Day 1 saw approx. 80 miles covered… 2,500 foot climbed… 4,000 calories burned and a packet of wine gums demolished…more importantly, the blog has had 421 views (wow) and the just giving page is £55 shy of hitting target… one final push and I’m sure we’ll sail past it!
The early morning wake up call has rung out and I’ve woken up surprisingly fresh… a few aches but generally ok. The camping stove will be lit at 8 for teas, coffee and porridge… I reckon a 2000 calorie breakfast is a minimum to kick off the day.
So a good night sleep (the beer helped) and what appears slightly calmer weather have made me start to look forward to the days challenge… onto Portsmouth!!!
Please donate if you haven’t already… £55 to go – we can do this today!
Day 2 started off with a subway sausage and bacon flatbread followed by a tin of cold rice pudding… for everyone who knows me well… you’ll know id have enjoyed it…
The morning was cold and grey and everyone was wrapped up warm heading off… but the cooler temperature allowed us to make a decent speed and the mornings ride seemed quick – and a lot easier than yesterday… a few steep hill climbs along the way but glorious countryside, MOD tank training zones, meandering rivers, lengthy canals and incredible villages made a simpler route very enjoyable.
So 42.7 miles in and 3hrs 3 mins in the saddle and its time for lunch – stopped outside Aldi’s and Waitrose in Winchester for an hour then its onto Portsmouth with 30 or so miles to go
We've also hit the fundraising target - 101% Wow.
Please keep donating and sharing our story… http://www.justgiving.com/megadaycardiff2paris2015
Thank you everyone! AMAZING!!!
Well day 2 saw a good morning but a not so good afternoon… the scenic route continued with gorgeous villages and towns but a wrong turn up a steep hill saw the front riders break to a stop and the following riders (like domino effect) crash… me and Lloyd ending up sprawled in the road with Lloyd’s metal break lever snapping clean off… a quick bike swap and the support team headed off to seek a bike shop and repairs…
£85 later (and lighter) a new break lever was fitted, and we found ourselves gliding through Portsmouth at the tail end of rush hour traffic
Onto the leisure centre where gorgeous bay views greeted us, a bottle of Budweiser and some food down us was bliss…
We all booked into the sauna and jacuzzi where 8 of us eventually squeezed in (and hogged it) for as long as possible.
Ferry loading was its usual routine and after a couple of drinks at the bar… it was time to turn in for 5 hours
We're safely off the ferry and starting breakfast ahead of our 80+ mile ride. The morning sun already burning through a light cloud (lets hope it stays)
The kettles boiling and Caen port is pretty quiet considering. We’ll be on the road in around half hour and we’ll be trying hard to remember to stay on the right hand side lol
We're stopped for lunch…
day 3 and everyone’s had a good morning ride and the pot noodles and peanut butter sandwiches disappeared within seconds.
Were planning two breaks today to split the 80 miles up and Lloyd’s starting to twitch about his precious hair being shaved off if we hit 110% today (3% to go)
We’ll be back on the road shortly for another 30 – 35 miles
Well day 3 saw us all head safely into the amazing town of Evreux with a long days riding.
The morning started with a swift 18 mile burst with long flat winding country roads setting our path. The countryside (as it has been the whole way) was breath-taking. Houses were immaculate, gardens neatly kept, and everything looked spotless. Litter is nowhere to be seen and the road surfaces (in general) have been smooth all the way through France.
Lunch saw us stop at what appeared a lorry driver watering hole and after a large intake of carbs, we were back on it.
The afternoon saw some hill climbing and a few long steep downhill sections where we all set off a speed restriction camera (55km/h).
Long dead straight roads dissecting farmland then lengthened into what seemed an infinite distance (one stretch was 4.5m) so we decided to do slingshot and do some team lap racing. This is where the person riding at the back has to race to the front and you keep rotating constantly. The pace picked up dramatically here with us averaging 24mph on this section.
With energy levels dipping we were thankful to see Evreux and follow the van through the town and onto the hotel… but no bath in the rooms – GUTTED
Well it's here… the final day, the last morning, our last team breakfast, the last alarm set (with tears for no lie in) and the day I really didn’t believe we’d get to.
A few years back I discussed the idea of this ride with my bro in law (who couldn’t make the ride) and a friend and at the time, a number of my friends and some of the megaday team were completing Marathons, kayaking around Wales, climbing mountains, dieting – the list goes on…
Now being someone who struggles to run on hard surfaces a marathon was out of the question… I’m useless at dieting (love my food) and my 8 year old beat me to the top of the mountain… lol
So I decided in April 2014 that this would be my goal… Cardiff2Paris2015… I never really thought it would come off… I didn’t even have a bike. But a surprise road bike, cycling shoes and all the accessories for my 30th birthday in June set me on my way…
Then… an upgrade to the bike in January saw me invest heavily in the cycling malarkey and with commitment from friends and family… the planning got well under way
Now that the day is really here, I’m amazed at how far we’ve come… how quickly we’ve done it… how much energy has been sapped from our bodies and how much none of us ever want to look at a bike saddle again… lol
So, the team target is surpassed… the organising is complete.. the blog has been kept up to date and mine and Lloyd’s hair is coming off… but for all of that – one message has stayed with me the whole time – my pain is temporary.. people who are treated at Velindre have a much longer and harder pain to endure and carry the scars of their pain forever… what more motivation could we want..?
So the forecast of rain today wont dampen our spirits, the 60 miles or so in front of us doesn’t seem bad at all but most of all… the support of our families and friends and to everyone who has kindly supported us, donated or just put up with us over the last few months… THANK YOU – It has meant the world to the team.
We will hopefully be setting of today around 8am and hope to be getting into Paris around 2pm.
We’ll keep you up to date…
An early morning start saw the team up and eating breakfast at 7am… an hour in front of the UK and only 24 hours to get used to this with 7+ hours riding time the day before – hitting sleep on the alarm was a serious option.
A large bowl of porridge, flapjacks and a pocket filled with wine gums set me on my way and the team left the hotel in Evreux at around 8:30… approx 20 minutes later than we had originally planned.
Evreux is a town much like Caerphilly – but kept in an immaculate way… the town is sat in a valley bowl, old churches and large houses set the historic culture of the place we were visiting… all through France there’s no litter to be seen and houses and gardens are kept in spectacular fashion. From hedgerows to lawns, from paint work to style… I was jealous of this pristine country and the pride the French people take in their towns / villages / cities appearance.
The road surfaces deteriorated throughout the day with pot holes and rough surfaces really slowing the pace. Climbing out of Evreux was slow and tedious with muscles aching, legs burning and thoughts of defeat entering our minds… the weather forecast was destined to beat us down further with heavy rain due in all morning and burst of heavy showers due as we entered Paris. But thankfully after loading the van to set off, the clouds broke and the sun started to try and burn through and warm us up.
Psychologically this really provided a boost to us as waterproof jackets were thrown back into the van, our muscle pains started to ease as we warmed up and it was at this point the roads flattened out and the pace quickened… a lot
The three days prior had been full of adventure, amazing scenery and lots of fun amongst the team… miss-haps have been few and far between – the odd wrong turn, the odd late bit of braking, a few issues with idiotic drivers and one or two crazy junctions seemed to be the major issues to overcome… but it’s true what they say… what a difference a day makes.
By the end of the day we had totalled:
so to start…
A few steep climbs had let us to a long straight into a village… one final short hill climb and we were amongst houses and shop fronts when the first puncture of the tour was noticed by Simon as his rear wheel slowly deflated. As we slowed to a halt I passed the group on the right to get off the road… stupidly only unclipping one of my feet from my pedals as I leaned too far to the side and crash 1 of the day was done… Over I went… slow motion action role… bike still attached… Thankfully this type of crash rarely ends up in injury as they happen almost as if in slow motion. A quick commando role out of it and I was back on my feet.
Hot Croissants were then delivered (by chance) as the support vehicle was called back with the pumps to inflate the tire and the team headed back off – 18 miles done and we were eager to continue the faster pace we had built up.
As the day continued…
Jeff picked up a ‘stood still’ puncture in his rear tire as we stopped around midday… intended to be a ‘toilet break’ we turned this into lunch and used our time as wisely as possible. Jeff, Simon and Mark made a quick fix and 30 minutes or so later, we were back on the road… no more than 2 miles down the road, the call to stop passed down the line of riders as Jeff’s rear tire once again burst… we found a split in his tyre and decided a full tyre change was needed. Again – a short while later, with assistance from the support team… and we were off
The afternoon saw us flying down hills with wet roads and left over cattle dung in the road flicking up off tyres. The pace again quickened as roads changed from farmers lanes to main dual carriageways and road awareness had to sharpen as Paris roads have cycle lanes that cross slip roads… roadworks are carried out in adhoc positions with limited signs and notice. Lots of horns, sirens, mopeds, motorbikes and other cyclists made for a sharp witted hour of riding.
The final roads into Paris saw us following the support van averaging 20 mph through numerous traffic lights. We even saw motorbikes coming across a Zebra crossing at one point with pedestrians… very random
Then … suddenly… as if the city knew we needed that final motivation – the last kick up the arse… we turned a corner and there in front of us… towering over the landscape across Paris… our final destination was there – 5 miles in the distance
The van was heading onto the river Seine and we were struggling to stay on its tail… fearing we’d lose it in the bustling traffic of Paris. A few roads dipped into tunnels and passed under other main transport arteries that dissect the city… one such tunnel swept downhill and through a nice left turn bend… appearing to go on quite some distance… but how wrong we were...
The Tunnel came to an abrupt end at traffic lights with traffic stopped and the team found themselves slamming on the brakes trying to stop in time… we just about managed it, swerving to avoid each other and coming to a stop centimetres from the vehicles.
The biggest problem this posed was that we had all stopped in high gears and none of us were in a position to set off properly. Simon at this point earned his nickname for the night as he set off, swerved right to left (closer to a solid wall) and couldn’t regain enough momentum to start the pedals rotating. Any cyclist will know this feeling as the floor approaches you and Simon gracefully took his plunge – almost head grinding down the tunnel wall. Fair play to the car behind… the driver stopped and made sure he was ok and that no one else drove close… but Mr Tumbles pride was dented slightly as our cycling pro had made the most novice of mistakes… all be it – probably the most common…
We were soon speeding along the Seine and arrived under the Eiffel tower to hoots, cheers and champagne being sprayed all over us. Our team of 6 riders, 2 support drivers and 3 travelling supporters were finally stood under the Eiffel tower.
The ride was done… emotions were high and we’d managed to avoid the rain…
I’m sat in the front of the van having just left Paris and I’ve got a bit of time to reflect on the past 4 days and the lead up to the event.
So I’m going to break it down… as I see it –
The team –
My Brother Lloyd :
I’ve been incredibly lucky in life to have a really close family and my brothers and sister have inspired me in so many areas of my life. From Music to sport our family life is our highest priority and its knowing that he would be by my side that made this adventure everything it could be from an enjoyment perspective as well as a personal milestone that we have again… achieved something together. His warm humour, cheeky grin and youthful banter have made the trip so enjoyable.
He has also helped contribute considerably in the build up… pushing me to train, offering help and advice on the way… and I cant forget his generosity when he (and my wife) picked up my first road bike back in May 14. A life long best friend, a true gentleman and an inspiration. His completion of the London Marathon 7 years ago and the tough mudder events he completed last year (and signed up for a number more of them this year – the first being next weekend) were the foundations to my inquisition… what could I do???
Mark (the bro in law)
Every thing you see on tv has its story to inspire you and motivate you. If Mark’s story over the last 6 months cant do that… then nothing will
He’s always endured with fitness regimes and a few years back rowed a marathon distance… for fun.
He’s regularly seen cycling to and from work in Cardiff and more often than not… this would involve a visit to the gym in between.
Just before xmas, he underwent a serious abdominal operation with a lengthy recovery period. His time in Hospital saw him pick up an infection and he weakened to an unbelievable level. It had all the family worried and praying for a speedy recovery. But like everything else Mark does in life – his calm, steely and dogged determination drove him to overcome his personal battle and no less than 6-8 weeks later, he was clocking up 40 mile plus indoor training tides as we trained outside through the winter.
Its also fair to say that Mark drove the operational side of the team planning and planned our hotels, ferry crossings and plane tickets. The bit that no-one really wants to do. His calm manner was also vital to the riding efforts… he often acted as a pace setter if the front picked up pace too quickly, or if the tail slowed away from the group. The trips banter and fun often started with Mark sledging into us with quick wit and dry humour and our trips to the bar resulted in free flowing pints, lots of laughs and the odd drinking game with sentences that cant be repeated in the public’s domain.
I’m sure all the team would agree that Mark was the solid foundation and calm mentality that was needed to bond the team together.
Simon (master route planner and semi-pro cyclist)
Simon joined the C2P team as the only experienced team / club rider. Early training sessions showed his level of ability on a bike with one training ride with Lloyd through Cowbridge resulting in Lloyd saying to me… “Gar… he’s a machine”… lol
The route plan was led by Simon and his execution of it (all bar a few wrong turns which Jeff was swift to remind him of) was incredible… riding at the front of the team for 90% of the journey as well as monitoring the route on his phone. Now to put this into context.. the map wasn’t a sat nav advising which way to turn… it was a live map feed on his Strava cycling app.
He also linked his route on a daily basis to the support vehicle drivers sat navs to make sure they could remain 5 miles or so in front of us for most of the way.
Seeing his fitness level and cycling ability early on in our training really helped the novice riders like myself realise the level we would need to get to to complete this task.
Jeff (the mission man)
Jeff was the last rider to sign up to the event but the minute he did… oh my… he didn’t half throw everything he had into his training and the event fundraising.
Throughout the ride he would have moments where he would drop to the tail to support riders towards the back… he’d have moment where he’d drive to the front to set the teams pace… then… he’d have moments of insanity where his ‘mini missions’ would kick in… he’d shoot off from the group of riders, power up long hill climbs, accelerate down long straights and have snap bursts at downhill sections… his saying for the week… “I’m having a bit of that’
He also kept us on our toes on the Whatsapp group with eager excitement and a drive to set the wheels in motion from an early stage… he was the gritty determined central midfielder in our team… the guy that encourages… the guy that can drop back or push forward… the guy that helps everyone else.
Its apt that I’ve written about Jeff, Mark and Simon together as they are an inseparable, strong and determined trio of friends who can throw darts of banter at each other all day long and come out of gruelling days into the evenings and make fun… it made it easy and thoroughly enjoyable for the rest of us.
Dad (support vehicle co-pilot)
Everyone talks about their parents as an inspiration… as the best… as ‘my dads better than your dad’ lol …
I like that… everyone should hold their families in high regard and to each of us… our dads are the best.
If I could paint a picture it would be an endless collage of motivation, inspiration and determination that I would hope to hang on every wall of my house… my children’s houses and their children’s houses for all future generations.
Everything I have achieved in life, every belief I have and the way I focus my approach to Life has all been moulded and steered by my parents…
And this trip was no different… as soon as I had confirmed we were doing the ride… dad instantaneously offered and insisted on joining the team as the support driver. He’s cooked, cleaned, navigated, picked up – put down, packed repaired, joked and supported throughout the entire journey. We’d approach our lunch breaks and the back of the van would be open… kettle boiling on the camping stove and pot noodles at the ready… the same for breakfast for our porridge….
It made the efforts and journey so much easier…
Lyndon George (Captain Fantastic – Pilot/mechanic/logistics)
Well what can we say… a true gentleman and someone who I am sure the entire team will hold dear to their hearts forever more… for all his help, support and generosity.
Lyndon joined the team travelling from Blaenwaun, Carmarthen and offered his time, van and efforts to the team as a support function.
Not only has he giving up his time but his mechanical background was invaluable… helping adjust gears, brakes, seating positions… the list goes on.
Its surprising how much of a challenge it was to find pubs in France that sold Guinness but we managed it…lol
Lyndon was offered money from the team to cover some hidden costs and fuel… his response… “if you make me take this money… I’m going to put it all back onto Just giving”… what a guy.
Sam (Lady of Steel)
Having worked alongside Sam for nearly 10 years I never doubted that this challenge would be something that she would overcome… but not just finish it…. do it bloody well…
Throughout the training and during the ride…she’d just say… go on … get to the top… I’ll catch you up…
The fundraising night, a huge proportion of the targets on just giving and off it… have been due to her hard work and contribution.
The hundreds of messages of support and congratulations that she has received are all testament to her character… none of us ever doubted she’d do this once she committed to it and being the only female en route… it was always going to be a big ask.
We were really pleased she stayed the course and her company along the way has made the trip for all the riders.
So to all the team who joined me for this adventure – Thank you. You are – and will always be, part of the family – here’s to the next challenge.