On Saturday 29th April over 120 cyclists set off from Greenwich Observatory in London at 3pm with the objective of cycling to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, 320km away (197 miles) in under 24 hours. The journey split into 3 parts. Leg 1 was 71 miles from London to Folkestone, leg 2 involved a coach transfer from Folkestone to Dieppe (there were many reasons for this), and leg 3 consisted of the final push to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and a distance of 126 miles.
The whole experience was phenomenal! It was amazing cycling through the surprisingly hilly south of England and I was the first rider to reach Folkestone before enjoying a beautiful sunset over the English Channel and dining on some of the best fish and chips I have ever tasted!
Unfortunately, our transfer coach missed its Eurotunnel connection and instead of catching the 9.56 train our party ended up leaving the UK at 1.11 in the morning before arriving in Dieppe at 5.30 in the morning, an hour behind the other bus party. 7 hours on a hot, sweaty bus felt like a long, long time and I only managed to sleep for about an hour. Cycling through the French countryside as dawn was breaking was great fun though, the sunshine really lifted our spirits and there was a great camaraderie between riders as we swapped stories and experiences of the previous day.
Before I knew it Paris seemed to arrive (after cycling up what felt like two monster hills on the outskirts of Paris) and the feeling of achievement and pride on reaching the Eiffel Tower is one that will live long with me. Completing the ride in under 24 hours and being one of the first to arrive made the experience even more fulfilling.
So far I have raised about £700 for Onside, my chosen charity. Thank you to everyone who has made a donation, or offered words of support to me. My Just Giving page is still 'live' and can be found at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Keith-Walden1 . It was a brilliant experience, some of the best 24 hours of my life, and if you ever have the opportunity to take on any sort of challenge in the future then embrace it. You only have one life... live it!