London to Paris bike ride
Attwaters Jameson has been entering into the spirit of the Tour de France with his own cycle challenge.
After cycling almost 500km, through sun, wind and rain, climbing over 14,000ft, this year’s group of 141 cyclists made it to the finish beneath the Eiffel Tower, tired but elated on completion of this challenge.
Everyone who took part was raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support and on completion of the ride, over £200,000.00 had been raised between us, a new record for this Macmillan challenge event.
Day 1, London-Dover
An early start from South London sees us head off with a tough day’s cycling. We head through the outskirts of London onto quieter roads and it’s not long before we are among the hills and villages of rural Kent along country roads to Dover and the coast. A long and hard day in the saddle with some climbs reaching 20%, over terrain described by our guides as “undulating”. Leaving the white cliffs behind us, we took an early evening ferry across to Calais where we spent our first night.
Approx Cycling Distance: 145km
Day 2, Calais – Arras
After a hearty breakfast in Calais we head south. Starting off fairly flat, our ride continues as we peddle through beautiful rural landscapes and quiet back roads. The ride gets more “undulating” as the day continues until we reach Arras. By now we had all learnt that “undulating” meant there would be some testing climbs along the way, with today’s climbs of a more steady gradient but longer and equally as challenging.
Approx Cycling Distance: 135km
Day 3, Arras – Compiègne
After a couple of hard days in the saddle, our legs were feeling a little weary as we headed South once more. A sobering day as we cycled along quiet French roads to the more forested region around the attractive town of Compiègne, passing throughthe battle grounds of the First World War stopping off at the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, a major war memorial to 72,195 missing British and South African men who died in the Battles of the Somme of the First World War between 1915 and 1918. The inscription of names on the memorial is reserved for those missing, or unidentified, soldiers who have no known grave. A large inscription on an internal surface of the memorial reads:
“Here are recorded names of officers and men of the British Armies who fell on the Somme battlefields between July 1915 and March 1918 but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death”.
Although a dry day, we had to battle into a strong headwind all the way south, making the cycling as demanding as the first 2 days, if not more so, “like cycling in treacle” it was described at the end of the day.
Approx Cycling Distance: 138km
Day 4, Compiègne – Paris
Our final day’s cycling takes us South West initially through small villages and woodland before heading into the Parisian suburbs. From this point the traffic increases, but our destination and the finish is in sight. Cycling through the Parisian streets was an amazing experience, en-masse along theAvenue des Champs-Élyséesto the applause of the public lining the roadside, around the Arc de Triumph to our finish beneath the lofty arches of the Eiffel Tower. As close a cycling experience that I will get to what will follow in just 3 weeks time when the professionals follow the same route at the finish of this years Tour de France.
Approx Cycling Distance: 90km
An amazing experience all round, one I will be repeating next year!