There’s a few things I’ve learned after doing a London to Paris ride on a mountain bike. The first is that us Brits are pretty short tempered. On our way through London and beyond we got yelled at by drivers merely for just riding together – even though we were single file. Other drivers had no consideration and came too close or drove aggressively. In France, things were hugely different. Drivers and pedestrians were willing us along, letting us out and congratulating us as we rode past.
The ride, I should just mention, was for charity. We have raised well over £2200 as I speak, and it’s still going up. Here’s a look at the journey through London from Big Ben, thanks to Strava. The cycle routes went on main roads in parts but there wasn’t a great deal you could do about it. We followed the Avenue Verte route..
The 95 miles ended at a pub called The Star Inn in Alfriston but unfortunately the service we received from some staff (not the lovely barmaid or the night porter, who were both excellent) was pretty bad. The chef was due to leave at 9PM, so we only just managed to get fed, and a fuss was made about the bill. It all seemed, as it can do in the British service industry, like the customer was an inconvenience.
Over in France, like the drivers, things were markedly different. Staff in B&B’s, bars and cafes were happy and helpful. Nothing was too much of a problem and they went out of their way to help us.
The speed of the boats wasn’t anywhere near the modern craft you have today, so they must’ve literally crept towards the beaches as the Germans sat and waited.
Above, as you can see, from Dieppe it was a constant and annoying gradient which was painful in the heat. This was perhaps my worst day purely because it was a constant “up” without any free-wheeling sections at all. Very tiring.
France has some utterly stunning countryside which was achingly beautiful in places.
When we arrived at our digs we quickly found out that there’d been a miss-communication, so we had to pedal to the correct address some 5 miles away. We were already pretty exhausted, but then had to tackle even more hills…
The final day saw us finally hit Paris. We ended up at Notre Dame but we were only there for about 5 minutes as we had to quickly get the Eurostar back home.
The total? 270 miles on a mountain bike, a large amount of beer drunk and a huge amount of fun. I’ve spent about 6 months training for it and, although it was still hard in places, it paid off.
If anyone else is planning to do the Avenue Verte from London to Paris, I’d definitely recommend packing as light as possible, eating religiously every hour or so (regardless of whether you’re hungry), drinking constantly and taking breaks at sensible times. If you miss a power bar or a snack, you’ll hit the wall big time.
Oh, and as for the Eurostar from Paris to London, you absolutely have to take this train at least once in your life. Bombing along at 186 mph and arriving in a new country, after passing under the water, is just an amazing experience.