So, on the eve of our epic adventure, the bikes are serviced, the kit is packed, the spare inner tubes purchased and the high calorie / energy food is stashed safely away.
The excitement is building and a nervous, energy filled banter is flying around the message groups and discussions.
What the team will achieve over the next 4 days will be painful, physically draining, mentally a torture and above all - it will be one of the most rewarding achievements that they will ever take part in.
Many people will not experience a challenge like this in their lives, but in comparison to the people who have / are being treated at Velindre Cancer Center, this is a doddle.
We will be blogging, vlogging, tweeting and instagraming over the coming days, helping you follow in our adventures and hopefully, bring you closer to the event as we can and inspire you to support Velindre as well. Either through donating or joining another fundraising event in the future.
Like our page, share our posts, spread the word far and wide. give us a wave, shout out a cheer and join the adventure.
If you can... Please sponsor us. Every £ helps someone in need of the incredible support and facilities that Velindre provides.
You can donate at the following justgiving page:
Lets see what tomorrow brings...
So day 1 update...
The team left the GreenLady, Caerphilly this morning with three separate teams setting off between 8:30 and 9:00.
We were cheered on by friends, family, the deputy Mayor and many other supporters. Its so rewarding to see so many people wishing the team well.
The sun was shining bright, the wind remained calm and still - and the day was warm... Just right for a ride. The team gathered pace very quickly and soon found themselves passing through Bedwas, onto Newport. The bypass past the Llanwern steel works makes for very quick team riding and the first scheduled snack stop at Magor seemed upon us much sooner than we originally thought. After a brisk stop, the three teams again set off in their allotted time slots and kept the good steady pace going until they reached the old Severn bridge services for a lunch break... A 30 minute re-fuel and a top up of the water bottles meant we could again hit the road... 45 minutes or so, ahead of the expected time.
The afternoon followed the patterns of the morning and a couple of stops (and Guiness's) later, saw us winding through the pristine Avon and Wiltshire villages with a couple of really challenging hill climbs greeting our arrival into Devizes. It's awesome to see everyone arriving safely and enjoying a well deserved drink.
The day has been void of any significant misshap's and breakdowns - enabling us to enjoy a gorgeous sunny evening in front of the canal. Tomorrow morning sees a very early start (it will still be dark when they set off) to make sure we make time for the ferry crossing.
Thank you to everyone for your support... It helps the legs turnover ... Especially when the burn starts.
Also... A huge thank you to Velindre Cancer Centre Fundraising for coming to see us off... we hope we are doing everyone there proud and enabling you in some way, to carry on the amazing work that you are doing. With the support of an incredibly generous community, we are just £77 shy of a huge £12,000 being raised (a massive chunk of our £15k target) ...
We can't thank everyone enough and hopefully our efforts and your generosity will help us smash 2019's target.
If you haven't yet, but would like to donate, you can see our just giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cardiff2paris2019
The photos and videos will be added to the page in due course
So day two came and went with relative ease (says he, driving the van) - we set out with a strict time target of 13:30 to get to the ferry in Portsmouth and the whole team arrived with over half hour to spare.
The team set off in the dark at 10 minute intervals with a backdrop of the beautiful sunrise red, Devizes sky. Bike light blinking (and some tired eyes too) they snaked through the Wiltshire roads with Hampshire the next county target.
The team kept a very good pace throughout the morning. The odd stop to refuel and replenish water supplies being the only hold up. An accident / event free morning meant the support team had an easy job pushing on and making sure they were available for any calls A break for lunch in Winchester saw friends visiting and the general public once again inquisitive of our event - and uniforms advertising the ride and Velindre...
Some generosity in the form of donations from Jo Public, again blew us away and helped us push on through those afternoon miles. The afternoon saw aches and pains and tired legs turning over, as hills swept up and down... The 'up' lasting an eternity, the down passing in a blink of an eye...
The support vehicles split after lunch... Van 1 pressing on following the riders, van 2 detouring for much needed (surprise) supplies in the form of a much loved American screw top bottled beer and some (vile) ciders... Two bags of ice and 30 miles left gave it just enough time for is to greet each of the amazing riders with a gift of satisfying, thirst quenching amber nectar - to be fair... Anything cold and wet at that point would have been welcomed as the team looked desperately tired and in no for state to run to the bar on the ferry;)
Some confusing moment at the ferry terminals for the vans...
We eventually joined the team on the ferry to drink the bar dry, practice magic, make bicycles from balloons (with comments that it was the right size for one of the 'shorter' members - and with many team members trying their hand at spinning plates on a stick (thankfully plastic)...
Team B captain Jeff, proved to be the master of wrist action/rotation .. Many drinks later, we rolled out of the port (300 yards) to our hotel and raced out to the nearest bar that was open until 2am...
Many more drinks followed and the team sloped off to beds, where sleep occurred before lights could be turned off ..
Day 3 should see a more relaxed timeframe and hopefully a relatively sober (not so early) start...
Thank you to every one following us and wishing us well... You support really does help us get through the pain barrier and push on
Welcome to France...
The team awoke in their port-based hotel, to beaming sunshine, warm temperatures and relatively mild ;) hangovers ...
A morning breakfast, the topping up of water bottles, the checking of tyre pressures, the refilling packs of energy gells, the application of sun cream, the topping up of caffeine tablets, salt replacements etc and the setting of Garmin cycle computers to calculate day 3's route with day 2 a thing of the past were all part of the routine.
Bikes were unloaded one by one, helmets and shoes paired back to their riders and an enthusiastic settling of 'sore bums on seats' set the morning tone.
The team set off...
Once again on team A, B and C intervals. 10 minutes between them to leave gaps on roads for fellow road users to safely navigate the roads - around the riders The vans packed up, loaded overnight bags and set off in pursuit of the riders... Closed roads, forcing them to track a few junctions down a motorway before the could cross the river.
The cycle route led the team along a river way away from port. The scenes set with fishing trawlers and oil tankers, offloading at port cranes and completing their daily tasks. 45 minutes passed before the support vehicles could once again re-join the planned route... Unaware if we were in front, or behind the riding packs.
We drove on, and were glad to reach Team B and then passed 2 miles down the road where we could stop, setup camp and light the camping stove for a hot coffee and porridge breakfast... Team B passed - but after waiting 10 minutes, then 15, then 20 - then half an hour passing, meant the 'no show' Team C - had the support team worried...
We pressed on further down route, hoping to catch up and see if they had taken a wrong turn or detour past the other teams... But no sign of them The morning meandered through pristine and gorgeous villages, along rivers and waterways and through farmland roads. Tractors blocking routes, minor roadworks causing small delays but ultimately the days ride became pleasurable.
The pain turned to an endearment of a country side so well looked after. No litter in site... Considerate road users and friendly public and what felt like France welcoming us on this challenge. Along the way, other teams stopped for the usual refuelling of water bottles (and a sneaky espresso) and set off again... The morning sun getting hot and sleeves and jackets were discarded into the vans.
The riders pressed on... irrelevant of the heat beaming down on them. Miles quickly clocked up as we pedalled towards our target lunch destination of Lisieux. A steep, descent saw a puncture in Team B, swiftly followed by a second - and a limp into the town for lunch.. the team looked over the problem and found a brake pad had miss-aligned and rubbed against the tire, causing a hole to rub through.
Team B set of from lunch with one rider on a spare bike and Van B heading into the distance in search of a repair shop to purchase new parts and have a quick fitting completed. Van A headed off into the distance following the riders and picking up much needed water supplies as the heat got almost unbearable.
Van B found a shop and after some incredible service, had the bike repaired and back on the road, meeting up with Team B at their 'cheeky pit stop' (yes... Another pub) to swap the bikes out The day saw a couple more punctures and minor mechanical adjustments being made and the teams effectively raced through 48 litres of water in a morning The heat drawing the moisture out as quickly as they could put it in Long sweeping climbs and the boring sections of 20kms or so of dead flat farmland riding, made for dull and draining miles, tough on the legs.
The riders today have faced everything from breakdowns, huge heat, big climbs and drained energy levels... But pushed through everything in front of them. The teams all arrived in Evreux between 5:30 and 7pm... The times split due to the complications (and pints) of the day.
The evening meal, a welcome filler... The conversation and company fun filled and full of banter and laughs. Tired eyes defy their supposed bed times as we all experience the comradery that comes with the territory of the event. This is the best bit. For anyone following from home, consider 4 consecutive days sat on a very hard, very thin seat, where parts of your body (that you didn't know could) scream with aches and pains.
From the palms of your hands, your shoulders and neck, your lower back, your calves and thighs bursting, your eyes dry from wind, your fingers and toes repeatedly going numb, your undercarriage burnt from friction and your face and ears, burnt from the sun.
This team of riders have taken all of this in their stride... No whimpering, no moaning, no quitting... Your whole body and mind screams at you... STOP... QUIT... GIVE IN... and in honesty... You wouldn't blame anyone who did... 320 miles of agony... But knowing we are benefiting such a worthy organisation like Velindre and the people being treated there - who along with their families, go through so much worse... Is all we need as motivation...
We are so proud to be able to do this... And hope you are equally as proud of the efforts and meaning of the event and it's participants as we are in taking part...
The support we have gained along the way, the donations and the well wishes make this an event that hopefully will go on to further support such a worthy cause.
We are £12.3k into our £15k target and hope with you liking and sharing as much of this story as possible to help us finish this challenge tomorrow and make it every success it deserves to be.
Thank you everyone... Your support means the world.
Bonjour Paris... Comment ca va???
The team set out on day 4 aiming for an 8:30 start with a completely new route for the day. And I'm pleased to be able to say for anyone who read yesterday's blog, that we indeed did find Team C after their wrong turn... Lol
The team were hoping to avoid duel carriageways en route and minimise climbing during the day.
The route planning plays a major part in the event. Hours on the cycling App Strava, meticulously checking road types, planning food stops and making sure wrong turns down motorways are avoided at all costs - and this route proved picturesque.
A stunning countryside balanced with old villages, churches, rape seed fields and the odd off road mud track - but did we manage to minimise the climbing .
Well... NO 😁
The town of Evreux is set in a low area surrounded by steep hills and the climb out year on year, proves a real tester for sore riders. The vans washed the flies off their windscreens and pushed on in a chase to find the riders... Surprised to see that all three teams had made exceptionally good time and really cracked the hills
The roads twisted and bent through small forestry's and farmlands and in some areas, the riders could really pick up the pace. The sun once more beamed down with intense power - and a very warm 15 degrees saw a huge proportion of water divided amongst the team.
The heat climbed quickly and we soon found ourselves in a gorgeous village outside a Portuguese shop / come cafe / come restaurant, where food from Rabbit to a Hog Roast to a Kebab were available... A great find by the youngest of the support team. Opposite the shop, a green with picnic benches and overhanging low trees providing shade to a backdrop of an ancient church with all of the green and gardens immaculately kept...
The relaxing scene in quite some contrast to the feeling in the riders legs and hands.
The later session saw the teams once more split into their three groups and push on towards the Eiffel Tower ... Again, the ride seemed to bounce from field to field with a good mix of hills and descents. The support vehicles keeping close to the packs of riders to ensure time splits and water, were available throughout the afternoon...
Avoiding the Paris suburbs and especially the duel carriageways on entry, was an important factor of the planning this year. An increase to 24 riders (from the original 6 in 2015) meant that risks increased in proportion... Our number one objective, to get everyone there... Safely.
So this year, a cycle track through a woodland took precedent in the route options and provided some much needed shade from the burning sun. 15 miles to go and the calls switched from the vehicles and riders, to include the friends and family members eagerly awaiting our arrival (in the pub 😆)
The cycle track soon turned to roads as we entered Paris. Our iconic target and finishing line where emotions would surely heighten and the surreal feeling of pride, accomplishment and camaraderie would bring tears to all eyes ... Surely.
Team A hit Paris's impressive city centre first and parked up to await the arrival of the other teams. Team C (post mishap with a shoe breaking and a small amount of blood being drawn as a consequence) were next to arrive and joined the efforts in demolishing a well earned pint (non-alcoholic I'm sure) as they awaited the final piece of our puzzle to arrive...
Team B. The support crew had by now rushed into the city centre and practically abandoned the vans wherever possible to rush to watch the magical entrance. Catching up with the WAGS (and friends) to follow the live tracker of the team... A
n age passed (or at least it seemed that way) where Paris's one way streets, huge quantity of traffic lights and unbelievable traffic levels, slowed the riders to a point where a 10 minute ride lasted an eternity. Now two minutes away on the trackers, the supporters switched to Facebook Live to allow home based family and friends to watch in amazement as the team swept around the last corner and into the streets by the Eiffel Tower... Screams, cheers, champagne and tears.
They had done it... Led in by the unanimously chosen Danielle Jones (Ellie) the team stopped the traffic and tourists in their spots - and turned into the Eiffel tower where celebrations erupted, parked cars became champagne soaked and beers and ciders were passed amongst the incredible and heroic riders who achieved so much individually but so, so much more as a team.
The support, the banter, the fun (and even the arguments) all contribute to this event becoming a family of riders supporting an amazing cause... But most importantly each other as they break through the pain barrier and push on to levels of commitment that many of them in the prior months, would not have believed possible.
Proud is a word that cannot be over-used, undervalued or taken at all lightly when you describe how we all felt at the point of arrival. The waft of emotion that hits you at the speed of light as you pan around the crowd, share hugs, kisses and handshakes and realise that the achievement is something oh so special.
It doesn't matter whether it is the first, second or third time of completion... Each and every time is different, fulfilling and magical in a way only that experience can be.
The evening runs into story telling, further celebrations, photos, reminiscing of the past and a comparison of emotion from one ride to the next. At one point last night (and for quite a while)...
I stood amongst the team in silence, just looking around the room, taking everything in, watching the bonds and relationships celebrate everything they deserve...
And the only thought...
Let's do it again
So hears to the future of what is an amazing story. All in aid of an amazing cause in Velindre Cancer Center.
The next few days will see pains ease and aches relax... But the memories will last an eternity... Better still the friendships and love that has been the absolute driving force behind the events success.
A huge thanks has to go to Mark McGregor and Simon Rees (and their lovely wives) for the hours and hours poured into the planning and execution of the trip. Along with Lyndon George and Andy Williams (dad) for the continued support (always) of everything we do...
The event would never have been possible without these key people in 2015, 2017 and again this year.
And finally a massive thanks to my brother Lloyd - with both of us off the bikes this year as his wedding is around the corner, his company in the van has made this trip as awesome as the others...
An amazing week for all There are a huge number of pics to follow.
We hope you all enjoy.
And THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU... you wonderful and amazing people