We are a group of friends who enjoy cycling together - every three years we find a new way to torture ourselves on bikes and then decide to get sponsored so that people can watch us suffer.
So after LEJOG (Lands End to John O’Groats) in 2004 and LeKnees (The Atlantic to The Mediterranean along and over the Pyrenees) in 2007, we are now asking you to support our L’Express ride: Paris to Venice in 2010.
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
The L'Express team came back from Venice to Paris on the overnight sleeper service on Saturday night, which was an interesting experience. First the bikes had to be dismantled and parceled, which went fairly smoothly in a quiet corner in Venice station (yes, there is just 1 quiet corner there, and we found it!).
We had booked a 6 birth couchette which, as there were 6 of us, meant it was a bit snug. Roy and Jeremy's bikes fitted in a space at the end of the top bunks which goes over the passage way, but John C decided that the best way to make the space work was to sleep with his bike! We're not sure what his other half will think of this devotion to his machine, but we have to report that, despite being scrunched onto half the width of the bunk, John actually seems to have had the best night's sleep of all the adults. The little supporters, true to form, slept like logs, Jeremy and Blogging Support were in the bottom bunks which are a bit odd having the seat head-rests dangling over them, and didn't do so well in the restricted space, possibly also due to being nearest the footwear... Roy meanwhile, managed to sleep on and off, and, being in the middle bunk, was able to enjoy a wonderful view out of the window as we sped through the night, and then as the sun rose over the French countryside, bathed in morning mist.
Arriving in Paris to a beautiful sunny morning, the guys were able to re-assemble their bikes in the sunshine on the raised concourse outside the station.
All machines survived unscathed, though Jeremy's mudguard was a bit squished and needed surgery. Cyclists and walkers then split up to travel via pedal power and Metro into the centre of the city. The team had a great time pedaling along the Seine as the river-side roads are closed to motorised vehicles on Sundays, and as a consequence are fully of happy, un-stressed cyclists, roller bladers and runners. We were aiming to meet up a cafe that Jeremy and Blogging Support had enjoyed on the evening before we'd left on the trip. Unfortunately we were too early for it to be open, so we moved to an adjacent cafe which looked splendid, having retained it's late 19th Century fixtures and fittings, and did a lovely coffee and croissant breakfast (second breakfast for some of the group!). We then met up again at Gare du Nord with the support team taking a quick detour past Notre Dame to give the little supporters a little culture. Despite being given a "this is what you are looking at, this is what it is called, you might have heard of it because of this famous story..." talk as we past the great Cathedral, by the time we met the team at Gare du Nord, the junior members of the party had no memory what so ever of what they had seen, and were only interested in the possibility of an ice-cream!
So - the team finally broke up, as Roy and John C hadn't managed to get on the same Eurostar as Jeremy and co. All had a safe journey back, and are now looking forward to sharing tales of their exploits with anyone who's interested, especially if they are interested in donating to our good causes as well.