2008 saw me clip into the pedals for my first ever London2Paris (L2P), a great event with a rolling road closures the whole way to Paris. Year one of this event (I’ve done 6) was tough, struggling to cling onto group2 and having been paced back on by the yellow jersey (group1 got lost and ended up behind us) I thought ai was out if my depth so snuck back into Group3. The ride captain stuck me on the front to ride tempo and off the back of a “good job” I was asked to be a Ride Captain the following year.
What a great opportunity. I ended up looking after Group4 (the last group on the road). We had folk who’d never ridden in a group, it was great to herd everyone into a perfect two by two formation and to see how they transformed in the three days to Paris. One rider had stepped in to take the place of his friend who was claimed by blood cancer a few weeks earlier at the age of 26. Not trianing, wrong bike set up and a whole heap of determination, seeing him make it to Paris brought a tear to our eyes and shows how determination can get you there – you just need a reason to do it.
The following three years saw me step up to Group1, racing as one of only three ladies in the group. Of course we were nailed tot he floor by the wonderful Tanya Slater who raced for GB, but just riding in Group1 felt like I’d won the prize anyway.
My last ride to Paris was part of Le Grand Truc Reunion Ride taking the inaugural route via Portsmouth, we arrived in Paris to watch the final stage of the Tour, ViP hospitality meant the bubbly flowed (happy days) and we watch the finish ringside along the team busses. I have not laughed so much in a long time, perhaps the funniest was one of the guys nabbing a full size chicken suit and riding off along the course.
The 2011 ride presented a real dilemma for me, I was coming off cycling the full Giro D’Italia route (3,500km) two days before L2P, I ended up doing both clocking up a whopping 4,000km in less than a month. Yip I was a tad tired after that and a good 8% lighter. But the beer sure tasted like heaven.