Coffee Stop

The London-Paris 2011 on Terry Smith's Blog

Wednesday 06 July 2011

On 23-26th June I took part in the annual London to Paris (L2P) bike event as apart of a team from Tullett Prebon.

It is three days of riding from London to Paris in stages:

Stage 1: London to Dover
Stage 2: Calais to Amiens
Stage 3: Amiens to Paris

The event is organised by HotChillee and is billed as “THE Professional Event for Amateurs”. It was certainly very professionally organised. Riders were split into five groups based on their pace. Each group was led by a pace car - a Skoda Superb estate. Skoda is now the official support vehicle of the Tour de France which strikes me as good brand rebuilding by associating with this increasingly popular sport. There were motorcycle outriders with each group. They organised virtual rolling rode closures in the UK and actual ones in France where they take their cycling seriously - stopping the traffic at traffic lights, junctions and roundabouts so that we could ride through without stopping. And at the rear the support van for punctures, water, food etc.

One of the particular (surely “rare”? Ed) pleasures in my group was the outrider with a magnificent handlebar moustache (no pun intended) who had a sound system on his motorcycle on which he played an eclectic mix of Irish folk music, what sounded like Moroccan music and rock & roll to lift our spirits as we rode along.

Riding with us were Stephen Roche, who won the Tour in 1987, Nigel Mansell and Will Carling.

We rode about 170kms/100+ miles per day which is a good distance to ride, but the real killer was doing it again the next day, and again.

On Day Three the racing stopped at lunchtime by which time we had done 120kms/75 miles+ and we then rode into Paris as a large single group. It was quite an experience. There was a warm reception from many Parisians such as the bride and groom from a wedding party who stopped to cheer us on, and to ride around the Arc de Triomphe with the roundabout closed to other traffic on a Saturday afternoon was something special. It was quite an emotional end, especially for me as one of my fellow team members grasped my hand as we were is sight of the Eiffel Tower and riding over the cobbles. The result was a bruised bum and elbow and broken sunglasses.

Then after three days of existing on energy drinks, cereal bars, gels and bananas it was off for a long awaited steak frites and lots of sleep.
The event in being screened on Eurosport on Saturday 2nd July at 21:15 if anyone is interested.

My thanks to everyone who helped me get from London to Paris including Sven and his staff at Hot Chillee, the ride captains in my group - Murph and Ian Lobley who runs 3i’s Asset Management Group in his day job, my team mates and colleagues, and of course the outrider with the sound system.

As I finished I echoed the words of Sir Stephen Redgrave “If I say I’m going to do this again next year, will someone please shoot me?” But next year the ride will mark the 25th anniversary of Stephen Roche’s Tour win, and already the memory of the pain is beginning to fade……………