One man, one bike, no sleep!

We can’t help but be proud and shout from the rooftops about the achievement of our 230 cyclists who made it from London to Paris last weekend in 35 degree heat, raising a fantastic amount for Scope’s work.

Four weeks ago, Team Scope athlete Paul Thompson suffered an almighty blow when he hit the tarmac on a training ride. Paul documented his (and his bike’s!) road to recovery with some pretty graphic images on his own blog and on our London to Paris 24 forum.

"Ouch! 7 months and 1800 miles of training, just undert 70 miles into a 150 on Sunday, the last 'big' ride before L2P, averaging just over 17 mph, feeling good...  1 sec, 1 sunken drain cover hidden in shadows, a newly surfaced road and ... bang!  6 xrays (shoulder/collar bone, ankle, elbow, 3 x fingers) all OK; Op wednesday to fix hole in elbow (worn through to bone) - cleaned up and stitched, no need for a graft fingers crossed!  On the mend and so's the bike.... 4 weeks to go and firmly focused on July 6 and 7, I'll be there..."

PT in hospital

With a lot of support from the other riders on the forum (and of course the NHS) Paul began his recuperation.

"Thanks for all the messages of support - they really help. NHS have been brilliant, seeing specialist tomorrow to find out how the elbow is healing after the op - fingers crossed (sort of)!"3 weeks later, he was already back in the saddle and looking forward to the event – as Paul put it “Body courtesy of NHS, Bike courtesy of Owens Cycles, Petersfield.”

"Back in the saddle!  See post of June 7 - but delighted to report stitches are out of my elbow and I got back on the (mountain) bike today for some serious off road hill climbing.  Road bike should be back from LBS this weekend (or Tuesday next at the latest) - ironic that it's taken longer to get back up and running than me but I wanted to source the original forks that have had to be shipped in from France.  So all should be back together in time for July 6th - see you all then."

Paul Thompson 4On Saturday 6th July, Paul had made a fantastic recovery and was at the start line.

“Arriving at the start and sensing the quiet determination across the participants you knew this would be something special. My objectives: get to Paris before 1:00pm local time and enjoy the ride.”

PT 10“Into the ride and there was never a moment of disappointment, steady cycling, plenty of camaraderie and support for each other and soon the drear of London gave way to the rolling landscape of Kent.

Cycling solo I hoped to meet up with a few like minded and similar paced individuals whom I could team up with and settle into the right tempo without getting caught up in the frenzy of a larger peloton.  First I joined up with Scott Elliot, who lived in Paris and so was cycling 271 miles home (how cool is that?) and then Mark and Martin Hinchcliffe (of single speed fame) and with occasional others we cruised down to Dover.  The only discomfort a wasp sting in the thigh at 30 miles (nasty at this time of year) and with a fleeting glimpse of the Battle of Britain memorial on top of the famous white cliffs we descended into Dover.

Coming off the ferry pretty much last Scott and I settled in for the night shift with 50 minutes to make up because of the ferry delay.  I think everyone will remember those first miles in the dark on French soil, the tarmac feeling smooth as marble under wheel after the lumps and bumps of English highways; the pace, the smells, the excitement.  By first stop we had almost caught the front peloton a snake of red seen cresting each hill a couple of minutes ahead.  We joined them for the next 20 miles until we were split by a mad lorry driver and soon found ourselves back as a twosome, sailing through the night.

By breakfast  the 50 minute deficit had become a 15 minute buffer to 24 hour pace and we could first start to think of making it to Paris within the time (albeit we still had 100 miles to go!)  Given the heat it was a surprise to get hit by the cool and damp before dawn but it didn’t last long and a beautiful dawn unfolded, accompanied by the smell of fresh bread, the bark of farm dogs and the crowing of French Cockrills.  We powered on, gazing out across the countryside that next year will look back 100 years to a time of a less welcome invasion, a chill to think of all those who suffered and died on this land.

With the big climb out of Amiens behind us it was time for the final push to Paris and with some help from Ruslan raising our tempo in the morning sun the French capital came within touching distance.  Onwards, ever nearer and into the heat and traffic of the suburbs.  Roads deteriorating, red lights never quite in sync and city traffic all stood in our way until at last we crossed the Seine and flew into central Paris.  One right turn and there, at the top of the rise, framed by brilliant blue sky – the Arc Du Triomphe, almost there!

PT 11Down the Champs Elysee (how does Le Tour race on those cobbles?) and finally round to the Tour Eiffel and the finish; 15 minutes to spare, 16 hours and 35 minutes in the saddle, a moment to realise we had done it and for me to reflect on 5 weeks earlier being wheeled at that very time into A&E Chichester with multiple injuries and a suspected broken shoulder/collar bone having just emptied my first bottle of gas and air…”

Paul’s just one example of the unbelievable grit and determination in all of our L2P24 riders. We’re pleased to report that Paul was under the Eiffel Tower within the 24 hour target and has already fundraised a fantastic £2100!

“L2P24, can you really described it – no you have to experience it; and we were lucky enough to do it in fantastic conditions with the magnificent support of Scope, Action Challenge and their support teams, and of course a great bunch of like minded cyclists…..”

If you think you’re brave enough why not sign-up now take on the event next year? Could you cycle from London to Paris in 24 hours?