Today guest riders from the last L2P are Derek from the beautiful Scotland and Andy from Essex.
Why did you decide to do it.
I have been riding with SD for some time now and it’s great to be able to ride with like-minded people from an excellent coffee shop in Paperback so close to where I live.
So, when the Paris trips were announced signing up was an easy decision to make. Slightly more difficult was which month to choose. I opted for July as the weather was “ bound to be good” ( how wrong could I be) and it coincided with the climax of the Tour de France.
What did you do to prepare for it?
Preparation involved a range of different SD group rides comprising Richmond park loops , hill reps and longer Friday rides to Windsor and beyond and of course plenty of Paperback coffee.
How did you find it?
I really enjoyed the ride and was pleased that the training had put me in good stead for the event. An added bonus was no paperwork such as train/ferry /hotel bookings as this had all been taken care of courtesy of Stefano.
The mileage and terrain were fine the key challenges being the overnight ferry crossing ( ie no bed ) and the shocking weather, both of which I was able to mitigate to some extent with my self- inflating travel pillow , long bibs and overshoes. The rain was biblical in proportions and more akin to Scotland in Spring rather than the south of England in the height of summer.
It was fantastic to arrive in Paris together adorned in the SD customised yellow kit, albeit slightly weird to have posed for so many strangers’ photographs in the vicinity of the Eiffel Tower !.
Would I do it again?
I wouldn’t hesitate and would encourage others to sign up.
What was going through your mind during the ride
The full gamut of emotions depending upon heaviness of rain, time of day, intensity of sun, speed, terrain and how the group were feeling but mostly......................I can’t wait to do more of these !!
Next is Andy with his speech.
Why did I do it?
I wanted to do the ride last year but unfortunately an injury meant I had to put it on hold, so this year I set myself some goals; what started out as personal goals soon became a reason to ride for a charity which is ‘Tommy’s.
How did I prepare for it?
I have been getting out on my bike whenever I can mostly during the week days and always on my own, I didn’t know anyone near where I live to ride with, so it has meant a lot of lonely training sessions. I have been gradually building up the miles riding 40, 50 then 70 then doing lots of spinning classes when I couldn’t get out on the road. I have also now joined Romford Cycle Club which is local to me and they are a great bunch of people, very welcoming and lots of good riders which makes the ride outs with them at times hard as they do push you on and I will always try and keep up with the stronger riders!!
How did I find the ride?
I had an absolute nightmare on Friday just to try and get to the start, I set off at 12pm in the car to be dropped off but the horrendous wet weather caused huge traffic problems on my route to the start. This meant that I never actually got there!! With the group setting off to the train station having taken the sensible decision to catch the train to Brighton where I had to meet everyone there. This was not something that I had contemplated we might have to do and was a bit deflated to start with, but the group were really upbeat and I soon perked up when we eventually set off to Newhaven.
I found the ride to be easier than I had thought it would be, maybe my training paid off after all!! Riding in the company of such a nice bunch of people also made it really enjoyable and despite the weather I had a great time riding through some great scenery and pothole free roads.
Would I do it again?
Absolutely!! I’m trying to convince my wife to take up cycling and do the trip next year.
I was also able to stop on in Paris to take in the Tour De France final stage which was a big highlight to be able to watch the professionals do their thing…they are so fast!!
I will be recommending the trip to everyone I speak to, who cycles next year it may well be our own stage of the TDF. Stefano has done a great job in organising the whole thing and was our very own Sat Nav at times.
What was going through my mind during the ride?
Mainly try and keep with everyone and don’t fall off!!
OK, so I was the only one to fall off…..!! but I did keep with you all.
The weather did it’s best to dampen spirits but to be honest I don’t mind riding in the wet I see it as just another challenge, I ride a motorbike and have ridden in all weathers including snow, so really didn’t mind it that much. However when the sun came out it allowed everyone to dry out before getting into Paris, I take with me from the trip some new friends and experiences and fond memories. I felt quite emotional riding to the Eiffel Tower where my wife was waiting for us to arrive and seeing the face of Craig when his mum tapped him on the shoulder was an absolute picture!! worth the journey on its own.
My thanks to everyone for making the ride so enjoyable and to Stef for organising, you don’t know how much I have been inspired to ride more often and will definitely being doing more rides and sportives.
Thank you Derek & Andy to pass over to others your experience.
Be safe on the Road.Be SaddleDrunk.