MyDrive rides to Paris
Here to tell us all about MyDrive’s inaugural cycling trip, aka MyRide2Paris is our Android Developer Pascal How.
Pascal, let’s be honest: it wasn’t easy – sweat, some blood (right, James?) and a few tears of happiness (secretly under the Eiffel Tower)
Over to you for the details…
Pascal: That’s right. After 5 months of preparation and training, this was it! 16 fellow adventurers of the MyDrive Cycling Team are on a journey from London to Paris
460km of intense cycling over 4 days
The Cyclists: Pascal | James | Nadya | Nhan | Kevin M | Kevin J | Mark | Marko | Evangelos | Zoulfi | Manu | Arturo and Roger
The Support Crew: Derrick | Philippa | Ellie
St Pancras International
We all made our way to Dover Priory Station from where we were reunited with our bikes ready to head off to the ferry.
Waiting to board the ferry at Dover
It was just a 1.5h journey by ferry to cross the Channel and reach France. We saw some beautiful views from the deck.
Calais at last
By this point, everyone was very very keen to get on their bike and start pedalling.
Once we got into the countryside, we faced a lot of headwinds which made the first stretch particularly slow and gruelling. The first slope was not steep at all but boy, it was long and felt like it was never-ending.
Arrival at Hotel La Sapinière
Well, well, well .. Day 1 – done! Not too bad at all but we all knew very well that the real stuff would start the following day.
We reached our accommodation at Hôtel La Sapinière and got our rooms allocated.
A fabulous meal, profiteroles (which became the keyword everytime we took a group photo ;D), nice chat with the team and off to bed.
The second day was going to be our first real test. 112km of cycling to Abbeville with several hills waiting for us. This route took us through some of the most gorgeous parts of the northern French countryside. Stunning!
Mark, our coach, was very strict about leaving on time. We all had to load our overnight bags into the van before we were allowed to have breakfast! And that’s only fair 🙂
Setting off on what was a cold morning with the temperature around 13°C, it felt like some of us still had not completely recovered from the previous day… But you just go with the glow and keep on pedalling. There, quite literally, is no going back.
The sun was finally up in all its glory and everyone was looking very photogenic Kevin M, our mobile jukebox did an amazing job motivating everyone! Thanks to him, we found the strength to power through those long tedious hills.
Battle like warriors and eat like warriors. We reached somewhere around Auxi-le-Château for our lunch stop.
Arrival in Abbeville
Abbeville is a nice little town so some of us decided to go for a walk before dinner. Here behind us is the Saint Vulfran Cathedral. Another fantastic evening with French cuisine and … some wine.
The third day started off with another early morning breakfast in the freezing French town of Abbeville Our bodies were still sore from the previous day’s effort and our legs were again that little bit heavier. We were in for another 116km ride and Mark promised us another series of hills. After getting our bikes ready, here we went again, cycling through the thick mist that had settled over the town the night before.
Nothing better than cycling along to ABBA’s Mama Mia eh?
Hey! Our first sign towards Paris!
Another quick stop for yet another puncture. Unlucky!
But how otherwise would we have witnessed Derrick’s admirable hula hoop performance? We’ve never been more grateful to find a puncture.
Arrival at Beauvais, Hotel Mercure
Another day completed and this was the end of Day 3. Despite the fatigue building up, the pain, the mental strain and temptation to stop at every corner of the road, we all did an outstanding job so far and no matter how steep or how long the hills were, none of us even got off our bikes even once to walk. Cycling became the default.
A few months ago, cycling from London to Paris was a very optimistic dream and on Day 4 of this adventure, we were within the last few kilometres of achieving what we thought was impossible for a bunch of not very well trained cyclists. Paris was within our reach and everyone was determined to see that journey to the end.
Let’s keep the best for the last as they say! That HILL was by far the steepest and longest one we had to climb throughout the entire trip! It was never-ending; so hard to move forward. Then suddenly, like a ray of sunshine (or is it a mirage), our support crew appeared at the top of the dreadful hill having laid out all sorts of treats for us to keep us going. We were so happy to see them!
A quick stop for a coffee and again onwards and … hopefully not upwards 😀
We finally reached the outskirts of Paris! We were now in St Germain for our last lunch stop in a parking lot, gathering strength for the final stretch! Eiffel Tower here we come!
Not going to lie, cycling and navigating through Paris was a nightmare! But hey, the next thing we know ‘Is that the Arc de Triomphe?!’ everyone was asking almost hysterically.
Guess what songs was on shuffle by this time? Champs Elysées mixed with Queen’s “We are the Champions”.
And we did it!!! After 4 days of joy, pain, camaraderie and thrill, we were at the foot of the Eiffel Tower!
The Eiffel Tower
What an amazing achievement that was for all of us! Mark was genuinely impressed by the group. He did concede that we were the least prepared group that he has had to look after fitness-wise but he also admitted that we were unquestionably the happiest. Our teamwork was admirable and we kept looking after each other all the time to make sure we all reached the goal together!
We celebrated our achievement in a classic Parisian restaurant having the best time chatting about our adventures.
After a couple of bottles of champagne, it was time to get ready for our Eurostar train back to London! We were all exhausted but full of memories to cherish. Our MyDrive2Paris adventure will forever be special and remain engraved in our hearts. It was also a challenge that none of us thought we could achieve. It not only reminded us the value of teamwork but also that with belief and hard work, we can all reach greater heights.
Sur ce, à la prochaine!
There are rumours already about MyDrive2Amsterdam… Stay tuned!
Last but not least, we were fundraising for a great cause – the Manna Society – our charity of choice – supporting homeless people in the heart of London.