TWO men originally from Tavistock joined fellow members of the Exeter Chiefs Cycling Club for a 700-mile charity return cycling trip to Montpellier in southern France.

Matt Haigh and Paul Perkin joined the group of cyclists who completed it in stages over six days during the week of the October 15.

Matt and Paul both went to Tavistock School - now college - in the 1960s and have remained friends for more than 50 years. Paul now lives in Dawlish and Matt in Essex although the latter’s parents live in Mary Tavy.

This ride is the third time the Exeter Chiefs Cycling Club have had long distance challenges to coincide with a Chief’s away European fixture. In previous years they have ridden to the Bordeaux and Ulster games. This year a cycling party of 26 with five support crew left on Sunday, October 15, from Exeter Chief’s ground to Plymstock before boarding the overnight ferry to Roscoff.

The next day they rode from the docks to Vannes a distance of 112 miles through Brittany. From there they cycled 130 miles to Angers.

Paul told the Times: ‘On the Wednesday we saw another long day into Poitiers before riding from there to Brive on Thursday. The penultimate day saw the hardest days riding to Rodez with a very big climb starting at 98 miles! On the final day, we rode onto Montpellier’s Stadium from Millau over the Col du Barriere in the Cezanne via Sauclieres some 88 miles.’

Everyone of all cycling abilities completed the challenge and were greeted by a few hundred Exeter Chief’s supporters, unfortunately the late departure of the team’s plane meant they were unable to meet us.’

To make their day the Exeter Chiefs triumphed 24-27.

Paul added:?‘We intend to ride again next year to wherever the European fixture takes us.’

The ride was on behalf of the Exeter Foundation and this year and so far this ride alone had reached about £22,000 at the middle of this week.

For those who would like to make a donation go to