WE DID IT!!! 311 kilometres, not all of them fun!
Look! There it is!!
We triumphed over the extremely not-flat London to the Coast leg. It was a very long, hot day full of scary motorist antics. We took on both the Weald and the North Downs and emerged reasonably unbowed – this is post lunch and we are smiling because we have no idea how far away the coast is!
Luckily we were hosted brilliantly that evening in Eastbourne by Ben’s mum and Hazel which greatly eased our pain!!
Day two: A quick little cycle from Seaford to Newhaven on a brisk south coast morning then on to the ferry! Bye Bye blighty!!
Arrive in Dieppe, put bike back together, don sexy cycling gear and set off! Allons-y!!!!
A lovely stretch on the avenue verte (flat with no traffic!!!!!) lead us to Neufchatel en Bray where our support vehicle was waiting (contentedly sitting in the sunshine with a beer!).
Day three: This was a whopper (50m)!
We took our preparation seriously:
Obligatory action shots from our faithful support driver!
Luckily the countryside was beautiful, rolling (and some not so rolling) hills covered with poppies. We saw myriad French wildlife – Deer and even a Hare – not too many cars! After a long ascent (one of the two serious hills meriting a mention in the route instructions) which involved a pea stop for R and B we reached a well-earned lunch spot.
The were very tasty!
Meeting our faithful support driver for lunch we avoided the rain to picnic next to a church car boot sale– much to the amusement of the vendors!
Resisting the urge to buy the random assortment of merde on sale we forged on and through the rainy afternoon. Arriving at the tiny hamlet of Fay-les-Etangs (Etang being our new French word meaning Pond – pretty but not particularly useful). We passed a restful night after an enormous meal with the other guests of the B&B and the friendly resident dog!
We made the decision to split the final day into two sections to save having to stay a night in Paris (trop cher) and boy are we glad that we did! Today’s section was really challenging – not least because we chose to set off after lunch to rest our legs and to let the torrential rain ease off!
The day started in the French equivalent of Surrey which was all very bucolic and ended in the equivalent of Shepherds Bush – not so nice with very confusing roads. I number my experience of dual carriageway cycling today as among my top five near-death experiences! After surviving this we were very grateful for bedtime in Poissy! This is the nicest view in Poissy – The Seine – in the dark!
Day five: Up bright and breezy to mount the final assault on Paris. It was a rainy, windy morning but we were heartened by the thought of a cycle through the bois and lunch under the Eiffel Tower.
Hmmm, well. Almost both of those things happened! This was the most challenging day in terms of navigation. A special mention must go to Ben for his navigational efforts on the whole trip but especially the seemingly identical circular roads of the outskirts of Paris. He got us through the woods, past the retail parks and through the suburbs to the Seine!! The cycle through the five (yes five!) different woods was to be recommended.
Beautiful Bois on the way to Paris
It was very peaceful in contrast to the main roads leading to the city centre (we could hear them sometimes thundering in the distance). Plus, we got to encounter some elderly Parisians on their morning constitutional- and they in turn got to laugh at us huffing and puffing up some unexpected hills!
Eventually we got our first glance of Paris – in a misty murky sort of way!!
Our lunch dreams were shattered when the support driver found that he had left his suitcase in the hotel in Poissy. Hmmm. We raced to take some photos under the tower aided by a passing Parisian:
Then in a final act of architectural torture had to climb the steps of the Trocadero (lots!!!!!!!!!) carrying our bikes to meet Bubs at the car. Rachel and Ben had some time to kill before the Eurostar and managed a civilised celebration lunch. Nina and Bubs raced for the suitcase, Dieppe and the ferry with minutes to spare!!
We would like to thank everyone who supported us in our training and sponsored us. It was a challenge, but we all enjoyed it and all of our kind sponsors made the hills a little bit easier!!