Day 4 is here. I had a good night’s sleep in my air-conditioned room, however to my amazement when I went for breakfast to stock up on croissants the temperature had dropped and the predicted high was only 23°C. Already it felt like a great day for cycling compared to the previous day.
I was ready for it, just over 50 miles until I hit the outskirts of Paris, 15 miles through the suburbs of this very large city and then meet at the Louis Vuitton museum for the final few miles in convoy into the centre of Paris.
I got everything ready to go, all m luggage and bike box was on the truck and the next time I would see everything was going to be in Paris. Emotions were a little mixed if I am honest as I knew 68 miles on the last day were achievable, my legs were good, but I was not looking forward to it with my miniature and heavy bike. I should have been excited, but I was not quite there yet.
One particular thing I was looking forward to was meeting my wife Jo in Paris, being away for 5 nights has not been known before and I could tell when I spoke to her she could feel the pain and frustration I had been going through in her voice during numerous conversations.
Off I went, I set off alone and had a steady few miles out of the town and then started going through forest areas which were nice and flat, it still was reasonably hard work and riding Betty it needed relentless turning of those pedals to keep her going. Several riders passed my on the flat which would not have occurred so easily on Charlie.
I hit a hilly wooded area and there were patches of hanging heat and humidity, as I passed by them you could not catch your breath. Brought back memories form the heat of yesterday.
Once I got through the woods, I made my way down a fantastic descent that lasted around 4 miles, however I still had to push on to keep betty moving, normally I would be able to relax on these sections. I got her going quite fast at one moment and I heard a creak and a sound of plastic skidding across tarmac, I looked back it was the reflector that had fallen off, not too worry I am not stopping!
I did have a moment where I fell off my bike, this happened twice. This was mainly due to the size of the bike, I got my rather large foot stuck in the front wheel spokes as I turned at a very slow junction and then I was off !
23 miles in and I made the first water / fuel stop in reasonable time, it was clear people had set off early this morning as the goal was to make it to Louis Vuitton by 3 pm. I had a quick snack and off I went again. I started climbing a little from the water stop and it was very exposed, and the wind picked up quiet dramatically. For the next 20 miles until lunch it was a complete slog into the wind on heavy Betty, it was tough going. But before I knew it, we had done lunch and arrived at the final water stop on the northern outskirts of Paris near Saint Denis.
From Saint Denis, the euphoria started to set in as I knew in 15 more miles, I would be at the resting point ready to go into central Paris, a day before the Tour de France was to be welcomed.
The riding from here was all road cycling and even 15 miles from the centre it was busy, and I certainly had to have my eyes peeled. I rode for a few miles with a couple of ladies who were not impressed with the traffic or the French road system, so I took the lead for a few miles to navigate us through the maze of junctions.
We had formed a group of around 20 of us. Many of these I had not spoken to before, but as there were 157 on the ride you met up with new people all the time. The roads got more compact and busier as we got more central and all of a sudden, we turned down a street and there is was the Louis Vuitton museum together with lots of riders having a break.
Suddenly I realised I had done it….. 4 more miles and I would have achieved what I thought was the impossible, I knew I could get on Betty and finish this…..