I'm not sure when our holidays evolved from mostly 'normal' holidays, with a fair amount of P.E. thrown in to ward off hangovers or earn our dinners, to their current incarnation of mostly P.E. with the occasional break for food, booze and sleep.
As Franz Ferdinand said "it's always better on holiday...that's why we only work when we need the money", and we love our holidays, and the tougher the better. But have you got what it takes to hack it on a Fully Sussed holiday?
1. Pack light.
We're not talking 'travel light, freeze at night', and we are generally not so hard core that we saw our toothbrushes in half, but you can definitely leave the hairdryer and the stilettos at home. Not only have you got to cram all your cargo into a Bob Yak trailer bag, you've then got to drag it all over everything that stands before you and the bag of peanut crisps that is waiting for you at the campsite. So how many pairs of pants do you actually need for a fortnight? Two? Perfect.
Put the GPS away. We're going old school folding maps, and asking a nice Frenchman for directions when we inevitably get lost. On our holidays, the cycling is the holiday, so it doesn't matter if you get to your planned destination for that day or not, as long as you found some nice riding, got to speak to a bemused Frenchman and had some top tucker on the way. A day of successful navigation is a triumph, and you can sit on the campsite in the rosy glow of the map ninja. An eight hour day dragging the trailers through the French Black Mountains by mistake was not triumphant, and the only thing rosy was...well you can probably guess.
3. Life's a drag.
Our trailers are probably the only thing we'd go back into a burning building to rescue. With the worrying trend for bolt through axles on all bikes, we will always have a place in our garage for a bike with traditional quick releases and proven towing ability. Our trailers have been dragged across Dartmoor, Exmoor and Scotland, through France and Spain, and there is no greater satisfaction than passing a gaggle of lycra clad, carbon riding roadies in the mountains, when you are the cycling equivalent of a tortoise.
4. Do the trangia squat.
As Masterchef's resident baldy Greg Wallace said "cooking doesn't get any tougher than this". Not only have you just shredded your legs on an epic day in the saddle, you've then got to bend your body into complicated yoga squat poses, and hold that position while trying to rustle up something half edible while trying not to eat France's total stock of peanut crisps and getting it done before a) the beer you just drank renders you unconscious and b) cramp sets in.
5. And they made me suffer...
Trail racing in France is the modern equivalent of Madame la Guillotine. Designed specifically to kill off the English, they remain the toughest thing we do these days. This photo documents my mental anguish when asked by a lovely French lady whether I wanted butter or sugar on my crepe at the free post-race buffet. And yes, of course the correct answer was "BOTH!"
6. ...and suffer,
Trail racing in France is so bone-crushingly brutal, you end up crying mud. Maddie used so many calories in this particular photo that her head shrunk. Our current holiday format always revolve around riding to numerous trail races in Brittany. Forget hitting the autoroute down to the mountains, following the herd on the route most trodden, you can be off the ferry and hitting the trails almost straight away.
7. ...and suffer.
Racing over, it's trailers on and off we go again. At some point the paranoia of "I'm sure Maddie has sneaked all her heavy kit into my trailer" will set in, and a non-scientific trailer weight comparison will quickly follow, but you have to accept that it's OK to be tired and in France there will always be a jump-leads coffee available before long. So suck it up, buttercup.
Freaky eaters need not apply. If you are a windfall fruitarian, then you are going to be very, very hungry. If you've ridden for hours, only to find that the tiny campsite shop only stocks Haribos, rice and cider, then that's what you've got for tea. But this is France, and when you've got the opportunity to take in a day's worth of calories at breakfast, you're not going to starve. When Horton motto number 42 is 'Another crust bites the dust', food is always going to be important to us and generally turns into another speed eating race, slow food be damned.
I guess a certain level of exercise produces Olympic standard sleepers. The attribute that we rate highest on our CVs is the ability to sleep on a chicken's lip, and it's stunning that we've never fallen asleep on our bikes. One day we'll undoubtedly be moaning about not being able to sleep, or getting by on four hours sleep a night, but currently we sleep like teenagers, and never better than when in a cramped, sweaty two man tent.
And off we go again. Only another 120 km before rice and haribo stew.
There may be some public Fully Sussed tours kicking off in the Summer of 2019 so you can come and experience some trailer joy with us in Britanny. If you're tough enough.