A little over 12 months ago I had just finished another O2e charity ride, without raising any money, after seeing some of the bikes and riders and the immense effort they put in I resolved to do 3 things.
- Build a bike for Jess
- Get some more people involved.
- Do next years (Just completed it) Ride on my FatBike and raise some money
In January the new build (from used components) bike was delivered to Jess 😊
As soon as the O2e ride was announced as London to Paris, I managed to get 7 work colleagues involved 😊
Now I already owned a cheap FatBike that I used as a plaything, and I already owned some panniers, so all I needed was…SPD pedals, FatBike Pannier Rack, Ergo Grips, New Chain, Cassette, rear Derailleur, Chain Rings, Cables and I was good to go!
Ohh and for reference the FatBike + Panniers weigh around 30 kg, has 4 inch wide off road tyres and sounds like a tank, and rolls like its going through treacle…Hills are always a challenge!
Whilst contemplating the ride I thought it would be a good idea to cycle to London from Home and then I may as well cycle back from Paris, making it a nice round trip, I spoke to Rafe and he thought it was a madly sensible idea to….
Day 1, 11th September 2019 – Chippenham – Penge – 107 miles
I set off at 7 am with only 2 missions, 1 – get to Thatcham to meet Rafe at 10 am and 2 – Get to London between 4:30-5:30 pm.
As it was slightly overcast, with rain forescast I set off with a ProViz jacket on, I soon realised that riding the loaded FatBike was a challenge and hills more so, buy the time I reached the top of Cherhill I felt like a boil in the bag meal, so the Jacket came off and I powered on to Thatcham, arriving at around 10 am on the nose 😊 Rafe arrived and we enjoyed a Hot drink and some nosh
We set off more or less straight on to NCR 4 and a lovely canal path…
The traffic In London was more or less stationary, meaning we filtered past almost everything, when traffic started moving the drivers all appeared to have an instant need to ‘Overtake the Cyclist’, even though they inevitably had to stop right in-front of us, and we simply filtered past them again, never to be seen again.
We arrived at Penge at around 5:30, showered, changed, chatted and went out for a lovely Italian meal 😊
Day 2, 12th September 2019 – Penge – Crystal Palace – NewHaven – 59.26 miles
After a really good nights sleep (Possibly due to the ¾ bottle of Red Wine, or even the long bike ride) we were up at 6:30, had a few rounds of toast then set off UP Crystal Palace Hill to meet with the rest of O2e.
Rafe decided to ride with ‘Team Rafe’, my work colleagues all had a plan of riding together at a pace that would have been a challenge on the FatBike, so when I announced I was off, only Ray joined me.
We stopped for a very welcome water stop at 20 miles, (I do drink a lot more on the Fat Bike – it is constant effort).
We stopped at ‘The Organic Cafe’ at Sharpthorne for a much needed (and very late) first Coffee of the day, and a Bacon Roll 😊
We were very surprised not to have been passed by anybody, we set off and arrived at NewHaven at 12:30, for a 15:30 check-in and a 17:00 sailing, I may have had one to many apple juices!
We arrived in Dieppe at 22:30 then cycled 1.5 miles to the Hotel, buy the time we had bikes away, showered, changed etc it was about midnight….
Day 3, Dieppe – Paris – 105 miles
I was up at 7 am, had a number (About 6 I believe) of ‘Pain au Chocolat’ and was ready to go at 8am, I announced my departure, and nobody followed, so I was alone, this did off course allow me to have my speaker blasting out some nice Metal Tunes 😊
The first 30 miles were along a disused railway cycle path, it was nice, but the constant stopping and starting at road junctions proved to be VERY hard work, the loaded FatBike takes a lot to get it going, it was misty rain, and I had my rain jacket on, but I was starting to overheat, and I was perspiring profusely , I was starting to feel a little light headed and out of sorts, so jacket came off, I cooled down and the misty rain was actually quite refreshing.
At the end of the Path (30 miles), I filled the water bottle and had a lovely slice of cake at the support stop, then set off, this time along the roads.
Although some of the roads were quite busy, I never felt at risk, the cars/trucks gave plenty off room and treated us/me with respect (something that English drivers could do with learning)
I wanted to be at least half way before I stopped for lunch, and as we know every French town has a Boulangerie and a Patisserie, unfortunately they all appear to be closing, almost every town I passed through the lovely local food shops looked abandoned and had for sale signs…
By the time I reached Gissors (60 miles), I was ravenous, so stopped at the first place I spied, I had a really nice cheeseburger and chips and a coffee…
About 100 yards up the road (around a corner) it opened up into a large town centre with a market and loads of eateries, with some of the support crew enjoying a lunch stop (I should have waited), I stopped and had a chat before setting off again, I promised I would not get to the next stop (88 miles) before 15:00….
I arrived at Mery-sur-Oise (88 miles) at just after 15:00, and enjoyed the Pierio cheese and wine stop, I must admit I was starting to feel VERY tired and the rest was exactly what I needed, the local Gendarmes showed a lot of interest in our little adventure, After a 45 minute rest I thought it was time for me to complete the last 17 miles – Nobody else had turned up in the time I was at the stop…
The nearer I got to Paris, the worse the traffic became, I eventually started sharing my time between Road and Pavement, the stop and start was very difficult on my fatigued body, I was also starting to get a tingly little finger on my right hand -a sign of Ulnar nerve compression
I arrived at the Hotel at around 17:30, checked in, stored my bike (Separately from anybody else’s) and helped unload the baggage van, I showered, changed, and welcomed everybody else in…
My work mates arrived around 8-9 pm, I was ravenous by then, after they showered and changed we went of to scavenge for food- due to a Strike in Paris almost everything was closed, The only place open was ‘Five Guys’, I settled on yet another Cheese Burger and Chips, I wont be rushing back to a Five Guys!
Day 4, Paris – 17 miles
It was a rest day, so I took the unloaded FatBike out for a spin around the tourist sights of Paris, I gotta say it was fun 😊
Champs Elysees was much smoother than the last time I cycled down it, I guess the wide tyres and relatively low pressure helps 😊
Day 4, Paris – Evreux – 68.5 miles
This on paper should have been a nice easy ride, plan was to watch everybody leave in the coaches, and then set off at around 10 am.
We ended up setting of at 10:24 and the temperature was already hitting low 20’s, by mid afternoon it was high 20’s, I think topping out at 29 degrees C, it was almost unbearable lugging the FatBike.
The route however was almost perfect (almost as I did have us crossing a few unpaved tracks across fields)
We had about 2 miles of quiet suburbia, before we joined the Seine river path, it was chocka bloc full of runners, but it did seem very organised.
Along the path was a foot bridge crossing with a foot wide ramp to push bicycles up and over, I tried ripping my right hand pannier off on one of the bridge supports, fortunately all I did was tear some rivets out, at the top of the bridge I performed a Tie Wrap repair, and we resolved to find a Hardware shop on Monday to buy some bolts and fix it properly (Nothing is ever open on Sunday in France is it?)
We arrived in Saint-Germain-en-Laye (12 miles) and found the town was open, we sat outside a Creperie, and I ordered some drinks, Rafe had googled hardware shops and there was one open around the corner, so off he wombled to buy some nuts, bolts and washers to affect a permanent repair on the pannier.
After a spot of lunch we fixed the Pannier and we set off once again.
The route started to get unreasonably lumpy and the temperature was climbing, I was starting to regret bringing my bottle speaker instead of a second water bottle, as I was waiting for Rafe at the top of yet another hill, enjoying the silence, he appeared and said ‘I have filled my Water Bottles with Nice cold fresh water’, I filled my water bottle form the same source, it was ok whilst the water was cold, but we soon found out the local water was very chalky, and rather than quench thirst it appeared to cause it!
I ended up asking a random French man watering his Garden if we could have some water for our water bottles, he did seem a little confused when I emptied my bottle onto the ground in front of him…
We arrive in Evreux, both feeling the effects of a day that was longer than it should have been and been giving the relatively short distance.
Day 5 – Evreux – Ouistreham – 89.41 miles
We set off at just gone 8am into a nice cool morning, after a couple miles of town traffic we turned onto another disused railway path, as we left the town we started cycling through fog, I didn’t bother with my rain jacket, but I was getting quite wet, we also had plenty of stop/start at each road that crossed the path…
As the fog cleared the sun started to come out and it turned out nice and warm, but thankfully low 20’s…
We passed through lovely wooden frame and thatched houses that would not be out of place in medieval England.
We stopped for lunch in Cormeilles (45 miles), the town was really pretty.
We finally hit the coast at Villers-sur-mer and had a celebratory coffee/coke, Rafe took possibly my favourite picture of the whole ride 😊
We made it to Ouistreham by about 16:30, unfortunately the boat didn’t sail until 23:00, loads of time to…
Ride FatBike on the sand, eat, drink and watch hopefull immigrants chasing after trucks…
Day 6 – Portsmouth – Chippenham – 85 miles
After NO sleep on the night ferry (I was hoping to nod off before we set sail, but constant tanoys put paid to that, the stupid harp music gets you up at 5am….
We disembarked and set off at 7am, straight into crouded British roads and obnoxious drivers (Such a change from France).
We stopped for a first (Very expensive) breakfast just outside Portsmouth (Starbucks), then climbed out of the town.
We made it to Winchester at just before 10 and stopped for another Coffee/Hot Chocolate.
As we started climbing, I noticed my small chainring looked loose, on closer inspection one bolt was missing and one bolt had pulled the aluminium threads out of the spider, I managed to move bolts around so that it was tight and climbed the rest of the hill on it….unfortunately a few miles further up the road it all fell apart again, I loosened the one remaining bolt to realign the chainring, and tightened it back up, Rafe then used a tie wrap to fix it in place, I was then stuck in the big chainring for the remainder of the lumpy ride home!
We stopped at the Welcome Stranger pub (Kimpton) for some drinks and the only food available (Pies….they were gorgeous), I then used Komoot to reroute me more directly home.
I arrived home at just after 16:00, I was completely exhausted!
Strava session here…
The total Millage was 532 miles, 6 days, 30 kg Bike + Luggage, and just over £500 raised