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DAY 1 DIARY: Leeds to Paris bike ride

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DAY 1 DIARY: Leeds to Paris bike ride

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September 12th, 2014

During our Ride25 5 day bike ride from Leeds to Paris last week, one of our riders, Mike Donnellan, found the time each night to compile a daily account of his experience.  Over the next 5 days we will be sharing the highs and lows of each day of Mike’s personal diary on his cycling journey between God’s own County and Paris.  Here is Day 1…

Leeds to Paris cycling holiday 10The 5 days between Wednesday 3rd September and Sunday 7th September bring back powerful emotions of tremendous riding, achievement camaraderie and sheer joy. Nothing else mattered during those 5 days where I shared my life in a bubble with 25 other people who I had not met before on our quest to get from Leeds to Paris on a bike. We were a bunch of amateurs who asked our bodies and minds to endure a level of challenge that none of us had ever encountered before. For my part, I have been to Everest climbing the world’s highest mountain to an altitude of 22,500 feet. Not quite the top but an equally life changing event that I will never forget.

Leeds to Paris on a bike, this was to prove to be something a lot harder than Everest – but we did it!

This blog is my record of what it was like living in the bubble that enveloped us for those few, short days.

DAY 1 –  Leeds to Ashby De La Zouch. Wednesday 3rd Sept, 2014

• Distance covered – 190 km
• Duration – 11 hours
• Ascent – 6,500 feet
• Calories consumed – 8,500
• Terrain – rolling hills with continuous 6% to 15% steep climbs
• Pace – 1st 120 km in the leading pack running at 40 km/hr race pace at times, 67 km/hr fastest
• Heart beat – 126 bpm average, 160 bpm peak

Leeds to Paris 1jpgWithout doubt this was the hardest physical activity I have ever taken on. I was the oldest rider out of 25 but still managed to finish the day just behind the leading pack.

We heard stories over dinner of some 30-year-old riders doing the walk of shame up some of the climbs which is something that I never had to do. I felt quite proud given my 58th year in December.

We made a leisurely start navigating the heavy rush hour traffic in Leeds as a bunched group. The 1st climb of the day after 45 mins soon split the group along the road with 3 groups then forming. The South Yorkshire towns of Wakefield, Barnsely and Sheffield soon came and went. The terrain noticeably became more demanding as we headed South East towards Derby with several vicious climbs of 10%+ gradient coming in quick succession.

Leeds to Paris 2 jpgNutrition and hydration needed careful and continual attention. After the lunch stop at 73 kms where we dined on chicken and mushroom pasta, flap jacks and pots of tea I quickly resorted to consuming high octane energy gels consuming them at a rate of one every 40 minutes. This maintained my energy levels throughout the day although these just about depleted for the last hour riding from Burton-On-Trent to Ashby where I had become detached and lost from any of the other groups.

For the final 2.5 hours after the last re-fueling stop I dropped off the punishing race pace of the leading pack riding at a more sustainable sub-30 km/hr pace. This was far more comfortable and manageable as I came out of oxygen debt on the remaining climbs. Finally, rolled into the hotel car park at 18:45 pm, 11 hours after leaving Leeds at 07:45 am earlier in the day. Helen and Jaime were on hand cheering me into the car park. I was exhausted physically and mentally and I was so relieved when they took the bike away and all I had to do was pick up my room key and head for a very welcome hot shower.

Read Day 2 of Mike’s Diary here

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