Friday, 1 July 2011

IAN & DANNY’S RIDE TO PARIS IN 24HRS (by Ian)

We set out from Blackheath at 8.15 am on Friday 24th June 2011 along with 150 other riders.  There were predominantly 2 types of riders: Those who were attempting the full 280 miles from the outset and  those who planned to relay as a two man team.  The original plan when we signed up was for relay but now, Danny was up for the full distance and I was not too sure – it was a long way!!!!

The organisation of the event was excellent with great refreshments throughout the trip every 30 to 40 miles and lead by pace riders in order to try and keep control of the groups as there was a large range of abilities.

The 90 mile stretch from London to Dover was harder than I envisaged, mainly my own fault by trying to stay with lead groups.  On arrival in Dover (2.30pm), I had 90 miles in my legs, having averaged 17.5 mph (target 15mph),  tired and had accepted that I would be completing the French sections under relay conditions.  Danny however (helped by being far fitter than me) wanted to ‘go for it’.   A little daunted as to what lay ahead I downed two large cappuccinos , what felt like a kilo of jelly babies on the ferry and donned my helmet.

We started riding in France at about 7.00pm.  The first two stages in France involved several long 5 mile climbs which seemed to go on forever.  I convinced Danny to go on ahead and find his own pace which left me to settle in with several other groups of riders, enabling me to pace myself better and not wear myself out too early.  The miles were long but steadily they ticked away, as did the daylight.  It was not long before the bike lights were on, and the high visibility arm bands were donned.  Riding across France in the black, dead of night was a strange experience, passing huge fields, long straight roads and small very quite villages.  The odd local pubs I passed were the only signs of life as quite sensibly the majority of the French population were tucked up in bed.

At about 3.30am and with some 110 miles completed in France I decided it was time to rest as going further would jeopardise my last 50 mile ride into Paris (which I did not want to miss).  Climbing aboard the shuttle bus I took the easy way for 35 miles hopping forward to some of the faster riders who were just leaving the final feed station for the final push into Paris.  Soon after I got back on my trusty steed and in the new morning light headed off.

On the road into Paris I had teamed up with another 8  riders, it was completely stop/start as we must have gone through about 50 -60 sets of traffic lights, but finally the road opened up and I was suddenly navigating around the Arc de Triomphe which on a bike was an interesting experience and I would not recommend.  Then it was along the Champs-Elysees and right turn over the Seine to the finish line by the Eifel Tower - it was 0910 am French time.  I felt physically exhausted and emotionally drained.  Danny was already there, having arrived about 30 minutes ahead of me.  We had both completed the challenge we had originally set out to do and more. I had ridden 250 miles in just under 24 hours, 16 ½ hours in the saddle with an overall average of 15.3 mph.  This had not only been a ride but an adventure.  (Danny had done the full 280 miles averaging 17.5 mph - an amazing effort)

We have to date raised some £2800 for SCOPE for which I thank all of you for your support.  If you know anyone who may be interested in our achievements, please pass it on with this link  http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/wheelieslow  and maybe we can break the £3000 barrier.  Any more money raised will so much appreciated by myself, Danny and SCOPE.

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Best Regards

Ian