London to Paris completed! A (brief) initial report.

Well, we did it. Eleven cyclists. 266 miles. Four days. And only one puncture. 

Marble Arch, Thursday 8am.
Eleven riders raring to go.

What an amazing experience it was. Apart from a few hills that were damned hard work, I loved every minute. Heck, even the hills weren’t that bad, as a long climb was almost always rewarded by a fantastic sweep back down the other side.

In f act, I was amazed at how I got on. The first day alone was the longest I’d ever ridden, so I thought that the next day would be hard work right from the start, but I was delighted to discover that I felt just the same on day two as I had on day one. And so it continued. My thighs are aching, and I’m a bit saddle sore, but apart from that I feel absolutely fantastic.

I’m quite sure that there’s no way I could have undertaken such a ride alone. The random bunch of cyclists who came together to do this ride turned out to be a lovely group, and it was a pleasure to ride with them. And an ideal number, too: enough to group and ride as a bunch, to help one another along, to encourage, support, cajole, and mock one another. And few enough that over four days we could actually get to know one another and it soon felt like riding with friends. I suspect that would be less likely to happen riding with a much bigger group. It was great to have the benefit of a couple of  experienced club riders who could advise us on all sorts of technical, physiological, psychological and practical issues, and also others who, like me, had never done anything remotely like this before. At least a couple had hardly ridden since childhood until signing up for this ride. But we stuck together, and all made it in one piece. We’ve all swapped contact details; I hope some of us manage to stay in touch.

And we also couldn’t have done it without the support of an amazing crew. At every stop – or whenever we needed – we had an endless supply of water, energy bars, snacks, sweets available. And picnic lunches of fresh french bread, cheeses and meats, cakes, crisps – as much as we needed. All served up from the back of a big white van.

Arc de Triomphe, Sunday 2pm.
A well-earned glass of champagne or three.

Overall, I’m so utterly glad I’ve done it. People have asked if I’ll do it again next year. Initially, I said not. But it occurs to me that if I could persuade a few friends to do it with me, I might consider it. Anyone fancy a challenge?

This is just a short report until I can get myself sorted to write up each day in detail. I’m back at work today (!) so not sure when I’ll get started on it.


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