What made you sign up to cycle from London to Paris?
I've always wanted to do something 'challenging' for charity and for myself. I'm not really one for the gym or exercise and now I'm a working mum I have even more excuses up my sleeve to sit on the sofa. However in March this year I found out my Dad had cancer, which gave me the motivation to get up and sign up for a challenge.
Why London to Paris?
I can't run to save my life, I get bored of long walks, I thought of swimming in a lake but then I thought about what else would be swimming in the lakes with me so swiftly arrived at cycling. My husband did the same challenge seven years ago and he said 'you can do it if you train hard'. So I convinced one of my best friends to do it with me and signed us up that same week.
Have you ever done anything like this?
Never! I've raised money for charities before by organising parties and events but never anything that would push my boundaries like this.
What were your main motivations for taking part?
Being a working mum I wanted to do something for me. I wanted to see what my body could cope with but also have fun and get fit at the same time. My dad was told he had bowel cancer back in March, after an operation to eradicate it and after his second to last chemotherapy session he unfortunately had a bleed on the brain. Two weeks before I was due to cycle I very nearly gave up on doing the challenge but my dad's strong mental and physical recovery and attitude helped me get back on the saddle (excuse the pun) and i'm so glad I did.
What was a highlight of the challenge?
The event organisers were fantastic, the Skyline team were supportive, fun and made sure we were all fed and watered at every stop. Cycling with completely random people who each have their own story to tell for the charity they are raising money for was so inspiring. My biggest highlight was seeing the Eiffel Tower on the last day and having the biggest support team to help me celebrate at the end, it was very emotional.
Tell us about the four days?
Our challenge began bright and early from Crystal Palace heading south towards the coast, through the beautiful Kent countryside before reaching the famous white cliffs of Dover. From here we caught the ferry to Calais for our first overnight stop. This was a 95 miles cycling day – I found it extremely tough. Day 2 we cycled 75 miles through picturesque countryside from Calais to Abberville, stopping for lunch in the most gorgeous châteaux. Day 3 and 70 miles of cycling to go - I’m now 100% feeling pain and emotion, our route this morning followed the river Somme out of Abbeville. We finish the day in Beauvais whose market square is a real highlight with several of the buildings dating from the twelfth to sixteenth centuries, we’d know as we got very lost and circled it a few times! Our final day of cycling was 60 miles which now feels like a walk in the park! Stunning countryside, a picturesque backdrop for our lunch by the River Seine, we follow the river down through the suburbs until we reach the Bois de Boulogne – the most significant park in Paris. We then have a short ride along the famous wide boulevards of Paris, passing the Arch de Triumph before reaching our finishing point at the Eiffel Tower.
What was the hardest thing about the challenge?
Personally I think there were three things …
1 - Leaving my children who are only 2 and 4 years old for five days was very very hard.
2 – Wishing my dad was going to be at the finish line liked he’d hoped. We face-timed instead and he had a hospital party which my godmother organised so it worked out fine.
3 – The hills… I thought of Kent and France as nice and flat. Think again… the hills were simply horrific!
How fit do you have to be to take part? Would you recommend it to others?
If I can do it anyone can do it, you just have to have positive mental attitude, put your mind to it and try and train as much as possible. Oh and padded shorts are a must. I’d 100% recommend it – it’s something I will never forget.
Can you sum up your entire experience for us?
Emotional, hard, fun, inspiring … the list could go on and on.
What has the outcome been/how much have you managed to raise for Bowel Cancer UK?
I’m overwhelmed by the support we have had, and would like to thank EVERYONE who has donated to Bowel Cancer UK. So far we have raised over £6,500 and I’ve even raised £500 for the neuro rehab hospital who are looking after my dad at the moment.
I’m very grateful for everyone’s support and without it I would never have made it to Paris.