|It Started With A Conversation In A Pub|
And ended with a cycle ride from Chiswick to Paris to raise money for charity
In a pub last November a group of Chiswick dads, all 40 years and above, were reminiscing on Team GB’s Olympic cycling successes. Out of nowhere, the idea of cycling to Paris for charity was raised.
Although only one of them had done any serious cycling in recent years, it seemed a long way off and in the warm confines of the pub several of the group signed up for it.
Brother-in-laws Jeremy and Roy took up the challenge of organizing the challenge.
A harsh training regime of Sunday morning cycles round Richmond Park was drawn up. Little did they know that it was going to be a long and cold winter.
From an initial group of seven, the word spread and the number swelled to 15 of Chiswick’s finest with a few from further afield.
The group decided to raise money for two local charities - the Shooting Star Children’s Hospice and the Trinity Hospice. Between the group £26,000 was sponsored making the journey more than just a jaunt.
On Friday 1st May the group met at the Roko Health Club on Hartington Road to start their journey where Roko staff had kindly laid on breakfast for the hungry and nervous crew.
Then, all in new gear and on new bikes they set off. Within thirty minutes one cyclist went over his handlebars, which resulted in a trip to A &E later in the day, and then another’s bike disintegrated throwing him onto the other side of the road, narrowly avoiding the oncoming traffic. He survived but the bike didn’t and thinking of the money that he was going to raise for charity he picked up a replacement bike in Farnham and caught up with the pack.
Exhausted after braving and surmounting the Downs, the guys went to the Roko in Portsmouth for a needed wind-down. Then it was off to catch the overnight ferry to Le Havre.
The next day was drizzling and cold and there was 130km to be covered. Getting into their stride they began to see themselves as a cycling team; they practiced their peloton techniques and picked up speed. However at the end of the day there was a spectacular pile up with one cyclist being cycled over; with many bandages and iodine stains he limped on to the night stop, a charming hostelry near Rouen.
Day Three was the cycle into Paris passing (rapidly) through Giverny and then onto the salubrious Parisian suburbs.
Some of the team mixed up with a local French cycle club on their Sunday morning ride, and enjoyed a bit of friendly competition keeping the entente cordiale alive. After lunch, they donned their yellow Shooting Star T-shirts and rode in convoy into Paris, with lots of encouragement from local bystanders!
Jubilant the whole group made it to the Eiffel Tower in the afternoon, to be greeted by some of their banner waving families. The whole event had a fantastic team spirit and they all felt an enormous sense of achievement in cycling 220 miles and being able to raise money for local charities.
What on earth are they going to do next year?!
Some of the justgiving links are: