A blog by Steve Hall, Commercial Director at LCH
When I signed up for the Dash I only knew one other rider, by the end of the first training ride it became very clear that the event is very different to any other charity event, you become one of the Duchenne family very quickly. The training rides were enjoyable, understanding more about what to expect, helpful tips on equipment, fundraising and meeting some of those that had done the ride over previous years.
Despite the poor weather planned for the weekend there was a real buzz around Herne Hill prior to our departure. The support teams were all helpful ensuring that I had the right kit for each part of the journey, it was one less thing to worry about.
After a good lunch and final pep talk including an emotional support video from some of the children wishing us all the best we were on our way, with support motorcycles ensuring we got that little extra room off drivers as we headed out of South London. There were 4 groups, I was placed in one of the faster groups, I don’t ride that much but was about middle of the pack.
Torrential rain greeted us through the first stop at Biggin Hill however as we started to hit the country roads the pace was more than comfortable, and we pushed on towards the coast. Riding in groups of around 30+, cycling in pairs you got to know those around you, their connection to Duchenne and the ride. It really takes your mind of the miles and makes them go so much quicker. Not one set of headphones in sight!
Past Tonbridge our first real climb, the pack spread out as people hit their own pace, but the ride captains were on hand to support, quick re-group at the summit and the rest stop was 10 minutes away. We received a great reception by one of the local Duchenne charities, a welcomed tea stop, stock up on food and quick comfort break before getting back on the road as the next group pulled in.
Late afternoon we hit the coast at Newhaven and had a few hours to shower, eat and rest before we boarded the ferry for the night. It was a choppy ride; Storm Miguel had hit the North French coast with 50mph winds that day and as we disembarked at 0500 it was the long wait to get through customs that was the most painful part of the trip so far.
Ditching the overnight bags, it was clear we had a long day ahead, a 200km to ride, but riding out of the port I felt lifted having a team of out riders stopping traffic to help us power through.
The first stop was about 30km out, an amazing country chateau within a golf course, no time to appreciate the surroundings, as I picked up a drink a sandwich the shout of “5 MINUTES, GET READY TO GO” and we were back out of there.
I remember riding along mid-morning reminiscing with someone about our 3 hours of sleep and the noises from the crossing when I looked at their rear tyre which had suddenly deflated. As he dropped off to the roadside my usual cycling pack instincts kicked in and wanted to stop to help but remembered at the briefing being told to just power on, you feel bad leaving them behind. It was about 3 miles down the road, he was back next to me. “I was scooped up in a van,” he told me, “I was in the front, the bike in the back, driving behind the group, before I knew it they kicked me out and off cycling again.”
Breakfast stop about 90km in was a good rest, coffee, pastries and a chair to sit for about 20 minutes as opposed to a saddle. At all the stops on the ride there was plenty of choice of fruit, snacks and drinks to help you keep up the calorie intake.
The roads are good to cycle on in France, very smooth and as you cross the countryside there was the odd occasion we put our foot down and the outriders assisted with blocking off the traffic to get us to lunch.
Long lunch was at a gymnasium about 80km from Paris. This was a regroup stop, so we had a longer stop than usual, bit of a power nap and then as the sun came out 60 of us headed out into the suburbs of Paris, the pace had slowed slightly to keep everyone grouped and there was one last climb before we regrouped all together. 40km out all 4 groups came together for the last leg.
As we hit Paris the outriders came into their element, guiding us through the streets of Paris, pushing us through red light intersections and keeping the group together. Then we turned the corner onto the Champs-Élysées, we had the road to ourselves, this was it, we had made it, 160 of us along with the 2 guys on a tandem.
I was lucky enough to be at the front of the group as we circled around the Arc de Triomphe, it was an amazing feeling of achievement and seeing some of the parents that had cycled also made that feeling more emotional than any other event I had completed previously.
The sun blazed down on us as we pulled into the welcoming party consisting of family and friends in the gardens of the Eiffel Tower and celebrated our arrival. Champagne, photos and in the true spirit of the past 24 hours, interrupted by the shout to get to our hotel and the celebration dinner in an hour!!
This year, 3 member’s of Team LCH (Steve Hall, Sunil Rathod and Paul Williamson) are taking part in the Duchenne Dash. If you would like show your support, please click here
Blog origninally post on: https://www.lchltd.com/lch-announce-duchenne-dash-support-for-2020/