Ciao a tutti,I hope you are well and enjoying the summer with plenty Kms in your legs,and the virtual cabinet loading up with badges.
Last Friday we departed from London to Paris again with our second group. This time was challenging. Hence the fact that today guest blog riders/writers are Craig Skinner & Chris W. two of the "Magnificent 7".
Why did you do it?
My primary reason for doing the London to Paris ride was to raise money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, but also to push myself as a cyclist.
I began raising money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research through cycling challenges following a diagnosis my sister, Kirsty, received of Leukaemia in 2012. She's shown an incredible amount of bravery in the face of everything that's been thrown at her and I'm so unbelievably proud of her. She went through so much chemotherapy and in 2013 she had a peripheral blood stem cell transplant, with a donation from me. This was successful and she's now doing really well.
Research into new treatments is so important and donating money to charities such as Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research can really help save lives. At the time of writing I’ve raised £751.74 from the London to Paris ride and would like to thank everyone who generously donated.
What did you do to prepare for it?
Lots and lots of cycling. Often joined by lots of wonderful fellow Saddledrunk members. That, and I baked a big batch of flapjacks.
How did you find it?
The weather was the biggest challenge on the ride, leaving me shivering and with my teeth chattering for quite some time. Sadly the extreme weather conditions meant that we couldn’t complete the entire UK side of the journey as it was too dangerous but we pressed on regardless, hitting more bad weather when we arrived in Dieppe. Around the 100km mark in France the sun came out and slowly but surely we began to dry off and warm up.
Everything was very well organised by Papa Stef and he took care of us incredibly well, even handing out extra clothes from his heavy rucksack to those of us, like me, that hadn’t prepared for quite such bad weather. He also had pre-planned stops where we could load up on croissants and espresso. The countryside was also very pretty and the roads are nothing like those in the UK. No potholes!
Would you do it again?
Absolutely. Especially as we sadly had to cut it a little short. In fact I think my last words to Stef before riding home were, ‘I want to do the whole journey again’. The ride also left me with a burning desire to cycle abroad more - this was my first time - and my head is full of possible ideas for future rides.
What was going through your mind during the ride?
I can’t say it was always good things as the gusts battered us, the rain beat down and grit flew up in my face flying down the Avenue Verte but cycling with a really nice group quickly banished any negativity from my mind and for the most part I was just so happy to be part of the ride. And to know that my doing it had led to so many generous donations.
Arriving in Paris was a thrilling and wonderful experience too and one that was made even more special by the surprise appearance of my mum, who had got a passport and travelled to Paris from Cornwall to meet me at the finish. I had absolutely no idea that she was going to be there - her and my girlfriend, Katy, had managed to keep it a secret for some time - and was incredibly surprised and moved.
Next on line is Chris W.
London to Paris had appealed to me for quite sometime after witnessing friends and work colleagues complete the pilgrimage to the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. So when the opportunity came about to do it with the SaddleDrunk guys I couldn't miss out, especially arriving in the city on the final weekend of the Tour de France.
I had been keeping a close eye on the weather in the build up to our own grand depart and the forecast was not in our favour, the great British summer decided to drop a months worth of rain in one day. The conditions were so bad a decision was made to get the train to Brighton for safety reasons.
Having only managed a small amount of riding on the first day in some terrible conditions, the real riding started when we arrived in Dieppe. Fuelled by coffee and croissants following our first pit stop, the sun finally made an appearance and we could really appreciate the beautiful countryside and pot hole free French roads. We really put in the effort and the kilometres were passing by in no time. It was a welcomed change to see how respectful the French motorists were of cyclists, giving us plenty of room when overtaking.
We had a lot of laughs and jokes along the way and there was a great sense of achievement when we reached the capital. We felt as though we were the stars of the TdF with tourists asking to take our photos underneath the Eiffel Tower! We capped off a great couple of days with well deserved beers and wine over dinner.
I have to give a huge thanks to Stefano for organising the whole trip (and assisting with that puncture at 5am!!), I have taken some great memories with me and I look forward to doing more Saddledrunk organised trips in the future!
ook out for Part 2 of the ride.
Thank you to Craig & Chris.
A very well done to the riders.