My Journey to Paris

My cycling journey started just over 3 years ago, my now ex husband was a very keen mountain biker and had been trying to get me into it for years but I’d never really enjoyed it, I occasionally cycled to work and did a few short rides at weekends but nothing serious. I liked the idea of a road bike but he was quite controlling and wouldn’t let me get a cheaper bike as it wouldn’t be right (I wanted a cheaper one in case I hated it).

March 2015 I left him and moved into a house across the road from Costello stadium, I used to pass the banners advertising the Sunday Girls and thought it sounded a great idea and I kept wanting to join but only had a mountain bike.

Fast forward to July 2015 and I’d been watching the Tour de France and popped into Halfords for something for my car and saw they had a sale on, the next thing I knew I was the proud owner of a new road bike 🙂

I was very apprehensive on it at first and it took a lot of getting used to (completely different position to a mountain bike :0). I joined the Sunday Girls and started going out on it a bit more. I did the bike skills course and even though I came off and couldn’t complete the course due to injury I loved it, the more I rode it the more I enjoyed it.

In the August I saw an advert for London to Paris 2016 riding for Breast Cancer Now and signed up on the spot. My mum and a lot of her family have had breast cancer so it seemed the most obvious charity for me. And that is where my adventure with cycling properly began.

I was still only riding shorter (less than 40 miles) distances at this point but in a fit of madness I signed up to do the Selby 2 Swans sportive (100km / 60~miles) in September. It was a struggle and I ended up taking a shortcut to shorten the route slightly but I did it. And I’ve not looked back since…

I signed up for another 4 sportives between then and L2P – all but 1 were 100km routes as training for L2P. I even bought a new / better bike for doing it all on as the first bike wasn’t a great riding position for me, I picked this up in February 2016.

After this I thought London to Paris should be a doddle – how wrong I was lol

Getting to the start line in Croydon on a cloudy but warm Wednesday morning in July was quite emotional – it had been a long training journey and I couldn’t believe I was actually there. It was an amazing site though – a good couple of hundred cyclists all getting ready to start the same journey.

The first day was always going to be the hardest – the furthest distance, the biggest hills (the South Downs) but the shortest time to do it in as we had to catch the ferry. It was also a very warm day. Cycling through the Kent countryside, I was having the time of my life, even if I did have to walk up the hills, unfortunately this meant I was not going to make the ferry cut off time so I had to be picked up with another 5 cyclists (there were about 60 in total being picked up) about 20 miles outside of Dover, they did let us cycle the last few in though. On the ferry there were another 2 or 3 companies also doing L2P trips so the ferry was 80% cyclists 😀 the sight of all those cyclists leaving the ferry in Calais in the twilight was amazing – it seemed non stop! (Croydon to Calais – 120km)

Day 2 was I think the worst day weather wise – head winds all day, torrential horizontal rain and hills was not pleasant, and because of that I had to be picked up by the support van again. A member of the crew who was one of the back markers was riding with me most of the day and he could see I was struggling with the wind, the bed in the hotel that night was very very welcome! They dropped me off at the last food station so I could carry on and the last bit of the route into Arras was all down hill so I could whizz along 🙂 (Calais to Arras – 125km)

Day 3 came and it was another emotional one as we were going through WW1 grave territory, we passed so many cemeteries 🙁 the weather was better today although there was one big hill towards the end of the day. Today I managed the full distance on my own 🙂 (Arras – Compiegne 121km)