Deans Diary of the 2012 London to Paris Bike Ride
Before the event
I was nervous and apprehensive, that feeling of not knowing what you are going into kind of like your first day at school. I was wondering who the other people would be and if I would be the slowest….guess I’ll just have to find out.
I had to get up really early and managed to get there on time at this stage my nerves were sky rocketing.
We met at the York House in Twickenham, I met all the others on the ride everyone seemed really nice. I was put into the ‘fun’ group with Baggy the guide. Baggy gave us a briefing and we were off, by this stage I was really excited!
Baggy was great, he prepared us, told us what was coming up next and how to tackle it. We started off going through Surrey, we passed through Cobham, the town I grew up in and it brought back all sorts of memories.
The hills were tough, in particular this one hill I will always remember. Everyone in the group had to get off and walk it, it was that steep! I remember seeing Niki walking ahead of me and thinking…if Niki has to walk it then I’m getting off now!
It was great getting to know everyone while we were riding along and telling them a bit about myself, I really enjoyed this part.
“On the ride I felt safe, organised – compared to everything else going on in my life”
We made it to Portsmouth where we showered, ate and later got on the overnight ferry; let’s just say I slept well this night.
We arrived in Caen very early, the ferry put on some horrible music at 5.30am to wake everyone up! It was beautiful morning in France riding along the canal to start with and not too far into the ride Baggy stopped us at one of the most significant bridges in the civil war.
This day was our biggest day of riding – 90 miles! The big French open roads were amazing to ride on, so smooth and we could get up to some fast speeds as a group. The small villages and big country fields were so beautiful and picturesque. In the afternoon we stopped for coffee at this tiny French town at a café where the locals were watching the Tour de France.
We then cycled downhill into Evreux which was fun speeding down the hills. We finished the day at a restaurant around the corner from our hotel with everyone and then hit the sack, absolutely shattered!
Can’t believe in less than 10 hours I will be in Paris! So pleasantly surprised by the attitude towards cyclists here in France, we had to stop to change an inner tube and had different groups of people stopping to check if we were ok, nice change from cycling in London. Cars will also give you a wide birth and will honk, not because their angry but to just say hello or well done!
I hit a bit of a wall in the afternoon at our last stop before heading into Paris; I was absolutely exhausted but had to keep going. I was so determined to get there and no way could I give up now after all those miles!
Before heading to the Eiffel we stopped at the Palace of Versailles, it was absolutely beautiful. There was a bridge going over and the backdrop was the whole city with the Eiffel tower such stunning views, getting excited now…so close.
Cycling around the Arch de Triumph was such an experience, all of us in our matching jerseys riding in a peloton; I would describe it as ‘organised chaos’! We then rode down the Champs Elysees and to the Eiffel tower gardens where we were sprayed with bubbles and had team photos under the Eiffel.
It was a fantastic feeling accomplishing this ride, something I had building up to for almost a year. I’m very proud of what I have achieved. Three days ago I was in London now I’m in Paris and I cycled here!
We had a special team dinner at a French restaurant, I said a speech but I forgot the joke I was meant to say. It was a great night with everyone. To finish off this amazing experience the following day we got to watch Bradley Wiggins win the Tour de France I also went sight seeing with some of my new friends around Paris.
I’m feeling a sense of achievement but also sadness that it’s all over. I’m physically and mentally exhausted but it was all worth it and I can’t wait for next year already! I want to say a massive thank you to everyone that sponsored me or helped me along the way somehow – I really appreciate all your support. I feel very privileged and lucky – I won the lottery the other day, only £8 but I’ll take it!