Paris Paris!!

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Day 4 – Vernon to Paris and the Eiffel Tower!!

Stats for the day:

Total miles : 64
Total hours on bike: 5:45
Total Punctures: 0
Total crashes : 0
Geographical embarrassemnents: 1
Total beers en route : 1

Today began cooler and overcast which was welcome after the heat of the last few days! Dom the mechanic had taped the dodgy wheel to within an inch of its life, so we set off cautiously.. Hoping we wouldn’t spend all the glory day in a mess of inner tubes and chain grease!!
And so.. We promptly got lost! Luckily about 12 of us all got lost together so we formed a mini peloton and managed to navigate ourselves back onto the right route so the delay was minimal – but our reputation as attention seekers appeared to be cemented! our Mini Peloton was now the place to be and we all stuck together for the rest of the ride – taking in the sights and finally stopping at a cafe for a well earned cafe au lait break!
It was a great ride in – the mood and spirits high. a few climbs stuck in to remind us that we were cyclists and some lovely descents and straights on which to have a good mess about.. we regrouped at the Hippodrome just outside the city center and Mike finally got his beer!!
So then 73 of us rode en masse into Paris! A car in front and at the rear with flashing lights! Up the Avenue Foch, around the Arc de Triomphe and down the champs d’elysee to the Place de la Concorde! we crossed the Seine and arrived at our final destination! The Eiffel Tower!!!!
Not one crash, not one puncture… The last day we cracked it!
Total Ride was 267 miles from London to Paris.
It’s been a ride – in every sense of the word! I have loved some part of every day.. I have so emjoyed being back on my bike.. I have totally revelled in finally being better than mike at something ( although…by Day 4 I reckon he had pretty much got the measure of me!!!). The hills, the descents, the peloton mates.. Even the punctures had their own je ne sais quoi..
Mike has enjoyed himself.. It’s been hard – but he has never been afraid of hard work.. I am not sure this has turned him into a cycling fanatic.. But if I asked to him to go again – he would be up for it.
And mostly – the reasons we all rode. There have been so many stories over the last few days.. So many great charities and hearts being poured out on the road to Paris. There were ladies pushing themselves way beyond their supposed physical capacities, some people who managed it on mountain bikes (!) and one lady with terminal cancer who was riding on her 2 year diagnosis anniversary. she had been given 2-5 years to live – and was riding triumphantly whilst raising a very hearty 2 fingered salute to her cancer..
So a huge thanks to everyone who has supported us.. You have been as much a part of our ride as we have ourselves. Every penny you sponsored us, kept those pedals turning!!

PS – at the end of trip awards.. Guess who won the “chatterbox” award!! Poor Mike… I talked the whole way up all those hills! He is truly earned the sponsorship in more than just the cycling!!!!

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PUNCTURE!!!!

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Day 3 – Rouen to Vernon

Stats for the day:
Total Miles 60
Total Ride Time – no idea as we were so long on the side of the road!!

Total inner tubes changed – 8
Crashes – 1
Wasp stings – 1

Well.. What a day… this was a beautiful day to ride, glorious weather and 60 relatively flat fast miles along the banks of the Seine….. BUT NO!!!!!!!
By the first stop I had already lost mike to the first puncture of the day ( not his!!) – he was playing Good Samaritan on this one.
But by the second ride Mike had started his roll of punctures.. And so it continued.. late into lunch as we were up to inner tube no 4( 2 mike, 2 Gordon)
After lunch the misery continued with another 3 punctures for Mike.. That’s a puncture for every ten miles we rode!
Things got so bad the mechanic had to drive behind us , as Mike was popping tubes every mile!!!
We finally rolled into the hotel at gone 6:30pm – a good hour after even the last rider!
The upshot is .. He needs a new wheel – so as we can’t get one of those before we leave for Paris… There has been a lot of patching up going on. Extra rim tape, a lining of old inner tubes and some tinkering with the spokes will get him through the final day.

So a day of very mixed emotions – it felt like hardly any real “riding” was done – let’s hope for a fair wind and good wheels tommorrow
Roll on Paris

To Rouen – the city of a thousand red lights!

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Day 2 – Portsmouth to Rouen

Stats for the day!

4am alarm call…. AGAIN!!!
4:45 am – arrive at Ferry terminal
12 noon – depart Le Harve
Total Miles: 63
Total Ride time: 5hours 40 mins (to include one puncture and a small crash!)

OMG… Someone lied and told me that 63 miles was easier than 80.. Well that’s most definately not true of our ride today!
The second obscenely early start of the trip.. Although as we still have a baby, this was the one part of this trip that we felt adequately prepared for!!
One small dose of seasickness later and we rolled out into Le Harve full of Joie de Vivre… Which soon rapidly disappeared into a hill profile to make your eyes water and a really strong headwind!
Yesterday we climbed 3800ft far more easily than the 3200ft today.. As today we had a headwind to rival Lanzarote blowing us backwards! However we employed “rule 5” of the cyclists code to great effect today and the hills didn’t beat us. We did need a few “foot down” moments but this time – no walking!
Mike chose an opportune moment to puncture – which made us late for lunch and changing a tyre in 29 degrees plus ain’t fun!
After lunch I hit a brick and miraculously stayed upright. Not so Mike … Another “pedal moment” saw him on the side again – he has decided that cycling is indeed a stupid sport….Hmmm!!!!!
Rouen is the city of a thousand red traffic lights! Due to various technical and signage issues we were very late in tonight and we hit the city during rush hour – and then promptly rode the slowest 5 miles ever as there is a traffic light every 50 yds!
Still we are here. We have only just been fed at 10pm.. We hurt, some of us more than others.. But tommorrow looks an easier day with only one big gradient to climb and 57 miles to ride along the seine!
Mike is knackered. I am not far behind!
Fingers crossed for no punctures, chains falling off, bricks leaping into our path.. And a tailwind for tommorrow please!

Day 1 – smashed it!!!

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Day 1 – Croydon to Portsmouth

The stats for the day!

4am alarm call!
7am – hit the road from Croydon
Total miles: 80
Total ride time: 5 hrs 30 mins and 14 sec
Crashes – 3
Ice baths – 2

Well that was ridiculously hard today – but I think we gave a good account of ourselves! A very slow ride out of Croydon in the rush hour meant the first 25 miles took over 2 hours! In that first 2 hours, Mike managed to fall off 3 times at Junctions.. It’s ok to laugh – he still is!
However – some small pedal adjustments were clearly neccessary!! Duly made – and no more crashes!
The route, once out of town, was beautiful if VERY hilly! Lots of long climbs and sharp gravelly descents. Some cracking hills at 16% and 12% according to the road signs! We didn’t need to be told to get in low gear!!
And then there was “heartbreak hill” that arrived at about 63 miles in… I have never been defeated by a hill before – but I had to walk the final ascent. To be fair, most of our group were finding it tough – so many walkers on this bit!
Anyhoo.. We are here!

Just rinsing off the grime of the road .. And then down for bike maintainence and food! There had better be Cake!!!!

Twas the night before…

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Twas the night before bike ride and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even the mouse
The bikes were parked by the front door with care
In hopes that a passport soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of Paris danced in their heads
And Chris in her bike shorts and I in my cap
Had just settled our brains for the last nights nap
When suddenly it struck me about what we were doing
Riding to Paris no longer seems such a shoo in….
Its quite a long way I exclaimed with a shout
Chris laughed and wondered what all the fuss was about!

“Its only 4 days we spend in the saddle
It can’t be that bad, its a great way to travel
300 miles to raise 3000 pounds
1 think that sounds like a good deal all round
After all the fundraising the ride is a doddle
No one will care if you ride with a wobble!
The money is banked, we ae ready to go
Our clothes are all packed, lets start up this show!
You HAVE done some training, been out on the road
My turbo has seen a good heavy load
The kids are excited to see us complete
The NDCS needs funds from the cakes baked so sweet
Remember why we set out on this path
To benefit deaf kids and help them to laugh
Riding the bike is symbolic you see
It gives you the chance to see how Millie feels
Its hard to hear as you pedal along
Straining for sounds as the wind takes our song
And thats how our daughter heard every day
Catching at noises, not hearing all we say
Can’t hear a car, a plane or our bike
I can’t imagine just what thats like…
But she’s tough, this deaf kid of ours
She’s teaching us a thing or two, every day, every hour
But now with her funky cool purple new aids
We are getting past this deafness blockade
I see this bike ride as a bit like our life
A little uncomfortable, a bit of strife
Possibly not something we ever considered
But infinitely amazing, a good challenge I figured
If she can tackle each day with a smile
Then we can put up with a sore bum for a while!!
We can’t let our sponsors down, we took all their money
We owe them the right of seeing us walking funny
So onwards to Portsmouth, and further to France
Our bikes are ready – its time to advance!

So I rested my head on my pillow to sleep
Preparing to ride for most of the week
My passport in hand, not going out of my sight –
Happy Bike ride to all, and to all a good night!!!

List time… Fundraising… TICK!!!!!

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And breathe…

Last fundraiser done!! I think there were 35 kids in my back yard this week… thats a lot of kids!! Multiply that by the amount of sugar consumed and that gives you a noise and chaos equation! Luckily there was only one casualty – Sadie who took a nose dive off our trampoline! but in the nature of 3rd children she was soon back up and at it… the promise of “choc choc” may have helped slightly!

So – thats it.. all our fundraising events done. I cant even begin to contemplate how many cakes I have baked over the last few months.. or how many people have turned up to support us in raising the HUGE amount of £3000 – I think that we are now over target after Garden Fields Reception Tea Party which is totally wonderful! A trip to the bank over the weekend should confirm where things now stand – but if my very tired brain has added up right — then I think we have done it!

So THANK YOU!!! to everyone who has eaten and drunk, bought raffle tickets and baby clothes, rented table space, raided piggy banks.. the list is endless. THANK YOU!!

But – every day I hear something else that makes me know that there has been good reason for us tapping you all up for money!! Even today as I was preparing yet more cake – another friend was off for further tests on her childs hearing.
This money will help – every cake we have eaten has been all for the good!!!

So – only the small matter of riding to Paris now..

Time…..

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Time waits for no man .. and this week that has been made patently clear!
We leave for Paris in 16 days.. yes ..16 days! I think we are reasonably ready to go!

Mr Smith has been out on his (my) bike – and he isnt finding the actual pedalling too hard. Co-ordinating riding and getting a drink is proving tricky and watching him wobble about is certainly pretty funny!! Maybe I should check what he is putting in those water bottles of his!

Me and my “bike shed” continue our special relationship! Its so hard to get any decent amounts of time to get out on the road so I am stationed on the turbo with back episodes of “one born every minute” to keep me motivated! Its not perhaps the best choice of viewing material as I have a feeling my nether regions may be reminded of the pain of childbirth by the end of this little jaunt!
injuries wise.. i seem to be just about holding together- I am not any worse at least – so thanks to the magic tape of Mr Jack – I may just make it Paris without my leg falling off!

This weekend has seen me back up in St Andrews at my 20 year school reunion. 20 YEARS!!! Now that really does make me feel old.. as does the fact that it has taken me 20 years to fully appreciate quite how lucky I was at school. The girls of my childhood have grown into amazing ladies with so many stories to tell and support to offer. We have may have trodden different paths but the friendships of 20 years ago seemed as strong as ever as we were running down the back stairs of our boarding house and out onto big field. A wonderful nostalgic weekend – rounded off perfectly with an early morning run across the West Sands (think Chariots of Fire .. its where it was filmed!). That is perhaps the biggest sign of us growing up.. this run was entirely of our own choosing.. Mrs Graham would have been proud!

I would wish all of this for Millie (and all my kids) – to have this amazing life, full of rich experiences. Some good – some not so. But entirely real in all their glory. And it is perhaps this that makes me a little sad when I think of my pesky middle child. So much of memory is in the ears and eyes. The sounds (and smells) can take you right back. The noise as we clattered down the back stairs this weekend – I could easily have been 15 again just from the sounds of our shoes on a stone staircase. She doesn’t have that – her ears are full of synthetic noise. Her own ears put her in a world of half sentences and constant catching up. My baby points at planes well before she can see them. My older daughter still can’t.

But that is why we are riding .. because there will be more challenges ahead and she will need the support of many people along the way. Being a teenager brings many frustrations without any additional issues.. The NDCS provides support and advice for the whole family – and hopefully will help us to support Millie as these additional challenges come!

But in the meantime – my saddle is calling and time is marching once again…. AD VITAM!!!!