I was going to write about my trip to Paris from London, but got beaten to it by a fellow rider, V. This unsupported 24 hour effort was well summed up by her, as the following (a few minor edits by me, but the rest in its raw state, with emojis!):
Never again…(unless it’s in the summer, with support) that was emotional.. Totally in the hurt locker on Friday. Nothing like hobbling through a pub with a hot roaring fire, smelling of chips, soaked through, to go to the loo. To then go out into the dark, in gail force winds and torrential rain, to continue cycling.. WHY?? came to mind a few times!! I did have concerns about Friday’s journey, but in my head the 60miles was 3hrs on a good cycle 4hrs on a bad cycle..5hrs. It took over an hour to do 5miles out of London, including weaving through markets that were being packed away, and a taxi driver who nearly took us out driving the wrong way up the road hooting at us.. And then to add insult tried to punch GeekintheHills….
It was so dark and windy I didn’t know if I was going up or down hill. At one point I was really doubting my abilities as I thought i was in the lowest gear, burning my legs up and not getting anywhere, then came into some street lighting and was relieved to see i was in the big ring and had another 10 gears I could have used!
It didn’t help at the sat nav kept trying to take us on bike paths, not suitable for road bikes, esp when you can’t see the ground- or looping us around different roads only to get back onto the same road, having just added extra mileage.
I realised there wasn’t going to be a nice pub meal & celebratory drink/catchup with Chris & Warren prior to getting on the ferry, or time to buy breakie and snacks for the onward journey..It was going to be close whether we’d make the ferry…
To make things tougher, we kept passing pubs, fish & chip shops and Chinese takeaway places…I now focused on a hot shower & meal on the ferry…Finally we arrived, Lidl was the first turnoff on the roundabout, Ferry & check-in on the 2nd…we went to Lidl, brioche & water bought in record time (extremely grateful for the decision), and then straight to the ferry…
I had the best hug from Chris when we met them in the passport check. Chris was a bit concerned as he’d never seen me shaking and probably a little shell shocked by the ‘ordeal’…
Much needed showers, fish & chips (with curry sauce), trying to charge Garmins and bike lights with the one socket in the room with all four of us (one of my lights failed before getting out of London, my rear light didn’t want to charge on the ferry, glad i had spares), we finally got into bed to ‘rest’..
We joked about being ‘rocked’ to sleep.. Thrown about for 2.5hrs with no sleep..You could hear the car alarms going off below us. I was regretting the oily curry sauce which was now repeating on me.
At 2.30am UK time an announcement was made a few times, about our arrival..i doubt anyone got any sleep. We certainly didn’t.
I was really looking forward to seeing daylight. I was a bit concerned about whether my bike lights would last, we had a good 3.5hrs of cycling before sunrise. The cycling felt fine, despite the lack of sleep and how dark it was, it was just a blessing it wasn’t raining, although just as windy. It was hard to concentrate when all you had was the flashing bike light in front to follow.
We finally stopped, still in the dark, around 8am French time at a coffee shop..i was grateful for the brioche i’d got the night before as there was no food. We stayed for another coffee, as we knew once it was fully light we’d be able to cycle faster- it was a good decision.
It was beautiful but a hard slog with the noisy wind and weight on the bikes, we couldn’t really talk.
We stopped for much needed food/lunch at 9am UK time (last time we would properly eat for nearly 12hrs)..We were tired from lack of sleep, but excited by only 48miles left and 7hrs to go. I was thinking I hope we can check in early as I could be in bed at lunch! .. 🤦♀️
What a slog, the wind, argh the wind.. My knees hurt from the cold and what felt like pushing into a brick wall, my handlebar bag was helping creating a wall of resistance.. The roads didn’t allow for side by side cycling, they were v fast roads, although the French drivers were very courteous and gave ample room over taking, it would have been v stressful in the UK- we would have had to change the route..
Our average speed was..slow, v slow. It was demoralising. My watch vibrates every 5miles, I couldn’t see it with my arm warmers.
When we stopped for a gps check (boys toilet stop), I was gutted that what I thought was only 15miles left, was 25miles..normally I love cycling, and thats a daily commute to work, but I was feeling it. The lack of sleep was catching up and Fridays cycle and the constant wind were draining..
We decided to cycle for another 10miles for a final coffee stop, 7miles later we came through a small town- a good place to stop.. I really needed the loo, and a hot drink (hard to go to the loo on the side of a road with bib shorts)..
I wasn’t happy with a squat toilet.. Not what my knees and thighs needed, not want anyone needs with a wet floor, slippy bike shoes and a door that doesn’t lock, in a ‘dodgy’ betting shop..Things were looking like they were getting colourful, and there was a lot of noise by our bikes. A good time to go..
I’d not had any gels and in normal terms 18miles is nothing.. But I was learning! And we knew the closer we got to Paris, the longer it would take with city traffic, so I took one- the sugar felt good.
It was slow, every 500m, on a good run 1km there was a traffic light, it was stop start all the way…3miles to go and another hill, my legs were done.. I had another gel.. I will never underestimate how long 3miles will take.. Esp in a city. I was feeling every cobble, every push off at lights..everything hurt..
We made it, 3:20pm UK time..We were supposed to leave at 4pm Friday, but it was 4:15pm. Just under 24hrs. Never again..Unless we have summer daylight hours, good weather, and a support vehicle so we don’t have to carry all our stuff…actually I don’t think I need to do it again!
We then had the bad news of another 4miles to the hotel.. I have never been so pleased to see our hotel. So glad I’d been to Paris before as I had no desire to explore, despite the beautiful sunshine. It was shower, stretch and power nap before dinner.
Overall, it was emotional. The big positives were Chris, Warren, and GeekintheHills as great cycling buddies, brioche saved the day, coffee stops (3 stops including lunch at 9am UK time). The negatives, London cycling, darkness, torrential rain, wind that followed us, squat toilets and when we made it Paris cobbles!! 🤣🤣
Keep riding hard