Rob Oakley and Preston Ayres have returned from their survey of the entire 500-mile route of this September’s Brittany Challenge. Here is their insight into what is in store for all teams who have signed up for this adventure.
Overall route comments
Not a mountain in sight – no Vosges, Black Forest, Switzerland or Luxembourg, no 5-6 mile climbs of 7-10% – so this will be a ride in the park or simply promenading alongside the Normandy beaches. Well…..actually No! Over the three days we have over 26,000’ of elevation gains which are spread fairly evenly over the entire route. There are many short hills (and a few longer ones) and we will mark those over 10% on the route notes!
Other features include:
Many Brittany churches with a variety of different tower designs
A few chateaux en route
Some great views of the English Channel and some of the north coast bays of France
Very few drives in and out of cities to reduce cycling in busy towns
Two nights in Rennes and an opportunity to look around the city
A much shorter drive back to Calais than in previous years.
In Chartres on Thursday night, most of us are in the Novotel with a few of us in the adjoining Petit-Dej Hotel. We will all eat dinner and breakfast in the Novotel.
In Rennes we have exclusive occupancy (a first for Extra Mile) of Novotel Rennes Alma. We all eat there on Friday night. On Saturday, dinner will be at your choice of restaurant in Rennes (hotel restaurant is closed). There are two benefits to this, firstly it creates the opportunity for you to see Rennes and secondly, you will not be subjected to any speech by Preston!
In Caen we are split between Mercure Cote de Nacre (where we are holding our Gala Dinner) and Novotel Cote de Nacre. Both hotels are north of the city, just over a mile apart, which is two stops on the tram (which does run late into Sunday evening).
We get the Channel Tunnel late morning and then have a 214 mile drive to Chartres – our recommended route is via Rouen, not Paris. The striking cathedral can be seen for many miles before we get to Chartres. The journey should take approximately 4 hours and you should be in the hotel bar well before dinner timed for 7.45pm. Dinner will be followed by our mandatory safety briefing.
Friday – Day 1 Cycling – 171 miles – 9886ft elevation gains
We travel due west today and cycle through many forests to provide a little protection (either from the hot sun or perhaps a westerly breeze). We spend many miles in the Commune du Parc du Peche – look out for chateaux, ruins and fish lakes. By choosing the best roads to cycle, we finish short of Rennes in a square by a cafe in the village of Port Brillet. We then have a 40 minute drive to our hotel.
Saturday – Day 2 Cycling – 174 miles – 7388ft elevation gains
We have a 35 minute drive to our cycle start at Caulnes (east north-east of Rennes). We head north to the Brittany coast (our first picture above is at the start of the climb to the cliff top at Cap Frehel). This is Extra Mile’s first ever trip to the seaside. We drop inland and cross the river Rance south of Dinard/St Malo before we return to the Emerald Coast and the Bay of Mont St Michel. Then it’s back to Rennes for dinner in town.
Sunday – Day 3 Cycling – 165 miles – 8,948ft elevation gains
We cycle out of Rennes early Sunday morning and again head north – this time towards the Normandy D-Day Landing beaches. On the way we have an interesting 12% climb from the bottom to the top of the Barrage de Vezins (see pictures).
Our last 30 miles take us past “Omaha”, “Gold” and “Juno” beaches, past many monuments, a few tanks, pontoon bridges, the Arromanches caissons and a few interesting buildings.
We finish in the coastal town of Courseulles adjacent to the Juno Museum which pays tribute to the Canadian troops who fell in June 1944. It is then a short drive into the north side of Caen.
A quick story to put the last 30 miles into context. On the Monday morning at the hotel we chatted to two 91-year old war veterans proudly displaying their many medals having been just 17 when they first landed on the Normandy beaches.
The drive back to Calais is just 210 miles, about 3 ½ hours driving time. Channel crossings are booked for late afternoon allowing a couple of hours sightseeing in Caen (castle, cathedral, port), back to the landing beaches or a quick stop at Honfleur on the return journey. We return across the Pont de Normandie (where Rob insisted on driving in the left lane as it was further from the edge!).
Since our route check, I have updated the cycling routes on ridewithgps. They can be viewed at:
Have a look, the scale can easily be amended to view more detail.
We look forward to seeing you in Brittany for another amazing Extra Mile Challenge and perhaps on one or two training rides before September (which will be announced shortly).
If you have not yet entered the Brittany Challenge, at the time of writing there are still a few team places available. But enter without delay because our hotel in Rennes defines our absolute maximum number of teams at 43 this year.
The Early Bird discounted entry fee for the Brittany Challenge on 21-25 September is just £1,496 for the whole team of four. This includes quality hotel bed and breakfast for 4 nights, channel tunnel crossing, grand gala dinner on the last night, dinner on two other nights and a lot of direction arrows for 500 miles). This is fantastic value (due to our amazing commercial supporters).
BUT to qualify you must submit your entry form and pay the entry fee in full by 30 April 2017 latest. Don’t miss out – Act now.
Initial entry information is easy to complete and the forms indicate how to pay the fee.
For existing entries who have paid a deposit, it is important to submit the balance by 30 April
In addition, if you entered the Lake Geneva Challenge and have encouraged a new team to enter our Brittany Challenge, download the Porsche Experience Flyer – you may qualify for this fantastic Porsche driving experience. The deadline for this competition is also 30 April. Flyer link is on our website Home page.
We look forward to seeing you in Chartres, Rennes, Caen and on the scenic roads joining these great cities.
Extramile Challenges held the Annual Presentation Evening at Corner 5 recently.
Riders, Commercial Supporters and Marshals from the 2016 Lake Geneva Challenge were joined by representatives of the Organiser's Charities to hear how such an enjoyable ride last September had raised such a tremendous amount for good causes.
With a huge headline figure of £82440.00, the totals raised since 2003 now exceed 1.4 million pounds! And remember, all fundraising is donated without any deduction - thanks to the generous support of our Commercial Supporters.
Over 40 Charities benefited from this year's Challenge - with each of the 3 core Charities this year receiving SIX THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED POUNDS!!!
Everyone - a massive well done - and now for 2017!
With more than 20 Teams already entered, and paid (or promised!!) deposits, places are filling fast. Take a look at the flyer and entry form on the website home page and get your entry over to us soon to avoid disappointment.
As always, we listen to your feedback - and we have a shorter run home, multiple nights staying at one centre and have reintroduced our scatter evening - so you can take in a little more of France than the Novotel pool!!
Well done everyone, and we look forward to seeing you all at our summer Big Rock Sportives and on the Challenge in September.
We have the 2016 Presentation Evening at Corner 5 in Kempston Box End on March 20th - always a great chance to meet with old friends and new, find out about the Brittany Challenge and hear how your hard work has helped local Charities. If you haven't received - or accepted - your invitation yet, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will sort this out for you.
The Brittany Challenge 2017 has been launched - currently with 15 Teams signed up and many more corralling Team Members ready for September. Brittany is an area we haven't visited on the Challenge before, and has the added benefit of being a good deal closer to Calais!! Take a look at our website front page for details and the entry form - www.extra-mile.org.uk
We have a fabulous offer to new and splinter teams entering this year - with the chance to win one of 4 places on a Porsche Experience Day at Silverstone - again, take a look at the flyer on our home page. Take the chance to experience high speed, ice hill and skid pan driving on closed roads with expert tuition - and food as well!!
We have the survey results in, and have taken all the fabulously constructive comments on board - we can't stay complacent, and strive to make each Year's Challenge better value and even more enjoyable; is this possible??
Talking of value, we are massively grateful to our Commercial Supporters - whose generous sponsorship allows us to keep entry costs low and ensure all fundraising is distributed without any deduction.
Welcome back to Axis Electronics, Agria Pet Insurance, Heald Solicitors, Clydesdale, Big rock Climbing Centre and Delomac Roofing; a very big THANK YOU.
If you need to contact us, please email email@example.com - we will get straight back to you!
We have taken time to review all responses to our recent survey, and there have been many valuable and constructive suggestions and comments.The feedback really is tremendously useful in planning and improving our Challenges, and showing the support of Commercial Supporters is recognised and appreciated. A few that we will particularly try to address:
Vary the Challenge timetable- multi-night stays are popular, but can restrict the geographical reach of our routes:
Try to reduce the long journey back after the Challenge - maybe starting further south and heading back towards Calais:
Allow 'scatter' evenings for Teams to be able to eat out in the towns we visit independently:
Be even more simple and transparent with fundraising collection - and how this is distributed;
Consider signage differentiation where 2 days' routes coincide in coming in and going out:
Improve the finish line experience to allow teams to celebrate their achievement together:
We hope to see many of you on the Brittany Challenge 2017, which already checks many of your wish list points: take a look at www.extra-mile.org.uk for details of the Challenge and the chance to win one of 4 Porsche Driving Experiences. Thanks again, The Extramile TeamRead More
With entries now open for the 2017 Extra-mile Brittany Challenge, there are some great incentives on offer to New and returning Teams. Take a look at the Brittany Route and details on our flyer - download here:
The first step is to register your team by returning the entry form to firstname.lastname@example.org - download the entry form here, and then sending Preston your deposit cheque.
On receiving the entry form, we can then send a link to the online entry system to collect further Team, Rider and Vehicle details.
To encourage New Teams, we have on offer 4 places at the Porsche Driving Experience at Silverstone - where you can test Boxsters, Cayman and 911s on the Porsche track - including several water and ice simulation sections and a chance to view some of the current and classic Porsche on display. Take a look at the flyer for full details - PORSCHE EXPERIENCE
We are also holding our annual Presentation - again at Corner 5 in Kempston Box End. Always a good chance to meet your friends from the Challenge. Cheques will be presented for the 2016 Lake Geneva Challenge, and we will be updating on the plans for 2017.
Please let Rob Oakley know for catering if you and your friends are able to come - email@example.com
Monday 20th March 2017 from 6.00pm - 8.00pm at Corner 5 Restaurant & Bar Box End Park, Box End, Kempston, Bedford, MK43 8RQ
We’re off to Brittany - for its craggy shoreline, its rolling countryside, its forests, its history and of course its cuisine. As ever, we’ve scoured the landscape to devise a strikingly beautiful route. It will show you Brittany at its most glorious.
Book the dates in your diary 21st – 25th September 2017 for yet another fantastic Extra Mile Challenge.