The Youth Of Today (The Bike Tour Guides Of Tomorrow).

Last weekend I had the great pleasure of watching two of my neices complete the Ten Tors.

Ten Tors is an annual event run by the Army on Dartmoor. Four hundred teams of six youngsters aged 14 to 20 have to complete a 2-day walk across Dartmoor. There are about 25 different routes, divided into 35-mile, 45-mile and 55-mile routes, and each of them has ten checkpoints which the team must pass through. Each checkpoint is based on a ‘Tor’, that’s what we call hills on Dartmoor, and each one is topped with a characteristic outcrop of granite, betraying Dartmoor’s volcanic routes. Hence Ten Tors .

The teams have to spend a night camping on the Moor, and must take everything they need with them including tents, sleeping bags, stoves, food and emergency equipment. Their rucksacks typically weigh about 30 lbs (14 Kg). The whole event rather gives the lie to this idea that we live in a culture that risk-assesses everything and wraps our children in cotton wool.

Anyway, last Sunday I cycled the 25 miles to Okehampton army camp as part of my training schedule for the Tour of Wessex, and to see two of my nieces, Laurie Dugdale and Imogen Dugdale, complete Ten Tors.

They were just amazing, and so were all their team-mates. Imogen is just 14, and was the captain of a team of 14 and 15-year old boys and girls. Look at them in this photo, isn’t it amazing? They’ve just walked 35 miles in not much more than 24 hours. Immy is the one who looks like a Captain!

Isca College 35-mile Ten Tors team, 2009

Laurie, aged only 15, was doing a 45-mile route that’s more than 70 Km in 2 days. Laurie and Immy go to Isca College in Exeter, but Laurie and some friends walked in combined team with 2 girls from another school, St Margaret’s.

These 15-year olds weigh nothing! They carry 30 lb rucksacks, and walk 45 miles in about a day and a half. And when they finish, they’re still smiling. When you see their feet you wonder how.

Isca College and St Margaret's combine Ten Tors 45-mile team, 2009

Laurie isn’t unique. She’s wonderful and talented, but all her friends are like this. We read all this rubbish about ‘the youth of today’. UK residents will recognise this vitriolic style as the ‘Daily Mail’ style. As far as I can see there is nothing wrong with most of the ‘youth of today’, they seem rather wonderful to me.

Our web optimisation company tell me that I have to make these blog entries relevant to our bike tours. So let’s hope Laurie and Immy will one day be guiding Chain Gang bike tours in France and Italy. That’s the link, and I think our customers will be very lucky if it comes true. Oh, and their Dad, Mike, has guided many Chain Gang tours – there’s another link.

Exeter School 35 & 45-mile Ten Tors member, sometime in the '70s

But really this blog entry is nothing to do with The Chain Gang. It’s about two nieces of whom I am immensely proud. Well done girls.

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