Sunday, 9 June 2013

Bike4Good 2013 - memories

Timothy Everest has written up his ride here.

And Dan Cobley from Google sent the following out to his sponsors. It is a great account of the ride :






THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR GENEROSITY

The ride was a huge success. 

Early last Friday afternoon, I and four other Googlers joined the crowd and assembled at the Channel 4 HQ building in central London. The ride was organised in aid of the Duchenne Children's Trust - a charity set up by ITN/C4News employees Emily and Nick whose 5 yr old son has the disease and will not live to see 30 unless a cure is found. 

We watched a moving video about the charity, got a few crazy rousing words from Jon Snow, all in shouted French, and then set off a little after 3pm. We pedaled on the busy, potholed English roads down to Newhaven, the group of 30 odd cyclists naturally splitting into three sub groups once we had escaped London. I found myself in the front group and we set a pretty blistering pace - helped by lovely weather, a bit of a tail wind, and too much competitive energy. 

In Newhaven we stopped for pizza, mountains of pasta, a couple of beers, and then boarded the ferry. Krish had done an amazing job organising everything including negotiating free ferry tickets. In return we had to get a group photo from the ferry company PR guy who did his best to try to be David Bailey in a high viz jacket. 

The ferry ride was far from fragrant with four gel and protein shake-fuelled blokes in a tiny couchette. We were woken at 3:15am (2:15am UK time) to get ready for the next stretch, which started in pitch dark, cold mist on repurposed old railway through a gorgeous forest. 

This was the first of something we would get accustomed to. Lovely smooth, pothole-free roads with barely any traffic and courteous drivers. What a change from England. 

As part of a faster group, we gobbled up the miles, working, peleton-style to conserve energy. Every 40k or so, we stopped to he refueled with porridge, flapjacks and energy bars, by the support truck and to regroup with the other riders. That gave the overall ride a more relaxed feel, even if each cycling stage was pretty brutal with lots of hills and average moving speeds of around 28-30km/hr.

Around midday, in a particularly hilly section, I wished I had not pushed so hard first thing as I struggled to stay with the fast group on the climbs. But I hung on and tried to enjoy the views as we rode. 

About 15km outside Paris we stopped for a last regrouping and awaited the final flourish. The flourish kept us waiting rather too long and got a few of us quite anxious as the remaining minutes of our 24 hours ticked by. 

With about 40 mins to the 24hr mark, the flourish arrived and it was worth waiting for. It roared up in the shape of 3 off-duty police outriders sporting big motorbikes and high viz jackets. One had a moustache you could use to sweep the patio. 

With Emily's jag at the front, hazard lights blinking, and the support truck behind, klaxon blaring, we rode in formation into Paris; the three bikers stopping the traffic at every junction and waving us through. People stopped, looked and waved or cheered as we hared through the red lights, determined to beat the 4pm deadline. 

The final highlight was turning a near-final corner and standing up on the pedals to climb the cobbles of the Champs Elysee up to the Arc do Triomph, just like they do in the Tour de France.


From there is was a short sweep to the Eiffel Tower where we rode in, triumphantly, in 23hrs and 58minutes, for photos, smiles and, of course, a cold beer. Our legs and bums were sore, but we were all beaming. 

The journey back was uneventful. I took the 20:13 Eurostar, pedaled across from St Pancras to Paddington, got the train to Reading, and then pedaled from there the last four, sore miles home - trying to avoid the worst of the English potholes. Back home at 11:15pm, I shared most of a bottle of wine with my wife Zella and then slept very, very well. 

At the end of it, through your generosity, I raised over £5,500. The Google five raised over £20k and the ride overall raised £200k. That will bring a cure for Emily and Nick's son a step closer. 

Thanks again for your support. 

There are some photos and videos of the ride here

All the best

Dan