So if you didn’t know recently I cycled to Paris. To Paris from London with 5 friends and my brother who I don’t think even knew what lycra was until a few months back.
In hope of raising some money for Yorkshire Air Ambulance, who amazingly saved one of our friends a few years back, my big bro and another friend thought “why not try and cycle to Paris”. Fast forward one year later and there were 7 of us standing on my favourite bridge of London (Tower Bridge) ready to start a journey to the next tower The Eiffel Tower.
Helped by the invaluable blog posts from Charlie – particularly her packing list (it’s amazing how you can easily forget that you will need your passport) I am extremely pleased to say that as a team we successfully made it to Paris agreeing that this was an experience of a lifetime and one we will NEVER forget. Ceri has written a great blow by blow account of the trip over on her blog so I thought I would just offer my top tips in case you fancy getting ON’ER BIKE!
1. Pack light! Like I said we used Charlie’s packing list as a guide but a few members of the group still went a little overboard on the packing which made their bikes INCREDIBLY HEAVY! If, like us, you are planning to do the trip in the summer then the quicker you get used to the fact that you are going to get sweaty, dirty, smelly etc etc the better. I took bare minimum. My toiletries, for instance, consisted of suncream, babywipes, deodorant, a toothbrush and lip salve. Someone may have brought an entire washbag … just saying it’s not the most glamorous I have looked but the less weight the better.
2. Bring food So whilst knocking back the red wine in Paris we discussed the different but equally important roles we all played in ensuring our safe arrival. My invaluable role appeared to be getting everyone to “have a nibble”. Cycling to Paris, in the summer, means heat, hills, long days and apparently minimal amounts of open shops. You may not feel hungry whilst cycling but it amazing how much you burn whilst doing 60+ miles a day up and down pretty impressive hills. You may also find, as we did, that a lot of places in France seem to close during the days, not really offering much opportunity to grab nibbles en route. We were stocked to the brims with 9Bars, Soreen, gels, nuts, dried fruit, crisps and a couple of sneaky extras (mainly in the form of haribo picked up at the Carrefour!). Little and often is ABSOLUTELY KEY, and if at all possible bring a variety of snacks to save you getting sick of the same thing! My personal favourites during the trip were a couple of the new Cocoa Kick 9bars (but more on these another time!) oh and those and the mille-feuille we had in Marines
3. Choose an amazing BnB for your second night. After two days of cycling you are going to be tired, your bum is going to hate you … never mind anything else … and so a good rest and a bit of treat will do your mind, body and soul a world of good. When I say a bit of treat … our team chose Chambres du Confiturier. A family run, beautiful, BnB roughly half way between Dieppe and Paris, perfectly catered for tired, smelly, HUNGRY cyclists, this place was incredible.
We were firstly shown to a huge shed to store our bikes, full of tools and equipment should we need to tweak anything or pump our tires and then we were led to our rooms, our beautiful, beautiful rooms – so beautiful in fact that we all jumped straight in the showers before we touched anything so not to dirty it. Following this we then reclined in the large garden with a glass of locally sourced red wine whilst watching the sun go down.
Then came the food, the most incredible 4 course meal (starter, main, cheese, dessert) all made with ingredients freshly picked from the garden. I thought dinner was good … then came breakfast the next morning … I could literally have just stayed there with all the pancakes, homemade loaves, jams and museli … Marie absolutely spoilt us and I could not recommend this place more!
4. Remember you are team – One of the reasons this trip was so memorable, a side from the fact that we actually managed to cycle from London to Paris (!?) was that we did it as a team. We spurred each other on up those grewling hills and clapped when one by one we made it to the top, we were mindful when each of us went through a little less than positive moment, we shared stupid jokes and stories as distractions and always made sure we were feed and watered ;D. Our group was of mixed abilities, some could power up hills, some were not afraid of absolutely flying downhills but there was not one point on this journey we were were split (well apart from when one of us had to do a wild wee in a very public space). This trip would not have been anywhere near as amazing if it wasn’t for the people I rode with and I could not have done it without them :D!
To be honest as someone who first tried cycling back in March this year due to an injury preventing me from running I am still shocked that I have actually just cycled to Paris, I mean on bike from London to Paris. But what is more amazing is that I got to watch my brother, who I am sure will not mind me saying NEVER does any exercise, do it right by my side (most the time ;D) I could not recommend doing this trip enough. I know there are people who do this in 24 hours and that is truly incredible but in my eyes by doing it over numerous days you really get to enjoy what it feels like to cycle on big open roads in the middle of France and really soak in the incredible experience.
Let’s be honest if team #croissantthechannel can do it SO CAN YOU! And please do get in touch if you have any questions or want any advice 😀
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