Circuit des Champs de Bataille


A few images from my recent trip to follow the route of the 1919 Circuit des Champs de Bataille, one of the toughest bike races ever staged.

Packed and loaded

Ready to roll

Franco-Prussian battlefield at Froeschwiller (August 1870)

Fort Cassot on the Maginot Line

Saint Avold US Cemetery

Franco-Prussian memorial outside Metz

German fortifications at Thionville

The daily ritual - ride, unpack, wash clothes, charge lights and satnav, eat, sleep, repeat

On the road to Bastogne

In the footsteps of Easy Company (Band of Brothers)

Bois Jacques, Bastogne...very moving to be there in the snow

Snow in the Ardennes

Proper, authentic trench-foot

The author climbing the iconic Kapelmuur at Gerardsbergen, Belgium

Joe at the Canadian cemetery in Adegem

Essex Farm, where John McCrae wrote the poem "In Flanders' Fields"

At the Menin Gate, Ypres

Trenches at Sanctuary Wood, Ypres

Riding the Roubaix velodrome, scene of so many extraordinary events

And on the cobbles of the Paris-Roubaix race

High Wood on the Somme, where 8000 bodies lie, unrecovered, among the bluebells

Phil and Joe at the Thiepval Memorial

A few of the 73,000 names on the Thiepval Memorial. We will remember them.


Chemin des Dames, scene of Nivelle's suicidal offensives in 1917

Muslim and Christian soldiers buried side by side at Cerny-en-Leonnois

Christian Lapie's moving tribute to the Senegalese troops - Constellation de la douleur

German cemetery at Soupir, Chemin des Dames

The ruined abbey at Longpont

Beautiful countryside and empty roads...France at its best

A strategic withdrawal from Paris to heal my broken ribs and prepare for visits to the Marne, Champagne, Meuse-Argonne, Verdun and St Mihiel battlefields. Heading back in mid-June.

Poppies on The Marne

Belleau Wood on The Marne

Memorial to a New Zealand Cyclist Battalion at Marfaux, south of Reims

Destroyed French 75 at Fort de la Pompelle, Reims

The detritus of war, Fort de la Pompelle

The Zone Rouge, considered too dangerous to be cleared of munitions after WW1

Trenches at La Main de Massiges on the Champagne front

Now THAT'S a cheese trolley!

Inside Fort Vaux at Verdun, scene of terrible fighting in 1916

French cemetery at Douaumont, Verdun

The awful reality of war, laid bare at the Douaumont ossuary, Verdun

Thunderstorms over Mort Homme, Verdun

Period vehicles on the Voie Sacrée between Verdun and Bar le Duc

Poppies along the Voie Sacrée

French trenches on the St Mihiel salient

Place Stanislas in Nancy

Lac de Gerardsmer in the Vosges, poisoned by tonnes of explosives dumped there at the end of both World Wars

Misty mountain top...over the Ballon d'Alsace

On the Route des Vins d'Alsace, with Viele Armand (the southern-most battlefield of WW1) in the background

Eguishheim, another ludicrously picturesque Alsace town

Back where I started in Strasbourg