Monday, 12 September 2011

Paris or bust.

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Cycling the 300 kilometres from London to Paris is generally a four to six day adventure. Traveller and her friends did it in two. We left Saturday morning at 3:30am and arrived in Paris on Sunday afternoon - sweaty, hungry and beyond thirsty.  It was a gruelling, dramatic and beautiful ride that brought an intense sense of achievement but also, unfortunately, had a rather upsetting ending.
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The six of us woke early on the Saturday morning {Traveller had little sleep, too excited and nervous about the day's events} and cycled just under 100 kilometres to Newhaven port to catch the ferry to Dieppe, France. Riding very early in the morning on little sleep was an interesting concept but we managed to arrive in Newhaven before schedule and indulged in a bacon and egg sarnie before jumping on the ferry.  The ferry was a four hour journey which was an excellent amount of time to sleep, eat and stretch before the riding the next 75 kilometres that were stretched out before us. One of the tremendously positive things about riding kilometre after kilometre is that you can eat pretty much whatever you want! Traveller ate almost every hour on the weekend and definitely didn't seem to put on any weight.
Photobucket We arrived in Dieppe and were amazed by the change in weather - a mere crossing of the channel resulted in a temperature change of at least 10 degrees which was accompanied by glorious sunshine  We rode on to Gournay-en-bray {where T's legs started to feel like led - particularly by the last two hills or so!}and we were pleased to shower, eat and laugh over the day's events.
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We woke early (5am) the next morning and prepared to make the final 100+ kilometres to Paris. Traveller couldn't believe how fatigued her legs were and she started to wonder if she was going to be able to keep up. We were travelling at around 28 kilometres per hour! Eating an energy bar every hour helped and soon they only had 30 kilometres to go. This was where things went awry.

We were travelling down a very steep, long, windy hill when one member of our cycling group met a car head on. He was sitting by the side of the road as Traveller came down and parts of his bike and kit were scattered down the hill. He knew fairly quickly that it was serious and, being a physiotherapist, had diagnosed himself with a shattered knee-cap and a broken pelvis. Luckily for us, a tremendously helpful Frenchman arrived on the scene moments later and, acting as our translator, he spoke to the emergency services and the police on our behalf. He even drove a couple of bikes to the hospital and helped us communicate with the hospital staff. A true gem.
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The next few hours were spent waiting anxiously at the hospital while our patient had x-rays and scans and we tried to make a series of plans, depending on a variety of outcomes. After about four hours, we were told to ride to Paris and were assured that he would probably make the trip, as they wanted him to be in London for any surgery. So, a little shaken, we cycled on.
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We felt sad riding without a key member of our group (he had helped organise the ride) and the rest of the journey was a little bitter-sweet. However, on catching the first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower there was still a tremendous moment of pride at having achieved such a crazy goal and when we finally reached it, there were hugs and kisses as we celebrated 300 kilometres of adventure. We also - stop reading mum and dad! -  cycled down the beautiful Champs-Elysées and around the ever-scary Arc de Triomph. Needless to say, we shared a glass of Moet {or beer in the boys' case} and the most expensive Croque Monsieur Traveller has ever bought {it was delicious though and very welcome after hours and hours of energy bars!}
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Sadly, our friend didn't make the trip home and was instead lifted by a private jet two days later to a very fancy, private London hospital on the river Thames. He had diagnosed his injuries correctly (thereby being unable to travel by train) and is now in the midst of rehabilitation. He is very positive though and has amazed us all with his consistent, cheery disposition.

So, it wasn't quite the trip we imagined but will definitely be something that we remember for a very long time.

2 comments:

Bri said...

I would love to do something like this! Looks like quite the adventure. Hope you're biker friend heals quickly though...poor guy. I have to tell my husband this is exactly why he should ALWAYS wear his helmet. :/

Jen said...

Congratulations on such a major accomplishment! Your ride looked beautiful, and I admire you for taking this on -- I'm sure your visit in Paris was well-deserved!

Hope your friend is recovering well and is back on his bike quickly.

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