London To Paris – Day 1 retrospective

The date was 04th July 2012 and I woke at 5am not entirely sure what I was doing. Facing me was a very long day and to start it all off, it was raining. I put on all my wet gear, shoes, trousers, coat and made sure my bags were ready I had my passport and keys and set my GPS for Blackheath. I knew I had a long day ahead of me and I was hoping that the rain would stop at some point. Arriving in Blackheath I went to tell people I had arrived, they gave me a map, some things to tie to my bags, bike and day pack then wait around for a little while. I got chatting to a few people just saying hello, introducing myself and generally trying to mentally prepare myself as much as I could for the 140km that lay ahead.

Setting off from Blackheath

Soon enough we all put our main bags in a truck and assembled outside for a briefing. This introduced us to the Discover Adventure and Team Macmillan people from that point on people said their goodbyes to some people and then we all set off. I felt good about actually starting and was looking forward to getting out of London and into the countryside a bit. We started to pass through the towns that lead out something felt odd with my bike, my left foot felt like it was waving from side to side. I wear cleated (SPD) shoes so this sort of movement is really noticeable and normally means my cleat is loose, I stopped and checked my shoe which was fine so got back on the bike and continued. A few more kilometres passed and I could still feel my foot moving so I decided to stop again and take a bit more of a look, to my horror my pedal had somehow worked itself loose and whats worse is the screw thread on the pedal had totally chewed the inside of the crank arm making it unfixable without changing the crank arm.

I tried hard not to get upset, here I was just eight kilometres in and all that went through my head was I hope I can continue as in my mind this was potentially serious. I knew the van had spare inner tubes and tools but a spare crank that would fit was a bit of a long shot. I called the van and stood by the side of the road waiting. Ten minutes passed along with a few cyclists who stopped to ask if I was okay and the support van turned up. The guys from DA had a look and had a spare crank arm in the van but not the right tool to take mine off so they put my bike in the van and I joined them in a hunt for an open shop to help. Ten or so minutes in the van and we encountered a branch of Halfords it was still very early so we waited around for a while for it to open. Long story short we got the parts, swapped over the crank arm and I was ready to go. They offered to take me to the first water stop but I was so determined to do as much of the ride as physically possible I thought I could catch up. Back on the bike I cleared my head of the drama that had just passed and tried to concentrate on catching up a bit. I got to the first water stop and only took on a small amount more then onwards towards lunch. I didn’t see anyone for a long time and only passed a few people and eventually got to lunch.

I was happy to be at lunch, the ride up until then had been not too bad, as you might be able to see from the tweet lunch stop was somewhere near Ashford. I was tired (mostly due to lack of sleep) but trying to enjoy the ride as much as possible. The route itself had been signposted by orange coloured arrows, most of the time through the second half I was on my own. I took a wrong turning only once and took in the Kent countryside which although is beautiful is full of hills both up and down, some of which felt rather scary as they often were full of gravel. My GPS kept me in good stead though and continued to spur me on to see how far I had to go. Eventually I cruise into Dover, park the bike and seek some shade to cool down a little while.

Arriving at Dover

Soon enough we were all on the boat and grabbed food which is when I got chatting to a few of the other riders. I was tired by that point but knew I still had a way to go once we docked at Calais. We all cycled from the port to the hotel, so we arrived late, by 22:30 I was tucked up
in bed to prepare myself for day 2.

Stats for Day 1:

  • Total Distance: 135.52 km
  • Time in the Saddle: 7:46.12
  • Calories Burned: 5,322
  • Avg Speed: 17.4 km/h
  • Total Elevation Gain : 1,394 m

You can see the entire ride logged via Garmin Connect

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