A few months ago Gabi put my name down to ride from London to Paris in support of COSMIC (the Paediatric intensive care unit at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington). This was the brain child of Chris Bunker who is part of the Wellcome Collection Development Project team, of which Gabi is also member of, due to her current work project. I didn’t really give it much thought until someone actually donated some money on my fundraising page and then it suddenly became real. With the ride being at the end of March and me being a fair weather cyclist I wasn’t too keen to get out and train over the winter months, but with a few indoor training sessions I started to get those cycling sensations back into the legs. Panic then crept in as after a 3 week trip to New Zealand and Australia we were only left with eighteen days to clock up some miles so we could ride the required 130km-160kms a day, for 3 days, to get to Paris.
The first day to Dover was a solid day on the bike. The route was quite hilly and it’s always a challenge riding on unknown roads. Day two was a long day. A 3.30am get up to catch our ferry to Calais was hard work and to make matters worse it was pouring down. The weather forecast was for it to clear around 10am but that meant a good couple of hours riding through France in reasonably heavy rain. We hadn’t even left Calais when bad luck struck in the form of railway lines crossing the road at an angle and 4 or 5 riders hit the deck with Chris, our leader, coming off the worst and breaking a bone in his shoulder. We were forced to carry on while Chris and the support van went looking for a hospital. The ensuing 2-3 hours of rain-soaked riding were probably some of the most miserable miles I have ever done on a bike, so when the sun came out and it warmed up it was a huge relief. The rest of the day was great fun with some nice roads and great scenery. Day three from Amiens to Paris was also a brilliant day riding on quiet, smooth roads until we reached the outskirts of Paris. It suddenly got very busy and traversing across Paris was a little nerve racking at times. However we soon had the Eiffel Tower in our sights and nothing was going to stop us. After a quick celebration beneath the Eiffel Tower we headed to the hotel and a celebratory well earned steak!
I would like to thank all those that donated money to my Just Giving page in support of COSMIC and I was very impressed by the efforts of everyone to get to Paris, especially as a few riders had only been riding for a few months. Our target was £10,000 and we have currently raised £15,100. Well Done guys and girls!
Early start at the Wellcome Trust on day one.
Big thanks to Steve for organizing some breakfast before we set off. Can’t go wrong with porridge and coffee.
Regrouping in Gravesend after a morning tea break. Clearly Neil feeling the heat with his short sleeve jersey and shorts whilst the rest of us are rugged up!
Gabi leading the charge! Just like the old days….
The roads to Dover.
One of the many hills encountered. Some happier than others.
The ferry to Calais. Breakfast onboard and preparations for rain…
Battling some nasty cross winds through northern France.
Reasonably tight bunch heading into a small rise, allez, allez!
The team were loving the smooth roads and blue skies.
Mark gets his own set of images. New bike, new kit, new shoes and only 300kms of bullying to finally get him to take off those football shorts!
Pushing hard to get to the hotel before the sun goes down.
Finally Paris and the Eiffel Tower. Quite the sight-seeing trip through Paris.
The last leg to the train station. No Lycra today. Some were more tired than others, however this may not have been from the cycling but a late night in Paris!