Back to Black(heath)

I’ve been in London this week, and found myself in beautiful Blackheath last night for dinner with the wonderful @wisdomlondon and @markofrespect. It was the first time I’d been back since 2007 when I cycled from London to Paris with @rorysuperscot and DJ Steve Slim. And what an event that was!

Merv & Steve on the train, heading for London

All the memories came flooding back yesterday; it felt like just the day before and not over three years ago. The hotel I stayed in last night was the hotel we set off from, set on the edge of the Heath.

Getting ready for the off

There were some great highlights from the trip. Some I can’t include on here – some of my readers are of a nervous disposition, but here are just a few to give you a taste for the fun we had whilst cycling 400 miles over 4 days!!

On our very first day, within the first couple of hours, Steve’s back tyre exploded in rural Kent whilst we were flying downhill at 40mph. Mervyn & I pushed on regardless (we didn’t know, honest!) however we were concerned a couple of miles later when there was no sign of the DJ. That was when we found out about the second highlight of the day – he’d been stung by a wasp. In his groin! We pissed ourselves laughing!!

Steve recovering from the blowout & bee sting, whilst Merv has a coffee

The rest of the day passed without any further drama, indeed we pushed on and made it to the ferry an hour ahead of schedule. Once in Calais we had a short ride to our hotel. This would be the only time on the trip that the three of us shared a room. And what a room it was. Well, technically it was two rooms. Merv (being the senior member of the team!) bagsied the big double bed, which left Steve & I with the kids room & the bunkbeds. However, Merv hadn’t anticipated the plastic sheets on his bed! It dampened his enthusiasm, although the free porn on his tv seemed to make up for it!

Mervyn has a Scottish "energy" drink on day 2

Schoolboy humour seemed to be the theme for the week.

The village of Hornoy has the boys in giggles....

Cycling through rural France was idyllic – the towns & villages were quiet, and those people that we did see were pretty non-plused to be honest. Apart from the children! One day we rode through a small village and passed a group of young children with their school teacher. They stopped to wave & cheer as we rode through. Allez! Allez! they shouted. It felt amazing.

Noddy makes his appearance

On day three, we were staying in a bigger town with a Decathlon. Decathlon’s a big sports store, so being the bike geeks that we all were we went shopping. That was when Darren & I spotted the Noddy Horn. By now the rest of the guys had gone for a beer, so we bought Noddy and nipped back to the hotel, where we fitted him to Merv’s bike. Noddy joined us for the ride into Paris the next morning, Merv tooting all the way!

On the outskirts of Paris near St Dennis

Then all too soon we were arriving in the capital. The feeling when the Eifel Tower came into view, as we rode along the banks of the Seine, was amazing. I’d been there with Jo for the last day of the Tour de France just a few months earlier, and now to be riding on those same streets, down the Champs Elysees, took my breath away.

Made it to Paris!

But our adventure wasn’t over! On the Sunday we got the Eurostar back to London, and a very dodgy cab back to Blackheath. We hadn’t been able to arrange transport back in to Kings Cross on the Monday morning to catch our train home, so our only option was to dump our bags at the station the night before and then ride in!

None of us knew the route, however Merv came to the rescue by sellotaping his PDA onto his handlebars, loading up his satnav, and setting it to loudspeaker! Hilarious!! Somehow we made it to Kings Cross, through the busy Monday morning traffic, without either being involved in, or causing, a major accident.

"At the next juntion, turn left.....". Taking our lives in our hands!

By way of a postscript, we had ridden this event on behalf of the charity Breast Cancer Care, and were delighted to raise over £6,000. As a group (almost 60 people took part in the ride), over £150,000 was raised for various charities. A very worthwhile few days, doing something we love, having a great laugh, and raising money for a great cause.

Maybe it’s time for me to do something like this again…..

3 thoughts on “Back to Black(heath)

  1. Great moments in sport. We should never forget the achievement and those who made it possible. I said at the time, 20 years from now we’ll still be speaking about London Paris and all that went with it. I think steves still try get that wasp sting out.. !!

  2. That looked like huge fun, I’d love to do a long cycle expedition one day. Have you heard of the Texas 4000? It’s a team of student cyclists from my old University (UT Austin) who cycle from Austin to Anchorage every year – 70 days straight cycling. After a few days they split into two teams and take two routes, and eventually they meet up at the finish. Sounds like an epic emotional experience!

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