Wednesday, January 9, 2013

London to Paris Day 4

So this is the last part I think. It's strange, or rather endemic of my winter lethargy that it's just over three months since I got back. Three months. That's the time I trained for the ride. Could I do it again three months on? Maybe.
For reasons of departure we had to be in Paris for midday. This meant an early start. 6am to be precise.
It was dark at that time. Dark and cold. My optimistic clothing of short sleeved jersey and shorts were proven to be after about five minutes outside and I soon pulled a woolly long sleeve on over the top.
With six o'clock occurring we were on the road. The route took us out through woods and the cold really froze my head. I was having problems working out which junctions we were approaching. Them being dark meant that signs weren't visible until we were on them. A couple of stops were needed but the gaps between when we were cutting a silent swathe through the cold misty tree-lined landscape was wonderful.

The warm pool of light emanating from an open boulangerie as we came through a village was so welcoming. Pull up, lean the bikes up and get into the warmth. Three black coffees and two with milk please. Oh and a pile of pain au raisin. Merci. So welcome and wanted.
Au revoir and we're away into the night. It's half past seven and there's still no sun light. The road is opening up and the cooling mist is left back in the woods. Sunrise is supposed to be at 8am and sure enough the day breaks across the fields around us.
It doesn't get any warmer though. The countryside is still just that and there's no hint of our ever Southward journey finishing in Paris. Cars pass by with commuters heading to work on another Monday morning. We're just five guys riding. Just part of the tarmac scenery.
I feel satisfied. We're not there yet but the riding today is feeling good. We're gelling nicely and rolling along at a good pace. The early start means that although we think the day is still early hours the distance done is mounting up.
Satisfied, yes.
The villages come and go, the architecture old and worthy of the place. We rattle through. Multicoloured blurs of mechanism.

Another stop for cake and a chance to smile at pretty ladies serving. I love cake.
The next part is the crap part of the day. It was always going to be. We're onto a bit of dual carriageway and past Le Bourget airport. Pretty sure we were ok to cycle there. Pretty sure. Soon enough that part is gone and we're into the outskirts of Paris. With still fifteen miles to go the traffic is queueing. Is it going to be like this all the way? There's roadworks and for a brief moment I worry that we are going to be diverted and all the route planning will go out the window.
The feared diversion doesn't happen and we push on. Traffic lights mean finding something to lean on to save unclipping from the pedals. Whether this is each other, railings, cars or buses doesn't matter.

See that dome looming in the distance. That's not the Notre Dame. Although I thought it was.
Still a good looking building.
More pedalling.
Stop and have a look at the map. Hmm we're getting close. How about cutting through this road, that should bring us onto the Champs.
All of a sudden. Pow.
Well bugger me, we're only pedalling up the Champs Elysée. After a lap of the Arc we shoot back down and off George V avenue towards our destination of the Eiffel tower.
We can see it. It's useful having a finish point that's 300m tall.
We congregate beneath. It's just approaching midday. Somewhere near us should be the ladies.
Sure enough they appear moments after taking that photo.
Much hugs, kisses, smiles and eating is had. Then it's time to have some posed shots for the albums.
The much appreciated support ladies-
and the riders-
 And then that was it. Gordon got a puncture. The first and only of the trip. We fixed it and headed back to the van to get changed and load bikes up. Goodbyes were said and then it was over. We had done it and it was done.


  1. "we had dope it and it was done" great line, and well done. Looked like a fun trip

  2. Have you been channeling some ex-pro cyclists with that typo mate? ;-) it was a good run.