It was, however, the greeting afforded to the 22 intrepid cyclists as they cruised their way into the entrance of the Stade Chaban Delmas at the end of the Exeter European Cycle Challenge.
Six days after leaving Sandy Park, the group were afforded a rapturous welcome from Exeter Chiefs’ players, staff and supporters alike as they marked the end of their mammoth 485-mile ride.
Set up in aid of the club’s official charity, the Exeter Foundation, the cyclists overcame a series of testing conditions throughout the trip to raise in excess of £20,000.
An idea dreamed up initially by organiser Dave Cosford, he turned his love of the Chiefs and cycling into a challenge he thought only a handful would only really take up.
In the end, Dave was joined by 21 others for the epic ride, which saw them arrive in plenty of time for the European Champions Cup encounter between Bordeaux-Begles and Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.
“It’s been tough at times, but what an experience it has been,” said Dave on his arrival in the French city. “Some of the days have been long and tiresome, but coming in at the end was a very special feeling for all of us, especially seeing the players, coaches and supporters at the finish line.”
During the ride, the group endured some horrendous weather conditions, including black ice on the final day that caused some of the riders to crash. Thankfully, no one sustained injury and it was somewhat fitting as they cruised into Bordeaux, the sun was beating down on their backs.
“I think we’ve experienced every bit of weather over the course of the week,” added Dave. “The last morning was particularly tough because of the black ice, but we’re all here in one piece and we’ve raised a lot of money for the Exeter Foundation.
"I can't thanks the cyclists or the support team enough, it was a brilliant effort from all of them."
Helping to assist the group along the way was Exeter Rugby Club chairman and chief executive, Tony Rowe OBE, who drove his own bus – fully loaded with refreshments and supplies – through the famous wine-making region.
“I think it’s terrific what these guys have achieved this week,” said Tony. “Some of the conditions they have had to endure along the route have been horrendous, but they’ve all cracked on and they’ve all made it to the finish line.
“Driving in at the end was fantastic, especially seeing all the supporters lining up along the road and cheering the guys on.”
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