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.
So we’re finally in a hotel room somewhere in Calais. After starting out from Crystal Palace at about 7:30am this morning, we wound our way out of London and down through the Kent countryside towards the sea. About 9 hours and 90 miles later, we reached Dover and proceeded in convoy to the ferry. A short spin on weary legs and we finally reached a shower and a much needed bed!
Tomorrow is 71 miles to Abbeville, the alarm is set ready to face the bike for the second day in a row
As planned, this morning I managed to get out on the bike to do a bit of a recce on part of the route we’ll be taking on Wednesday. I’d planned a 40 mile loop that would include about 18 miles of the London to Paris route.
You wouldn’t necessarily expect to find my country roads in around London but the road out of Addington is exactly that. It’s a narrow, winding road that climbs up to Farthing Street and around the back of Biggin Hill. The narrow nature of the road can make it difficult for cyclists as there is little passing distance, even cars going in opposite directions cannot pass each other. I sat in behind 3 fellas who were on their way out to Eastbourne then turning back for Tunbridge Wells, the easy pace suited me fine!
The road opens out a bit after that and it was certainly one for the puncheurs as the continual low gradient climb was perforated by rolling terrain. I’m pretty used to this area as it isn’t far from my usual routes so thankfully I’ve had a lot of practice! The timelapse below shows the L2P part of my route today
As with every ride, I have to get home and that means a pretty big hill to get up. The easiest is probably the Clarks Lane way from Westerham into Warlingham but, even then, there’s the 7% 0.7 mile slog up Beggars Lane to deal with. Most cyclists don’t worry about this kind of thing but for a fat 40 year old it is a bit of a ballache at the end of a ride! If you can be bothered to watch, below is the a link to the easiest route for me to get back to Warlingham from Surrey or Kent
Clarks Lane To Home
Posted in London To Paris
Tagged bicycle, bike, bikes, cycling, fitness, kent, london, London To Paris, paris, road bike, surrey, training, update
It’s now just 5 days until we leave for Paris and, despite the slight creeping fear and trepidation of what’s in store, I really can’t wait to get going. My packing, on the other hand, does not reflect that eagerness!
Watching Le Tour has certainly helped to stoke the anticipation. Though we won’t be emulating the feats of Uran in Chambéry or Bardet in Peyragudes, watching these guys at one with their bikes conquering some of the toughest roads in France stirs the imagination and makes you pine for the open road. Seeing their faces contort and twist as they do battle with gradients I’d struggle to walk up always reminds me of this fabulous quote
“It doesn’t matter if you’re sprinting for an Olympic gold medal, a town sign, a trailhead, or the rest stop with the homemade brownies. If you never confront pain, you’re missing the essence of the sport” – Scott Martin
Adam and I obviously have a special reason for doing what we’re doing, an added incentive to keep going until the Eiffel Tower looms into view next Saturday. We have been humbled by the support we have received from all corners and we’re delighted that, going into the ride, we know that the Rainbow Trust will be over £5,000 better off due to the generosity of our friends and colleagues.
Tomorrow I’m planning to go out and do a small recce of part of the route we are going to be doing on the first day. Running from Addington to Seal, the 18 mile stretch climbs gradually for the first 8 miles so it is bound to be a bit of a long drag but it will give me an opportunity to try out my new GoPro set up and have a bit of fun on the bike before the serious stuff starts
After that it really will be about figuring out what to pack! Weather in France looks fairly warm next week so I don’t envisage needing the thermal jacket!
So it really is all downhill to the off from here, I just wish it was all downhill to Paris!
Posted in London To Paris, Uncategorized
Tagged bicycle, bike, bikes, charity, cycling, fitness, five, garmin, gopro, london, paris, road bike, training, update