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IN SUMMARY:

  • Sunday 5 August to Saturday 11 August 2018.

  • 428 miles over 6 days (70 miles per day).

  • Accommodation in 3*** hotels based on two sharing.

  • Breakfast, picnic lunch and evening meal included.

  • Morning and afternoon refreshments included.

  • Medical and mechanical support included.

  • Limited single occupancy rooms available at £300 supplement (payable by rider on registration).

  • £250 registration fee (payable by rider).

  • £1,500 minimum sponsorship (or donation).

REGISTER ONLINE NOW

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TERMS AND CONDITIONS

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

THE SOLDIERS' CHARITY EVENT PAGE

'Wheels on the Western Front 2018; Ride to Victory' will carry on from the two previous editions of this now established cycling event in aid of ABF The Soldiers' Charity, which have raised over £200,000 for our soldiers in need and their families. The ride covers a fantastic route covering ground old and new, commemorating the final victory in 1918 of 'The Great War for Civilisation'.

The ride will take the format of a coach transfer out to Verdun, the legendary fortress town which the French refused to surrender despite horrendous losses, and a return to Folkestone by bike from Verdun. It will cover fascinating areas which saw action both in 1914 during the Retreat from Mons, the Battle of the Marne, the Chemin des Dames, skirting the eastern fringes of the Somme before crossing the Cambrai battlefields and entering Belgium to stay at Mons, where it all began in 1914 and where it all finished in virtually the same place in 1918. From Mons we ride to Ypres for a fantastic last night including a wreath laying at the Menin Gate, before returning to Folkestone in time for early evening on Saturday 11 August.

During this commemorative ride you will pass places of huge significance in the course of the war and there will be ample opportunities to pay your respects as you cycle through France and Belgium.

Colonel Richard Hackett of The Soldiers' Charity explains how the money you raise will be put to good use: 'ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is the National Charity of the British Army. We give a lifetime of support to soldiers, veterans and their immediate families when in need. We help these individuals by making direct grants to them through the Regimental and Corps Associations. We also give grants to a wide range of charities that give specialist help, both at home and around the world.'

The Soldiers' Charity event page

New to cycling?

The days will generally be arranged as follows, meaning that even if you have never ridden these distances before you can complete each day at a manageable pace; each morning riders will depart at 0830 or 0900 and a comfortable pace of 12 - 15 mph will ensure that the first coffee stop, at approximately 20 - 25 miles, is reached by 11am. The lunch stop is positioned at approximately 50 miles (except day 3 where it comes sooner), meaning that the majority of the ride is done before lunch leaving you plenty of time to finish by tea time, with a couple of hours to relax before dinner. Plenty of people new to cycling have successfully and happily completed similar previous editions of this event, and we are happy to provide advice on training if required! There will be expert support along the way and plenty of refreshments to keep you going, including acres of cake and mountains of biscuits! There is no need to ride as a group and you can go at your own pace.

The Route

The route is undulating for the first three days and then generally flat; even the longer days should be within the reach of all people wishing to participate. There are a great many places to see along the way so plenty of opportunities to stop should you wish - indeed we recommend pausing to make the most of the places we pass. Click for a Route Map.

Day 1, Sunday 5 August 2018: Folkestone to Verdun.

Morning registration and lunchtime departure by comfortable coach to Verdun.

Day 2, Monday 6 August 2018: Verdun to Vienne le Chateau (67 miles).

We ride through the heart of the Verdun Battlefield passing Douaumont, Fort Vaux, Hill 304, the Mort-Homme memorial and the Butte de Vauquois amongst many other fascinating places. The Verdun sector is the largest area of remaining battlefield landscape on the Western Front with fortifications and reminders everywhere.

Day 3, Tuesday 7 August 2018: Vienne le Chateau to Reims (51 miles).

A leisurely day today and a chance to enjoy some lovely rolling countryside on the ride to Reims, capital of Champagne. We are closely following the front line where it stabilised in October 1914 virtually all the way to Reims, passing numerous monuments, former trench systems and other places of interest along the way.

Day 4, Wednesday 8 August: Reims to St Quentin (73 miles).

From Reims we once again follow the front line up to the evocative Chemin des Dames, crossing the river Marne on the way where the German advance was halted in 1914. The 'Caverne du Dragon' is an underground network of old quarries with tens of kilometres of tunnels, often occupied by German and French forces at the same time with only barricades to separate them. Skirting the historic hilltop town of Leon it is then an easy ride to St Quintin for the night, where the cathedral is still being rebuilt after its destruction in 1918.

Day 5, Thursday 9 August 2018: St Quentin to Mons (80 miles).

The longest day but not hilly or difficult. Leaving St Quentin you soon reach the immaculate American Somme Cemetery at Bony, before passing the entrance to the St Quintin Canal tunnel, which was used as billets by the Germans and formed part of the Hindenburg Line defences. From here we are now passing into the area where the final push to victory was made in late 1918. We also visit the battlefield of Le Cateau where II Corps under Smith Dorrien made a vital stand during the retreat from Mons in 1914, and visit the grave of Wilfred Owen on our route to St Symphorien cemetery on the edge of Mons where the first and last British casualties of the war are buried facing each other. It is a further 2 miles from here to our hotel in the centre of Mons, a delightful town where tradition dictates that you rub the brass monkey in the town square for luck, as thousands of British soldiers did in 1914.

Day 6, Friday 10 August 2018: Mons to Ypres (75 miles).

There are no hills of any note as we ride first to the canal north of Mons where the British Expeditionary Force first engaged the enemy on 21 August 1914; on this day, Lt Dease won the first Victoria Cross of the war for continuing to man his machine gun whilst all around him were killed, thus delaying the German capture of the bridge at Nimy. Riding north of Lille we head for one of the highlights of any tour to the First World War Battlefields, Tyne Cot, via the village of Passchendaele which needs no introduction. The spires of Ypres can be seen in the distance and we finish the day in this wonderful town, laying a wreath at the Last Post ceremony under the Menin Gate. Most riders find the energy to celebrate their achievements this evening after a dinner at our comfortable city centre hotel!

Day 7, Saturday 11 August 2018: Ypres to Calais: 70 miles, Dover to Folkestone: 12 miles.

A completely flat run takes us back to Calais for the ferry home, pausing at Lijssenthoek cemetery along the way and passing the site of the Wormhout massacre during the withdrawal to Dunkirk in Wold War Two.

Costings & Sponsorship:

To participate in this fantastic event, riders will pay a Registration Fee of £250 on entry which will be their personal contribution for the enjoyment of a week in the battlefields. This does not go towards the sponsorship target that each rider will commit to raise. This Registration Fee may be paid in two installments, no more than 3 months apart, by prior agreement with the organiser.

Riders must also commit to raise £1,500 in sponsorship for ABF The Soldiers' Charity. The charity will provide help, support and fundraising tips and ideas to help you achieve this target. Early registration will allow you longer to reach your target and the highest three fundraisers will each be presented with a special commemorative jersey by The Soldiers' Charity to record their thanks.

£250 registration fee (payable by rider); Commitment to raise £1,500 minimum sponsorship (or donation).