On a grey and damp Thursday in July, I made my way to Crystal Palace Park at 6.30 a.m to meet up with 29 other riders and our tour organisers for the first time, to embark on a 3 day ride from London to Paris. I didn’t really know what to expect but as we got underway I quickly matched up with another lone rider of about the same fitness. Despite the early start we had a bit of time pressure on day 1 as we had to get to Newhaven in time for the ferry! The ride was challenging having to cross the south downs and, despite the sun coming out for the afternoon, we had to fight some fairly significant cross and head winds but we rolled down to the check in with about half an hour or so to spare. With the 4 hour ferry journey and the change in time arriving in France it was gone midnight before we were tucked up in our beds.
The second day was the shortest ride and with no time constraints we had the luxury of a 10 o’clock start. It remained sunny all day and the route took us through some really beautiful French countryside. The wind however kept up and, especially in the afternoon, the terrain was definitely undulating!
The final day was another early start as we had over 70 miles to cover. The morning was once again a bit grey and dismal, at times we all just put our heads down and pedaled, at others we came together in small groups to chat and cycle together which really helped on some of the harder sections. We had covered 46 miles by lunch time, over half the day’s distance, as the second section would be significantly slower winding through Paris suburbs and on to the city centre. The rain petered out and it became pleasantly bright for the rest of our journey. Negotiating the Paris traffic was “interesting” especially towards the end when we were trying to stay together but finally the Eiffel Tower came into full view. This was an amazing feeling although it was difficult to take it in and concentrate. We ended our ride at the furthest end of the Champs de Mars park from the Tower where we were greeted by friends and family that had come for support.
This was certainly a challenging event but it was also an amazing experience. It was so well organised that we really had nothing to worry about except the riding, all the others taking part were great company and it’s something I would really recommend to anyone that might be considering it.
By Gill Nord