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