In 2012 our ex-director Matt Furniss cycled from London to Paris, and then he did it again in 2013! Not only did he achieve this incredible feat twice but he is also did as an adventure leader, taking on the role to support his fellow students fundraising and to head up the expedition cross country. This year London to Paris will be bigger and better than ever. With the option of fundraising for Action Against Hunger or Breast Cancer Campaign and a very achievable £950 target, everyone can get involved! Unsure whether or not to take part? Well read about Matt’s experience below and it might just change your opinion…
The night before London 2 Paris, I wasn’t too sure what to expect, I’d done a couple of training rides but nothing more than about 10 miles. Can I actually do this? Will everyone else be quicker than me? What if I get a puncture? Is my bike good enough? Should I have bought clip in pedals? These were all questions going through my head, but looking back there was absolutely no need to worry. The three days ahead would turn out to be absolutely unbelievable and the support you were given throughout the challenge was first class.
The first day started with small groups of riders setting off, onto the London roads. As we left Crystal Palace there was an air of excitement radiating from the group coupled with a general fear of not knowing what to expect from the next three days. Over the course of the day everyone started to form small riding groups, often decided by the speed at which individuals wanted to cycle and this saw a fantastic camaraderie develop between similar types of people. There was a very difficult climb on the way up to lunch, but that was the hardest bit of the whole three day cycle, so once we’d done that, it was all downhill from there. An undulating afternoon cycle down to Easthaven saw us onto the Ferry and well on our way to France.
The second day was our ‘chill-out’ day and was a real chance to enjoy the amazing countryside that we cycled through. I thought the long cycling trains that developed on the virtually empty french roads were one of the highlights of the whole experience. We were spurred on by local French people in small villages along the way and it really added to the authenticity of the trip. We spent the second night in a lovely hotel in the middle of rural France ready to make our assault on Paris on the final day.
Our third and final day started extremely early to ensure that everyone made it into Paris in good time. The first half of the day continued as the second day finished, pedalling through lovely french countryside and you get your final lunch before you descend into the chaos of city cycling. Much like London, the outskirts of Paris cover a huge area and before long the roads started to busy up and the endless vista of green fields started to be broken up by larger villages and towns. The final push in to Paris was the most enjoyable cycle of the trip. The busy roads added to the excitement and admiring Paris from your bike was a completely different way to see such a diverse city. Finally, after 200 miles we reached the Champagne moment of cycling up to the Eiffel Tower as a team. It was an amazing feeling to have completed such an iconic challenge with friends and has given me so many lasting memories.
I absolutely loved my experience of London to Paris, in fact I enjoyed it so much that I did it again in 2013. It is such an accessible challenge and as long as you can ride a bike I would implore you to consider taking it on. A trip to Paris on your bike is the perfect way to start off your summer and the money you raise for charity along the way only adds to the sense of personal achievement.
Grab your bike, dig out the lycra and book your place on London to Paris 2014 now!
For more info about the London to Paris expedition and to sign up you can check out the website: https://studentadventures.co.uk/adventures/london_to_paris_bike_ride
Or you can contact our Challenges Exec member, Rob Clewlow, at the Karnival e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Matt Furniss