Crossing the finish line
Speeding down the Avenue Henri Martin, leaves fluttering between the Haussmannian buildings, the sun cast a shimmering mosaic on the road ahead. Three hundred and fifty kilometres and eighteen hours of pedalling after leaving the Houses of Parliament, the Eiffel Tower was now within touching distance. My feelings were mixed. I was elated to have completed a trip I had set my sights on since childhood, yet aware that this amazing journey was now coming to an end, after weeks of preparation and three fantastic days on the road.
The cycle-ride from London to Paris had gone without a hitch. Well, almost. Only ten kilometres in, picking up momentum but still in the heart of London, I heard a loud bang and was brought to a sudden rest without touching the brakes. My luggage rack had fallen off, lodging itself between the rear wheel and the frame. I feared the worst. The supporting screw had sheared in half, and I didn’t have a replacement. Thankfully, I had heeded a friend’s advice to bring some string in my belongings. Putting my four years of engineering studies into practice, I improvised with some knots, hoped for the best, and luckily, encountered no further issues all the way to Paris.
In Newhaven, waiting for the ferry to Dieppe at the end of the first day, I met a man who told me he too had cycled from London, but had taken four days to get to the coast. Something I would highlight from my experience is that cycling from London to Paris is accessible to everyone. With modest training and a good bike, it can be done enjoyably in three days. But cycling between these stunning European capitals is also possible with little riding experience and any bike, over a longer period.
Why do it? Beautiful countryside and open roads. Small villages and rolling hills. The rustling of wheat in the wind and the camaraderie with fellow cyclists along the way. And the satisfaction and fulfilment of having covered a sizeable chunk of Europe with nothing more than your legs and a set of wheels.
Fundraising for The Running Charity
Planning had started in February. I had decided to turn my dream of cycling from London to Paris – two of Europe’s most iconic capital cities, which I have been lucky enough to grown up in – into action. I realised that the trip presented me with a unique opportunity to do more than simply undertake a personal journey. I was determined to fundraise for an inspiring organisation I had recently got in touch with: The Running Charity.
The Running Charity recognises that homelessness can affect anyone at any time, and has shown that running can be used as a valuable tool to fight back against it. A keen believer in the physical and mental benefits of sport and exercise, I identified with and resolved to support The Running Charity’s life-changing work. With the help of friends and family, I was able to raise over 600 pounds during my trip. I was overwhelmed by their generosity. One donation in particular touched me deeply. Marie and Thierry, the owners of a bed and breakfast I was staying in at Lalandelle, halfway between Dieppe and Paris, donated almost as much as I paid for my stay. What I have realised is that The Running Charity’s inspiring work strongly resonates with a wide range of people. I am proud to have been able to make a small contribution to this remarkable enterprise.
To summarise, what I have learnt during the trip is this: If there is something fulfilling and inspiring that you’ve been waiting to do, postponing, thinking about, stuck in a “maybe”, “if I had more time”, “I’m not sure” limbo, start planning it today. Postpone no longer.