London to Dover for BuildAfrica: the longest leg accomplished

Chantal arrives in Dover in the first leg of London to Paris by bike

5am reveille, and an hour later we (Chantal and son Fergus 14) make it to Crystal Palace with 120 other pedallers of varying shapes and sizes (i kid you not, Ed) and following registration/pep talk/briefing by the organisers we set off down Anerley Hill for the 87 mile haul up and down the Kent countryside in pursuit of the distant mecca of the P&O ferryport at Dover – a theoretical 10 hours ride…if you can see all the orange arrows marking the way.

It’s a bit of a case of hare and tortoise as a missed arrow at 20 mph at the summit of a long down slope means a potential 5-10 mile detour and a gorgeous bit of countryside you just did not want to visit.
But the lunch stop eventually hoves into view, as do those members of the 120 party who you’d left trailing in your wake 7 hours ago. Mercilessly we’d had no punctures and my husband had not bought me special cycling cleats to try out on the first day…it seems they take some getting used to.

Lunch wolfed down at Bethersden (2pm) but little time for brandy and espresso (in spite of me insisting to the organisers that it’s a long-standing tour-de-France tradition) and it’s back into the saddle which is not feeling QUITE as comfy as this morning.

Oof 5.05pm and Dover Priory finally on the horizon. The weather has mercifully been cool with cloud cover for most of the day. Ferg with hare in his legs has probably clocked 100 miles, i feel like I’ve done 1000 but hopefully the worst is over.

The ferry leaves the white cliffs behind as we tuck into a ‘guid fish supper’ and for sure after a day cycling that ‘cannae be beat’!

Once on dry continent again even a CRS van cannot halt our march to the Holiday Inn at Coquelles and some weary bods find their way to their rooms for a well-earned shower & rest at 10pm.

The ly-in? That’ll have to wait till we’ve followed in the tyre tracks of that other points winner down the Champs Elysees on Saturday evening!

London to Paris cycle ride on 27th July. I would really appreciate it if you sponsored me – a fiver would be brilliant, I know that there are lots of demands all the time. My page is http://www.justgiving.com/chantal-coady

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