Kevin's London to Paris 2015
Thought's on a ride
Thought's on a ride
I’ve taken some time thinking about this blog rather than rushing in on my return. Today would have been Naomi’s 22nd birthday and even more than ever she has been in my thoughts. Would she be proud of what I’d done, of that I’m sure but would I have done this if she was still here? I would like to think I would but as with all life and our actions are seemingly random chance so without her as my motivation would I have taken a different road?
I’m still on a high from the most emotional four days of my life. Each days experience was different and so very difficult to capture in an article like this but suffice to say they will live a lifetime in your heart. You can never prepare yourself for it, those who have completed similar challenges will I’m sure be nodding here. Arriving on Thursday morning and seeing everyone for the first time as the peleton starts to form up, and then riding away from loved ones a truly amazing experience
With Naomi riding tandem in my heart I rode up and down some massive hills, through a torrential thunderstorm and along fantastic countryside in the company of 250 likeminded people finally riding into Paris on closed roads round the Arc de Triomphe and down the Champs Elysee to The Eifel Tower. Regrettably I can’t tell you much of this last experience and sight as I was in tears from the moment I turned right and saw the Arc de Triomphe come into view, to be fair I’d shed more than a tear or two the whole way.
In four days you don’t get the opportunity to speak to everyone but from the conversations I did have, from the fellow brummie who has Lymphoma but is on a watch and wait protocol who rode the Ironman event in Wales then from Swansea to London on Monday to Wednesday to be on the line Thursday, to the 17 year old who has already battled Leukaemia three times [and helped push his dad up some of the hills] to William a polio victim who has also beaten Leukaemia and flies in each year from Singapore to “ride” the tour in his “trolley”, seeing him power along the flats and up most of the hills under his own power is truly amazing, and finally Steve a survivor who led us into Paris where he met his bone marrow donor for the first time each and everyone had their own personal story and reason for being there.
The level of ability was very disparate and there were a number who had clearly misjudged the basic requirements but the fantastic crew made sure that everyone who rode out of Greenwich Park rode into Paris, even if they didn’t ride the whole way. The support and expertise of each and everyone of the support crew meant all we had to do was peddle; they had to worry about logistics. To them all “Chapeau”.
If you haven’t taken the opportunity then take a look at the photos and videos on YouTube [search for Bloodwise] in particular our version of “shake it off”, I didn’t feature vocally, much to my kids joy, but do make a cameo appearance looking a little quizzical at one point.
When trying to think of something different to do as part of my fundraising the Rugby World Cup was starting to get into swing. I had kindly been given a match ball signed by some of the England squad at one of last year’s six Nations’ games and this raised £200 so I thought can I work with this. I had an idea but on most occasions this would have been one of those that never progress, this time though I followed it through after all it was for charity. I wrote to Stuart Lancaster, then England head coach, and asked if the squad would sign one of my L2P ride shirts, and a true gentleman he agreed.
I waited for the shirts to arrive from Bloodwise, desperate to get it off as soon as possible. When they did I thought in for a penny in for a pound and sent two shirts asking if a certain Jonny Wilkinson would sign the other. They all did and these have now been handed over to the charity with pictures of Courtney Lawes and Jonny holding them to be auctioned in early January next year. Thanks to everyone who supported me so far I have raised £4,008 if you count the gift aid.
As I say it is an experience I will never forget and one I hope to repeat, though hopefully with less tears, in the future. If anyone reading this ever get the chance to take on a challenge like this I would urge you to grab it with both hands you will not regret it, just make sure you do some decent training including hill work.
Finally thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your encouragement.