After 23 days of hard graft, over 3,400 kilometres of solo cycling and the toughest climbs the Alps and Pyrenees can offer, I rode into Paris mid-morning, running the gauntlet with all the traffic (particularly around the Place de la Concorde and Champs Elysees), before heading off and finishing up at the Eiffel tower.
I haven’t been that fond of busy city centre traffic, although I really enjoyed riding on the Champs Elysees and the Place de la Concorde. On the bike, I was able to swerve in and out of all the cars and get in prime position for the next junction, whilst all the motorised traffic were trying to jockey for position. Later in the day, heading out of Paris in the van, Brian had some fun traversing the l’Arc de Triumphe- there’s certainly an art to driving there, it’s called just go for it!
With bright sunshine, it’s been a beautiful day to finish the challenge on. It’s pretty much the weather I’ve had through the majority of challenge and I have to admit that Mother Nature has been very kind, as it’s not nice riding day after day in cold and wet weather. Having arrived at the Eiffel Tower, Brian took the obligatory pictures before nipping off for a coffee, leaving me to try and absorb the moment, it was great just to sit there and try and take everything in.
I mentioned in the stage 11 blog, how elated I felt at having arrived at the summit of Ventoux after a 250km ride, well the feeling is just that much better but it still doesn’t feel real. It all seems to have flown by and I can’t really believe in the last 3.5 weeks I’ve covered 3,400 km’s from the north of France through the Alps, Pyrenees and back up again. Looking back one year, I wouldn’t have believed the amount of work that was needed to get to this position, but I had a vision and targets and that gave me something to work towards. Getting to the start line alone was a real achievement in itself, as I’ve had to:
- Design and implement my training programme with other 10,000 km’s cycled (in all weathers).
- Build the website and other social media.
- Plan and organise all the logistics
- Organise fundraising activites for Julia’s House – with great support from friends and family
- Save up my pennies, as I have self funded the entire venture, (at a cost of circa £4k) – thanks to my wife for being tolerant!
I tried not to get philosophical (or in other words become a stereotypical Frenchman), so as I sat there in the sun I made sure I treated myself. After abstaining from alcohol for the best part of 3 months, I treated myself to a bottle of Badger (Hall and Woodhouse) Fursty Ferret which I brought over from the UK with me, it went down very well and after half a glass I was already feeling a bit light headed.
After missing out on dinner last night, Brian and I stopped off at a nice restaurant in Paris. I had my first taste of Escargot, they tasted really nice, although the utensils used to get to them out the shell seemed more suitable for nasal hair removal. They were also a tad steep, it working out about 1 Euro per snail – but you only live once you’ve got to try new things.
At this point I must thank Brian and Andy, who’ve been great support over the past 3.5 weeks and they have also taken time away from their own families to come out and help me. It would have been extremely difficult to have taken on the challenge without their support. At each stop they would be waiting for my with a hot drink and fresh drinks bottles not to mention the morale support they provided – thanks guys!
For all you statisticians, I’ll start to pull together the various averages, distances covered etc. I’ll also elaborate a bit more on my experiences – I’ll publish that over the weekend. Here’s the stats: Part 1 Chartres to Rambouillet (covered on 25 September):
- Distance: 43.5 km
- Time: 1 hour 33 minutes
- Average Moving Speed: 28.1 kmph
- Ascent: 356 metres
Part 2 – Rambouillet to Paris
- Distance: 77 km
- Time: 3 hours 25 minutes
- Average Moving Speed: 24.6 kmph (not bad considering the volume of traffic)
- Ascent 641 metres
Finally, thank you for reading my blogs over the past 3.5 weeks. I really hope you found them interesting and a good read. But it would be great if you could open those wallets and purses and make a donation to Julia’s House – the link to the Just Giving Page can be found in the blog.
We’re off to Calais now, so I’ll speak soon (and Jacqui do you fancy a curry tonight? x)