One of my favourite adventures is cycling from London to Paris in 24 hours, one of the ultimate endurance challenges. My grandmother lives in Paris and after I graduated from university I couldn't afford the Eurostar so I had to find another way. I've now done this ride 3 times and always up for doing it again! There are plenty of companies or charities running this event where you can sign up, raise some money for a great cause and do the event fully supported. If you fancy more of an adventure, organise it on your own - get a few willing adventure buddies together and go for it! Here's how:
How to Cycle from London to Paris in 24 hours:
London to Paris by bike in 24 hours is a challenging yet totally epic ride. It’s a real adventure and an opportunity to push yourself and reap the rewards. Fancy taking on this endurance challenge to cycle across 2 countries in under 24 hours? Now is your chance!
Imagine setting off from Trafalgar Square, London after work on Friday evening, next stop – Paris where steak, frites and beers await you.
After the obligatory pre-ride pictures you will set off and roll through the English countryside and hills as you make your way to the coast. Spend your night grabbing a few well-earned hours of shut-eye on the 4 hour ferry crossing until you land on mainland Europe. Ride your bike through sleepy French towns until the sun comes up. Stop at the French Boulanger for patisseries that have come straight out of the oven. Finally, you arrive at L’Arc de Triomphe and cycle down Les Champs Elysees all within 24 hours before tucking into steak frites and beer. What an unforgettable way to spend the first half of your weekend.
The two most popular routes you can cycle from London to Paris are:
- London – Dover – Calais – Paris 280 miles/450 kms
- London – Newhaven – Dieppe – Paris 200 miles/320 kms
The most achievable route for a 24 hour ride is the Newhaven – Dieppe route described here.
After departing from London it’s 80 miles before reaching Newhaven ferry port. The ferry leaves Newhaven at 11pm and arrives into Dieppe, France at 4am local time.
After grabbing a few hours sleep on the ferry, your body and eyes may feel heavy as you climb onto your bikes and begin to cycle the 120 miles into Paris. It may seem a slightly daunting task but remind yourself that you will make it if you keep on spinning those legs round. You will find a rhythm and pace that suits you and may find yourself entering into a daze. With endurance riding, it is great to zone out so you can give you mind a rest whilst your body does all the work. There’s nothing better than the feeling of looking down at your speedometer and realising that 10 miles have flown past since the last time you looked. In opposition, you will have those hours where time will feel as though it is travelling backwards. You will look at your speedometer and count the miles one by one and feel as though you can’t go on any longer. This is very normal and is one of the lows your will have. The best way to deal with this is to take a 15 minute break, stretch it out, refuel and you will be amazed at revived you feel. Keep on going, it will be worth it!
Remember that it is speed not distance that kills. Most cyclists will maintain an average 15mph throughout. You should try to to keep stops/breaks to a minimum. On the route, I have wasted a lot of time and energy in the past going off the main road to small villages in the search for shops and cafes but there really isn't much at all. The best place to stop is Forges-Les-Eaux which is 35 miles from Dieppe ferry port. There are lots of French bakeries here that have just opened so freshly baked goodness - amazing- and cafes you can stop in. Refuel well here as you don't want to stop again for another 50 odd miles.
Arriving at L’Arc De Triomphe where celebratory pictures, beers, food and a chance to change out of your lycra or take a nap will await you. What a feeling of achievement!
Those short on time may want to get the Eurostar home immediately. Others may want to check into a hotel and refresh. I like to celebrate this awesome achievement by indulging in well-deserved drinks and delicious French food, before mustering the last of our will power to climb the Eiffel Tour (by foot) before collapsing into bed.
Who does this sort of adventure?
Are you looking for an accessible endurance challenge that will push your limits and not take up too much of your weekend? Perhaps you are a regular weekend warrior, with a few challenges under your belt and are looking for something that will push your comfort zone? Or do you love cycling and had your interest piqued by the sound of this ride? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these, London 2 Paris 24 is for you.
It may sound like a tough challenge and although it shouldn’t be underestimated – will power and some cycling experience are the most important things to help you complete it. I would advise anyone thinking of doing it to cycle at least 50 miles a few times before attempting it. 24 hours is a bit of a push and means breaks need to kept to a minimum. If you want to complete it in a decent time, then having a few 100 miles+ rides under your belt will put you in a great position to achieve this.
For parents who have limited time for cycling adventures but want to do something that will really provide a talking point in the kitchen at work and make your kids proud, go for this challenge. You can be back in Central London by Saturday evening and home for dinner meaning you don’t have to earn too many brownie points from your partner to let you go.
We do this ride on road bikes, we carry no panniers but go fast and light. This way, there is less kit faff and you don’t have to load your bike with heavy panniers and gear. However, touring bikes may be more preferential to some. You can buy spare tubes, food etc on the route to Paris but need to carry essentials to ensure you can make it to Paris. A great tip is to share kit and tools amongst you so can spread the load. Don’t forget your passport!
Where is the London 2 Paris Cycle Challenge?
The challenge is between London and Paris and can be done on any route you please but the two most popular ones are via Dieppe and Calais.
How Can you get into it?
I like to plan our adventures in the pub, I have heard this is fairly common amongst other adventurers too! You can get into this by getting a group of friends/cyclists together, putting the word out and see who is up for the challenge.
A great way to find adventure buddies is through cycling forums or local cycling clubs or just searching on google and finding people who are written blog posts about various challenges. One thing for certain is that there are like minded people out there with similar goals and dreams. Together you can take on any challenges. Although you could do these adventures on your own, it is by sharing them with others that you learn to become a better cyclist or adventurer. It is by sharing them that you force yourself to confront the tiredness, cold, hunger and still smile. Lifelong friendships and bonds have been formed as a result sport and adventure, we can’t recommend it enough.
You can do this for charity
If you fancy joining an organised ride and raising money for a good cause in the meantime, join one of the many charity rides around. Scope runs the 24 hour cycling to Paris challenge, whereas many other charities do the challenge over a multi-day trip and a more relaxed mileage per day.
This will be a weekend you won’t forget in a hurry!
If you are concerned about the training, lack of sleep, cycling speed or anything else – get in touch with me directly. It really is totally achievable for any cyclist no matter your experience. So long as you have the drive and enthusiasm for it and have some cycling experience – get in touch and I can help you organise your dream cycling adventure.
Friday 5pm: Cycle 80 miles from London to Newhaven ferry port
Friday 11pm: Depart for Dieppe
Saturday 4am: Arrive in Dieppe
Saturday 4am-5pm: cycle 120 miles from Dieppe to Paris
Saturday – Sunday: Paris/Eurostar back to London
Costs: Ferry £28, Eurostar £60, Hotel (TBC), Food £50