London to Paris Cycle Ride for Independent Age

I am alive! 28 of my colleagues and I successfully cycled all of the way to to Paris without any deaths or injuries. It was easily the best thing I’ve done all year. I am so proud to have organised this whole project with the great Chris Spearing. The best thing is, we raised over £16,500 for Independent Age. This will fund a volunteering project that we’ll start in November, where we will be visiting socially isolated elderly people a few times a month.

The ride itself was hard. But not that hard. I thought it would be a lot worse than it was. Don’t tell anyone, everyone has been congratulating me and that has been nice.

We set off from Greenwich Observatory, everyone looked somewhat trepidatious, I think the picture below really illustrates this. The view was banging though.

DSCF0396Greenwich View London


Cycling Paris

On that first day, we made our way through the 100km down to Newhaven, going along some pretty dodgy roads. Some roads seemed completely endless, and the undulating countryside became incredibly tiresome. A trip like this really is a mental challenge, it is very hard to summon the motivation to keep going when you can’t see anyone miles in front of you or behind you. You find mad little phrases going round in your head to get you to keep going. Mine was ‘This isn’t a hill, it’s actually a flat road. This is a trick of the mind.’ My friend’s phrase was ‘all the gear and no idea.’ I’m not sure how that kept her motivated, but it worked. We arrived in Newhaven over an hour early and then had a joyous time in the Brewers Fair.

Cycling Go Pro

Girls Cycling

On day two we had a lovely chilled ferry ride down to Dieppe, which gave us a chance to relax and eat as many Mars bars as we could. Getting back on the bike for another 50 miles when everything hurt wasn’t easy, but at least it was sunny and our route was littered with chateaus and bakeries.

Ferry to DieppeDieppe Cycling

Cycling France

Cycling in France

London to Paris Cycle RideCycling in France

And then we were en route to Paris. This was easily the scariest 2 hours of my life. Parisian drivers literally want to kill you. They seems to be gunning for you rather than avoiding bikes. I don’t think I’d like to cycle around the Arc de Triomphe again.Cycling in Paris

ldn-prs-041Arc de Triomphe

Cycling Arc de Triomphe When we finally got to the Eiffel Tower it was a huge relief, and our lovely MD met us there with some champagne. Everyone took selfies, group shots and there were various attempts to lift bikes above heads for profile picture material. By this point I had no strength left so it was a bit of a struggle. Champagne Paris

Eiffel Tower Champagne

Eiffel TowerEiffel Tower ChampagneParis Eiffel Tower Cycling

Paris Selfie

Cycling Paris

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Cycling Paris

Paris Bikes

Thanks for pics from the very talented cyclist and photographer Sam King.

It was an incredible experience. Thank you to our cycle support company Adventure Cafe for accompanying us and picking us up when we fell off. I’d completely recommend them to anyone wanting to go on a charity cycle trip. If you have an idea that you want to make happen, just do it. Coming up with an idea I felt passionate about and actually doing it in 6 months makes me feel like I could do anything. Now onto the next.

London to Paris Cycle Ride with Independent Age and VoucherCodes.co.uk

As I hinted in my post yesterday, cycling has become a recent hobby of mine. This is only because in three days I am going to be cycling from London to Paris. One month ago, I did not even own a bike. I’m not very sporty, I go to jungle dance a few times a month, and sometimes head to LA Fitness when I remember that I am a member.

I am doing this ride with 27 of my workmates from VoucherCodes.co.uk. I organised it but I really didn’t think I’d have to actually take part. I thought it would be one for the mega fit cycle-mad crew, but then these things never work out how you thought they would, and it’s for a great charity.

We’re raising money for the charity Independent Age, who do tremendous work ensuring that elderly people aren’t socially isolated. After we do this ride, 30 of my fellow employees and I will be taking part in a year-long volunteering scheme where we will each visit one of Independent Age’s members. We’ll keep them company twice a month, and help out with their household tasks wherever we can.

It all came about after having a ‘Dragon’s Den’ competition at my company’s Texas HQ in April. I teamed up with a lovely colleague and we pitched this CSR idea to our CEO in the hope of winning some air miles. YAY! We won the air miles (we came 3rd), but then realised that we’d actually have to make this thing happen and I would probably also have to take part and learn how to cycle again sharpish.

I presented it to the whole company and 50 people signed up to take part in the ride to Paris. But then I sent out the training plan, and this halved. They were the sensible half. I am terrified, but once it’s done, it could be one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I’ve got all the gear but no idea. Here’s my lovely bike – the Specialized Dolce. What a beauty.Specialized Dolce 2014 Bike

Cycling has been all I’ve talked about for the last two months, and have actually really enjoyed becoming part of a whole new community. I’ve downloaded Strava to help track my rides and find out my pace. Turns out, it’s not that fast. So far, the furthest I’ve cycled is about 48km, so there’s a little way to go to the 200 MILES, I will be cycling in just a few days.

If you’d like to sponsor me, you can do so on Just Giving here. I’ve raised £449 so far - it’s a very good cause and something I’m very proud to be a part of.

As long as no-one gets hurt, it will be a great success. In one week I will be back and I can update with pictures of the ride. Wish us luck. We need it.

That Was A Good Summer

It’s been rather quiet on the blogging front for the last 6 months. I’ve been saving it all up for a great big picture-filled blog. I’ve had a glorious summer this year, going to Stockholm, Arholma (one of the Archipelago islands off the Swedish coast), Field Day, Secret Garden Party and Barcelona.

Sweden is incredible, they seem to have a really good standard of living. And everyone seems to take the whole summer off. That is the way it should be. The Swedes love their sports, even nightclubs have tiny basketball courts and table tennis competitions. You’ll find this in Trädgården club in Södermalm. It’s mega pricey to drink in Stockholm so the Swedes recommend that you pre-drink if you’re going out on the razz.

After conquering Stockholm, we sailed through the Archipelago Islands to stay in the middle of nowhere on a tiny island called Arholma. It is so joyously refreshing to not have WiFi for days and days. Rather than sitting around Instagramming on our phones, we talked to each other, played games, kayaked and cycled - it was glorious.

I think Wes Anderson must have visited Sweden on his holidays. I felt like I’d just stepped out of Moonrise Kingdom.

Arholma

Stockholm landmarks Stockholm people image Arholma Cycling Playing games by the sea 10599422_10202304989218945_3216441123638759965_n 10532941_10202304990138968_2694131749852102535_n

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Skansen Stockholm

 

Secret Garden Party was easily the best festival I’ve ever been to. It was sunny all weekend and full of great people. Definitely better than muddy smug Glastonbury.  Secret Garden PartySecret Garden PartySecret Garden Party 2014Secret Garden Party CampingSecret Garden Party 2014 Secret Garden Party 2014 Secret Garden Party 2014 David Rodigan Festival

BST Hyde Park was also a real highlight of the summer. Thanks to 10 Ways, I managed to find a glitch which meant we got tickets for only £2.50 to see the Backstreet Boys. Don’t judge – they’ve still got it. We hung out by the dancehall stage after getting bored of McBusted. Look at this utter joy.

BST Festival

 

My boyfriend is a gay icon. So it was lucky that we went to Barcelona the same weekend as Circuit Festival, the international gay festival held in the city. His penchant for vests meant he drew a rather dazzling similarity to the man promoting the festival in posters across Barcelona.

 

Barcelona Circuit Festival

 

I know this doesn’t capture the awe-inspiring beauty of the Sagrada Familia, but this sort of photo has my favourite composition out of all the hundreds I took. People looking jealous of ice-creams really can make the background of photos.

Sagrada Familia

The food in Barcelona is incredible, we didn’t have one bad meal.

Cera 23 is a great steak restaurant in El Raval with the best blackberry mojitos.

La Paradeta is a sensational seafood restaurant, set out like a fish counter where you make your choice and they cook it for you. We had lobster, crab, huge prawns, squid and a bottle of good wine for 65 Euros. If you could open up somewhere like this in London, I would be very grateful.

Can Paixano is the place to get lunch in Barcelona. Just by Barceloneta beach, you are rammed in and will inevitably spill most of your drink on the floor as you get bustled around. This is a great excuse to get a whole bottle of cava instead of just a glass. Using our most basic GCSE Spanish we somehow managed to get the most delicious meat bocadillos and glasses of truly good Cava. The prices are crazy here – glasses of cava for €1 and €2.50ish for a sandwich.

I have spent the rest of my summer cycling, but that is a story for another day.