Self reflection of a testing week

Sitting on the Eurostar and I’m reflecting on this weeks adventure. Can honestly say I am proud of what I have achieved. I’ve tested, pushed and broken my body over 4 days. Some days we’ve have horrendous wind, rain and even hail, and some days were glorious sunshine. Each element tests how you cycle and how well you cycle. The physical challenge I have conquered, but the pain I’m sure will last a few days if not weeks!
I am also proud of the mental challenge. Away from home has been tough, very tough leaving Megan. As said in earlier blogs I’m sure it’s been extremely tough for them as well. But somedays you are cycling 3-4 hours atoms on your own, and some days through places like sonne, and you can do nothing but think. It’s been a tough mental challenge, battling my physical pain with mental strength has been exhausting, very. This is why I am proud, I thought the cycle would be tough, but everything I’ve blogged about mixed together made this a serious test on myself. I’ve come out of this a far stronger person than before, it’s taught me how to cope, how to deal with setbacks and how to find that core inner strength once the tanks are empty.

I’m also very proud of everyone on Facebook. The support, messages and encouragement has been so powerful, so emotional and heart warming. The donations also have been amazing! I can only thank you for that! (They can still continue!) 🙂

My family amaze me, supported me so much, and if they don’t think they did, well believe me, you did. Thank you so much, you got my to Paris!

So in summary, I’ve taken on a monumental challenge, broken my body for it, but I’ve come out the other side not only victorious, but feeling proud of how it’s tested me and I’ve stood my ground.

Test yourself, see how much you can surprise yourself!!

London to Paris – The final day!

Good evening followers. What a day this has been, one etched in my life forever. I cannot forget this day, just epic.

This morning, the riders were set off in stages, in a bid to get everyone at the end together. I opted for the first group, 7am start. I bounced out of bed at 615am raring to go, so positive so motivated! I had breakfast (see other days for description as it was the same!)

Oh look its me again:

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7am came and I was first out of the blocks, with Dean, another Chestnut cyclist. Within 2 miles we were in Compiegne forest. It was honestly a privelage to cycle through there. Sun was rising, mist evaporating in the woods, it was breathtakingly beautiful!! I had become the leader for the day, and was enjoying every second on my own. I was going through more little villages, but in the sunshine today, they were just as epic as the forest. Stunning. Photos dont do the place justice, but here is one:

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There was a water stop at 15 miles, but I was so far infront, they hadn’t set it up before I whizzed past!! After a phone call to the team leader, I carried on until the water stop. Thats 38 miles continuous cycling!! At this stage I was 22 miles into the day, a full 7 miles clear of anyone else! Picturesque villages came and went, and I remember savouring every moment.

Lunch stop. I arrived just as the van did, so I helped set up the food, then ate it! I was detained there for 90 minutes to wait for everyone else 🙂 🙂 Gone from being rubbish to being the best 🙂

After lunch to the final water stop was a quick cycle, 13 miles. Due to the setup or Paris, they were major roads, so busy traffic, blowing me around. Weather had turned and was cloudy, spits of rain about and colder. This was a quick cycle, 1 hour 10 mins tops, till the water stop.

After this break, we had to go into Paris as teams, together so we could spot our route and stay alive. They were very very busy roads, lots of traffic in no particular lanes or order, and there was us on tired legs battling through. As we got to 3 miles away, we all met up at a bar, in the opera region. Costly, €8.50 a pint, but it was a pre celebratory pint with other cyclists.

We then made our way to the concorde, up the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe. This was such an amazing experience (painful one too as my poor bum was very sore, and the road is cobbled!) – cycling up that road was one of the best bits of cycling I have ever done.

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From the Arc de Triomphe it was down to the Eiffel Tower. Such a monumental building, and almost emotional to see, having cycled from London!! It was a quick cycle around the tower, where I got to the finish line! YES!!! Here is the classic, cheesy but somewhat awesome photo:

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I haven’t spoken about my legs. They truely died yesterday. Today they hurt, really really hurt every single mile. I had to dig deep, to get 7 miles clear of everyone 🙂 The last 4 miles of Paris, were as I said amazing, truely lifechanging amazing, but my legs were ready to divorce me, cut themselves off me and leave me. Thank you legs, you can rest now.

Here is a photo of the support crew:

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Sian, Sam, Alex and Jess. Truely motivational people who helped everyone at some stage. Sam lent me his waterproof jacket as I left mine at home – such a help for me! Alex the mechanic, such a great sense of humour. Sian, she knows how to make sure those muscles and joints are stretched. That woman pushed pain to a new level. Jess the amazing cook who make sure our carbs were high! I know they’ll never read this, but I cannot thank them enough for getting me through this.

And I showed one on facebook, but look at this:

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Stunning. Simples. How to make any pain go away with the power of “wow”

As you all know, and many have donated, I am doing this for Chestnut Tree House. Please please please can you donate anything to this amazing charity. They are truly amazing people. My just giving page for this event is here. Thank you.

Today has been an epic journey, lots of miles, lots of calories burnt. Here is the route tracking etc etc

And it was amazing to see most of my family at the finish line. Ikkle Megan with “Well Done Daddy” T-shirt was such an amazing sight. We had some champagne shortly after, which has never tasted so good!! Thank you to all my family, here or away, your support has been amazing!

I think thats it! I’ll do one tomorrow about my day tomorrow, but for the main charity side of it, blog is complete. Massive thank you for reading all of these. I type to a screen but know people are reading, which makes it worthwhile. THANK YOU!

Im off to sleep, and up early to enjoy Paris!!!!

London To Paris – Day 3

Day Three. Welcome. Today is a day I introduced arse pain into my world!! But before that. I woke up very positive, my leg was a little stiff, but feeling ok. Had a great night sleep, huge double bed and a nice shower. Result.

Breakfast was nice, continental meats and cheese in a fresh French stick. Might have sneaked in a croissant, well it is France!! Shortly after breakfast we were outside raring to go:

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Now the first half of my cycling has been about one thing, and one thing only. Wind. Not mine, but mother natures. Christ I thought yesterday was bad, this was insane! We were cycling between little villages, across fields. Now the views were lovely, but the wind just made us work twice as much. A later conversation with the Mechanic Alex, he said we have put in as much effort as actually cycling to Paris, its been that tough! Along with this wind, there has been rain, short sharp bursts of it, and some sunshine. A mixture of weather, which really tested what little I had left in the tanks. A nice shot of the area, camera does not do it justice, it was beautiful in the sun!

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Half way into the first half of the day, we finally left the department of Calais (county) and entered a new department of Sonne. This is where the field got a little more up and down, but also a lot of war memorials. Now even to me, these got me thinking and remembering what happened in the very place I was cycling. Ironically, I was an injured Briton cycling with an injured Frenchman!! Few photo of the war memorials:

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Very strangely, 2 blacked out cars kept driving around the area, and Matt my injured Frenchman said, after reading the logo on the doors, that they were war memorial “police” – the stupidity of that amazes me!

Not long after Sonne was Lunch. The last 5 miles really hurt, but the 10 before were lovely. A very welcomed stop as I was so so empty! The team had cooked up Tuna & Sweetcorn pasta, lots of soup, and the usual fruit, energy bars \ energy drinks. Myself and Matt stopped for around 40 minutes. Was horrible to see one of the lead cyclists, Jo, shaking then pass out. That put her out of the game for the day, just showing how tough this adventure is.

We set off having lunch, and dwindled down more roads and little villages. 5 miles into it my right knee very quickly developed short sharp pains everytime I pushed down with it. Speaking to people, the right leg compensated for the weaker left, killing it off! My adventure for the day was over! Although again disheartened, I had covered more miles yesterday, in tougher conditions and carrying a slight injury from day 2. I do know this, tomorrow is my final day of cycling in France, and I end in Paris. I do not care what hurts or what falls off, I am cycling to Paris! I can rest Sunday\Monday, this is my final chance to push myself, and hopefully get more sponsorship.

Even though I have not completed some stages, my body has been pushed to the limit, it aches, it breaks, but I am testing myself. Even the bike is getting a battering:

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As normal, I am doing this for charity! Some of you have been amazing at sponsoring me. I truely thank you. If this little blog of even more pain has made you laugh or felt sorry for me, please donate on my just giving page. It doesn’t have to break the bank, even if it is breaking me.

My route can be seen here. Big big hills, but you cannot see the wind factor in this!

And a massive thank you to my family. As I type, they are in Paris checking into the hotel, waiting for me tomorrow at the finish line. They motivate me so much.

Linked to this blog soon will be a video showing just how windy it is!!!!!

Thanks for reading, speak tomorrow from PARIS!!!!

Day 2 – London To Paris

So today I woke up in Calais. Feeling really good and excited, was now in France, and a few more days until I hit Paris. I slept pretty well, woke up a few times as rain and wind was banging on the windows, but slept relatively well. Breakfast was just amazing, fresh French pasteries and bread, so delicious. After that we all got ready and got outside, in the rain and wind. Here is me just outside the hotel:

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See I look happy.

We had 18 miles before our first water stop. I can honestly say, they were the wettest, coldest, most brutal 18 miles of cycling I have ever done, and probably ever do. The wind was just horrific, you could see bikes in front swaying in the wind, and then you brace as its your turn. The mechanic, Alex, said later in the day, that the wind effectively doubles your workload. Great! There was rain, I don’t think it was too heavy, but the wind sure made it feel like it. The hills were not as bad as Dover, but then my legs were not as good either! They hurt, really hurt, and my left in particular, was aching.

Eventually we got to the water stop and had a rest. The nice team leader of Global Challenges lent me his waterproof top, as I was a drowned rat! But I was still in a good mood!

 

 

Now it all goes wrong! What happened was someone took down our route arrows, so we had no idea where to go. However we didn’t know this until the next junction we got to, 5 miles down the road. Cue photo of lost group:

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Now the man in the red with the fiddly little maps they provided is French, and ideal person to have with us!! We worked out we needed to go west, so we took a very busy, noisy, windy, rainy and nearly suicidal main D road. This was just terrifying. Truely a scary experience, never to be repeated again. At the next roundabout, we phoned the team leader and asked to be picked up and dropped back onto the route. This wasn’t an option as virtually everyone else was lost, in several different places, so we all had to head to a central emergancy meeting point. This was a far way away, we stopped off in many tiny villages, hoping to see a bar where would could get water. In Whisques, we decided to have a 10 minute rest, as we were all done for:

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We went down some lovely village routes, over some hills, even got adventurous with the roads:

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Now this sign will forever remain in my memory:

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For 2 reasons. First for the funny thing, we cycled past this farm, and two spaniels decided to attack the bikes, barking and biting at our feet! Pretty funny, but also pretty alarming! They just appeared, from no where!
Now this sign also indicates the top of a very very large hill. The called it “Windmill Hill” as they had a lot of turbines there. Yes it was windy!. As we were flying down it, other cyclists were going up! Confused.com we were. They told us they are actually on the route as have met the group leader 3 miles ago. So we have 5 people near the bottom of a very big big hill, very demoralised in the thought of turning around. So we did. Left leg took a battering up this hill, really hurt going up it. Once we had gone back past the sign pictured above, again, we were on route and headed to lunch.

Lunch was cooked by Global, and was pasta with ham, breads, cheeses, crisps, soups etc etc. Very yummy very deserved. We stopped for around an hour, giving ourselves a good rest before heading off. One of our little group had to pull out because of his knee, which was gutting for him.

2 miles into the second half, and up a long gradual hill, my left leg simply gave up. Muscle did not want to work. Couldn’t even get off the bike properly it just fell to the floor and I stumbled on my good leg. Phoned up for help, they collected me and took me back to the lunch stop. I did some streches recommended by them (very very painful!) and it was decided to rest today, so I could carry on tomorrow. My initial reaction was sickness. I felt gutted. I’ve got here, got this far, and I couldn’t carry on. Then my mentality changed. I’ve got this far, I’ve done well, and my goal is to get to Paris. I will get to Paris, and if it means resting half a day today. I will.

So as you can tell, today has been pyshically and mentally draining, tough and challenging. As I was one of the first to arrive at hotel, I’ve had a long long shower and lots of deep heat, and my leg is feeling ok. Hopefully tomorrow I can resume without even noticing todays aches and pains.

As usual, the reason I am torturing myself is for charity. Chestnut Tree House are an amazing charity who do wonders with children. They deserve our help.

I know I didn’t complete today, but if you feel for me, then please please donate on my just giving page.

And finally, my family are still sticking by me. Was great to see them on facetime today, motivates me to beat this challenge!

Day 2 is over, its been a tough one. Looking forward to day 3 and getting that little bit closer to Paris!

Thanks for reading!!!

Day 1 of the London To Paris Cycle Ride

Wow. What a day. Didn’t sleep very well at the start hotel. Noisy roads and paper thin windows and walls meant I was sleeping light. Eventually I got to sleep and then boom the alarm went off. 5am for a cold shower. Yay! We set off at 7am after a 15 minute briefing. See a nice make shift start line below 🙂

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The first part of the cycle was great. It was an 18 miler before the first water stop. It was cool to cycle in a group, chat to people. I was confident before hand that I would be near the back, but I averaged about 8th (out of 38), which made me happy. First stop was at Rochester, where the company \ tour operator put out a great feast of energy for us to binge on. Cue photo of everyone taking a break!

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I set off first with someone else, and instantly regretted it! Within 2 minutes we were faced with a monumental hill! Seriously I actually cried internally, although hindsight this was a gentle incline in comparison!. Now I am useless at hills, done a little training but generally I am pants. But, although I did stop a couple of times for a rest, I did cycle up it, completely! A little bit of self pride there, I actually did it!

This stint was a big one, 25 miles till the food stop. It was a slog, the miles started to slow down, but the pub lunch came round at about 1030. I had a lasange, which was yummy, but sat very heavy on my stomach. I was there for around 40 minutes, but my legs soon started to sieze up so off I went again.

This third and final stint was the killer, I knew it before hand, but it killed. 26 miles of hills, lots of hills!! My pace slowed down from 14mph to around 10mph. Some hills hurt, really hurt, but the sun started to shine a little so it made it a good experience. Some hills were so steep, it should be called “white mountain of dover” – cliffs are too small! We were instructed to stop 3 miles away from the port, at a pub. This pub was so so far away, but when it came, it felt so good!

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I arrived at 230pm, 90 minutes before the 4pm deadline. We stayed there till everyone was together, which was around 350pm. We then cycled the last 3 miles to the port.

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At the port, for some unknown reason, I was chosen to lead the pack around the port, through security and onto the boat. Oooo responsibility that I wasn’t expecting. I got given the lane number thing you normally hang from the mirror. Hard work cycling around with paper in your mouth 🙂 Anyway I lead the pack onto the boat, where I had some well deserved food (Fish and Chips if youd like to know 🙂 )

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The crossing felt like forever, was only 90 real minutes. We were last off the boat, and then it was a 1.5 mile cycle from the port to the hotel. I cannot believe the difference in roads. That 1.5 miles was so smooth, so flat (for now!) and just a joy to cycle on.

I am now in a hotel room, in Calais, awaiting a shower, phone call home then bed time. As I have said from the start. I am doing all this for charity. are an amazing charity, and this is the least I can do for them

If I have inspired you to donate, please visit my just giving page and donate whatever you want or whatever you can. It really does help. Thank you.

If you would like to see my route today, the stupid hills etc etc are all mapped out here.

And finally, as I said yesterday, a massive thank you to my family. Time apart really kills me, like I am sure it does them. They put up with this for charity, they should get sponsored to. Love them lots, another day closer to seeing you again.

Speak tomorrow!
Dave

The night before it all begins!

About 5 minutes after I left home, Rachael texts me saying “Proud of you”. Now my instant thought was how very proud I am of my family. It was extremely hard for me to leave Rachael and Megan, for 5 days, but this was my choice. How must it be for them? I said it before I left, and I will say it again, I can only thank my family for putting up with this. This is why I am proud of them, because they believe in me, and what I am doing for charity. They’ve stood by as I’ve cycled London to Brighton overnight, skydived out of a plane, bungee jumped twice. Yes each time has raised money for charity, but they have to sit back and accept what I am doing. Could I get any more prouder? Not really. And I will burst into tears as I hug them at the finish line in Paris. This is a huge test on my body, I have no doubt it will break me, but it is for charity. The sight of my family in Paris will surpass and pain or rain I will experience on route.

As I type, I am at Holiday Inn at the start point. Soon I will be off to bed. 5am alarm for a shower, get ready, for breakfast at 6am. We set off at 7am, and need to be at Dover for 4pm. Should be fine. He says!

If your reading my blogs, you’ve shown an interest into my charity efforts this year. I cannot stress how much I thank you for that. If you have donated, then you are a true star. If you haven’t, well thats your personal choice, but would be very grateful if you did. Doesn’t matter if its £1 or £100, every £1 helps Chestnut Tree House. My just giving site is here.

Thank you for being there with me, I will report from a Hotel in Calais, broken and beaten from nearly 80 miles of cycling tomorrow.

Dave

Last Day Of Training

Hello people.

Today was my last little burst of training before the big event. I got the train to Seaford and cycled the coast road home. Some cracking hills in there (Newhaven, Telscombe, Saltdean) then a 10 mile fairly flat ride to Worthing. All good, tested out full clothing kit, tested out my high5 performance drinks. Felt good after, not too much aches and pains. Have a look at my route, speed, elavation etc here.

 

As I always say, I am doing this for charity, and an amazing one at that. Chestnut Tree House is the only hospice in Sussex that cares for children. The work they do amazes me. I certainly could not do it, but I can fund raise so that’s what I am doing. Please please donate whatever you can. Even a pound will help this charity, but five would be amazing! Please.

 

Thats it for now, I am guessing the next time I will blog will be tomorrow night at the hotel, as a way of killing time! I set off 7am Wednesday, I’ll be blogging every night on my way down, share some photos of my journey. 

 

Thanks for reading my little blog on my mission to raise money!

 

Dave