Andrew Bailey chose to raise funds for Nacoa by doing a sponsored bike ride from London to Paris. He left London on the 3 January 2011, starting at the Westminster clock, and arrived at the Eiffel Tower in Paris 4 days later. We congratulate Andrew on his epic bike ride, especially at this time of the year, and are most grateful for his support. Andrew has raised over £950 for Nacoa. See Andrew’s fundraising page.
Andrew Bailey’s diary of his bike ride from London to Paris
Monday 3rd January 2011
I started my journey from Big Ben in Westminster at 11.00am. This being my first long distance cycling event it turned out to be a steep learning curve. I got my first puncture as I was getting out of London. When I stopped to change the inner tube I was unable to loosen the nut to remove the wheel, but luckily I stopped in a good place. A young man came out of his flat and he offered to drive me to a bike shop where I got the bike sorted and off I went again. Without this man’s generosity I would not have made it out of London; I have made a new friend! I finished my day’s ride in Dartford where I spent the night in a Holiday Inn.
Tuesday 4th January
I started my day’s ride going over the exit of the Dartford Bridge at 7:00am. A good steady ride all day although I found it much harder today than I thought it would be. The winds were stronger than I expected them to be, and I felt relieved to arrive at my hostel in Dover around 16:00.
Wednesday 5th January
I set off from the Hostel around 8am after a good breakfast. I feel a little dwarfed waiting to board the ferry, lining up with the cars and coaches. I wave goodbye to the white cliffs of Dover. My invasion of France begins and I am delighted at how smooth and quiet the D940 coastal road is. My legs are beginning to feel the burn on the incline. Some beautiful scenery and some great downhill runs too. I get to Boulogne-sur-Mer at 15:00 and it begins to rain. Determined to get to Abbeville I press on but after around 15 km I wished I hadn’t. I lost the light completely, and took an inland road thinking it would be more direct without knowing how steep some of the hills would be, it was raining hard the roads were busy and there was nowhere to walk the bike. To make things worse I was 20 km away from the next town. Luckily I came across a sign for a hotel 4km off route. I made a pathetic attempt of asking for a room in French before the man said “Ah, you are English, please come in.” I was now running a day behind, and I was down to my last clean pair of boxer shorts but, all joking aside, I had the best three-course meal of my life and made another new friend, a Dutch guy called Pascal.
Thursday 6th January
Compared to Wednesday the ride was pretty un-eventful. I set off at 8:00 in the morning and, after some advice from Pascal, headed west back onto the coastal road which is fairly flat all the way to Abbeville. I covered a lot of ground early on which got me into Abbeville at 14:00 although it rained all day and the wind was once again another hurdle that I had to push through. I was very happy with my progress.
Friday 7th January
Abbeville to Beauvais. After riding 5 miles on the right road but in the wrong direction, and spending around an hour looking for a replacement pump, I finally get going out of Abbeville around 9:30. I battle on all day and there are some incredibly steep hills along the way. Once again the rain and wind are a pain. At one point I stopped and the wind was actually blowing me backwards! I arrive in Beauvais 15:30.
Saturday 8th January
Beauvais to Paris. I left the hotel at 8:15 and powered my way to Paris. Somehow I ended up on an E road for a section of it which is their motorway, little bit naughty with lots of people beeping at me. At one point I had three police vans drive past me. Thankfully there was no room for them to stop otherwise I would have got a telling off I’m sure! Arrived in Paris around 15:30. I reached the Eiffel Tower and felt a wave of happiness and self-accomplishment. I had the biggest grin on my face for around half an hour.
There are lots of things I would do differently to make it easier on myself if I were doing the ride again. Lack of planning turned out to be a frustration, getting lost and poor quality kit another. I find long distance cycling incredibly rewarding. Even through the toughest climbs I knew that my situation was only temporary, just as I had learnt as a child. I have learnt many lessons from this event and I am now on the lookout for my next adventure.
I now see this event as a stepping stone to bigger and better challenges.