It’s 3pm on Saturday 29th April and a group of 120 cyclists are preparing to embark on the epic challenge of cycling 200 miles from London to Paris in 24 hours.
These are ordinary people with the desire to achieve something extraordinary.
Completing this challenge is an extraordinary achievement requiring physical, mental and emotional strength. I believe there is nothing more powerful and valuable than proving to yourself how strong and incredible you really are. That’s why I organise this event each year.
My website which says “This weekend could change your life" sells out tickets within six months of going on sale. I aim to create a unique, supportive and fun atmosphere with every detail looked after so all the riders have to focus on cycling.
L2P24 2017 FILM:
The challenge is broken up into two legs. The first is the UK leg cycling 70 miles from central London to the coast. The second is the French leg cycling 130 miles from Dieppe to Paris.
There isn’t a cloud in the sky as we roll through quintessentially British villages basking in the glowing evening sunshine. My route is arrowed throughout so riders can go at their own speed, without a Garmin or map and not get lost. Every 30 miles there is a catered feed station to rehydrate, fuel and regroup. My team look after you like you are family, and I ask you to do the same for the people you ride with.
At Folkestone we eat fish and chips and set off for France on the coach.
The next morning departing from Dieppe at 5am is a real challenge. No-one has had any sleep and we are all wary of the big day ahead.
It’s 130 miles to Paris and 12 hours to make it.
We see the first signs of sunrise on the horizon as we ride out of Dieppe in one big peloton of 60 cyclists. Myself and David, Founder of Dirty Wknd aim to keep the group together until the first feed station where a warm breakfast is waiting for us.
As dawn breaks over Northern France, we are cruising along at 18mph. The group is still together. I breathe and make a mental imprint of this moment; this is happening, they are all here, doing this crazy and audacious thing. They believe, I believe in them and together I know we can get everyone there.
Confidence is high when we pull into the breakfast stop with 35 miles in the tank before 8am. Tiredness is already starting to grumble.
Don't hang around too long.
Let’s go folks!
The day continues like this. We ride in big groups, in pairs, small groups and solo. We fight a headwind the whole way.
Tiredness really begins to show once we hit the half way mark. 60 miles to go. We thought the count down to the finish would be the easy part, but in many ways, the challenge has only just begun.
One more hill and it’s a long one. A long, long hill before lunch - our final stop before Paris.
We eat hummous, cheese, ham, bread and fresh watermelon. I down a glass of coke, refill my water bottle and get back on the bike.
22 miles to go
The traffic lights are relentless and really exhausting. At every stop, our bodies complain, heavily. It’s a dull throbbing to begin with, but seems to get worse with each stop. I look behind me, I can see it in your eyes. The tiredness, willing you to stop. I urge you to keep going, but you know you’ve got this, you know we are nearly there, we just have to stay focused.
23 hours since we left London and this is the final hour. Hold on.
You’ve got this.
Suddenly, we see it. The Eiffel Tower in all it’s glory. We ride across the River Seine and arrive right underneath it.
Tears fill my eyes as I am overcome with a sudden rush of emotion. It happened again; this crazy, incredible, life-changing thing that changed my life so many years ago, now I think you understand why I believe in this challenge so much.
This isn’t about me, it’s about you. You have come from all over the world to see if you can do this. To ask yourself the question, “Can I do it? Is it possible?” Every time doubts plagued your mind and your fears set in thinking of all the reasons why you wouldn’t be able to do this, I asked you to ask yourself this, “Why not me?” I asked you to believe and let your inner strength show you the way.
You did it!!!
My Mum is giving out medals and hugs to everyone. I am grateful for her fresh energy. Your families are there too. They’ve come to support you and share in your moment of glory. We all need cheerleaders.
We celebrate with a glass of bubbly and attempt to lift bikes above our heads with the last ounce of strength we can muster. Then more hugs, more tears and selfies.
Why I organise L2P24, what it means to me:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s a Game-Changer. I see you bring your fears, doubts, anxieties, limiting beliefs, loss, tragedy, illness and sadness to the start line. I see how these threaten to hold you back, threaten to overcome you. But there’s something in you that believes there’s another option, that maybe there’s a way YOU can be stronger than them.
You cycle 200 miles in 24 hours and the demands of the challenge strip you to the core. This connects you with who you are and you see the strength, power and true grit that lies in your hands.
You ride through all these obstacles, you ride through the storm that descended on Paris and the busy streets, when you are so tired you can barely remember your name.
You keep riding because you want this more than anything else in the world, because you know what is waiting for you. Pride. Empowerment. Strength.
Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe how you feel when you accomplish this extraordinary challenge. Invincible is more apt.
Thank you to each and every one of you for coming on L2P24! You are all amazing and I can’t wait to see you again in 2018.
This year's film:
I'd like to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to:
Jonathan Friend, my partner in crime who helps me deliver and execute this event with our wonderful team and his meticulous planning. Thank you Janice also, we know how much work you put into this too
Laurance and the Cycle Friendly team who come back year after year to work on this event and bring so much passion, care, and dedication (on little or no sleep) to look after all the riders and help make it a success for everyone.
My amazing Mum who helps me throughout the year create the best event I can and comes to Paris to welcome and congratulate all the riders under the Eiffel Tower.
David and Emma from Dirty Wknd who organise the training ride and supported on the event itself.
Patrick Douetil who took the amazing pictures in this blog.
Rich, Luke and Tom Walder for your filming and production of the annual L2P2 edit.
And finally, to Oakley who provided the sunglasses I gave out as prizes and to Trek, Naked, Whole Earth, Coco Pro and Vivid drinks who provided the goodies in your goody bags.
To everyone who took on this challenge and helped make it amazing, thank you.
Early Bird tickets are now available for 2018 but selling out fast! Email me with any questions, love to see you on the start line next year