Well what does one say to riding in to Paris with an escort of motor cycles closing the roads as you approach. The ride up the Champs Elysses with crowds cheering drew a tear to my eye and filled me with a mixture of pride and emotion. For me it has been a personal journey from being completely out of shape both in weight and fittness to someone who is now regulary mistaken for an athletic young chap (its been a while). This may be a short blog and I will close my account once I have reflected in a day or two, but for now I need to tell you about people. The last four days have been made by the people I have met along the way, I can not name them all but some of note. Lee, James, Keiran and George the Essex massive who have taken me in as one of their own. Roomy Andy, your an inspiration, your story touched me and your determination in life is legendary, even if I did have to make the coffee and be your alarm call. Others of note the whole of LLR for the organisation of the event, very impressive, the French out riders, those guys were the bees neeze. The celebs who have mingled and been a laugh along the way. One group of guys have touched my heart, all those that have a personal story where Leukaemia has touched them or their family, you all made me cycle harder and faster, thank you for sharing and inspiring me. So as I head to the bar for a well deserve pint or few please find it in your heart to give a little and support a worthy cause. "Roll on Paris" ? BEEN ROLLED.
Saturday, 8 June 2013
What a great day we had today, if yesterday was great then this topped it. Once again we were blessed with some great weather that has lead to some interesting tan lines and the sweating does nothing for the comfort on the saddle, thankfull for suder cream. When we started the day it was a bit overcast but the road conditions were good and flat which led to good speed, the peloton has got used to riding in a group and with the gaps closed up we were flying along. The big challenge of the day was do I attack the two timed sections. Well when the time came and the start flags were flying that competitive edge took over. Full on effort over both sections saw my legs burning and the sweat pooring but what satisfaction in leaving nothing in the tank, can't wait till Sunday to find out my times. The whole day was full of rolling hills and fantastic countryside, this was more than I had imagined and all too soon the day drew to a close and again we grouped at the last stop ready for the ride into Beauvais. We decended the hill into the town and experianced a little of what Paris will hopefully be tomorrow, coasting through the town center and upto the town hall you had a sence of pride in your achievement. To cap it all we then were invited to a champagne reception with the mayor and saw Geoff Thomas get awarded the freedom of the city. So now we sit here three days in and with a beer in hand (only one or two tonight) talking about the adventures past and looking forward to tomorrow. The body is starting to ache and I am now entering the unknown but one thing looms large, the goal that I set back in November, the talk of all, tomorrow we see it at last "Roll on Paris".
Friday, 7 June 2013
Well what a day, that was probably the best days cycling I have ever done. Everything was perfect, the weather was hot with a light breeze and riding in a group that was led by a support car with outriders on motor bikes closing every junction. Not only did the support make you feel special the ride had an even pace that let you cruise, eating the miles up while having the oportunity to chat riding side by side. This is as close to being a pro as I will ever get, talking of pros someone said today that we will do something that Bradley Wiggins won't and thats make Paris. There were several people fall today, nothing serious that I heard of thank god. I have to share Ian Wright's fall, sorry Ian. As the group slowed to a stop the rider by his side lost his balance and put a hand on Ian's shoulder, this sent Ian still clipped in heading in to the biggest bunch of stinging nettles ever. While there were several explitives and much laughter amoungst the group, Ian took it in great spirit and the defining image was of him stuffing dock leaves down his shorts, a top guy all round. As for me I had one near miss with a guy falling in front of me and the heat took its toll in the afternoon, I have never drunk so much and not needed the loo. So I actually feel great at the end of day two and am looking forward to tomorrow already, thanks for all the support and "Roll on Paris".
Thursday, 6 June 2013
Well we finally set off today and what a great experiance. In my eagerness not to be late I was the first cyclist at Greenwich this morning, at least there was no que at regestration. It was a bit chilly and the waiting around was doing nothing for my muscles, but with all the photo and media stuff done we set off shortly after 8am. The morning London rush hour was not great with lots of stop start action but once into Kent we were racing along, one long decent saw me doing 43 mile per hour and what a thrill that was in a large group nose to tail. The first stop saw Ian Wright throwing his bike on the floor and cursing the hills. The second stint was the long one of the day and I hooked onto a group with a good average speed and got pulled along for what was many a mile. We had left the busy roads and found some quiet country lanes, in full sun this was what I had dreamed of. Lunch stop was around 62 miles with only 13 left to the coach stop, this turned out to be the hardest part of the day. The legs felt dead after the stop and the wind had picked up and was in our faces, on top of this the timed hill climb loomed, I was not in a good place at this point. Well what a hill, I did make it with out stopping but I dont know how and I sure did not break any records. Two miles later I was hit with cramp and struggled to the finish, It was a brilliant day and I have met many people, I finished ahead of Wrighty and Geoff Thomas so was very satisfied. Many more challenges lay ahead in the next three days but as I say "Roll on Paris".
Monday, 3 June 2013
In my wisdom or a moment of madness I have signed up to the very challenging London to Paris ride next June, covering 460km in four days with 300 other cyclists, all with one goal. Supporting vital work to beat blood cancer, we can and will win if we can all pull together and this event alone will raise in excess of £300,000 for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.
I will be putting myself to the ultimate challenge and enduring hours of training in all weathers to be in a position to achieve my goal."
Sunday, 26 May 2013
Sunday, 19 May 2013
The week started with a 50 mile ride on Tuesday, it was a day with lots planned so an early start was the order of the day and with he alarm raising me from my pit at 5.30am I did question my sanity on my day off. Getting out by seven it was great to hit the roads with little traffic, the rush hour was all heading in the other direction, I felt good and was soon eating up the miles. It was my normal route out towards Southend, Wakering and Wallasea Island, a path that has become well worn over the last few months and one that only held the challenge of time and how quick I could master it. Well I impressed myself arriving home at an average speed of 16 mph and in time for a slightly late breakfast at 10.20. Later in the week my shift patterns at work allowed me to cycle home on Thursday and back on Friday, this was a very useful additional 56 miles to my weekly total. It still amazes me the difference in car drivers attitudes when your on the road in the evening rush hour, these people must lead very stressful lives to hurl that kind of abuse at cyclists.
During the week there had been a lot of activity on the London Paris facebook page and with ride packs due out and new contacts made I was getting more excited or maybe nervous about the impending challenge. Having done all my training alone I was keen to get together with some other riders to experience a bit of group riding, so I was delighted to make contact with a group of guys also doing the London Paris ride. We arranged to meet at the "Tour De Tendring" on Sunday, a 60 mile sportive from Harwich to Clacton and back. Before that we were all waiting with baited breath for the rider packs to arrive as promised from LLR, true to their word we all had them before Sunday and so would be sporting the full kit for Paris, at least we would look the part if nothing else.
So Sunday came and I waited at Harwich for my new companions to arrive, Lee and James dully obliged but we were two men down. Keiran had not risen from his bed and Georgie was catching us up later. There were many riders and we set off with the pack, soon to be joined by Georgie and later on Keiran. I had a great day sharing stories and learning loads about group riding, thank you Georgie. Best of all I felt I had gained new friends, how four strangers all be it with a shared goal can make you feel so welcome and belong within the group from the first minute amazed me. By the time we had finished the ride I felt I had known the guys for far more than four hours and look forward to meeting up again on the 6th June, what amazed my most was the pace of the ride as we all did our fastest ride and I finished the 60 miles at over 17 mph.
With new experiences and new friends I feel far more confident now than I did a week ago, with only 17 days left and the fund raising going well I am starting to look forward with excitement rather than fear, all that remains are the final preparations and a few more miles. "Roll on Paris".