I’m back, a bit sore, a bit wind and sun burned, but happy. What a great four days. We’ve got the total raised over £8,000 which is amazing, but donations are still welcome. With more, we can get another few kids through school in Uganda as well as building all the gardens we’d aimed to provide. I can’t stress how great the project is, both in terms of how much of a difference your money makes and how directly it will assist the project we’re helping. Read more about Awamu and the kids in Kampala on their website.
Day One – London to Dover
We started off in Blackheath – a reasonable start-point, on the right side of town to reach Dover, but with the interesting first challenge of Shooter’s Hill to contend with. The properly non-delightful A2 also presented its own challenges, with some busy sections, as well as climbs later in the ride, which when combined with the rain, made this day probably the toughest all round.
If I was to ride from London to Dover again, I’d check some sections again to find a more cycle-friendly route. We wanted to keep the mileage down because of the deadline of the ferry and the climbs adding to the difficulty. We all made it with the continued and essential support of our two magnificent support drivers in the van full of carbs, Michelle and Kate. They became a welcome sight along the road from that day and the following three.
The ferry crossed us to Calais, then we hopped over to the hotel for the night and got some rest before the first full continental day of riding.
Day Two: Calais to Bruges
Calais isn’t the prettiest town. We soon left it behind and headed into rural areas. Quiet roads for the most part, some segregated tracks. Sunshine and showers. A mixed bag but a great ride, and devoid of the climbs and A-roads of the English leg.
Day 3: Bruges to Delft
We knew this was going to be a long day. The coastal sections also made for quite a lot of wind. The rest stops became even more important due to long legs between them. I also managed to drop my front wheel into a water filled ditch and tumble over the handlebars very early in the day, which slowed me down a bit. Having to keep working my legs worked out the pain though. There were some lovely sections on this day. More kite surfers in one place than I have ever seen in my life in Scharendijke, lovely canal-side riding around the border, wetlands. The delight of riding on Dutch infrastructure despite the occasional bad weather.
We arrived in Delft to the strains of the Jazz Festival, and the (un)welcome of the hostel which was closed when we attempted to check in, and where we had to make our own beds. Once mine was made, I climbed straight in, took a painkiller and rested my leg. The others skipped out for music, beer and burgers. Don’t bother staying at the Jorplace hostel in Delft, folks, it’s rubbish. They even took ten Euros from us because we left energy bar wrappers in their bin (consumed on the ride, but somehow contravening their “no food in the rooms” rule.
Delft seemed like a lovely city though, I’d definitely come back, in order to actually see a bit more of it!
Day 4: Delft to Amsterdam
After the previous day this was a much more manageable distance and we cut out the post-lunch stop, meaning we had three pushes of around 20km each. We got a bit of a soak after lunchA minor diversion from the route to get between Schipol and Amsterdam, as I couldn’t see a way onto the track suggested – so instead a signposted route through forest and field took us to just south of Vondelpark. Once we exited the park the heavens absolutely opened onto us and we received a massive soaking between there and Dam Square for our photo and bubbly cider finale.
All in all an amazing four days – highs, lows and lovely cycling, with a fantastic bunch for a great cause. It’s been three years since London-Paris, I guess we now have a bit of a think for what to plan for the next one!
Donations can still be made for a month or so – it’s a great cause, well worth your support.