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The Final Day
Tim Millikin worked on the 2021 Trans-Europa Cycling Tour and sends this final report.
It was 8am and the sun was rising over the top of the buildings opposite our hotel, warming us with a bright morning glow. It was the final day of our tour. Stage 31 out of 31 and the last 102 km out of 3035 km. Everyone beamed with pride and excitement as we wore our Trans-Europa branded jerseys out of the hotel and across to the bullring in Ronda for the final snapshot. With the photo taken, everyone was keen to head out onto the last stretch of road of the 2021 Trans-Europa tour. The final day was from Ronda to Gibraltar and we would mark our final ride with a final border crossing – onto the rock and into British territory. The road started like any other in Southern Spain, which was uphill! We slowly made our way up the 800m meter climb and over the first pass of the day.
The road weaved in between towering outcrops of grey and brown rock, rewarding us with more amazing views. It was the final bite in the tail from Spain, but our legs were now strong and our minds resilient to the challenge as we climbed with a gusto we had not seen before. We didn’t have to save any energy for tomorrow, so we gave it our all! From the top of the pass you could look out and see the tops of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. To see Africa from our lofty height made me reflect back to that first day in Slovenia and to finally realize how far we had come. Half way across Europe! A smile beamed from ear to ear and I was reminded how far you can actually travel by bicycle and how lucky I was to be on this TDA Tour.
Suddenly, it was all downhill, literally. A 30 km descent began and we tore down the mountain roads towards Gibraltar. The colours quickly went from grey to green as we headed back to sea level. The temperature increased as did our heart rates after our fun downhill ride. The last stage was a 30km flat section which saw me ride with Eero and Yvonne. They were the last riders to finish the day and we all rode together as a little team, slowly making our way out of Spain and into Britain. We cycled across the runaway at the Gibraltar airport after having our passports checked. There is a traffic light system there letting the road know if there is a plane coming before you cross! Fortunately for us, the lights were green and we crossed into the busy and congested city.
We rode the final 3 km towards the Rock Hotel, which was uphill and was the final climb of the day and the trip! As we turned the last corner to the hotel, we were greeted with bells, whistles, cheers and claps from the other riders. Everyone was waiting for us to arrive, to greet us and pass out the congratulations. It was a great moment. This was a shared journey and it didn’t end until the last riders were in. Champagne popped and stories were told before everyone went back to their rooms to prepare for the final dinner.
The celebration dinner was at a beautiful Gibraltarian restaurant called Rendezvous Chargrill and we passed the evening with good wine and even better food. Awards were given out, speeches were made and we all rejoiced in the knowledge that we had made it. 3035 km over 31 days, 24 riders and 4 staff members, across five countries. The memories made here will last a lifetime – the tough days, the wet days, the days chilling on the beach! It was the first tour that pandemic restrictions had allowed and I can say it was a roaring success. We started with a degree of uncertainty but we finished safely and with the knowledge that tours and travel can once again run. For me, this was the biggest win. Memories of cancelling the 2020 Tour d’Afrique half way through the route faded into the background and were replaced with the new experiences gained on the Trans-Europa.
Join us on this spectacular 2 1/2 month cycling adventure across Europe. The route passes through eleven countries, starting in Tallinn and finishing...
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