In June of last year I had the privilege of working as a crew member on the inaugural London | Paris: Be Unstoppable cycling challenge. For a snapshot of how the event left the crew feeling it would be hard to top our very own Jonathan Cox’s post-event blog, a remarkable slice of eloquence served up in a week which saw us all still reeling with a fuzzy-headed mixture of exhaustion and elation. Safe to say it was undoubtedly the best event I’ve been a part of and one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life so far.
As for the cyclists, I think this video best conveys the lasting impression the ride clearly left many of them with. Three days tackling the hills of Kent and northern France provided the perfect setup for a spectacular culmination, as the riders entered Paris and formed one huge peloton to make their way up the spectacular cobbled streets to the Arc de Triomphe, down past the Eiffel Tower and across the finish line into the Stade Emile Anthoine. There were euphoric and emotional scenes as the group celebrated their achievement and many of them reflected on their poignant personal reasons for completing the challenge.
The ride has sparked a real community amongst 2013 alumni and those who’ve signed up for this year’s edition, with riders joining together in online discussions of their training and fundraising – sportives, sweepstakes, static bike challenges and more. It’s seen several groups re-join us for a second year in the saddle, such as Team Daloia, who’ve extended their challenge for 2014 by cycling from their native Cardiff to London as a prologue for the ride. There’s also the likes of LLR Team Essex, who’ve formed their very own cycling collective off the back of London | Paris 2013. And lest anyone should forget, the ride also gave rise to this YouTube gem.
So how to top last year? Well, we’re going bigger, with more riders already signed up than last year’s total, and will have nearly twice as many as in 2013 once the event reaches capacity. This will present a new logistical challenge, but one that we go into with the benefit of experience and hindsight. Most of the crew were first-timers last year, but being able to picture how everything works provides a big confidence boost, and should allow us to make those little tweaks that make the whole thing run all the more smoothly this time round.
The growth in rider numbers also offers an exciting chance to keep expanding that community and cement the ride’s reputation. With motorcycle outriders providing full rolling road closures throughout France and sports physios, mechanical back up, ride captains and support vehicles all the way to Paris, our riders can look forward to a cycling event that’s exceptional in its own right, and unique in that all the money raised will help improve the lives of blood cancer patients.
We still have a limited number of spaces available for this year’s ride, taking place between Thursday 19 and Monday 23 June. For detailed information and to sign up now, click here: London | Paris: Be Unstoppable 2014.