A warm Wednesday morning, our third and final day, with a route that would eventually take us into Paris, was set to be another long and hot one! I felt nervous after the previous day’s struggles, but tried to channel confident thoughts as we set off. The first few km took us up and around fields on fields of farmland, riding wide, open roads that were oh-so smooth! I never thought I’d be one to appreciate a good standard of tarmac, but the French have nailed it – so much smoother than the pot-hole decorated roads of England.
I actually felt quite good on day 3, aches and pains wise – as though my body had surrendered to the fact that cycling was now life! A change of kit, with perhaps better padding, meant it was positively comfortable (in comparison!) on the saddle, and my legs were feeling strong. I did though, feel tired, and not too long into the ride my hot-foot kicked in and I needed to rest. Unfortunately my hot-foot played up on and off throughout the day, with rest stops needing to be taken repeatedly as the day went on, and with me growing increasingly frustrated with my feet! If you have suffered from hot-foot you’ll know that it’s extremely painful, and literally feels as though your toes are on fire. Knowing when it’s building up, I was able on this trip to act quickly, so thankfully I was not cycling for hours in pain, which I have had to do before.
As you can see from the pictures, the mornings ride – hot-foot aside – was pretty glorious. I think cycling through the French countryside is my new favourite pastime! I was breezing down one particular lane, taking in the view, when I saw something I’d never seen before; my husband crashing! As I heard the ruckus, I turned my head to see things flying off his bike, the bike heading for a ditch, and my husband skidding along with it. The bike stopped in it’s tracks just ahead of the ditch, but my husband went the whole hog! Luckily the said ditch was a bed of long grass so it was a soft landing as he face planted into it! The cause of the crash had been a combination of 3 things; lack of concentration, speed of the downhill, and a sneaky speed bump, which is what threw him off balance. More extravagant than any of my cycling ‘topples’ I was a little taken aback! I rushed to save… the Go Pro, and then made my way over. With just a few grazes he was fine. Unfortunately the Go Pro clip for the bike had been smashed :(. Once gathered, we continued on, through a lovely park area – Forest Marly le Roi – and on to some much needed lunch!
The afternoon lead us out of the countryside, and into towns and more built up areas. Sob sob. It was a somewhat stressful ride through Versailles and due to my anxious state, I had to bypass the palace without so much as a glance. We hit some quieter roads for a while, as well as a lovely ‘little’ climb, which we actually only came upon having got a tad lost, and then, passing through another more famous wooded park area – Domaine National de Saint-Cloud – we saw Paris.
I followed anxiously as we weaved down into Paris, this end stretch being another slightly stressful one! Surviving the Parisian roundabouts was particularly touch and go – it would seem they work in the opposite way to ours in the UK – where those coming on to the roundabout have right of way; not really information that’s best to learn ‘as you go’!! Surviving our third roundabout, and by this point being wimpishly close to tears, we came off and there it was, our finish point – the Arc de Triomphe!
A mixture of relief & pride engulfed me as it dawned on me that this was it. From Big Ben to the Arc de Triomph, the challenge was complete!
A huge thank you to my team! Without which this achievement wouldn’t have been possible!
I would say to anyone considering doing this ride – do it! There are numerous route options out there with lots of advice and tips available. Our route was beautiful, and we purposefully chose it because it was the more scenic; as I mentioned in Part 1, we wanted to really enjoy the ride, as much as it be a challenge. And that we did!
Thank you to everyone who sponsored my ride!
I guess the question now is. . . Where to adventure next. . . 🙂