185 miles in three days: 10 lads representing Construction Sport managed to get to the Eiffel Tower from Twickenham Stadium on their interestingly equipped push bikes. How? I hear you ask. That’s a good question…
Starting the Construction Sport London to Paris Cycle: Bon Voyage, Twickenham!
The event started how most of these things do, regretting the few beers and Chinese takeaways the night before. However, standing outside Twickenham Stadium with everyone on a sunny October morning, accompanied by some humble rugby legends, meant everyone’s spirits were definitely high and excitement filled the atmosphere.
9am on Monday 9th October marked the start of the first leg of the London to Paris challenge!
Firstly, a massive thank you to The Rugby Centurions Club for organising what was a phenomenal event. And a huge shoutout to European Cycling Tours for doing an incredible job at keeping us safe, well-nourished and leading us the right way to Paris! (There and thereabouts.)
After about 20 miles we hit the first real climb of the trip. 1-2 miles of continuous uphill gradient definitely tested the group and didn’t exactly put minds at ease. Eventually making it to the top, we were told that the hill we’d just defeated was actually the hardest climb of the whole trip. This information kept heads held high, and we powered on through to our lunch break, filled up on chips, sandwiches and chocolate brownies, which fuelled us through to the end of the day.
Shortly before dusk we arrived at Newhaven’s only hotel, the resident Premier Inn. After 65 miles, Day 1 was complete and we all enjoyed cool showers, even cooler pints and as many plates of food we were permitted to have.
Day 2 was going to be easy!
The Construction Sport Cycle Team Arrivé in France
Day 2 was not easy.
On paper it seemed like it would be. The Construction Sport Cycle Team all had their alarms set for 8am, expecting a quick jump onto the ferry from Newhaven port down to Dieppe at 11am, and then a sweet 35-mile journey in the afternoon once we’d arrived in picturesque France. But the lengthy ferry time and +1 hour to the clock meant we didn’t start riding until around 5pm. Sure, we were only doing half the distance of the first day, but the group wasn’t aware of the 1% uphill gradient that lingered throughout the whole 35-mile stretch…
Nevertheless, pretty much as soon as we were on the bikes there was a slight but certain change in the overall ambience. Finally, being on French soil surrounded by open fields with cleaner air and appealing architecture meant we really took in our surroundings, which made everyone truly realise how lucky we were to be a part of such an exciting trip.
With this in mind, we stormed down the Avenue Verte and finished the day just before it got too dark for our own safety. Forges-les-eaux was the name of the little French town we stayed in. I think I speak for everyone when I say this was a much nicer place to spend the night than the premier inn on the English coast. This place even had a grand casino directly opposite, on the same grounds! Although everyone was far too responsible to acknowledge that because tomorrow, we had an early start with 85 miles to cover all the way down to our final destination… La Tour Eiffel!
The Final Stretch To Paris
200 quid down and 4 hours sleep did not help the mood when first getting out of bed on the last day. However, this wasn’t going to keep us from knowing that by the end of the afternoon, our mission was going to be accomplished! We enthusiastically chucked our bags in the van, grabbed our bikes and set off for our last day of riding through fabulous France.
Setting off at 7:30am, considerably earlier than the previous days, meant we were out in much cooler weather. Arm and leg warmers had been equipped so there was nothing to worry about, apart from the constant complaints from the halfwits in short sleeves. We were greeted to a pit stop just 12 miles in where they could get their base layers on, which they had previously assured ‘wasn’t going to be necessary’…
In the blink of an eye, it was lunch time, and we were 55 miles in! I don’t know if it was the general high spirits of the group or the adrenaline pumping through us all knowing that Paris was right around the corner, or both, but the morning had absolutely flown by. By about 9:30am it had warmed up and, like the first 2 days, we had beautiful sunshine helping us on our way. And after a panini and chips in your typical French café, we were back on our bikes, ready to see the day out!
Everybody waited and we all caught up with one another at the stunning Arc de Triomphe. What wasn’t so stunning was 50+ so called ‘cyclists’ trying to make their way around the huge surrounding roundabout. Surprisingly with no casualties, we made it across to Avenue Victor Hugo where we eagerly made our way down to Place du Trocadéro…and there it was.
The Eiffel Tower was in sight! 3 days, 180 miles down, and everybody celebrated the massive achievement with one another. We had done it!
Only we hadn’t done it.
Hundreds of pictures, smiles and embraces later it was back on the bike. The sore arses were not best pleased… All jokes aside, no one cared enough about all that, we had just made it all the way into Paris from London Twickenham Stadium with amazing weather, great people and some great laughs along the way! Bumping down the cobbles of the Champs-Elysees was no sweat, and just a few miles later we had arrived at the hotel where it was now time to finally bid farewell to our bikes, and we got ready to go out and enjoy our well-deserved night in Paris.
In short, this was without doubt a remarkable experience to remember, and if you ever get the opportunity to do it, do it.
Thank you again to everyone who made this possible, and congratulations to all involved. Special mention and applause as well to Rugby Centurions Club for raising approximately £23K for Bhubesi Pride Foundation! And a big thank you to our main sponsors who helped make this happen for us, Construction Sport was proud to be a part of this and we can’t wait for the next one!