So to Paris by Pedal it is then ...
Cycling from London to Paris is definitely up there as one of my biggest lifetime achievements and what better cause to do it for than KiteRight; a local and very inspirational charity. Just before we begun the challenge at Hampton Court Station, it dawned on me how tough the next three days were going to be, I wasn’t wrong in the slightest.
The first 40 miles were steady, the second 40 miles involved torrential winds and rain so the entire group were completely soaked through to the bone- an extremely tough leg of the journey and a true test of stamina. Our enthusiastic group leaders were there to meet us as we arrived in Portsmouth, giving us the motivational cheers and shouts we needed. There was a nice ambience in the pub that evening as we all warmed up and reflected on our relentless commitment and achievement of the afternoon.
We boarded the ferry to Le Havre that evening right after we spent some time attempting to dry our sodden clothes using the hand dryers in the toilet - thankfully it worked! The start of day two was tricky especially initially getting back on the bikes as the numb bumbs had started to kick in. We started along the French roads and really begun to get a taster of the stunning surroundings, cycling through a number of picturesque landscapes and villages. The tranquil route, carefully planned by our group leaders definitely made the experience more enjoyable, you got sucked into the scenery and stopped thinking about the burning legs! We really were looked after by ‘Choose A Challenge’, always making sure we were motivated and charged up with energy by feeding us copious amounts of chocolate and biscuits.
By lunch time of the second day, the group had started to gel and get to know each other better. Tiredness was starting to catch up with me though and I did momentarily fall asleep after lunch which made very hard to get up. In the afternoon, we covered a 35km, fairly flat stretch through the countryside. This for me was one of my highlights as although it was less challenging, the leisurely route gave me a chance to chat to different people in the group. I actually forgot we were cycling at points and it went so quickly. We arrived that evening in Evereux and indulged in a carbo-loaded dinner followed by a very early bed time!
The morning of the last day of cycling, everyone was buzzing and ready to get cracking. We caned the first 30km in good time to our first checkpoint.
Then pressing on through the French landscapes we conquered menacing hills and long stretches of road. Another one of my highlights was when one of my team mates got caught having a wee by the side of the road by a group of French who looked out their window whilst they were having lunch in their house, their shocked reaction and her shriek when she realised was hilarious. We stopped for another amazing lunch, which psyched us up for the final push of cycling. Immediately after lunch, we were faced with going up the longest and steepest hill I have ever seen in my life. It was brutal and nearly killed me but still powered through nonetheless.
We stopped at the stunning Palace of Versailles, a really striking place to wonder around. We continued with the last 15km on to Paris- so close. My bum had gone beyond numb and my knees started to hurt, motivation was in a downward spiral, as we hadn’t seen any signs to Paris for a while. One of the girls shouted ‘There’s the top of the Eiffel Tower’ which was music to my ears and the reason we hadn’t seen signs was because we were already there!
The buzz of the group was phenomenal as we pressed on and arrived in front of the famous landmark. We were greeted by our group leaders; Paul and Steph, as well as a random group of Canadians who they had befriended whilst waiting for us. We cracked on with the champagne and soaked up the atmosphere, taking the opportunity to get the heroic shot of us in front of the Eiffel holding our bikes above our head
The feeling of achievement was mind blowing and momentarily all the physical aches and pains disappeared.
After that we had our time to chill in Paris and explore the French capital at ease for a couple of days, saw all of the sites including the Cathedral of Notre Dame and took a trip to Le Louvre.
Such an amazing trip that I will never forget.