Sunday, July 19, 2015

London to Paris (by road bike)

Yep that's right, on with the Lycra, shave (I mean wax!!!) the legs, and off to London to participate in the 2015 London to Paris bike ride, hosted by Hotchillee (www.hotchillee/londrestopari).
I was lucky to convince a good friend of mine, Tim, to join me on the challenge. A challenge not only to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis, but also a ride to challenge our mental and physical ability.

Three days

All money raised will go to the Sydney Children's Hospital Randwick, to support the Cystic Fibrosis Unit.

Whilst on our adventure, we will hopefully stop and experiment the local food of both London and France, and do a little sight seeing and visit the Queen.

Day 1
London to the port in Folkestone (England).

161km to reach the port to cross the channel to Calais (France).
5am start and off we go. 
400 riders in total, broken into 6 groups. 6 ride captains in each group to guide and assist all riders. 
Average speed in my group (group 6) was approx 24-26km/hour. 

For those of you that can read a bike chart, this is what Day 1 looked like, highlighting some of the greatest hills (i called them mountains).

Day 2
Calais to Ameins

After a good nights rest in Calais, 38 degrees C, we managed to get a later start of 9am. We enjoyed a good typical French bistro type meal the night before, followed by a breakfast buffet filled with French cheese, pastries, and hot fresh baguettes. Yum, heaps of food, but a huge ride ahead of us, so cautiously we ate very little.

This was the most enjoyable part of the ride. Lots of rolling roads, farms, and little villages, you just new you were in North of France.

I could not fault the event organisers (HotChillee) at all. This was the most organised ride for amateurs, I have ever come across. All roads were blocked, traffic was stopped, cold water and food was always at our disposal, as well as full time bike mechanics, physio's, coffee carts, and fantastic people including the ride captains. 
The fellow riders were also such beautiful people. Riders from all parts of the world. Italy, Germany, England, France, South Africa, Ireland, and Australia.
Each rider with their own story and reason behind the challenge. 
Each day the companionship and comradery grew stronger.

Day 3
To Paris we go................

Ameins to Paris. 176km.

This was definitely a challenging day. The temp remained constant at 35 degrees C. By lunch time we were exhausted. A few more mountains climbed, a little bit of soul searching, and questioning your self, "will I make it". 

This was the part of the ride that made me think back to the ride briefing, and thought about why they asked those to raise their hand if they are first time riders, with a cheeky grin!!

Well, soon enough we stopped for lunch, and lucky for group 6, we were the first to roll in. This meant a good 2 hour lunch break. Enough time for a massage, feast on a cheese and prosciutto baguette, a cold drink, and a apple pastry (tarte tatin) followed by a nanna nap. WOW, talk about recharging the batteries.

From here only 50km to Paris, and from here all 400 riders gathered to ride off together in the biggest peloton I have ever seen. A monumental peloton of riders that stretched for almost 2.5km in length, all the way into Eiffel Tower in Paris.

As we commenced riding into our last segment of out tour, all of a sudden the carbohydrates from lunch kicked in, and the adrenaline in our body began to rise. Our legs found a new source of energy, and all the aches and pain of the last 3 days suddenly disappeared.  The end of our life time challenge was getting closer. There was no turning back from here. You now felt that achievement was very near. Paris here we come. 

There are only two rides that the French authorities have approved to close off the busiest road into Paris (the "champ elysees"), and that included our ride (HotChillee), and the other is the Tour de France. 
As we felt the road change from smooth tar to a bumpy vibrating rough surface, we new that we were now riding on ancient cobblestones and before us was the  "arc de triomph", with only meters to the finish line, the Eiffel tower.

... and there it was. The "pièce de résistance". Only meters away. The finish line. The Eiffel Tower. For most of us, emotion took the better of us, and the feeling of achievement was like an overwhelming moment in life, when one acknowledges satisfaction. 

As the finish drew nearer, nothing more could bring a tear to a mans eyes, than his own family there at the finish line, flagging hand written posters like your some superstar in centre court at Wimbledon. 

....and finally, 3 days of full on pedaling, all of the years training, and preparation up Razorback hill, a personal record was achieved. A feeling of achievement was met with kisses, group hugs, and big football like slaps on the back. The smell of Moet replaced the bottles of energy drinks, and the sounds of corks popping, replaced the dreaded sound of a tyres blowing. 


A big cheer to the bunch of beautiful people we met on our journey. 
Couldn't have done it without you. 

Group 6

Only good friends understand mateship.

and why else would I have persevered to the finish line. Thankyou to my beautiful wife that gives me my motivation and energy to continue to achieve in life. 
And to my girls, who believe in  their dad. 

To donate to the "cycling for cystic fibrosis" appeal click on

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Lyon - Time for a Pastry Lesson In Lyon (france)

Lyon - France

Well second to Italy for the best pastries and crème fresh would be not other than France.
First place to visit would be Lyon. South of Paris. One needs to learn how the French bake their beautiful pastries, such as the tarte tartin, and the chocolate éclairs, as well as their famous flans, filled with custard and fresh strawberries.
Hopefully I will bring back some new recipes and tips to add to my baking blog.