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
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!
A pause for thought on Walton Bridge this morning!
We have a little over a week until our trip to Paris starts – and I am looking forward to it. Not least with a little trepidation, there is always more training and preparation that could have been done.
I know that it will be wretchedly hard work, yet doing so with a dear friend and for a great cause will make it enjoyable.
While I was out for a ride this morning, I reflected on why we are doing it. I think about Iris a lot, everyday in fact. I truly hope that is case for the rest of my life – because while other children grow older, Iris will always be two and half to Kate and I.
Excuse me while I climb inelegantly onto my political high horse. The reason that the Rainbow Trust rely on idiots like Iain and I for fundraising, is that a tiny fraction of their funding comes from government. They provide an essential service at the toughest possible time, and yet there are hundreds of family’s unable to access it due to demand.
Nonsensical austerity, and tory disdain for anyone other than themselves has had proven appalling results – just look at Grenfell Tower recently. That a charity has sprung up to plug the gap of those that need it is telling of the very best of humanity, it is frustrating that government cannot see it.
The most at need in society should be looked after, and not allow to slip between the gaps, and that is what Rainbow do, regardless of class or wealth.
I cannot imagine how hard our lives would have been without Mary – she was a little Lancastrian whirl wind, making sure we got to hospital, knew what was going on, and was a beacon, of energy, humour and compassion.
Long may Rainbow continue.
See you on the road to Paris,
Love and hugs,
Both Adam and I turn 40 this year and, thanks to our lovely wives, our birthday gifts contained an opportunity to get off the road to do a track taster session on the Olympic track at Lea Valley Velodrome
It is an incredibly impressive structure, £93m of brilliantly engineered track befitting of the GB Olympic triumphs that occurred there in 2012 as well as Sir Wiggo’s Hour Record. Laura Kenny said at the time that the design of the track was so good that you could feel the difference in pursuit circumstances.
The inside was incredibly daunting to be honest, with banking that ranged from the flat safety strip to 42 degrees at the top of the curves the scale up close is so much different to what you see on the TV!
The other more apparent issue to me, at the start, was that I had never ridden a fixie bike with no brakes. I think that was the part of the whole experience that made me the most apprehensive. A few gentle laps of the safety strip and I was starting to get the hang of it, although controlling a steady pace that is comfortable for you can be difficult if the person in front has a comfortable pace that is different to yours! Boo you man in yellow!
As we progressed up the track, onto the Cote (the light blue strip on the edge of the track), then the black line, then the red, the pace increased and we were able to start to overtake with clear instruction to the person in front to hold their line by shouting “Stay!”.
The physics of the velodrome combined with the fixed nature of the bike really punishes you! You have to keep pedalling regardless and the higher you go up the track, the more watts you have to lay down. I had incredible respect for the track riders before this experience but having the chance to experience what they do has elevated them even further in my estimations. It is a tough, relentless sport that requires stamina, power, fitness, concentration and mental fortitude – the speed that the pros go at intensifies all of those requirements.
It was a brilliant experience and I will definitely head back there for another go…. maybe I’ll incorporate the BMX track next time too!