Tag Archives: Paris

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.

Could you cycle from London to Paris in 24 hours?

That’s exactly what our Team Scope athlete Gethin Pearson is aiming to do this weekend along with 230 fellow riders. He tells us more about why he’s taking on the challenge for a second time!

I wasn’t meant to be doing London to Paris in 24 hours this year. I did the first in 2010 as a newbie road cyclist and it was such a fantastic event, I’ve wanted to do it again ever since.

I’d already committed to doing another big ride this year (RideUk24 – Newcastle to London in 24 hours) in August with some mates I’ve been riding with since my first L2P24. Then my wife Nikki came home and said that her company were going to put a team in – my raving about the event and the promise of a glass of champagne at the end (!) had obviously persuaded her to sign up. What the heck, I thought, I’ll do both…

Gethin Pearson
The picture’s from 2010. It’s one of my favourite pictures because I earned the right to have it taken – but I want another one this year with my wife in it. We’ll keep you posted….

Some good early season training in the cold and snow, coupled with a day on Scope’s stand promoting the event at the London Bike Show had really got my enthusiasm going again.

Then I was in a lot of pain

My knee started hurting pretty badly after a 70 mile sportive at Easter. I could still ride but at nowhere near my normal level and couldn’t get any long rides in, so I pulled out. To say I was gutted was an understatement.

Off to the physio to get the knee sorted. Six weeks later I’m feeling great and managed 110 miles in horrible wind and rain with a masochistic grin on my face. No knee pain afterwards – I was fit again and riding at close to my best thanks to the guys at Physio Solutions in Angel

Memories from 2010

I’ve got lots of memories from 2010. The rolling countryside of Kent leads on to the ferry at Dover. A couple of hundred cyclists ride onto the ferry getting looks of bewilderment from the Customs officers and your fellow ferry passengers.

Then it’s onto the beautiful smooth roads in the Pas de Calais region of France. By now the light has faded and if you’re lucky enough to be in a big group you can probably be seen from space with all those bike lights. Through towns at closing time on a Saturday night where the “refreshed” locals cheer you on as you speed through. Being alone in the early morning fog, hills that don’t seem to stop, tired and close to your limit but suddenly finding another rider and working with them for some company.

The sun breaks through and gives you a new lease of life. On to Paris. Play chicken with the cars on the mental Arc de Triomphe roundabout, down the famous cobbles of the Champs-Élysées and there’s the Eiffel Tower.

You’ve done it.  Exhausted but buzzing off the adrenaline.

I also can’t say enough good things about the event staff from Scope and Action Challenge (the organisers). I’m not sure they realise just how good it is to see a smiling, enthusiastic face when you’re struggling to get through at 2am. You really do just have to turn up and ride – everything else is taken care of for you. As a Project Manager I appreciate how much organisation must go in to make it run so smoothly – it’s hugely impressive.

Onto this year’s race

You can do L2P24 in two ways. Some nutters do the full 270 miles on their own or you can be part of a 2-person relay team – picking and choosing which of the 8 stages you ride – as long as one of you is riding at all times. I was meant to be one of these solo nutters but the knee injury means that’s beyond me at the moment.

Nikki was having problems finding a relay partner so when I realised I was fit again three weeks ago, I dropped the guys at Scope an e-mail to see if I could get back on the ride so I could ride with her. Sure enough someone had pulled out due to injury – their loss was my gain, so the “Pearson Peloton” team will be rolling out of Blackheath on Saturday at midday. We’re each aiming to ride 5 stages for a total of about 180 miles. I may try a 6th stage if I’m feeling brave 🙂

We’ll be out there putting ourselves through the pain barrier to raise money for Scope. If you can spare us a few quid then our sponsorship page. Better still, visit the website next week and sign up yourself for 2014…

Check back next week to hear how the weekend goes for Gethin and Nikki – and to see their photo from the Eiffel Tower!

The Amsterdam 300 challenge

Guest post from Emily Worsley

Scope Amsterdam 300 challenge

As the Amsterdam 300 challenge began and I watched the 65 road cyclists set off into the night, I hoped their training and excited energy would be enough to fuel them through to the finish 300 miles away in Amsterdam. This was the first time this event had ever taken place and was due to raise £78,000 for our vital work with disabled people and their families, so it was important that it went well.

For months these participants had been working hard to raise £1,200 each for Scope and prepare their bodies for what would be a gruelling, physical ride across four countries to reach Amsterdam just two days later. Night cycling, weather conditions, lack of sleep and physical exhaustion were just some of the elements these cyclists were facing, but all of them were more than up for the challenge… maybe the thought of a little belated ‘Dutch courage’ on arrival in Amsterdam was a big motivation!

Travelling along with the event (not by bike I hasten to add!), it was incredible to watch these cyclists pull together, motivate each other and work as a team and I think this really epitomises what a charity fundraising event is all about. All of them made it… just… and I admire their determination, not only on the event itself but in their passion for cycling and using that as a means to help a vital cause. Many of them have already put their names down for the next leg in 2012 on our London to Paris 24, which sees our team cycle from London to Paris in just 24 hours! This just shows how exciting these events are and I can’t wait to see more fundraising coming in for Scope as a result!