They made it to the Eiffel Tower!

Last week we introduced you to Gethin and Nikki who were courageously taking on our London to Paris 24 2013 challenge. Here are Gethin’s thoughts as they begin to recover from cycling 280 miles of tarmac.

Not really sure how to start this blog. Even four days after finishing London to Paris in 24 hours, my head is still a jumble of emotions but here goes…

Gethin and Nikki at the start
“Challenges that disabled people face, even after all the positive publicity from last year’s Paralympics, still shocked me”

Before the start at Blackheath, one of the Scope trustees, Rachael Wallach, gave a great speech about the work Scope is doing and what the £300k (and counting) we raised is going to be used for. Despite having been involved with Scope for a few years now, what she was saying about the challenges that disabled people face, even after all the positive publicity from last year’s Paralympics, still shocked me.

One particular thing Rachael said stayed in my head through the ride and will do for a long time to come: “when you’re struggling on the bike, think of the people who are struggling with disabilities every day of their lives”. That’s a very powerful motivator when you’re close to your limit on an event like this.

What’s London to Paris 24 really like?

I’ve tried lots of different ways to describe what it’s like to ride L2P24 then I saw Pete Mitchelmore had come up with this gem on the ride’s Facebook forum:

  • “L2P24 riders in Dinner suits! Wow, respect!”
  • “I think it’s getting hotter”
  • “How many traffic lights”
  • “This food is great!”
  • “Urggh this hill out of Folkstone is tough, oh look the photographer!”
  • “Where is the ferry, we’re getting cold!”
  • “Ferry docked”
  • “Wow it’s dark here”
  • “It’s even darker here!”
  • “I think I’m on a hill but can’t see it”
  • “Crazy French cycling supporters out at 2:00am!”
  • “aaah sunrise”
  • “More great food!”
  • “Getting hotter”
  • “How many hills?”
  • “These roundabouts all look the same”
  • “Didn’t we pass those wind turbines an hour ago?”
  • “Hot”
  • “OMG Champs Elysees insanity!”
  • “Finish – did it!”
  • “Need beer”
  • End 🙂

The adrenaline rush from taking your life into your own hands on the roundabout around the Arc Du Triomphe is something else. Spot a gap…Deep breath…Nail it as hard as you can…Pray…then hit the jarring cobbles of the Champs….

Fancy dress anyone?

l2p24 suits
The two nutters in Dinner Suits

When you do a ride like this you pray for good weather. For most of the year we’ve trained in the cold, wet and wind – so 35C temperatures came as a bit of a culture shock. A few people really suffered with dehydration but most people survived to the end, even the two nutters in Dinner Suits from the PwC team.

When you get out on the road it’s your fellow riders that make it special – and it was no surprise that the L2P24 “Class of 2013” were a cracking bunch. People you’ve never met before suddenly become your new best mates as you ride with them, having a chat, sharing the work whilst burning through the miles to Paris. If someone needs some help, roadside assistance, food or equipment from another rider it’s done without question. Another rider even chased me down for a mile on Stage 3 as he saw I’d missed a turning. I never saw him after that (think it was Charles – rider 175) – but thank you, that was well above and beyond the call of duty.

Enough fuel in the tank for another year?

Will I be back? Almost certainly. Having ridden relay twice now, I have unfinished business with riding the whole thing. Will it be next year? Almost certainly not 🙂

Finally, there are a lot of people we need to thank for helping us through this:

  • Our friends & family, who sponsor and support us through hard months of training.
  • Scope and Action Challenge for putting on an event that must be a logistical nightmare to organise, then show up on the day and are enthusiastic, smiling and encouraging for 36 hours. Nothing is too much trouble for them.
  • All of the support crews – medical, catering, logistics and mechanical. An unsung job, but always there in the background when you need them and vitally important.
  • Most of all, the riders. I touched on this above but the camaraderie on the road is very special.

I said in my previous blog that I wanted a picture with Nikki by the Eiffel Tower as it meant she would have made it to Paris. I’ve done this kind of thing before but this was her first endurance cycling event. I’m so proud of what she pushed herself through this year to make it to the finish line. Here is the photo to prove it:

Gethin and NikkiCould you cycle from London to Paris in 24 hours?