the night.
Klaus is much more than the tour bus driver, he is the “Head of Logistics” and remains calm and composed. A thousand thanks Klaus!
The power of youth
Caspar and Paul are young and full of power. Today we find out where they get their power, namely from Grandpa Werner. The 73-year-old grandfather is in top shape, and the two grandsons have certainly inherited their talent and enthusiasm for racing cycling from him. But Caspar and Paul have another talent, perhaps it comes from their father. After all, Karsten also has the right idea for every situation. But see for yourself: (We are sorry, but the video is only available in German.)
Caspar freehand on the mountain
Today’s picture looks like this: Caspar rides freehand on the mountain past all the others completely relaxed. Now there’s a problem, none of the other three took a photo (probably weakened ;-)).
Tour 4 – On to Varennes-Vauzelles
Stage 4, 28 July 2022: 132 km, Ø 20.4 km/h, 1,446 hm, 1,382 tm Ø 30 °C – half-timbered idyll and altitude metres
The first kilometres along the canal are deceptive. Today it’s through the hilly landscape of the Burgrund. It will be the most strenuous and longest day so far. A tour whose altitude profile does not reflect the actual efforts at all. There is a lot of swearing, cursing and moaning. It becomes clear to us how good it is to do this tour together as a team, because we motivate each other to persevere. When we discover a discarded bicycle at the side of the road, we can even laugh heartily at the idea of continuing the tour on it. Grandfather Werner takes the lead and, as the front man, provides the slipstream the whole time. We cycle through idyllic half-timbered villages, but often through blazing sun. Five times we have to fill up our water supply, i.e. 5 litres of liquid per man.
At 6 pm we finally arrive at our destination: Varennes-Vauzelles. We receive messages from friends and previously unknown people who think our tour is great and want to support the West Africa and Ukraine aid. Many thanks to ALL of you! This motivates us and makes us forget the pain of our bodies, which have been battered here and there in the meantime.
Tour 3 – From Doulaincourt to Pacy-sur-Armançon
Stage 3, 27 July 2022: 135 km, 1,498 hm, 1,544 tm, averaged 20.4 km/h, averaged 27 °C, maximum daily temperature 40 °C
Sometimes a picture says more than thousand words. How can one explain what it means to climb almost 1,500 metres in altitude on a racing bike, mind you without electric drive, in temperatures of up to 40 degrees, and to endure this up and down for a whole 135 km?
And those who have not cycled up the mountain with their own muscle power for a long time may not have much idea of such a profile and all the measurements. That’s why it’s good that Karsten describes today’s day to us in very personal terms.
With all the exertion, the question arises: how does our charity team keep it up? Well, for one thing, they are always thinking about their task. They want to collect many donations for drinking water wells and school construction projects in West Africa and emergency aid projects in Ukraine.
On the other hand, they keep their eyes open for the many beautiful things on their way. Today there are countless of them:
- Starting with a delicious breakfast with croissants, baguettes, homemade rhubarb-banana jam and the most delicious honey – which is the reason for the late tour start at 9:30 am.
- Champagne not only has enormous climbs, but also beautiful scenery and many wineries. Even though a tasting is not possible today, the mere idea of it is enjoyable.
- A break at kilometre 20, where everyone together, road cyclists and tour bus rider, visits the memorial to Charles de Gaulle in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises.
- Random applause at kilometre 80 – here the charity team meets the women’s Tour de France, who are racing through the town just a few metres away (complete with helicopter). It’s a great feeling when the many fans cheer you on.
- A coffee break in a special café found by Klaus with typical French pastries.
- A warm welcome by the hostel mother and father at the destination: Pacy-sur-Armançon.
- A hostel in the middle of the town, in historic walls, beautifully renovated.
- A cosy evening with three other cyclists from Amsterdam, who are also guests.
No, it’s not a holiday day for the 5 actors today, but a long and exhausting working day. It is also not without danger, because from km 100 onwards it is 7 km uphill on a freshly gravelled track. Cars overtaking, oncoming and dusting the cyclists. A long lorry entering the bend too fast forces everyone into the ditch – luckily without a fall. And of course there is the odd scream and curse. But the bottom line is: it’s done!
Day 2 – Moving on to Doulaincourt
Stage 2, 26 July 2022: 137 km, 1121 hm, 1083 tm, Ø 25.5 °C, maximum daytime temperature 31 °C, Ø 21.1 km/h
Around 9 am we start at a pleasant 19 degrees. The first 20 km we enjoy the beautiful route along the Moselle. Then it goes from village to village in the hilly hinterland and as if the slopes were not challenge enough, headwind comes up. The only one who is not impressed by this is Caspar, he really accelerates – none of us can hold a candle to him on the mountain today. At kilometer 50 Caspar’s racing bike breaks down, the rear wheel is flat. Maybe he should have gone a little slower up the hill 😉
Painfully longed for, we meet our driver, provider, planner and logistician Klaus at kilometer 70: There are bananas, fresh water, energy bars and a joint coffee – followed by stretching and getting fit for the next 55 km. It continues on wonderful side roads, but there is still a headwind.
Yesterday hornet today wasp – this time it gets Karsten – a sting in the middle of the forehead. Crap, but the pain makes you forget the headwind and besides, Werner’s special gel helps again, like yesterday with Caspar’s hornet sting.
Then come about 700 energy-sapping meters of altitude, distributed over several steps and partly with a nasty 13% slope. On the way we keep good contact with the supply vehicle, but fatally decide not to refill the drinking bottles. Again tour captain Werner helps and shares his bottles with us and after these are also empty, we try Caspar’s chewing gum. At least we manage to cover the feeling of thirst and we survive the last 8 km.
Exhausted and relieved, we reach our family-run guesthouse by the river, where we first cool off our burning calves. Afterwards our hostess refreshes us with cool drinks and we are even cooked by her in the evening and dine in the circle of her family. Great, despite many strains today we can really refuel, urgently needed, because tomorrow we expect a particularly strenuous tour.
You can find some moving pictures of the 2nd stage here:
Here we go – 1st stage from Trier to Jouy aux Arches (France)
Trier, 25 July 2022: 128 km; 486 hm; 458 tm; 21.4 km/h at an average of 32 degrees
After weeks of planning, it finally gets underway. The 5 actors start their charity tour and do not start from scratch. On the contrary, the current amount of donations is 13,714.00 Euros! That should motivate the boys, right?
Our actors are quite small in front of such a large structure as the Porta Nigra in Trier – but not small at all in terms of the task. The charity team is great and starts the first stage of their Way of St. James full of energy. In the process, they pedal hard for an increase in donations.
And what does the tour crew report from the first stage?
The alarm clock rings shortly after 6 a.m., we pick out our jerseys, fill our water bottles, allocate food and drink, check the route profile and then off to breakfast. Around 9 a.m. we set off for the Porta Nigra – the black gate and landmark of Trier.
We are moved by the bus in front of our accommodation – a bus from the Ukraine is obviously there to remind us what we are setting out for in these temperatures of well over 30 degrees.
From the Porta Nigra we rush along the Moselle – great cycle paths and shady trees help us to withstand even a maximum temperature of 36 degrees.
After 85 km we meet our friend Klaus and finally have a decent break and even coffee and cake (delicious). So we also manage the final spurt – the last 50 km for today. Thanks to the perfect equipment of our tour captain Werner, the first hornet sting can be well taken care of and we reach our destination for the day, Jouy aux Arches in France, safe and sound at around 5 pm.
Final preparations and arrival in Trier
24 July: Arrival at Trier (Germany)
At around 30 degrees, the 4 cyclists take the tour van to Trier – the city with its great sights, its over 2000 years of history and hospitality. In the evening, they are joined by their good friend Klaus Müller, who has experienced quite a few things on his journey with Deutsche Bahn. The classic: missing wagons, defective air conditioning and so much delay that the connecting train to Trier is not reached. Nevertheless, the joy about tomorrow’s start is palpable. In a brewery, the five finish off the evening, plan the schedule for tomorrow’s start and fall into bed quite early and quite tired.