My two-wheeled challenge - one cyclist's blog
Geoff Rich is an Architect and Managing Partner of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and took part in his fifth Cycle to MIPIM event this year, once again riding the entire 1,500km!
The final week
So it's the last nerve-wracking week before the big start on Thursday 10th March. Yesterday I went to the final Cycle to Cannes rider briefing meeting in London. All useful stuff and great to meet lots of my fellow riders.
Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has sponsored me over the last few weeks. If you'd like to sponsor me to keep going you can do so by visiting my donations page by clicking HERE.
We're in France!
Up this morning for a 6.30am start in a hotel in Tottenham Court Road to get down to the start of the ride at Central St Giles. That was after about 4 hours broken sleep - mainly dreaming about cycling!
Great to see everyone and be part of the team at last and to be inspired by a talk about what the ride would achieve for the beneficiaries of the ride proceeds. .
It was a grey chilly morning for all of us stood round in our Lycra pants and vests waiting to start but things felt good. Good to see the FCB logo on the ride team bus too this year!
The ride set off at 9am and we made our way slowly out through the heavy rush hour traffic past St Paul's Cathedral, over Tower Bridge and on to Greenwich.
Stopped for a banana, coffee and pee at Brands Hatch and then on through rolling country lanes to a quick stop at the stunning Leeds Castle in Kent. Then onto Folkestone and a ride through the tunnel got us here to our hotel in Calais.
The real work starts tomorrow with a much longer day. And we've just been told it all starts with breakfast at 5am (that's 4am UK time people!).
Big day today with the longest ride of my life. Long day through rolling countryside passing war graves, wind turbines and pretty villages. The weather was freezing cold and cloudy at the start but cleared into a sunny afternoon. Really poignant to see all the war graves as we passed through the Somme.
A real highlight was to be greeted by a class of school children at the lunch stop all waving Union Jack flags to welcome us to their village!
And at the end of the day it was great to see the moonrise as we rolled down into Reims completely exhausted.
We had a wonderful ride through champagne country and watched the sunrise over the vineyards. Just beautiful.
We had great morning and lunchtime stops in the sunshine with the wonderful Club Peloton helpers. I personally benefited from suncream, Vaseline, lunchtime baguettes, coca cola, peanuts, chocolate, cakes, water, coffee, bananas, apples, and loads of water refills. All served with a smile and lots of encouragement as ever.
The day ended with an amazing ride into Dijon and right through the city in the dark. Our french motorcyclists did an amazing job getting us through safely and stopping the traffic. A real life time experience!
Had the luxury of an extra hour lie in this morning 'til 545. Managed to get to breakfast and then headed out for what promised to be a great day.
On the ride we enjoyed another sunny day through some really tough hilly terrain as the middle of France gave way to the south. This morning we were passing a few more farms full of 'donkeys and ducks' but by the end of the day it was lavender, olive trees and vineyards as far as the eye could see.
A great evening tonight celebrating the great work of Coram...before our final challenge of 171km tomorrow....... Please god don't let the wind turn against us!
We made it - we're in Cannes!
We set of through the streets of Aix and then gradually climbed as we traversed beneath the beautiful Mont St Victoire. The hills were a shock to very tired legs and we all regretted the extra glass of wine at last night's final dinner. But the rising sun over the Provence landscape was a great reward. So it was onwards and eastwards.
I kept an eye on my bike computer all the way and it seemed to take ages for the kilometres to click away towards our destination. But finally when we were 15km away from Cannes we got a glimpse of the Mediterranean sea and our destination in the distance. What a feeling!
We climbed two more steep hills until finally descending onto the western end of the very long promenade. The ride in was fantastic and it was an emotional moment for everyone after such a long journey. It was also great to see so many supporters who'd met up as the start back in London.
The final treat for us all was that one and only Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas came to award the medals to us all at the end - fresh from winning the Paris-Nice ride the day before!
Thankyou everyone who has tweeted, texted and sent me support. Your encouragement has been amazing and has helped me get here!
Read Geoff's full blog here.