Day 8 (Chantilly to Paris)
We started later because its a short day. The 30 miles to Paris was helped by the weather, which stayed dry all the way.
Our usual coffee stop place wasn’t open so we ended up in the Golden Arches where fast food moved very slowly. It wasn’t helped by the new automated ordering system they have inflicted on their customers.
Only one puncture on this day, which was a blessing, as some of the bikes (and cyclists) were feeling the effects of cycling over 600 miles. As we wound through Paris I managed a couple of wring turns and we had a couple of fallers, both who picked themselves up and carried on.
The group completed 3 circuits of the Arc de Triomphe (a Tower 2 Tower record) and then we headed to the Tower where we were met by family and friends.
A very emotional time, especially for those doing it for the first time. Charlotte gets a very special mention here as she had less self belief that she would make it than everyone else. However make it she did!
The day was finished off with the normal Seine dinner cruise and then drinks in a couple of local bars. This is where Jason fell asleep and had to be helped home by James and Ste, who did a fantastic job supporting the cyclists from start to finish.
There won’t be a Tower 2 Tower next year but it will return in 2017, so if you want to get involved please email email@example.com
Around the Arc
After the Arc
We made it!
Ste and Hanes still supporting the cyclists
Day 7 (Amiens to Chantilly)
We left Amiens at around 8am for the 70 miles to Chantilly. The route took us through some lovely little villages. We didn’t get far out of Amiens before Jason got another puncture. This one resulted in him losing 2 spokes but the bike was fit to carry on. A helpful French cyclist stopped and decided to cycle with us for about 20k. A little further on Jay had a puncture and needed a replacement tyre – so all in all an eventful start to the day.
The toughest part of the day was a high open stretch passing lots of wind turbines as the headwind was quite strong. Stacey and Charlotte in particular took a buffeting whereas my size helps me somewhat! The weather was good for the whole day and the rain that threatened never arrived.
A fuel stop was taken at a nice little sandwich shop which served some lovely mini doughnuts. There were 4 types filled with jam, nutella, apple and cream so I had to try one of each.
The final part of the journey is quite quick and Lee’s bike managed two more punctures before we all made it safely to the hotel, knowing that the vast majority of the challenge was done.
The evening meal was in a great little restaurant called the Vertugadin, which I would highly recommend if you ever find yourself in Chantilly.
Its a short ride to Paris tomorrow – only 30 miles.
Day 6 (Calais to Amiens)
Day 6 is always a tough but very scenic one as its over 100 miles from Calais to Amiens. The positive though is that the roads are much quieter in France and the route winds its was through quiet country villages.
Heading out through the Calais one way system the first 10 miles are flat and progress is speedy.
Then the rolling hills start and go on until about mile 27 without much respite and the average speeds drop significantly. Some of the hills seem to go on for ever and the downhills see some impressive speeds being clocked up by the more adventurous of the group.
The wind wasn’t too bad this year but it soon became very hot and at its peak temperatures reached over 35 degrees which meant many of our number used their liquids up very quickly. Cyclists took cover under trees at certain points and many made use of the fritteries, more of which seem to be open this year.
The route passed through some lovely villages and even the French crooked spire.
Marie and Paul continue to be the fastest of the group. Making it to Amiens in an impressive 7 hours.
However the majority got caught in major downpours as the heat was followed by thunder storms which made cycling impossible and shelter was sought in the vans and at Abbeville.
However the main thing is, despite more issues with Jason’s bike that all the cyclists made it safely to Amiens which has a most impressive cathedral and bars which serve a selection of fruit beers.
Tomorrow is a 70 miler to Chantilly and here’s hoping the weather is both cooler and drier!
Day 6 begins with repairs
Arrival at Amiens
Day 5 (Gravesend to Calais)
The route was an undulating one to Rochester where a couple of hills really set us up for the day.
We then made our way down the A2 towards Faversham and by this time Marie and Paul had broken away from the pack and sped away. They paid the price later though as they hit Dover in a downpour and the rest of us avoided the rain.
The worst (or best depending on how you look at it) hill came at about 30 miles and was a long and grinding one. Then came the punctures which kept both our support vehicles occupied.
Lunch was in Canterbury, a beautiful place, and then the route took us to Ash, before we made our way to Sandwich and Deal. Sandwich is a lovely place and its always great to see crashing waves at Deal.
There was then the winding path up to the top of the white cliffs before entering the port (see the video on the Challenge for Change Facebook page).
Amazing performance by our cyclists again today who all made it to the ferry on time. Charlotte deserves a special mention for really digging in.
The evening meal was taken on the ferry, a very nice chicken curry pour moi (brushing up on the lingo).
Tomorrow is a long day (105 miles) to Amiens – bring it on!
Day 4 (Huntingdon to Gravesend)
A little ride saw us embroiled in the one way system before we made some real progress.
The day was filled with back ache, knee ache, bum ache and a great deal of “are we nearly there yet?”
Well we are over half way now and all have cycling tans and chafing to prove it!
Our first pit stop was at Royston, which as a lovely precinct and a few not so lovely hills!
From there we headed for lunch at the Orange Tree which distinctly divided opinion!
Smokey, the cat, was loved by all. One cyclist wouldn’t enter because the staff were rude last year. Of the rest those who ordered soup or mushrooms on toast were very disappointed. Chicken people were satisfied while marie rose prawns and omelette ordered were ecstatic!
We all made the Dartford crossing ok and the final leg to the hotel in Gravesend.
Tomorrow its bonus francais.
Royston pit stop
Lunch at The Orange Tree
Day 3 (Barlborough to Huntingdon)
It started with drizzle but thankfully we missed the downpour. Actually the weather was good all day, a lot of cloud but dry early on and turned really sunny by the time we reached Huntingdon.
The first pit stop was at a lovely cafe in Bingham where 2 kind people donated £15. We also had a donation at our next pit stop in Oakham.
Today was a 100 mile + day and all of our cyclists went through some tough physical and mental battles. However they all supported each other and made it to the end (Huntingdon racecourse).
Today’s route was long and quite hilly in places which really tested our riders. There was, though, some great scenery!
Tomorrow its on to Gravesend.
Day 2 (Challenge 4 Change to Barlborough)
Despite the weather forecast it turned out to be another hot and dry one.
We left Challenge 4 Change and headed through Manchester and Stockport before following the A6 through High Lane and Disley. We then turned off towards Chinley and. Chapel-en-le Frith, which is where the hills started.
To their credit every cyclist completed every hill. One of the most scenic is actually the steep downhill through Winnats Pass. We actually saw people cycling up it – great effort!
Oh and Dan had another puncture – he’s leading the way at the moment.
The very hot hilly day ended at the Ibis in Barlborough. It should be an early night for all as its going to be a long cycle to Huntingdon tomorrow.
First to the hotel
Day 1 – Saturday (Blackpool to Challenge 4 Change)
What a gorgeous day to set off on the fourth Tower 2 Tower trip. 14 cyclists gathered on the prom (two who joined us to cycle to Manchester) and 12 who will be cycling all the way to Paris.
Family and friends joined to say goodbye and we set off towards Lytham. Our first faller, Jason, got distracted and was taken down by a tram track!
The peleton started at a fantastic pace and some of us (me) got left behind. One of our number, Marie, even had her son as a passenger and beat me to the first checkpoint.
The route took us down the Prom to Lytham, where the proms are in full swing, and out to Preston where welcome refreshments were provided by our volunteers in their blue steward vests.
Preston Marina is a highlight as is Avenham Park before our hot and bothered cyclists hit Fredericks Ice Cream Parlour in Chorley.
From there we headed to Manchester and it was on this stretch we had our first 3 punctures (all for Dan Savage). Actually he only had one but Ste Hurst (one of our support drivers) could the other 2 by over excessive inflation!
We all arrived successfully at Challenge 4 Change where water coffee and wagon wheels were gratefully received!
Marie and Alex
Fredericks ice cream
The first puncture
Marie and Kate
A very windy day but hey ho over 600 miles done and its the short (30 miles) ride to @aris tomorrow
Today was tougher than our cyclists expected but they made it.
Tomorrow’s post will be longer but thanks for reading! Nearly there!
The 107 mile cycle from Calais has a load of hills for the first 25 miles or so and this really tested our cyclists. The weather was a mix of beautiful sunshine, heavy downpours and a lot of wind!
Once the hills are out of the way it was an enjoyable ride through lost of countryside with the odd hamlet every so often.
The first coffee shop appeared at 75 miles and our group made use of that! All arrived safely in Amiens which boasts a beautiful cathedral and some lively bars down by the river and the mannekin pis.
Meanwhile in Gillingham our other cyclist is recovering well from her operation and she, along with Dave, hope to reunite with the other cyclists in Amiens tonight.
Remember you can still donate at: www.justgiving.com/deb-couling
Scenic stop in Calais, en route to Amiens
Arrived in Amiens
Picking up pace on journey from Calais to Amiens