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How do you train for a 3 day ride from London to Paris??

How do you train for a 3 day ride from London to Paris?? Well, it’s over 200 miles distance and therefore an average day will cover about 75 miles or for me anywhere between 6 and 8 hours in the saddle!

My “coach” is in the guise of Rob a friend of many years who is joining me all the way to Paris as well as being navigator, mechanic and I suspect, cajoler when I have a strop! I am hugely indebted to Rob for all his help and his invaluable encouragement. Only thing is, Rob has been cycling (and I mean club level and very well at that) for as long as I’ve known him…oh and he’s over 6 foot tall so several advantages over lil’ ol’ me.

So, the advice from Rob is simple, “you just need as many hours in the saddle as possible!” “Oh right no problem then!!”

A few painful spin classes in the gym later and I was out on the road… complete with new “proper cyclists” cleats… in other words those things you actually clip your feet into. You learn by your mistakes right… well after falling off the bike 3 times (fortunately when the bike was practically stationary) I seem to have learnt! What’s a few bruises amongst friends.

So I’ve picked up the hours a bit, helped by a weekend in Brighton staying at Robs. He dragged me out into Sussex for what turned out to be a really pleasant 50 mile ride….in well under 5 hours. Chuffed and relieved…. I think we were both glad to realise I should be able to go the distance. And it is the distance not a race after all, although we do have a fairly strict timetable to meet with a ferry to catch and then Eurostar per-booked for the return.

Now the strange thing is the legs are fine, even the bum is fine, but all that fresh air just wipes me out and after a day on the bike I can sleep for England.

During the Olympics, my favourite event of every 4 years, I had the perfect excuse to sit on a bike in the gym for several hours at a go… the training was definitely going ok. That said I have avoided rain… please all pray for an Indian summer in September.

…But the real test was Sunday 16th August, fuelled by watching over 7 hours of Olympics on the Saturday I met up with Rob in Brighton and we proceeded to cycle back to London. A journey Rob knew well, made it so much easier as he could point out the potential difficulties (and going down hill with panniers on your bike is, I discovered, quite difficult and quite scary!!!). Getting over the South and North Downs were quite a challenge and I think I got noticeably quieter after about 4 hours in… too tired to even speak – yes even me! We stopped ever so briefly to take on a little food, and within 6 hours we had got to Wimbledon, South London. We went separate ways from there, and I was in the bath with a whole large bar of Green + Blacks within 7 hours of leaving Rob’s house… some 65 miles away. Phew.

Since then the good old British summer, (wettest August on record) has forced me into the gym a bit more than I would have liked but I have managed to graduate to not one, but double spin classes back to back. There was a time back in May when I could barely get through a 45 minute class without looking and feeling terrible!

Less than a fortnight to go and now my biggest fear is the weather. Anyone who knows me knows I hate being cold and I hate being hungry, so the prospect of both at the same time is scaring me – Poor Rob! But the underlying reason why I am doing all this training and giving up annual leave far outweighs any girlie fear!

I have one final big training ride the weekend before departure then I’ll be resting and packing (Very lightly – a challenge in itself for me).

Early Sunday 14th September we will ride from my house in West London to Tower Bridge where we will commence the Two Towers Tour aiming to cover over 200 miles and arrive at the Eiffel Tower the morning of Wednesday 17th.

This is a personal challenge I am driven to complete to give HOPE the best launch possible. I look forward to writing all about it… from a warm study stuffing my face with chocolate!

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