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Shaun Stewart raising funds doing London-Paris Bike Challenge

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Shaun Stewart raising funds doing London-Paris Bike Challenge

Shaun Stewart raising funds for Give A Future by riding the
London – Paris Bike Challenge.
We are so proud of his achievement and cannot thank him enough for all his efforts.

“After hearing about a friend’s decision to ride the July 2016 London to Paris Cycle Challenge in aid of a local charity I persuaded myself to enter the Challenge in support of Give A Future. I have enjoyed mountain bike rides over relatively modest distances but realised that if I was to pedal the 310 miles to Paris I would need a different lighter bicycle, the best pair of padded cycling shorts and to get used to long undulating rides over consecutive days in the saddle. I was urged to start training at least 4 months ahead and to regularly include some steep hill climbs. I made a less than enthusiastic start to my cycle training but as the start date approached I began to put in some long rides with a local group of cyclists who helped build my stamina and my confidence that I could achieve the daily distances required.

We started from Bexley on the outskirts of London to cycle 75 miles to the port of Dover in baking temperatures—me and 174 other cyclists of all shapes and sizes. I was soon humbled by a number of severely disabled cyclists who overtook me on steep hills with cheerful and encouraging banter! On reflection this first day was the hardest—we overnighted in Calais then set out for the 88 miles to Arras over rolling countryside. From Arras to Creil it was 92 miles, a 9 hour saddle day. The final ride into Paris was 55 miles and as each day passed the next day’s cycle just didn’t seem as daunting as it first appeared—we agreed that mentally and physically we seemed to be getting stronger.

Arrival into Paris the day before the Tour de France finish meant that the city was full of cyclists—all 175 of us were led up the Champs D’Elysee, around the Arc de Triomphe and onto the finish at the Eiffel Tower in a straggling pelaton that ignored all traffic stops and created good natured chaos. There many friends and family enthusiastically greeted the riders—champagne, finishers’ medals and photographs completed the day.

I had never cycled such distances before and took great heart and encouragement from riders along the way on older, heavier steeds than mine, many of whom were relying on true grit and determination rather than fitness and physique. There was great humour throughout and a collective willingness to get everyone to the destination whatever their speed. All in all the Cycle Challenge was a very rewarding experience particularly as the riders raised so much for the charities of their choice.”

Shaun Stewart, London August 2016