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I rode from London to Paris for the BLF

Dan,  a solicitor at Hodge Jones and Allen, and his colleague Aston rode all the way to Paris as part of our first ever British Lung Foundation bike ride from London to the French capital. 

I am a solicitor who represent clients and their families who were exposed to asbestos and have developed an asbestos related disease. These diseases almost always affect the lungs and the most deadly, mesothelioma, has no cure.

Hodge Jones & Allen already support the BLF and we know how important their work is to our clients and others in the same position. So, when we were asked if we would ride from London to Paris my colleague, Isobel, and I jumped at the opportunity!

Training for the trip

When I first started training for the ride, my only bike was vintage and from the 80s, on loan from my dear old dad. Despite its pedigree, it was starting to show its age...

Six months later and I'd finally got a shiny new bike (thank you, cycle-to-work scheme!) and had lofty plans to start cracking on with some training. It had been a while since I had ridden any great distance and I wasn’t sure my 6-mile commute would be good enough to count as training for a 3-day epic between two of Europe's biggest cities.

Four months on and training time was trickling away. The longest ride I had done was 50km to Richmond Park, and I was concerned about whether or not I had it in me to reach Paris. I consoled myself with the fact that 2 months was plenty of time to push myself even further.

Then, disaster struck: first, Isobel had to pull out. Then, I suffered a knee injury after a bad climbing fall. This brought my training to a sudden halt. 

I sent a slightly panicked all-staff email around the office calling for back-up and a very keen Aston Luff, a trainee at the firm, was the first to respond. I knew Aston was a former athlete and general sports aficionado, so I thanked my lucky stars and started looking on Ebay for a tandem we could use to train together.

Off we go!

The Ride London to Paris cycle team waiting to start depart from Blackheath common in London on the morning of the first day

The 2 months dwindled away and I wasn't sure that either of us were feeling particularly prepared. Regardless of our slightly mediocre training regimes, we rolled over Blackheath Common in high spirits for the start of our cycle to Paris.

At 6am on Thursday 25 July, we were met with the sight of a group of friendly cyclists sporting quite fancy looking bikes and a lot of talk about wattage and aerodynamics. We clearly had a lot to learn!

Shortly after 7am, we set off from London and before long we were rolling through the beautiful Kent countryside on what turned out to be the second hottest day of the year. Fortunately, the support team kept us topped up with water and everyone else was very encouraging all the way Dover.

After a stormy ferry crossing, we reached our overnight hotel in Calais. I collapsed into bed, shattered, with the unappealing prospect of having get up at 6am to do it all again.

Crossing the finish line

Yet the next 2 days were great fun and - despite punctures, mechanical failures and a morning in torrential rain - we all made it safely to Paris. 

To our great surprise, it turned out Aston and I were doing alright. We managed to keep up with the rest of the team and even found ourselves first into Paris – not that it was a race!

The Ride London to Paris cycle team celebrate in Paris in front of the Eiffel Tower after completing their three day journey.

The whole team came together for a victory ride down the Champs-Élysées, around the Arc de Triomphe, with a finish beneath the Eiffel Tower. It would be tough to ask for a better ending.

Inspired by what we achieved, I have started looking into a London to Paris cycle in 24 hours, though this may be a case of extreme optimism on my part. Aston did not look too keen when I suggested it but I’ll give it a few months for the idea to percolate…

My final thoughts would be to say a particular thank you to Faron at BLF, the support team who came with us and all other cyclists who took part. They helped us all the way to the finishing line.

I could not recommend this event more highly and if you’re reading this and wondering if you should do it, just say yes! You’ll be surprised what you’re capable of!

Take part in your own bike ride to support the BLF

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12 August 2019