When we left for Paris it was with some trepidation due to my wife being 8 months pregnant. I would never have said it but I was almost certain that my new son or daughter was going to arrive while I was halfway across Northern France. Thankfully, that never happened and my unborn child was still safe and warm when I got back.
Yesterday (23rd August 2017), at 1:04am, my wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy. I still find the whole procedure horrific, I am a follower of science but even I struggle with how evolution has rejected the opportunities to improve the birthing process over the years! Anyway, I had a son, Zac had a baby brother and all was well with mother and child. He was a healthy 8lbs 5oz and we have named him Xavier.
It has been lovely to share this news with family and friends, it is one of life’s greatest experiences, but it did make me think of our trip and why we set out to finish that journey. While Xavier is fit and healthy now there are no guarantees, no divine rights for your children to grow up free from illness or disease. It is for these children and their families where Rainbow can step in, help and mean so much. Our Just Giving pages are still up and running, you can find them through the ‘Donate’ button at the top of the page.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I had watched the Prudential Ride London and really fancied giving it a crack next year.
It’s a lovely, but challenging route that takes in some of the best cycling roads in South London and Surrey. As well as the iconic Box Hill climb (the second most popular Strava segment in the UK after a stretch in Richmond Park), the route also takes in Ranmore Common and Leith Hill. The fact that it is a closed roads sportive and that the pros ride this course as well makes it a little bit more special, indeed this is now a one day Classic recognised on the UCI tour calendar
I will be riding for the Rainbow Trust again and I’m encouraging Adam to sign up too as it would be a great experience for both of us and would definitely justify a new bike! Rainbow have been efficient and sprightly as per usual! Despite only signing up yesterday I was greeted with the below on my return from work today
29th July 2018 is the date for this so plenty of time to get back in the gym and back on the bike!
……but what next for the Fat Blokes On Bikes?
It’s actually quite strange to think that it is already a week since we returned from our big cycling adventure. With time to reflect it has dawned on me what we actually managed to achieve, the distance we travelled on two wheels and the money we raised for the Rainbow Trust and it is truly amazing that we did it. This week has (with the exception of two days at the Oval) been slow and tedious by comparison. It was great to get back and see my family but I’ve felt flat all week, all the training and pedalling is done and that has removed something that I’ve focussed on for near on a year. Adam tells me this is known as post project depression, a recognised effect of the completion of a sizeable task and I can see why. I’ve spent most of the week thinking about what I can do next on a bike, I need something to plan!
In truth I have enough on my plate to keep me occupied in the near future, my wife is due to give birth to our second child at any point so I doubt I’ll get to see my bike anytime soon anyway!
I watched the Surrey Classic Ride London today and that stirred my interest again, I would love to have a crack at that next year so that may be the target although London to Amsterdam also intrigues me as it is further than Paris but flatter!
Adam and I do have one last bike ride to complete this year for the Stroke Association.
The Stroke Association Thames Bridges Bike Ride starts in Chiswick and runs for 55 miles in a loop of London, taking in 18 of the bridges over the Thames and many iconic landmarks on the way. Trafalgar Square, Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace are all on the route as well as cycling over Tower Bridge and London Bridge. Seeing as it is October hopefully the weather will hold up for us and we can finish near Adam’s house for some well earned refreshment
Making this journey had an extra perk seeing as the Tour de France finished in Paris yesterday. Having abandoned our practice of not eating too much before getting on a bike, Adam and I smashed through a multiple course breakfast in our hotel safe in the knowledge that there was no cycling to come at all……well, not for us.
We headed to the Gare du Nord to leave our bags in the left luggage before going for a wander through the city. We had planned to go to the catacombs but the queue was heavy so we wandered back towards the centre of the city, through Le Jardin Du Luxembourg and over the Pont Neuf.
View Down To The Eiffel Tower
Lovers Locks At The Pont Neuf
We stopped for lunch at an amazing Moroccan restaurant in the Marche des Enfants Rouges, partly to eat bust mostly to rest our aching legs! It had become apparent that walking downhill was difficult for our thighs to cope with. We filled up on cous cous and merguez before heading off to buy some presents and find a spot on the Champs Elysees for the main event. Many roads were closed and an eerie silence fell over some avenues in Paris, there aren’t many times you’ll get to take a picture like this
When we got onto the Champs Elysees we were incredibly fortunate to find a spot which doubled as a seat AND a viewing platform to stand on, our view of the race was better than expected!
Our view for the Tour
Perfect spot for a short arse
Skoda – the green jersey sponsors
PAF fly over the Champs Elysees
The Mavic lead car!
Sylvan Chavenel leads the Tour up the Champs Elysees
There was a great atmosphere as the crowds gathered to watch the climax of the Tour, all different teams and nations were represented as the sponsors partied their way, carnival style, up the Champs Elysees before Sylvain Chavenel lead the way for the pro peloton. For us Brits we got to see our winner, Chris Froome, celebrate his fourth Tour win and you wouldn’t bet against him next year either!
We left shortly after the second circuit as we had to be back at the Gare du Nord for our Eurostar home but it was amazing to witness the Tour, in Paris, on the Champs Elysees. So that was that, two tours done and time for home….
……already started thinking about what to do next!
We set off fairly early yesterday morning for the final leg of our mini tour, leaving our hotel in Beauvais at around 7:15am. As soon as we stepped foot out of the door it started to rain so rain coverings were donned and we pushed off for Paris
The light drizzle that was falling as we wound our way back into the French countryside was only a preview of what was to come. The passing drizzle lulled us into stopping to remove the rain coverings but, as we reached the first big climb of the day at 8 miles, the rain returned in torrents. Il pleut….again! It hung around for a few miles, making the roads quite greasy and handling the bike became difficult at times, especially on roundabouts where surface water was laying. As we reached the first water stop the rain had started to subside which was a welcome relief, no more rain rage!
The road to lunch was actually rather lovely, I rode the majority of the way with a couple we had met during the journey, David and Laura. Laura was there as a representative of the Teenage Cancer Trust who had 88 riders taking part and she told me that their wonderful charity would benefit by over £165,000 from this event. An absolutely phenomenal amount. As we hit the suburbs the traffic grew and the pace slowed, we stopped in a park for our lunch stop and the sun came out!
We had a fair bit of time for lunch so it was good to sit down and relax a bit before moving to a holding point in the centre of Paris. From there we put on our victorious blue tshirts and proceeded to the Eiffel Tower in one convoy of over 200 riders.
We’d completed our mission! Job done! Game Over! There was only one obligatory photo left to obtain…..
I’ve loved every minute of this trip, part of me doesn’t want it to end but I can’t wait to get back to see my family. I’m not sure Adam wants to see his bike ever again!
We made some great friends along the way, lovely people doing a phenomenal thing
Thanks to all these legends for being a part of it, Fat Blokes out.
I’m writing this from a hotel room in Beauvais at the end of our third day.
‘Where’s day 2?’ I hear you cry. Well, I’ll tell you.
Day two was horrific, il pleut…..a lot!
I was soaked through at lunchtime and really not loving life! I basically stuck my head down for 20 miles and ignored the stunning scenery just to get to the sanctuary of the lunch stop. The afternoon was better, the sun made an appearance, but the brutal crosswinds made enjoying the day nigh on impossible. That said we did have our moments
We reached Abbeville and pitched up at the lovely Mercure hotel. Following the brandy I had promised myself for enduring the rain, I turned in.
Today was a different kettle of fish all together, brilliant sunshine and warm weather greeted our departure so we were keen to get going. After an unexpected beast of a hill not 10 miles in we were knackered! This was not a good sign and it was folllwed by what was loosely described as ‘rolling hills’! However, after linch, the parcours relented and aside from a couple of lively ramps, the day proceeded rather nicely!
Tomorrow we ride the 50 or so miles to Paris and the Eiffel Tower. This has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done but the most fulfilling and rewarding. We’ve met some incredible people on our trip, from cancer nurses to survivors to people that just want to do some good in a frankly rotten world.