What I did on my holidays – By Peter Ellis aged 54
The moral of the tale you are about to read is: Never agree to anything after a couple of rather decent glasses of wine
It had been a good lunch and at the end my so called friend Steve said “Let’s cycle to Paris”
“What now?” I replied
“No idiot. Let’s do a charity ride to Paris”
"Sounds like a plan” I said and so the Cider Riders were born
Two other saps(Sorry willing volunteers) signed up and in September 2016 we paid our deposit and signed up for the Royal British Legion Pedal to Paris in August 2017
I spent the winter of 2016/7 on a watt bike or in a spin class with weekend cycle rides of up to two hours. As the weather improved I spent more time on the bike but was it enough. London to Paris was 300 miles in four days. I knew I could cycle a good distance, but day after day? There was only one way to find out
6.30 am August 31st 2017 – 250 nervous cyclists converge on Eltham Palce among them Lee, Ade, Steve and yors truly AKA The Cider Riders, ready to cycle to Paris. A quick safety briefing and off we go.
Day 1 London – Dinkirk - 75 miles
We’re off, and the first thing that strikes me is how well organised this is. We have team leaders and motorcycle marshals guiding us through the Kent countryside towards Dover. The late Summer weather is as expected changeable but we arrive in Dover by mid-afternoon, and then we wait for our ferry and we wait and wait. Eventually we get on the ferry and arrive in Dunkirk at 11pm We get a coach to our hotel and crash out shattered. My last thought as my head hits the pillow is “I’ve got to do this all again tomorrow”
Day 2 Dunkirk to Abbeville 97.5 miles
After a quick breakfast we convene for a moving ceremony at the Dunkirk Cenotaph. A poppy wreath is laid to remember those who lost their lives speeches made and national anthems sung and then we are on the road. If the English leg was well organised then France is super well organised. We are split into three groups. We are the social group. Each group has a mechanic’s van to fix any mechanical problems on the road and we have a group of outriders on Harley Davidsons sweeping all before us so that traffic is not an issue. There are several steep inclines that test us, some may not have trained as diligently as The Cider Riders and struggle at the slightest climb. This inevitably slows the group down. We eventually reach Abbeville at 8pm, coaches wait to take us to our hotel. We eat dinner have a glass or two of wine and it’s time for bed.
Day 3 Abbeville to Beauvais – 65 Miles
The centre of Abbeville comes to a halt for another ceremony and then we depart. The French countryside is delightful as we roll through the fields and villages of rural France. Then we start to climb. “I thought Northern France was flat” says Dave my new friend from Cambridge as he puffs up another slight incline. The Cider Riders inform Dave that compared to riding Cheddar Gorge and Burrington Coombe that this is a flat ride, Dave doesn’t mention the climbs again. We arrive in Beauvais mid-afternoon and ride to the town Fire Station for a reception of cake and sparkling wine. Tomorrow is the last day and as we head back to the hotel we begin to feel a little sad that it is ending
Day 4 – Beauvais to Paris 63 miles
As I might have mentioned tis is a brilliantly organised event. There is a team of masseurs available at every stop to work on weary limbs. By now every part of me hurts. I have gone through a whole pot of Sudacrem (Other soothing creams are available) and still I have chaffing. The first climb of the day is a glorious ride through woods on tarmac as smooth as silk. This is the way to spend a Sunday, we cycle on the weather is perfect. At lunch all three groups combine and star the ride to the Champs Eelysees. The sight of 250 riders heading into Paris is stunning, and before we know it we are riding up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. We made it! Four awesome days 300+ miles and many new friends made, and most importantly over £4,000 raised for the most marvellous cause The Royal British Legion
Now how do we get back?
You can still donate to the Cider Rider visit Cider Riders Just Giving Page and your donation will be gratefully received