In the early hours of 6th April, 2013, 40 Lloyd's Cycling Club members set off for Paris from the Lloyd's building in the City of London. Our aim was to raise over £100,000 for the charity Action for A-T. We are delighted to report that we raised £108,500. This was a very different event than any of us had experienced - 250 miles non-stop.
We would like to thank our corporate sponsors: Tokio Millenium Re, Oakley Capital, Besso, Navigators, Goldberg Segalla, Cooper Gay, Novae, Icon, Chaucer, Clyde & Co, Paragon, Tenn
UK route - click LINK
Route in France - click LINK
Club member and most frequent winner of the Pink Shirt, Rick Welsh, first mooted the subject of cycling to Paris within 24hours and then running the Paris marathon in September 2012. Most of us thought he had lost his marbles. Quite apart from anything organizing an event like this would normally take around a year – the Paris marathon was on the 7th April – this gave us a little over six and a half months.
The justification for Rick’s madness: Rick had met one of his mates, Toby Read, and found out that his daughter, Evie, had recently been diagnosed with A-T (Ataxia-Telangiectasia). This is a rare, neurodegenerative and progressive condition that starts in early childhood causing severe disability and premature death. Rick wanted the club to raise as much money as possible for Action for A-T – a charity set up by Evie’s parents, Toby and Emily. The aim of Action for A-T is simple - finding a cure or a treatment that will delay the disabling effects of A-T.
The decision was made – go for it! We gave ourselves the target of raising over £100,000.
Most of us had the sense to quickly realize that riding 250miles non-stop and then running the marathon was ludicrous! A few didn’t.
We quickly found ourselves with a team of 43 - 33 that would “just” ride, 3 that would “just” run, and 7 nutters that decided to do both.
The training for this event was the toughest yet - the delights of one of the coldest winters on record to deal with! It brought back memories of training for Lands End to John o’Groats after which we promised ourselves we would always have the summer to train. Oh well…..
We decided that due to the time frame we had better get some professionals in – Events Unlimited (EU) to help with the organisation. Good decision.
The 6th April quickly came around. Although bitterly cold, we were lucky that the weather had taken a turn for the better – dry, sunny and we had a Northerly wind helping us.
The route down to Dover had been previously tested by a few of us and it worked really well – even though we were on the A20 for most of it. Not much traffic. We kept to our plan of one café stop at mile 45.
We got to the port in good time and were rewarded by being cheered in by Evie, her family and friends. Great motivation for the rest of the ride.
The only problem we encountered on the UK side was at the port where we had to go through heightened security – they were worried about bike tools…… Unfortunately we ended up missing our ferry which meant an hours delay. Many of us took the opportunity to have a hot meal (and a pint of Spitfire).
The roads in Northern France were excellent – EU had done a fantastic job in planning the route. The plan was to stop every 30 miles where EU would have food and hot drinks waiting for us. This worked really well.
The daylight hours whizzed past. Once darkness was upon us, we soon found ourselves delving into the kit boxes to put our extra clothes on. The ambient temperature went down to -6C. The water bottles were freezing and with 7 layers of clothes on we were still shivering. We had to put the bottles in the van to warm up so that we could drink. Nightmare. We looked forward to climbing hills to warm up and dreaded the downhill sections where we had to put the brakes on to reduce the wind chill factor!!
The dark hours passed slowly – sleep deprivation kicking in and decision making becoming erratic.
It was a relief to get to the suburbs of Paris; the finish line close. However, the last 5 miles were extremely trying – traffic lights every couple of hundred yards and almost everyone of them red! The starting and stopping was the last thing we needed.
We eventually made it!
How anyone was even contemplating going for a run was beyond most of us – including 5 of the proposed 7!! However, two brave young men did – Ben Galloway and Steve Hoey. They managed to get to the finish line in just over 5 hours – astounding!
Thank you to everyone that participated and making it such an enjoyable, but challenging event.
Most importantly, thank you to everyone that sponsored the event – taking us to a fantastic amount - £108,500.
This fundraising enables Action for A-T to fund specific medical research - we all hope and pray that a cure is found as quickly as possible.