First of all I must say a massive thank you to everyone who sent wishes of support to me, it made a huge difference knowing there was a whole bunch of people wanting me to finish. Now it’s complete I need to start nudging people for donations to get us to our target of £20,000. Amazingly since I set-off the team has raised nearly 75% which is a 10% increase on where we were on Thursday … great work!
For those reading this who want to donate then please click on this link and give as much as you’re able, all this money will make a huge difference to Kidney Cancer patients in the UK.
The final leg was harder than I thought it was going to be I guess because my legs had had enough, however I did have the joy of knowing that it was only 44 miles and not 50 (which is what the route had initially told me) that made it much more bearable. Way more hills than the profile suggested, but quite a few of them downwards to compensate a little.
The clocks had gone forward which meant that my 6am start was really 5am and cycling in the dark is never easy, and it was a tad fresh to say the least, but by 8am it had warmed up a bit and I was back in full light winding my way through country villages. My breakfast was a stop off at a village bakery that had just opened as I was passing through, Warm Pain au Chocalat …. cant beat it. The roads were quiet until I hit the outskirts of Paris but given it was Sunday it’s nowhere near as bad as London.
Once I’d got to Saint Denis I knew I’d finished, it was just a case of navigating myself through the streets of Paris. My “mate” the Garmin sent me off wrong once but did a pretty good job otherwise, if only the battery on the iPhone was of any use I’d have used that because GeoLives is a fantastic app that places your route on google maps and you can see your position as you go. Whenever the Garmin failed me I used it to get myself back on track.
Coming up to the Arch de Triomphe is so cool, no matter how many times I come here it’s always an impressive site. Thankfully the traffic was quiet and I could cycle round it a few times without feeling I was putting my life in any danger. I did get to the middle and took a few photos but sadly the police asked me to take the bike back onto the Champs Elysee, they didn’t have a great explanation as to why bikes aren’t allowed but they weren’t unpleasant about it, and I always try not to argue with people with guns
I also had a welcoming party with Paul and Caroline and their kids and my mother so I wasn’t left alone and it was great to see them! Straight into a cafe, Streak, Frittes, beer, banana split! (well what did you expect after 14000 calories of effort? Salad and orange juice?). Then a nice Apres lunch walk around the back streets of the Louvre and then to the station. Lots of strange looks from the locals as I was walking around in my Bermuda shorts and flip-flops in the rain (lightest things to carry), but if I offered some amusement…..
The only real disappointment of the whole trip was the lack of little bars and restaurants along the route. I was expecting many many more. Overall it’s do-able, June will be warmer, we’ll have a support van full of food and drink, and each other to push ourselves along.
Some lessons learnt:
- Probably best we stay in Dover on Day 1 so we can take our time and not panic about chasing ferry times. It does mean a very early start the next day but we can rest a bit on the ferry
- Take extra cleats. I admit there were hills I had to walk and it wore out my cleats which made them tough to lock in.
- Dont wear my carbon fibre shoes, they’re too stiff and my big toes were always numb by the end of the day and quite painful. So I’ll be buying easier to wear shoes.
- Get lights that a) Fit (so I dont have to hold them on) and b) Work. I suspect we wont need them in June as it will always be light, but just in case.
- Dont ever ever ever carry a rucksack. If you’re doing it on your own then take an Mountain Bike and stock it with decent paniers. Road bikes in a group will be fine because we have the van.
- If you’ve got gadgets, then learn how to use them before you go
- Make sure the van is well stocked with food and drink along in the way, there are plenty of lovely spots to stop but few shops except in the towns we pass through.
- Do a lot more hill training to get the legs in shape
All the spare tubes and bits and pieces I took I used none of, but would still have been crazy not to have taken them along the way. I came across 2 bikes shops en-route (which I needed for lights and cleats). One in Boulogne sur mer in the town centre, very helpful chap, and the other in Abberville (very close to the hotel and opens at 10am), again very nice and helpful. I’m pretty sure there will be ones in Beauvais as well but I admit to just wanting to get to the hotel and crash.
I’m sure I’ll think of other things and as I do I’ll stick them up on the forum at this link. As Trevor says, it’s a bit quite on the forum at the moment but as we all get into the training it should liven up a bit.
Am I looking forward to doing it again in June? Yes, but I need a decent week off to let my legs and shoulders recover
I wonder what happened to that lock?