Riding London to Paris: Day one

7:50am roll out, we’re under way.

Rolling through Esher and into the Surrey lanes was organised chaos, with the NEG motorbikes whizzing past on the right and anxious legs wanting to get on with it but being restrained by the ever crawling rush hour traffic in front, led to a start/stop first hour of the ride. Once past Dorking it was into the quiet lanes and things settled down with the ride starting in earnest.

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So far, I’m low on my celeb count. As we’ve been broken into five groups there is minimal chance of getting the opportunity to ride with some of the big names, as they get to ride at an easier pace, so I’m having to make do with the boss of Sigma Sport and David Harmon from Eurosport. Having said that, Anthea Turner was parked in front of us at the start carpark. But she wasn’t taking part so doesn’t count.

As you might expect, catering for everyone at lunch was no easy task but with a large field to park bikes in and a pub garden, plus a staggered approach worked well.

Lunch stop, London to Paris 2010


The afternoon rolled along nicely with a light wind and the sun beating down, that was until we got to the outskirts of Dover when someone took it upon themselves to line everyone out before the timed climb.

When it came to the security checks at Dover it looked like we might have a long wait, we were guided into a hangar where one airport-style scanner awaited. Luckily the security guy selected a dozen bags at random and that was sufficient. I’ve got to say it was kind of mad riding onto the ferry and leaning your bike against the side for the journey across.

The riding has been great with a hot sunny day and the lovely British countryside rolling past it’s been near perfect.

Thanks for your comment on my first blog, Stephane, I’m certainly looking forward to see how the French get on with it all, but to be fair they’ll have a tough time improving on the British, we were warmly welcomed everywhere we went once the rush hour had passed.

Our group’s crash count has been low, just two minor stacks. Fingers crossed it remains that way.


Evening Update
So I’m finally getting off the ground with my celeb count. On the first night we were enjoying the modest surroundings of the Holiday Inn, Calais’ restaurant chatting about the day’s ride with my fellow riders when Stephen Roche joined us. We were, of course, all engrossed by his stories of attacking races, of beating Pedro Delgado to the Yellow Jersey in ’87 and the age old problem of youngsters not wishing to listen to their elders.

While I think of it I think I need to revise my statement about the L2P having a number ‘City types’, so far I’ve met very few, I’m still working on my pigeonholing and generalisation of the riders – I’ll let you know if and when I get there.

One Aussie chap I was speaking to on the first day was absolutely loving the British countryside, telling me how beautiful it was, green, rolling and all that we take for granted. Turns out he’s called Michael and has come over to Europe for three weeks to ride with his brother, for starters they are doing the London to Paris, then carrying on (I presume not riding) across mainland Europe to take in some of the best sportives including the Marmotte – sounds like a great road trip to me. It’s the Australian winter at the moment so he’ll be flying when he gets back to OZ.


Map My Tracks
It seems that technology is making ever greater inroads into cycling.

Not only do we have electronic shifting thanks to Shimano, stage timing to the split second thanks to having micro chips mounted to bikes but now Map My Tracks are allowing friends, family and sponsors to follow the action as it happens in London to Paris.

If you go to www.mapmytracks.com/events/summary/london-paris-2010 you’ll find an online dashboard displaying statistics, locations and mileage for the groups as we roll through Kent and into the French countryside.

Sven Thiele, of HotChillee, the organising company of L2P, said: “We first worked with Map My Tracks on HotChillee’s James Cracknell End To End Relay Challenge and the live tracking of the event was enormously popular with our web community.

“We are delighted to have real-time tracking of The L2P. It means that families will be able to follow dads or mums on the ride. Cycling fans from all over the world will be able to watch the progress of the peloton online and The L2P will have comprehensive web coverage for all three days of the ride.”

It strikes us that if this same technology could be supplied to the ProTour teams ready for the Grand Tours it would provide an interesting addition to watching the stages live.