Annually, the Imperial College School of Medicine Raising and Giving team organise a trip to a European city for a night out; with this year’s destination being Paris. When this was announced, the ICSM Boat Club thought, why take the coach, when you can cycle there for charity instead? It’s only 295km after all.
At 4:45pm on Friday evening, twelve naïve cyclists set off from Queen’s Tower for the ride to Paris, with a target time of under 24 hours. Initial progress was slow, given the Friday afternoon rush hour, but after surviving Tooting and escaping the M25 we sped into the pitch black roads of the South-East. Shortly before our first scheduled stop with our supporters (Tom and Luke), we suffered our only two punctures of the journey. After a quick repair we set off in search of Newhaven; 100km and five hours after leaving IC we reached the ferry, ready to catch a couple of hours of poor sleep on the four hour crossing.
At 4am (Local Time), we disembarked at Dieppe, ready for the 195km leg of the journey. Despite an initial navigation error, we made good progress through the small hours and sub-zero temperatures along the Avenue Verte. The sun was, finally, seen after about 100km and, energised by a sweltering 3 oC, a chain gang was formed through the French countryside. Suddenly finding ourselves just 40km outside of Paris, entering Poissy, we stopped for a final food, toilet and caffeine stop and were for the final push. Central Paris and the Eiffel Tower remained in our sights as we took the “Scenic Route” via the Bois de Boulogne, but eventually, with Tom, Luke and the Van behind us, we rolled up the Champs Elysee towards the Arc de Triomphe and it was all over.
21 hour and 54 minutes of pain, dodgy banter and freezing temperatures were all well worth it for the tremendous total of over £1100 for RAG.
Written: Jack Stuart and Lewis Rogers