Firstly a huge thanks to those who very kindly donated money to the Stroke Association Jersey via my Just Giving page, it’s very much appreciated by me, and of course by the Association itself. I thought I would write a few lines about the trip as my thank you to those who donated and of course anyone else who is interested.
The four days away on the Bedell Stroke Association Challenge seems to be over very quickly after the many weeks of training. The main conversation on the way home with Condor was how to keep it (the exercise) going and the fitness levels up.
We started the trip on Tuesday from Jersey on a lovely sunny day, all the final check lists completed, plenty of chamois cream packed! The downside was we weren’t due at the hotel in Paris until midnight, as it turned out it was 2am before we got to our rooms and asleep. Unfortunately we were woken at 6am for a nice early start!
Unperturbed, we made our way across Paris to the Eiffel Tower that added an extra eight miles to the ride. The photos were taken at the Tower to prove we were there and then we were off through the interesting Parish traffic, an interesting challenge on its own.
Once out of Paris, we began to make our way to the first of the hills:) Some were easier than others, but they certainly let everyone know, they were on a challenge, not a holiday. I managed to add an extra eight miles on to the route on the first day by getting lost, on the up side it was a very picturesque detour. Once at the hotel on the first evening at Evreaux and dinner eaten, it was very early to bed for most for a very deep sleep and another early start.
A fairly cool start to the second day, with some fog, but once it was burnt away by the sun, gave way to the most beautiful day of cycling and thankfully less hills, but a much longer ride that day, a total of 94 miles in all. We were all getting to know each other by now and a good camaraderie was building with the group.
The third day was a bright sunny day, with a shorter ride of around 74 miles, (depends who’s mile-ometer you looked at) and a very interesting ride around the D Day landing beaches and a great view of the Mulberry Harbour. Most of us, stopped to take in the view and visit the 360 cinema that told the story of the invasion.
We were told the final day would be a nice easy day of 82 miles and nice and flat from St Lo to St Malo. Well actually it turned out to be a morning of what seemed like none stop hills. Cristina our Discover Adventure leader told us it was better we didn’t know in advance, having said that after a very nice cyclist lunch we made our way down into the flat lands that took us to St Malo. If you get the chance to do any cycling in Brittany, I would strongly recommend it, the small agricultural roads off the main roads are a marvellous experience, especially when the sun is shining, which is just what it did for us.
We all arrived at St Malo by 6pm, in time for a celebratory drink and a very relaxing enjoyable evening at the hotel.
The pupils and amazing teachers (Sir and Miss) from Le Rocquier School were totally amazing, a real credit to themselves, their school and families, nothing but smiles and fun from them. They also raised an amazing £18,000 for the Stroke Association.
If you have every considered doing a challenge like this but put it off, my advice is don’t put it off any longer, its personally very rewarding in many ways, you’ll make lots of new good friends and have great memories to carry with you. The biggest benefit is of course helping to raise money and awareness for a worthwhile charity, in this case the Stroke Association Jersey.