Day 3 - Sunday
After a lovely Italian meal Saturday night and a goods nights rest in a proper bed, we were ready for Day 3. Gary and I stayed in the Ibis and started Day 3 slightly earlier with a climb out of the town. Something Steve had done after the 84 miles on Day 2 taking his day’s mileage to about 87!
It was a good grind out of the town and a good warm up on what was the warmest and clearest start of the challenge so far; a beautiful morning!
I have to say the mornings ride to rest stop 1 was a highlight of the challenge for me. We saw the sun come up, on lovely roads (I muttered the words “lovely bit of tarmac”, something as a mountain biker I never thought I’d say and I nearly washed my mouth out with soap!). But riding with Gary, side-by-side on the road, we had a good chat about family and life, putting the world to rights. Before we knew it we had covered 18 miles!
La Couture-Boussey...rest stop 1, Day 3
There was bit of a faux pas from the Dream Challenges team who missed rest stop 1 and headed straight to lunch. We were therefore treated to a pastry and coffee in La Couture-Boussey, before heading off to the lunch stop.
We realised we had very little mileage to cover when compared to what we had already achieved and spirits were high. The riding up to lunch was just stunning. Lovely, rolling countryside (not too hilly) and through some nice small villages. We all stayed together during this leg. Gary even got chatting to a local French gentleman who was on a bike riding to shooting; his Sunday morning hobby!
There was one killer hill though! This was out of Septeuil at 33 miles, and finished us off. Luckily it was just another 6 miles to the lunch stop in Thoiry.
Gary, Dean and Steve at the top of the Septeuil climb
I have to say a special thanks goes out to the catering team of Dream Challenges. They made superb rolls and soups, along with homemade cakes and sweet things. The best food we had the whole challenge and a welcome sight every lunch time.
Following lunch the next stop was Versailles at 56 miles. We were now entering the suburbs around Paris. The riding got a lot more interesting with busy roads, traffic and lights to stop at. I made the comparison it was like riding through Milton Keynes. The French like their roundabouts too!
It would be just 16 miles until the finish line at the Eiffel Tower. I say just. This type of distance is not insignificant and would be an hours training ride pre-challenge. But having covered 200+ miles, the end was in sight. This positive feeling was further boosted by our first glimpse of the iconic Eiffel Tower about 10 miles away.
All of a sudden my legs felt fresh and the small shot of adrenaline would get me to the finish line!
The next challenge would be the notorious French traffic, but riding in groups we muscled our way to the final re-group stop at Le Café du Bois on Avenue de l'Hippodrome.
A few well deserved beers and celebrations meant we had a bit of
Dutch French courage for the final ride around the Arc de Triomphe and down the Champs-Élysées, finishing at the Mur pour la Paix (Wall of Peace) with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
Celebration eers at Le Café du Bois on Avenue de l'Hippodrome...we made it to Paris!
I have to say, and I knew it would be, but this was an absolute highlight and privilege. Riding through Paris with 58 other riders that had all finished the challenge, was a very proud, amazing and emotional experience.
We were greeted by the Dream Challenges team who swiftly put a medal around our necks and glass of champagne in our hands!
Day 3: 72 miles. We had done it!
We had made it...240 miles, 3 days. London to Paris!