Tag Archives: Cycling

A challenge that reminds us what equality is really all about

Because of her particular impairments, cycling was not an activity Emma had ever considered, until her “super-sporty” colleague and friend Paula proposed that they should ride together in their firm’s annual networking cycling event. In this blog they talk about preparing for the event and their experiences of the day.

Do you fancy coming on a bike ride – I’ll pedal!?

Paula: I enjoy being active.   I am curious to test my limits. I am not a great athlete by any stretch of the imagination – far from it. I do however wholeheartedly buy into the mind-set that anything is possible with committed training.  Over the years, I have cycled London 2 Paris in 24 hours, completed multiple Ironman Triathlons and taken part in Race Around Ireland.

The other great love of my life is friendship. I cherish my friends.  I find their company restorative, life-affirming and joyful.  Emma is my friend and my colleague. When this year’s Leigh Day (the law firm I work for) cycle ride was announced I saw an opportunity to invite my colleague Emma into what I assumed was an unexplored part of the world for her – and because I enjoy cycling so much I just assumed she would too!

I  searched the internet for adapted bikes and was heartened to see so many different varieties. It was clear to me that the means were available – all I had to do next was check whether the appetite was there. Interestingly this presented me with the most significant challenge: how to ask Emma if she fancied joining me on the ride. It sounds so daft now to read that but it is true. I had no idea if my idea would be well received, or come across as insensitive, neither  did I know if  my research into adapted bikes would be seen as patronising. The last thing I wanted to do was cause offence.

Emma wrote an excellent blog about disability and awkward conversations.  So reassured with what I knew Emma thought about starting the conversation, I decided to park my discomfort and simply asked “Do you fancy coming on a bike ride – I will pedal!?”

Paula and Emma on the bike from behind, with other cyclists on the route
Paula and Emma on a trike with cyclists on the road around them

Overcoming challenges

Emma: It actually took a while for me to take the idea seriously! The first challenge was practical – how to find a suitable bike. Leigh Day put us in touch with Wheels for Wellbeing, a fantastic charity which works to remove barriers to cycling for disabled people. On our visit to try out the bikes, the link between wheels and wellbeing was very apparent on the faces of the people riding around the hall. There were people with a variety of imapirments and on a variety of bikes. We opted for a side-by-side tricycle (think Two Fat Ladies, but without the motor). For me this had the advantage of proper seats, so no saddle to feel precarious on, and a design that allowed for only one person to pedal.

The second hurdle – increasingly challenging as the day approached – was to sit with my fear of the ride and not chicken out. A corollary of being disabled is that you have to consciously build whatever measure of independence you can achieve, constructing your comfort zone almost brick by brick. So the prospect of abandoning the freedom and safety of (in this case) my car to effectively get on someone else’s bike was daunting. This mostly manifested itself as fear of accident and catastrophic injury, not because I had any doubts about Paula’s skill as a cyclist (she recently cycle-raced round the entire coast of Ireland!) but because we would be at the mercy of other road users without any protective shell. And more fundamentally, as a passenger, I would not be in control.

Paula and Emma mid race on their adapted bike
Paula and Emma mid race on their adapted trike

I look back on it as a day like no other

The day of the ride was blessed by sunny skies and a refreshing breeze. We were joined by our friend and fellow employment lawyer Tom Brown, who took turns with Paula on the 55kg trike. As the rest of the cyclists took off on their longer routes, we turned off onto our tailor-made route, only to discover later that we had done the whole thing backwards. The beauty of the Warwickshire landscape was a revelation, as was the universally kind reaction of all the people we encountered during the ride including all the drivers that got stuck behind us (this has made me reflect on my own habitual impatience behind the wheel!).

Now, after the event and still in one piece, I look back on it as a day like no other – a day of adventure, laughter, camaraderie and experiencing the countryside in a new way (in a car you are never really ‘in’ nature). Most of all, it gave me a new sense of what real inclusion means. Because for me, the best thing about the day was that despite the lengths to which all the people involved had to go to make it possible – from sourcing the bike, planning our route, exerting unfamiliar muscle-groups, heaving the bike over turnstiles and foregoing participation in the main ride – I never felt that they were doing it to be nice to me. While my physical limitations framed the practicalities of the day, my disability didn’t feel anything more than incidental; I was encouraged and facilitated to join the event not as a disabled person but as Emma, and for me that is priceless.

As we return to our day job of representing people facing discrimination and other forms of mistreatment, we both feel that we will often return to the experience of that ride as a kind of touchstone of what equality is really all about.

Take a look at other accessible events like the Superhero triathlon and Parallel London.

Or you can tell us your story.

Between London to Paris in 24 hours

You’ve probably already heard about Scope’s cycle event, London to Paris 24, which challenges you to cycle the 280 miles from London to Paris in just 24 hours. Unable to take part in the event because of an injury, Lucy Alliot was determined to cycle part of the 280 mile distance and created her own event – Lucy cycles between London to Paris in 24 hours. Here’s her guest blog looking back at her very unique event.

I completed it. Not quite as expected, but nevertheless I got there in the end with a bit of an added adventure! I departed from London at 11am on Saturday. Despite the rain I had a very smooth run down to Newhaven (including an accidental diversion to Croydon). I took the ferry over to Dieppe and set up my lights on the bike to head out along the dark French roads in the direction of Paris.

Unfortunately at 2.27am (French time), my bike derailleur completely snapped off. Even with an extensive tool kit there was nothing that could be done without a new part. Determined not to give up I assessed the options:

  1.  Borrow the velo I’d seen propped up by La Poste in the previous village, and commit to getting it back at a reasonable time the next day before anyone realised.
  2.  Walk to Paris.
  3. Try to find a bike shop open on a Sunday in France!

Since the French bike was built for a 7 foot man and walking would take 1.5 days, I decided to throw the bike in the car and try to find a repair shop. After a lot of searching we found what seemed to be the only bike shop open in France on a Sunday (Gepetto & Velos, Paris). At 5am we set-up camp outside to wait for it to open. Soon we realised sleep was near impossible so took the opportunity to take a whistle stop tour of the Parisian sites.

When the bike shop finally opened at 10 in the morning I attempted to negotiate with my limited French to have the bike fixed and sussed out the rusty second hand bikes to buy as a back-up. After a bit of a bodge job I was thrilled to be able to walk away with a bike whose wheels turned, despite not being able to cycle in the bottom cog – but it would get me going!

It was time to depart from La Tour Effiel and head back toward the scene of the crime, completing the route backwards, now greeted by a beautiful headwind. Nevertheless the weather was stunning and I could actually see what I was cycling past now. I finally arrived 22 hours later (excluding a few for fixing the bike in Paris!). Not quite the scenic end that I had anticipated, however I took a second attempt at the hill that had originally left my bike broken.

Lucy has received fantastic support from her friends and family, already raising over £1400 for Scope’s work. She wants to thank the very kind support car that stayed awake for 40 hours to help her finish what she had set out to do. Fancy taking part yourself in 2016? You can get your place today.

Why the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 2015?

There’s just one week left to get your exclusive free place in our Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 team. You could be cycling the 100 mile route alongside people just like Chris who will be taking part for a third time.

“The Prudential Ride London is a huge and fantastic event that I have taken part from the first year. Finishing in the Mall outside Buckingham palace is an amazing experience that gives you a great feeling of achievement. Starting at the Olympic Park is also brilliant because you are following in the wheel tracks of the 2012 athletes who undertook the same challenging course. The support we get from the local communities is absolutely phenomenal with residents coming to the end of their driveways waving and cheering us on even when the weather was really bad last year!

I have a 16 year old son, Kieren, who has Downs Syndrome, so I’ll be riding for him. He needs support with basic day to day things. We’re lucky in North Wales because we have quite a good support network around us. With him being 16 we’re at the transition stage into college and further on in to adult life – obviously Scope services and their helpline is going to be quite important to us.

I’m hoping my family will be coming down for event day although this will depend on how Kieren is. I hope to bring him down with me and then he can come to the start and be there at the finish – fingers crossed he will be there but if not he will be there in spirit.”

Get your place in our team for free today and be treated to a hero’s reception, a massage in our chill out zone and TLC for your bike! We’re hoping to raise over £314,000 and will have our biggest team ever with over 600 riders taking part for Scope.

“It’s characters like Craig who are the true role models our society and generation needs”

Guest blog by Ellie Hetebrij, a photojournalism student. Ellie was inspired to capture Paralympic cycling hopeful, Craig Green, training for Rio 2016 after reading his story as part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign.  

My background in photography is in sport and extreme training. This year I have started following Paralympic hopefuls and disabled athletes for what I hope will be an ongoing project about what it takes to win a place to compete at Rio.

Craig training on an indoor static bikeI first came across Craig Green when I read an article about him on Scope’s website as part of the 100 Days, 100 Stories campaign. While reading it, I couldn’t help but be inspired by him – he had risen above the obstacles life had thrown at him and sounded so determined.

I don’t think that I had any preconceptions about disabled athletes. I’m incredibly inspired by what Craig and the others I’m documenting do. The way in which Craig turned his life around is Craig pumping up his bike tyreswhat I found incredibly inspiring; to me it’s characters like Craig who are the true role models our society and generation needs.

In all inspiring people’s stories there is always an event where the main character lands in trouble. But this is where Craig’s story really begins, although it may sound hard to believe, it would seem that the day Craig went to jail is the day his life changed for the better.

Craig training in the velodromeCraig was born with Poland Syndrome, a condition affecting his right hand and pectoral muscles. When he left school, he was told that his hand would stop him following his friends into a trade like bricklaying or the Army. In need of money, he found work on a cannabis farm and in June 2010 was sentenced to four years in prison for conspiracy to cultivate a class B drug.

Craig putting his bike helmet onThis proved to be a turning point. He spent his free time getting fit and volunteering at the prison gym and then the Peterborough YMCA community gym, which he now manages. He got hooked on cycling after a successful trial for the British cycling team after attending an event showcasing Paralympic sports.

He now trains six days a week and is a C5 paracycling hopeful for the Rio Paralympics in 2016. The Rio qualifiers are coming up in September and he needs scores and points from this season’s competitions and the World Cup Series to win a sport on Team GB.

Craig is a truly inspiring and humble character. It has been a pleasure working alongside him in his pursuit of the Paralympics. Craig is very passionate about cycling and trains incredibly hard. I hope to continue documenting his journey towards the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.Group of cyclists in motion

Ellie is a second year student studying for a press and editorial photography degree at Falmouth University. The images of Craig are part of her coursework. 

Craig is taking part in Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 2015 for Scope this August. Follow him on Twitter  for updates.

Scope is proud to be charity of the year for Prudential Ride London-Surrey-100 2015. Join our team with free entry before 13 May to cycle 100 miles through London and Surrey. All riders will receive a limited edition cycling jersey and a hero’s reception at the finish. Public entries are now closed and the only way to join the event is with Scope. Join now! 

“I wasn’t going to do it for charity this year. But I saw Scope is the official charity – it made sense!”

On 2 August more than 15,000 amateur riders will take to the streets of London and Surrey for the third Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 – a 100 mile route on closed roads.

700 of those will be taking part for Scope as part of our official charity of the year team, and one of those is Carl. He knows the route having taken part in 2014 and will be hoping the sun shines, unlike last year!

“Box Hill was okay. But Leigh Hill was shut, we had to go down a diversion because of the weather and that was horrendous. So I’m hoping it’s not like that!” A keen cyclist, he’s often out with his friends testing themselves on the local hills. But there’s nothing quite like event day. “I think if you ride for a charity, the support you get on the day is fantastic. I rode with a couple of friends who weren’t riding for charity and they were completely in awe of us getting cheered on.”

Carl’s reason for taking part is his nephew. Connor was born prematurely and has cerebral palsy. Connor’s mum, Lauren, explained how they initially found out about his diagnosis through their physiotherapist. “One day I got asked to fill in some forms – I asked her for help because it asked what was wrong with him and I didn’t quite know what to say. She just said “well it’s cerebral palsy” but nobody had actually told us that. We were quite shocked. We just thought it was because he was premature, that he would catch up.”

Connor has received fantastic support from the local community. His first play group had a sensory room and it was here that he first walked – a great milestone when the family had been warned he probably wouldn’t walk or talk. “He walked properly. He was nearly three when he started, the same week as his cousin who was one.”

The family first came across Scope when they were looking for help choosing Connor’s secondary school – the local authority recognised that Connor was bright and wanted to place him in a mainstream school. But Lauren and her husband, Kevin, felt that Connor progressed more with one to one support at a specialist school. Connor went on to prove them wrong, attending the local secondary school and gaining good results in his GCSEs. From speaking to Scope and another charity called Network 81, they were able to encourage the school to make the alterations Connor needed for his education, including having his lessons on the ground floor instead of up two flights of stairs. But now, the real work begins – deciding what Connor should do once he leaves college. Connor is keen to get involved in a local community project, the Harwich Mayflower project, where he can socialise and discuss doing an apprenticeship.

Cricket posterWhen Carl saw that Scope were the official charity for this year’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100, he felt it made sense to do the full 100 mile route with us. “Technically I didn’t complete it last year. It was 87 miles; it wasn’t 100 (due to the weather) so I felt a bit of a cheat.” He’ll be continuing his training and fundraising over the next few months, including a cricket night called Essex Legends, hosted at a local venue.

There’s still time to be a part of Scope’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 team. Get your place today and be treated to a hero’s reception, a massage in our chill out zone and TLC for your bike!

“In prison I started visualising a future. Now I’m aiming for the Paralympics”

Guest post from Craig Green. Craig turned his life around after a spell in prison, and is now a Paralympic cyclist with an eye on Rio 2016. His story is part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign.

I’m the manager of a YMCA gym in Peterborough that works specifically with disabled people.

We’re a community gym – disabled people can come here and know they’re not only going to get a good service, but that they’re going to meet like-minded people.

I’ve found that because I’m visibly disabled myself, people feel at ease the moment they come in. I’m missing the fingers on my right hand, and my right pectoral muscles – although no one really knows that when I’m wearing my clothes!

Craig in the gym

How life has changed

Five years ago my life was very different – I’m not proud of my past, but it’s certainly shaped me to be the person I am.

When I was at school, I was told I’d never be able to get into a trade – bricklayer, plumber, carpet fitter – because of my arm. It was what all my friends were doing and I was never really told about any other options.

I tried out for the army and the fire service. I was fit enough for it, but I failed the test because I was slower at things like climbing. They saw my disability and basically said, ‘Look, we can’t do anything for you’.

I went through some jobs in factories, and after that there was nothing really. I ended up going down the wrong path, and got involved with things I shouldn’t have.Craig in the gym

Time in prison

One Thursday morning in July 2010, I was arrested.  I was eventually sent to prison for four years for drugs offences. I left behind my girlfriend and 15-month old daughter.

The turning point for me was the moment I got arrested – it was the pivotal moment for me, and I’d never take that back. I did a lot of growing up, and started visualising a future. I got myself fit in my cell, and started volunteering at the prison gym.

After a year I was allowed to volunteer outside of the prison – that’s when I started volunteering at the YMCA gym, and met Julie, who is my boss now.  When I was released in 2012, I carried on volunteering there. In January 2013 the manager’s job came up, and that’s where I’ve been ever since.

Getting into cycling

In 2013 I did the London Marathon, and soon afterwards I stumbled across an event in Sheffield called Sportsfest, which showcases all the Paralympic sports and invites disabled people to try out.

I met some people from British Cycling, and they asked me to do a trial on a static bike. It was only six days after the marathon, so my legs were in bits. I’d lost almost every toenail!

But I had a go, and they basically said ‘Wow – where have you been all this time?’Craig with a medal after a race

My first ever race was the national championships in July 2013. I came twelfth and was not overly disappointed, but I knew I could do better. Two months later I did another race in Sunderland, and was the first disabled rider over the line.

Setting my sights on Rio

I was introduced to my coach, Adam Ellis, in March 2014. He got me on a training programme, and since I’ve been working with him, results have been getting better and better.

In July I went out to the cycling World Cup in Spain, and came 20th in the road race out of all the top disabled riders in the world. That’s a great result, but I’m still not happy.

I’ve started thinking of the bigger picture. I’m on British Cycling’s radar already, but I still have a lot to prove – and I want to make Team GB at the Paralympics in 2016.

Every rider who’s got aspirations to go to Rio needs to be picked by this September, so I’ve got eight months to make the grade. All my time, effort, blood, sweat and tears is geared to me making that cut.

Craig's medalIf it doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world. I run a gym, I’m a partner, I’m now a dad of two – and then I’m a cyclist on top of that. I’m not a robot who rides a bike.

But I know what I’m capable of, and I know with the right training, the right equipment, the right support network around me, that I can go all the way. Somebody’s got to, so why shouldn’t it be me?

Craig is taking part in the 2015 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 for Scope this August. Follow him on Twitter for updates.

Find out more about 100 days, 100 stories.

“Not every family that is affected by disability is as lucky as us”

Guest post from Stuart, whose twin brother Fraser has Down’s Syndrome. He is riding the Prudential Ride London 100 for Scope this year in memory of Sheena Walker, a tireless disability campaigner and former Scotswoman of the Year who helped Fraser and his family to get a better deal in life.

stuart-picOn 10 August I will be cycling 100 miles in the Ride100. More important than the physical challenge of cycling 100 miles is the challenge to raise money for Scope – a charity which I have a personal connection with.

My twin brother Fraser was born with Down’s Syndrome.

Glasgow in the mid 1970s wasn’t best equipped to deal with this. Indeed at this point most people were barely able to even talk about it. I recently discovered an official letter from the hospital following Fraser’s birth which rather cryptically refers to “Fraser’s problem”.

Support and respite care was also pretty much an alien concept at this time. One of the options open to my parents at the time would have been to send Fraser to the nearest hospital – Lennox Castle. The towers of the Castle were visible from my primary school. Nestling in the countryside next to the Campsie Hills to the North of Glasgow, it seemed like an idyllic setting.

However horror stories about what went on there used to do the rounds of the playground. Such was the reputation of the place, my parents never once entertained it as an option for Fraser. They never even visited it.

Decades on, the horror stories proved to be true as revelations emerged about people being starved, drugged and abused at the Castle.

My parents wanted something better for Fraser. As a result they faced a long hard struggle to ensure as bright a future as possible for my brother.

At this point my family was fortunate enough to come into contact with a woman called Sheena Walker – one of the most truly remarkable people I’ve ever met. Sheena recently passed away but she made a huge mark on the community she served.

As my mother noted in one of the many newspaper tributes to Sheena after her death, she was a former Scotswoman of the Year and a tireless campaigner for people with disabilities. To borrow my mother’s words: “She was such a strong person who took on the government, took on social services and anyone else she thought was not giving disabled young people the help they needed….She said she’d find a better place for her boys and other children even if she had to build it herself. And that’s what she did.”

Not every family that is affected by disability is as lucky as us though.

This is why I think Scope is so important.

Scope exists to make this country a better place for disabled people and their families. They do this by running a range of services, raising awareness of the issues that disabled people face and influencing change across society. They provide support, advice and information for more than a quarter of a million disabled people and their family members every year.

So thankfully, times have changed. The grounds of Lennox Castle are now home to Celtic FC’s new plush training facilities. Attitudes to disability have changed. Attitudes towards care for the disabled have changed. And attitudes towards supporting families affected by disability have changed.

But we cannot rest on our laurels. In the current political climate, charities are facing tough times – and they need help. Disabled people have been particularly harshly treated as a result of recent public sector cuts. I’ve witnessed this first hand – and indeed live with the fear that one day Fraser’s care package will be affected by the decisions of a government which seems at times intent on targeting the most vulnerable in society – rather than the culpable.

I am riding in memory of Sheena Walker in an effort to continue the legacy of remarkable people like her. With your help I’m raising money to help other families facing the daily challenges of disability.

You can donate to Stuart’s fundraising online and find out how he does next week on Twitter.

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? 

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? 

Loud voices welcome!

Have you ever thought about spending a day cheering on Team Scope event participants? That’s exactly what Thomas, 19, did last weekend when he supported our 230 London to Paris 24 cyclists as they departed from Blackheath, London.

Thomas Volunteering at L2P24“I had a really nice time today watching the cyclists at the starting line in Blackheath. We came along to cheer them on. There were hundreds of bikes! I shouted ‘you can do it!’ and ‘keep going’ after we counted down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 go!  We had fun and it was great because it was a sunny day.

We met Rachael, a Scope trustee who gave a speech. We met Sarah, Emily, Alan and Tom from Scope. There were a lot of people who were there raising money.

I think I was the loudest cheerer. At the end I said, ‘phew, I really, really need a drink now. Wasn’t that good’.

I’m looking forward to volunteering in Bexleyheath Scope shop on Sunday. I’m going to tell all my friends there about the Scope cheering.”

It’s lovely to hear how much Thomas enjoyed his day. The London to Paris 24 2013 event has already raised nearly £300,000 for Scope’s vital work and the money is still coming in! We have lots of events coming up over the next few weeks and months including the Virgin Active London Triathlon and the first ever Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 – we would love you’re help to make them as great as possible for our supporters. All you need to bring is energy, enthusiasm and the ability to make lots of noise! If you would like to get involved and volunteer then please do email us at events@scope.org.uk or call 0207 619 7270.