Participants arrived in Kingston raring to get started on their adventure. After being sorted into groups depending on abilities, the riders set off at around 8.30 am. The first leg of the journey saw the participants taking in some of Britain’s most beautiful countryside, cycling through the North and South Downs on route to Portsmouth. Day one is often thought of as the hardest day, but the fastest groups set a good early pace and the fastest two teams completed the first day by 5.20pm, with the final team arriving just a little after at 7.00 pm. The cyclists then took an early morning ferry crossing, arriving ready for the start of day two.
The second day was the 60 mile stint from Ouisterham to Bernay. The teams set off from the ferry terminal in good spirits, heading off towards Cean on a river path that took them past a WWII tank – a reminder of the historical significance of the area. They cycled through farmland with fields of wheat and barley, dotted with poppies and cornflowers. By morning tea break, the heat and humidity was starting to build up. The riders were getting through significant amounts of water after tackling some unexpected hills in the Normandy countryside. Most were more than ready for a lunch break upon arrival at Sarah’s well stocked ‘café’, pouncing on delicious chicken baguettes and melted chocolate.
After lunch, rumbles of thunder gave way to rain showers, taking some of the humidity out of the hot afternoon. The rain left some of the roads slippery and the riders had to look out for uneven surfaces and loose grit on the back roads. A long downhill section on the ride into the afternoon tea stop was exhilarating and everyone arrived on good form.
The exhilarating downhill run meant a climb back up out of the village. After more ascents and descents through rolling countryside, the riders arrived on a high plain, surrounded by fields of wheat. Turning off a long, straight road the riders wound their way through country lanes and dropped into the pretty town of Bernay, with its half timbered 16th century houses and bustling bars. The last team was in by 8pm and everyone sat down to a well-earned hearty dinner. A few people headed out to a local bar to watch some of the tense Ghana Vs Uruguay match.
The third day was the final leg to Paris, and with 100 miles to cover, was the furthest distance of the three days. After fuelling up at the breakfast buffet, teams made a staggered start from Bernay in sunshine that soon gave way to cloud cover - a real relief after the heat of Day two. The route wound through more rolling countryside and past farms and big country houses. A tea stop at a small café on a village green gave the riders a chance to enjoy a cup of good coffee. All the teams came through within the space of an hour, giving the riders a chance to banter. A long 29 mile ride to lunch saw the riders passing through one of the most scenic stretches of the day, meandering through railway arches. This stretch also took the record for the most punctures – Joe’s team experienced four and three of these on one bike!
At lunch the teams tucked into baguettes, local cheeses and ham – piling their plates high in preparation for the final run into Paris. They continued through small villages and past some impressive chateaux, heading to Versailles. Here all the teams gathered before the final push to Paris.
Passing through the park at the famous palace of Versailles, the riders splashed their way through puddles and finally made it through the Bois de Bologne to join the crazy Paris traffic for the final couple of miles of the ride. Finally they rounded the Arc de Triomphe to find friends and family waiting to give them a hero’s welcome!
CARE would like to thank all riders for their participation. A special mention also goes to Renate who travelled over form the USA to join the event. Without support like this CARE would not be able to carry out its vital, life saving work - thanks to everyone involved.
Take part in this amazing 3 day charity cycle ride.