Hell on two wheels from London to Paris

 Performance enhancing drugs

In those glorious bygone days of yore performance enhancing drugs were nicotine, brandy and pork pies, my bicycle and I would have fitted in mighty fine. As it is, nowadays, everyone is doping up with a world of legal and illegal substances which leaves me frankly bewildered. To my mind, performance enhancing substances should not actually enhance the ride, but rather the general situation of the taker, even if this means to the detriment of their cycling abilities.

Which is why my training regime has only seen a slight slackening in my daily intake of the sauce etc and just an increase of pasta into my diet (about half a kilo per diem for the last week or so). Following my pitiful performance in the Purbecks on the penultimate weekend of May, I feel that I am entirely unsuited to long distance hauling of self up derry down derry, and can only conclude that the morrow will see the commencement of hell on two wheels, for tomorrow I begin my ill thought adventure and ride to Paris.

Much like Carless and Newby before they trotted off to Nuristan and the Hindu Kush for an abortive attempt on Mir Samir, my preparation has been minimal. Where they went for a jolly jaunt in Wales, I trialled my wheels and self along the Purbecks with good chum and sterling explorer himself Mr OJD two weekends ago – and though spirit was willing, wheels were occasionally not. I believe it is something to do with the fact that I have only 3 gears and a frame that while sleek and elegant weighs a tonne next to that of one of today’s carbon fibre made jobbies, and also well, I am just unfit.

Add to this, the photo session with the Italian press yesterday covering my final preparations for this wheeled Odyssey, which saw me try to fit a tire all too small to my wheel, among other little mishaps, and to say the least my confidence has been shaken into a misshapen beast that looks a little like fear…

For the days ahead see 90 miles zipping (read “struggling”) up up up up the South Downs to Dover, and then a slow progression of decreasing runs across the French countryside dropping down to 80, 75 and 60 miles for the final sprint into Paris itself. Bearing in mind that the furthest I have travelled on my steed is about 55 miles – and that was over a weekend – I am intrigued to see how I will cope. My only consolation is that Eddie Izzard, the tubby executive transvestite (his words not mine) ran an inspiring bout of marathons around the UK with no training. Cycling must surely be easier…surely?

Anyway, this is very much the epitome of what Oscar Wilde meant when he discussed “Experience is the name everyone labels their mistakes”, and I suppose is also the make or break point for me and my boyfriend (so labelled by mia cara ragazza who could possibly be jealous of the attentions he receives) – making me wonder whether our love affair will last beyond these 3.5 days? Well I do hope so…as I have plans for Istanbul following Paris.

At the end of the day though, my pain will bring great gain. For I am going through this torture not only out of a sense of sheer idiocy and bloody-mindedness, but also with the goal of raising funds for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust. So far the total has been impressive, and I can only thank friends, family and colleagues for their generosity that has seen such a great sum raised, while also not putting me through the pain of pedalling all the way on my Brompton! Lor’ bless them all…and on that note, it is time for more pasta!

Oh and yes…I will be wearing tweed for this ride…


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