Woo hooo!!!! We did it!!!
Yes we (all 53 of us) completed the challenge to ride from Paris to London in 4 days. My cycle computer tells me that was 307 miles. My legs and bottom tell me that northern France and Kent are, despite the rumours, NOT flat.
So here's how it went.
Saturday 22nd July - London to Paris
The easy bit. We all met at Waterloo with bikes and equipment that was loaded onto the trucks before the human cargo got onto the Eurostar for an effortless journey to Paris. 53 anxious cyclists in white GOSH t-shirts is quite a site.
Paris was about as hot London (high 30s). So it was imperative to break the ice with my new buddies over several beers. That evening Montmartre took another 4 tourists victim. Of course, in Paris it is important to sample the Tibetan restaurants (?) and The Moulin Rouge.
Sunday 23rd July - Paris
One of the other cyclists has a brother in Paris so we all headed out to Paris St Germain where we were picked up and taken to Garsh (?) a village on the outskirts where Le Tour was passing through. The station restaurant was fantastic (trains that work and good food - surely not).
When the tour passed through they were cruising, sitting up off the handlebars and chatting but still going twice as fast as a normal human being. Quite a sight.
After that is was back to Paris for an early night of nervous sleep.
Monday 24th July
Hot at 7:30am when we gathered outside the hotel to stop the mornig traffic. We headed north west out of Paris through the suburbs. First time i had cycled in a group. Safety in numbers and considerate French drivers meant it was fairly easy. However the first accident happened after after about 10 minutes when a car cut in front of one of the girls and she slammed into the rear wing and over the handlebars. She was OK but the bike needed attention so the support crew and doctor took her and machine in the van for a few miles.
Once out of Paris we started the new routine of about an h our's riding followed by water and snack stop. It must have been 40 degrees on the open plains so we needed it. Lunch was long and leisurely and very good. We had a catering crew with us who would set up in convenient spots and prepare all the food fresh. And it turns out you really need a lot of food when you are doing 90 miles a day. We ate anything that wasn't tied down.
The afternoon was hot too, of course. after a final killer hill we got to Amien where we stayed for the night.
Tuesday 25th July - Amiens to Le Touquet
Next day was hot again. This time i rememebred to drink loads so was much better. Then the second accident, this time Rob , my room-mate and I were taking a roundabout a bit aggressively when he left his peddle down and high-sided it, landing on his back and picking up some nice gravel to go in his scraped back. Again i was right behind. Seems i am bad news! any way he was fine.
Big lunch and big ride to Le Touquet in the afternoon. Our hotel was 4 miles form the beach so we hopped on the bikes and took them down to the sea so we could have a dip. Salt water never felt so good! The lifeguard apparerntly announced we were not allowed to cycle on the beach. Eccentric British!
Visited the war graves (18,000 commonwealth graves) which was very humbling.
Plenty of beer and wine that night.
Wednesday 26th July - Le Touquet to Canterbury
Off in the morning and no rush to reach Calais so we had a big stop at a village a few miles out for beer, coffee, cakes etc. The "Cafe Agriculture" was the sort of place that sees about 2 customers a week and was a bit surprised when 53 hungry and thirsty, sweat-drenched and crazy-eyed foreigners turned up to empty their stock. Think they were quite pleased.
Big hills today. According to my computer I hit 61mph coming down one of them. I think this must have been the one when i was going so fast my eyes stopped working and i had to hope for the best.
Today was also weasel day. Another rider an I were halted by a family of 8 weasels having a big scrap in the road!
The ferry was quick and then we were back in Dover. Immediately their were problems. Someone said the route markers had been tampered with so we all ended up going up Dovers steepest hill only to then have to turn around and go back again. Then we got lost in the lanes to Canterbury. Arrived in a considerably less good mood than the night before. This was somewhat placated by copious beer and wine consumption - the cyclist's friend.
Thursday 27th July - Canterbury to Great Ormond Street
And so the last day. We had a lie-in (7am) and left at 8. The morning was lovely through villages on the North Downs. Harvel Hill was a bit of a monster but there's apub at the top which sells chips! Then we headed to lunch and rest before the final 15 miles into London.
We had Shooters hill to get up before the mean streets (Old Kent Road and into the centre of town). We re-grouped at Waterloo, donned the GOSH t-shirts and set off together towards the hospital. One final accident - a guy who was doing it for the fourth time got knocked off by a taxi (no damage to him, but his bike suffered).
And finally we rounded the corner to Great Ormond Street where a huge cheer went up from the waiting crowd - quite an emotional moment!
And so that was it, bar the reception at the hospital we exchanged stories and said goodbye.
It was a brilliant trip, with good people, great countryside and lots of reasons for wanting to be involved. If you're thinking about doing it, don't. Just get a bike and sign up.
You'll always remember it.
... is broken at last!
Yes I'm still here, despite not posting for some time, and i'm still training (or full of good intentions).
It's now upon me. Saturday morning it's the Eurostar to Paris to meet the other 52 cyclists taking part. Sunday will be spent watching the professionals do it - we get to watch the final stage of Le Tour as they speed through the streets of Paris. And then reality hits at 8am Monday morning as we set off for 4 days, 286 miles, back to Great Ormond Street in London.
due to new job I have neglected my blog housekeeping and haven't posted recently!
I've also been a bit lazy with the rides although i have been out once or twice.
As i recall did 24 miles on 27th June and 30 miles on 29th June followed by 35 miles on 1st July.
This week i've done nothing - but i have finished my book "French Revolutions" by Tim Moore about a bloke who decides to ride the Tour route, despite having not cycled since he was a nipper.
And at last I can reveal the route of the ride.
As you may know, the ride starts Monday 24th June - the day after the Tour de France finishes in Paris.
First day takes us from Northern Paris to Amiens via Meru and Beauvais. This is 75 miles.
Day 2 is Amiens to Le Touquet . This route takes across across the Somme and past cemeteries and monuments to WW1. Distance 68 miles.
Day 3 is Le Touquet to Calais, hop onto the ferry and finish at Canterbury. Only 59 miles (easy!)
Final day is Canterbury to Great Ormond Street Hospital, London. 57 miles.
And that will be it. The day after I drive down to Devon to get ready for my mate's wedding at Combe House Hotel where I will be a rather sore usher (probably trying not to sit down!)
Not long to go now!
Apologies, no posts for a few days. My computer lives in the understairs cupboard and it's too hot at the moment to spend time in there typing.
If you're wondering why i have a "computer room" in a cupboard, look at St Albans house prices.
Anyway, I've been doing some hot weather training. Yesterday it was 32 celsius in the shade. Now that i am super-fast however, i think i have become self-cooling, as it didn't seem uncomfortable.
So, 3 rides: 44, 30 and 29.5 miles. another good week.
Only problem is i'm running out of new places to ride. think will have to investigate some more leafy lanes.
Friday night's ride was interesting - I got shot at!
Some guy was in his garden outside Whitwell. as i cycled past behind a hedge he fired off an enormous shotgun! I'm hoping it was not at me, perhaps a rabbit was the intended target. anyway no harm done.
When i went past on the way back he'd gone. perhaps into his house to oil his man traps.
31 miles, chain fell off 3 times. 594 miles to date.
I've not had time to do this before. too many demands on time! anyway on Sunday I did another 45 miles. St Albans - Lilley - Barton-Le-Clay - Pirton - Hitchin - St Albans. Set of at 7:30 and took 2hrs 47 mins.
Have got to say it is getting much easier and these cycle shoes with cleats that attach to the pedals are great! i went for Look pedals which are apparently good for first timers - i have to agree, no problems. And the knees don't hurt anymore.
Also elbow update - i found a website that suggested I turn the brake sets in on the handlebars. this is a more natural position and prevents carporal tunnel and elbow pain. I predict maximum 1% of readers would be interested in this fact, but there you go - you are the 1 percenters!
Finally it has stopped raining long enough to put sunglasses on. What a miserable May this is!!!
Last night i did the same route again (to Lilley and back). It's really nice around there, quiet roads and tranquil countryside. And loads of cyclists. How come i'm still the youngest bloke on a bike (I'm 33!). Have I chosen an old geezers sport? or do middle age men just a thing for lycra?
Anyway another 31 miles bringing total training miles todate to 518.