One of the reasons I’ve been spending so much time on my road bike just recently is that I keep falling off my mountain bike.
The other is that I entered the classic London – Paris Ride, finishing last Saturday at the Eiffel Tower. Apparently this is the obligatory pose at the end of the 300 mile event. Wish I had known that, I would have bought a lighter bike.
As soon as we set off from London (well Holiday Inn at Bexley) last Wednesday morning, I quickly realised I was short of experience in traffic. There’s only 1 roundabout here in Newark, and 3 sets of traffic lights, but on Day 1 we had 30 miles of it. And although we shouldn’t have had to use the map, it wasn’t easy to spot the yellow arrows as they were only 12cms long (that’s about 5 inches in old money), particularly when trying to negotiate traffic. We got used to it by the end of the trip and spotted most of the 900 arrows that were put out.
Once we escaped London it was into open countryside in Kent. Hilly open countryside and a pub lunch both booked by the organisers. Think I’d rather be a rider than an organiser with the responsibility of making sure that everyone got to the next check point, usually 20 miles apart. We were well looked after for the 4 days, with the 2 support vans leap-frogging each other to ensure they beat us to the next check-point, just. Finished riding at 3.00 pm Day 1, lots of standing around waiting for 37 riders to re-group, and further delay getting onto the Ferry caused by some Hi-Vis-Jobs-Worth. Tea on the Ferry and then 5k ride to Hotel Number 2 in Calais.
Day 2 from Calais to Arras should have been 71 miles, but thanks to a missing arrow, most of us made it 91 hilly, hot and windy miles. My Endomondo App on the i-phone suggested I had used over 5,100 calories that day. Fortunately the bar was open when we got there and I managed to put most back.
Day 3 from Arras to Compiegne through WW1 battlefields, passing several monuments and memorials, through lovely open countryside.
Day 4 Final leg to Paris. 30 miles of riding in London doesn’t prepare you for Paris. But riding as a team of 9 we were first to finish at the Louvre before re-grouping for the last time to ride as group of 37 along the Champs Elysees, round the Arc de Triomphe to Eiffel Tower for an emotional finish to our ‘Tour’. Some relatives were there to meet us; cheers, hugs, kisses and even a proposal! Some people just get carried away.
So it was fun, competitive, social and tiring. And there 100’s of photo’s flooding Facebook to remind us. Fascinating to observe the team formation too. Our Team WPQ formed on Day 2 and we worked so well as a Team of 9 and are already discussing another trip next year. I will be using examples in future training courses!