A Letter to the Topsham Middle School
We have now cycled 745 miles from Topsham all the way across France to where we are camped: at the base of Mont Cenis, the mountain that we will climb tomorrow to cross over into Italy. Thank you for your letters and for your support in following our progress. Yes, we have had a some punctures as well as some problems with our bicycles and a few aches and pains ourselves, but we have managed to keep going.
As you know, we always considered that the hardest part of our ride would be crossing the Alps, the high range of mountains that separate France from Italy. All winter long, we thought about the Alps, pored over maps and debated different routes, considering how were ever going to get across them. During the long ride across northern and central France, on those long, straight and flat roads, we always had the prospect of the mountains in our minds. About three days ago, when we crossed over the Monts du Beaujolais, we finally caught our first glimpse of the high mountains, just the faintest grey outline on the far eastern horizon. We kept on cycling, always gradually getting closer to our destination until two days ago, we found ourselves camped in a valley completely surrounded by high, jagged, snow-covered peaks which towered above us. It was daunting and humbling prospect. Would we ever be able to cycle over such high and steep mountains? It seemed almost impossible. Then yesterday we had a long steady ride, always climbing upwards, up the flanks of the mountains to where we are now, camped at altitude of some 1400 metres (nearly five times as high as the Haldon Hills opposite Topsham). It has been very hard work to get here, but we can now see the Col du Mont Cenis, the mountain pass that we will cycle over tomorrow. And do you know what, our mountain no longer seems so daunting or so high and impossible to cross after all.
When we came into school to see you, Mr Lane spoke about challenges. Every challenge is its own mountain. Whether you have a tough homework assignment, or have to swim 5 metres for the first time (well done, Bella!), 10 lengths , or a mile (fantastic Jane G-C), or abseil down the Exeter College building (brava Catherine), or do a pile of chores for your Mum, or learn a new piece on the violin, or take care of your brother or sister, or cope with problems or difficulties, it can often seem like you have an impossible mountain to climb.
We've felt like that, too, at times. But we've just kept going, a little further each day, only looking at the road just before us, not at the impossible distance and peaks way ahead of us. And gradually we've climbed our mountain. By the time you read this, with abit of luck, we should be over the summit and into Italy.
So take courage, keep steady and believe in yourselves and you will climb your mountains, too. Thanks again for following us and cheering us on and see you soon in Topsham!
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