And they're off!
Fri 10 Mar 2017
So, today, 9th March, it all began...
Early start at Central St Giles, just off Oxford Street, 7.30 am. Registration, kit on the right coach (Folkestone, not Portsmouth) and then a spot of breakfast - muesli and a coffee. Then group photo - all 200 of us - and then the start.... adrenalin pumping, last goodbyes to friends and supporters and then off to much fanfare and clapping... only to be caught in traffic as soon as we got around the corner!! Slow drag out of London in small groups of 15 and a general regroup at Blackheath Common.
All successfully regrouped at Blackheath, the sun is now shining and its proving to be a glorious day for cycling! The motor cycle outsiders stop the traffic for us at junctions so we have a seamless ride down to Brands Hatch - joyous. Lots of good conversations on the ride, meeting lots of new and interesting people (remember, this is "work", so got to get some "networking" done..).
Pit stop at Brands Hatch, coffee, cake, take off a layer or two, as it's now getting really hot, and then onwards to Leeds Castle - lunch stop - another 40k away.
Now the roads are getting better, fast country lanes, great riding. Leeds Castle appears and it's time for a sandwich and a quick chat with some of my teammates whilst we take on water, flapjacks and whatever else you want.
Final stop, Folkestone Chunnel port, is another 48k away, so back in the saddle for the final leg of the first day. Again, sun is shining and cycling is great, almost a steady 23kph. The peloton slows as we approach the Chunnel and as we arrive we are greated with clapping and whooping from the support teams (medics, mechanics and lots of other useful people helping us get through the day). A bit of stretching, a cream tea, and then on the bus to go under the Channel to our hotel in Calais.
All good for the first day, but as I sit on the coach writing this, I can feel the tiredness coming on. Looking forward to dinner and bed... before our 5am start tomorrow.