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Back for Breakfast: Français Edition

On Friday 12th September a group of Wheelers set off to ride Kingston to Paris. With Di2 mishaps, sudden down pours and more pastries than you could shake a French stick at, it was quite the adventure. Sam Sneyd and Lucas Cortini report back on the trip.

Part I: London to Paris (Sam Sneyd)

Seven honest souls assembled on Friday afternoon at market square, well once people remembered the time and where we were actually meeting!

We commenced the ride out south easterly towards Brighton with the constant feeling that the sky could drop on us at any time. The first stop, the man with the weakest bladder known to science Lawrence, had to stop to go to the toilet at Gin Kitchen (Dorking). We carried on our way and hit Brighton just as the masses were heading out for their Friday night. We took over Burger King where we worked out Richard cannot operate a drinks dispenser properly before taking on the rollers to Newhaven ferry port with no dramas to report.

The ferry crossing was at 11pm, so of course all cabins were booked it was a fend for yourself mentality from the group to find suitable solutions to be able to catch a few winks.

Dieppe to Paris – the main meat of the trip. It didn’t take long for things to go wrong for the group. Whilst still on the ferry awaiting to debark Richard Halls realised something had lent on his Di2 on the ferry and he was now riding to Paris single speed!!! The problems carried on swiftly from there, as we were waiting to go through border control the heavens opened, and I mean opened! Those who didn’t get their wet jackets on quick enough were now soaked through as we push on out of Dieppe.

The route we took out was on Avenue Verte which is a cycle way between Dieppe and Paris and we used this to cover the darker miles to save being on French roads which don’t have street lighting. After 45km we stopped for ‘a quick’ pastry. This turned out to be the following:

  • DD – 2x coffee & 1 pastry plus using the owners house toilet.
  • Richard – 1x pastry
  • Lawrence – 2x pastries
  • Jeremy – 2 pastries
  • Lucas – 2x pastries
  • Abs – 4 pastries

It was at this moment also Lawrence suffered his front tyre puncture of the day and Ab will use this as his justification for ordering multiple pastries, truth is we will never know.

Within the next 5km Lawrence took the puncture count to two with a sympathetic rear tyre now wanting to be part of the attention. Jeremy and I took real care about the situation but discussing why beef is called beef whilst looking at a field of cows.

15-20km later we are standing at the side of the road again, Lawrence’s rear tyre clearly didn’t appreciate the extra weight on the back end and puncture number 3 was now being fixed as the heavens began to open on us again…

Our lunch stop was just as eventful after a morning of rain and dry weather we stopped in a village called Fluery. We met a group of riders from Belfast who had a cracking sense of humour and Jeremy openly asked them if they were going to steal Lucas’s front light as he was so paranoid it would be unscrewed from his aero bars. This was then topped by Lucas and I having to go out and ask if they had left a bottle of lube on the table. Lunch over and was my turn to come back to a delightful rear puncture (puncture count 4) which the team stood by and supervised the repair.

The rain was on and off through the afternoon and Lucas also joined the puncture club (puncture 5) but sealant came to the rescue despite it come out from his mudguards over anyone behind him. We cracked on until about 40km to go and we managed to find a decathlon and another bike shop so Richard could go and purchase a di2 charger and I had to help Lawrence explain to a member of the staff the question of did the sell chamois cream. Richard got his charger too, so everyone was happy. Until I realised, I now had a flat on my front tyre (puncture count 6).

As we began the final assault into Paris the dry weather we had experienced since my puncture had come to an end!! We had biblical rain from the outskirts all the way to the Eiffel Tower. This led to Lucas and Ab hiding under some cafe frontage for protection whilst the five of us carried on through the rivers and across the cobbles. We gave the arc du triumph a swerve in the wet conditions and made it to the photo op location. Lawrence and I were handed medals for completing a charity event despite not really knowing what we had done. I will cherish this medal for the rest of my life.

Photo op done it was time to get to our digs, all smoothly sailing despite the rain until 5 metres from the entrance when Jeremy decided we hadn’t had any incidents in a while and just cycled straight into a kerb before laying on the floor in a nice puddle.

All in all, a fantastic experience with a great group. Looking forward to the next trip already!

Part II: Paris to London (Lucas Cortini)

The next day, the group split into two subgroups. Ab and I in group 1 and the others who decided a 3:55AM start was too early and they needed their precious sleep. With the aim of catching the 11AM ferry only 177km separated us.

On a very misty and dark Sunday morning Ab and I started our journey, little did we know we were starting our 180km-ish time trial. The initial first 20km were great as we got no Parisian drivers around us, a very different experience from the day before were we nearly died multiple times. At around 65km, Ab smelled fresh croissants coming out of the oven so we stopped and waited for 5 minutes for the shop to open.

Fully fed and with half a baguette each we pushed on. Looking at the Garmin, I quickly realised we were in for some trouble when I saw 7.00am and only 77km completed. From this point on Ab and I unleashed all we had for the next 100km with the goal of averaging +30km/h and catching the ferry. Near the final hill, I got my second puncture for the trip and luckily it sealed, keeping the hopes of catching the ferry in time still alive. 50km before the ferry we were joined by 2 cyclists, one of them with a quite impressive set up, they helped us to fly down the “Avenue Verte” managing two top 10 overall segments of 30 plus km. Huge Kudos to Ab here fighting against a knee pain, but still sticking with the punchy pace!

Very wet from the misty morning and tired we arrive at the ferry at 10.27am, which was just enough time for a picture until the gates were closed at 10.30am.

On the ferry, I managed to dry myself using the handier while Ab searched the ferry for all the available food options we could have for lunch. The most logical choice since we were in the sea was Fish and Chips… we continue the ferry journey and tried to catch some Zs before arriving at Newhaven for the last 100km of the trip.

En route to London while crossing Brighton we got directed to the finishing point of the London – Brighton event where we got handled medals and food… in all honesty, I was happier about the event mechanics that helped me to sort out my tyre pressure.

Now with the bikes and belly sorted we carry on to London. Along the way, we meet a couple of friends who were lost since some of the roads were closed due to the event. At a comfortable pace and with no mechanicals we rolled to the point where all started at around 7:00pm. This was a delightful trip and we can’t wait for next!