Simon Watson recounts memories of the London to Paris Cycle Ride.
“We set off in groups on our way to Dover, with Coquelles, near Calais, our day one destination. The pace was quick as adrenalin pushed us on out of London and into the rolling countryside of Kent. During my three months and 1,600 miles of training I had suffered only one puncture which obviously meant that I was due another one. Sure enough with just two hours and about 30 miles gone I was descending a hill, hit a pothole and burst the front inner tube. Fortunately after a quick change of tube we were on our way again.
Each day was split into legs separated by food stops. Each morning and afternoon there were water stops with as many bananas and muesli bars as we could manage to eat, and at lunch time the caterers were on hand to provide us with wonderful lunches of hot and cold pasta, salad, fruit, pork pies, cheese, bread, cold meats and, Nigel’s favourite, sausage rolls.
The route on day one included a number of short sharp climbs; on day two the climbs were longer but less steep and predominantly on quiet country roads. On day three the roads were less undulating and there were many military cemeteries en-route as we cycled down poppy lined roads where the front line would have been nearly a century ago. We also had a wonderful view of the river Somme and passed through many deserted French villages over a variety of terrains, including very rough cobbles in one village! Luckily we had perfect weather for cycling the whole 4 days.
The final day was to be the least demanding in terms of physical exertion, and so we made good time. We stopped in the outskirts of Paris for coffee and then were led on our bikes to the Arc de Triomphe, down the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, across the Seine to the Eiffel Tower, where we were met by the family. After many photos and much back slapping we made our way to the hotel (by bike of course), where we were treated to a glass of Champagne and the best hotel we’d stayed in all week, the Pullman Rive Gauche. A celebratory meal was laid on by the organisers, Discover Adventure, and we then spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the delights of Paris!
Total mileage cycled is unknown but it is somewhere between 305 and 317 miles over the four days. But regardless of distance covered we had a fantastic time and it’s an experience we’ll remember for years to come. Or until we decide on our next challenge at least!
That leaves us one thing to say and that is thank you very much for your sponsorship. Between us we have raised in the region of £4,000 for Epilepsy Research UK. We couldn’t have done it without your support!”