Hello again. So, yes, we’re cycling from London to Paris. Again.
This will be my third year taking part in the Bloodwise London to Paris bike ride. It starts September 14th from Eltham Palace in London, arriving at Dover that evening. One ferry trip later, the group arrives at Calais in France. Day two sees the trip from Calais to Abbeville, Day 3 from Abbeville to Beauvais and then Day 4 from Beauvais into Paris.
The experience of riding into Paris, up the Champs Elysees, around the Arc de Triomphe and down to the Eiffel Tower is, well, difficult to describe. Sufficeth to say, there is a lot of crying and hugging. So much so, that one rider (who shall remain nameless…) threw his arms around me in Paris and, sobbing, yelled into my ear ‘I’ve never [sob] hugged a Man United fan before’.
Everyone there has been, in some way, touched by cancer. Folks have either lost someone to cancer, beaten cancer or are supporting someone who is battling it currently. Some people are doing, or have done, all three. Getting into Paris is a shocking and even overwhelming release: the physical pain, the fatigue, the beauty of the city, the memories of those who have left us – the ones we want to ring and scream ‘Hey! I did it!’ to. Despite my very best attempts to hold it together, I got off my bike in Paris last year, found a quite corner and cried my eyes out. There’s a fair chance it’ll happen again this year.
That said, it isn’t all wailing and crying. London to Paris has exposed me to some of the most ridiculous and downright hilarious conversation I have ever witnessed. My personal favourite was a game of ‘Cancer Top Trumps’ I overheard between Torq refills at a rest stop.
‘Oh yeah, bone marrow – was nasty…’
‘Bone Marrow? Bone Marrow? I had testicular cancer mate’
‘Pff. I had that. No biggie. Got over it quick enough. Then I had a stroke. That was a bastard’
‘Stroke, yeah? Call that an illness do you?’
Anyway, here’s a flavour of what happens on the ride:
If you like, you can make donations to Bloodwise and raise money for cancer research at this link.
Photography by Dave Hayward.