A few months ago, I decided it was time to give something back, whilst I'm still fit enough! So as proud members of the motor industry myself, set out on the enormous challenge of cycling from London to Paris in 24 hours to raise money for the Motor and Allied Trades Benevolent Fund, BEN.
Although I enjoy cycling, I soon realised two rides a week does not give me Tour de France status!
I tried to keep a diary as we went along. Here's how we got on...
Here we are at the start of this epic challenge. Woke up with that feeling like we're about to take an exam and have not done enough revision!
The first stage is a 100 mile cycle from London to Newhaven docks - the route will take us 6000 feet uphill. The South of England is meant to be flat - who put those blooming hills there! Sussex and Kent are about as flat as the Himalayas! Not only was there a massive amount of climbing but it was the traffic coming at you at high speed and a bit too close... not good.
It's 25C in London, thunderstorms forecast towards the South Coast and then tomorrow into the 30's in France! Blooming heck! By the end of it we'll certainly have earnt every penny of sponsorship you donate!
We're joining 16 other riders, some of whom are semi-pro! This is going to be a blood bath... (sweat bath more like). Have a lovely day in your air-conned cars!
Our team leader, Matthew arrives fresh as a daisy and raring to go with just a few minutes to spare before we set off on our adventure...
So yesterday was frankly brutal.... It was the toughest cycling we had ever done but with some relief we made it to Newhaven on time for the ferry, which we shared with what seemed like every other cyclist in Britain!
We had four hours rest on the ferry (or tried to any way) and then at 5.00am we set off on a 140 mile cycle from Dieppe to the Eiffel Tower. I was slightly worried to say the least, but ready to give it my best shot!
There's 35 degree heat forecast today and right now it is a glorious bit chilly start!
The Final Leg
We were so busy enjoying our leisurely (ha!) cycle through France I didn't get chance to do another update. The bottom line is we finished! We were not the last to cross the finish line and we are all SO blown away.... It is so hard to put into words the incredible sense of achievement we felt.
France was awesome, incredible weather, the roads feel like they are made of silk, the views are wonderful and the traffic minimal and very forgiving. It was however 140 miles and pretty damn hilly in the mid section. As you might expect, Paris was a nightmare to cycle through, so damn hot and so busy.
Just to put into some numbers the enormity of the task...
• We cycled 243 miles in under 24 hours of constant cycling.
• No sleep despite a 4 hour ferry journey, it's impossible...
• No hot food unless you count potted fruit porridge that smells like a nappy!
• In total 13500 feet of cycling uphill.... This is seriously hard to do.....
• Hottest temperatures so far this year, over 35 degrees in France
• 12000 calories each burned off
Most importantly, it was awesome! There was a fantastic team spirit and everybody pulled together, which got us through some seriously dark moments of the ride...
But we made it, in good spirits and in one piece... and the beers have never ever tasted better, nor has the wine!
Together we have raised just over £4,700 for BEN, which we are incredibly proud of. There's still time to donate and it would mean so much to us if we could raise a little bit more, so if you're feeling generous just click the below links to donate:
• Andrew Hall (JustGiving)
• Paul Craft (JustGiving)
• Lee Groves (JustGiving)
• To sponsor Matthew Brown, just drop him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.