A Travellerspoint blog

Dieppe to Forest Row 65km

HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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When you've done something for so long it naturally just becomes part of your life, it's like going to work or walking the dog; we don't tend to think about it and then suddenly something happens and its over, finished and we have to find something else to do.

I didn't sleep much the night before arriving back in England which is hardly surprising considering we were inside a ferry terminal. I don't know how I felt to be honest when it finally came time to take the bikes outside into the cold morning air and as I write now a full week after arriving back its still hard for me to get my head around.

We met another cyclist coincidentally named Paul who was heading back to the UK after travelling up from the south of France on his two wheels. The three of us waited patiently to board the ferry as holiday makers with their caravans passed us by. We were eventually ushered down the gang plank and into the back of the boat where we were told we could leave our bikes. The area really amounted to a small corner where various pieces of junk had been dumped and I hardly thought it was the berth that my bike deserved but at the same time I'm sure there are some health and safety issues regarding the riding of bicycles on boat decks!

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Once the bikes were secure we made our way up to upper decks of the boat and found ourselves a comfy place to sit. Both of us were exhausted at this point and tried our very best to get some sleep even if for just a couple of hours. I soon realised this wasn't possible and went about trying to keep myself busy. Tom on the other hand seems to possess the ability to fall asleep wherever.

I was called by BBC Radio Sussex at around ten to eight in the morning as the boat neared Newhaven. Thankfully I knew about this the previous day and was therefore prepared to answer some questions live on air about my trip. They also had my understandably excited mother on the other line which was really nice.

I've said it before and I'll say it again I'm totally blown away by the interest that has been shown in my trip and now in particular the media coverage. I still think of myself of a guy who just rode his bike home but at the end of the day it's great if the story does get out there and most importantly highlight the cause (Parkinsons Disease) which I did this for.

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First sight of England

The excitement finally kicked in once the boat docked in Newhaven and we stood waiting patiently with all the other motorists eager to disembark the boat. When we went below deck we had a little scare in the fact that we couldn't locate our bikes. It's much the same feeling as anyone who has ever parked their car in a multi-storey car park; you know it's in there somewhere but on which level and at which end?

It was a massive relief to see that it wasn't raining in England and that the sun was shining. We pushed our bikes back up the gangplank and towards the lady at customs. We were finally back on British soil!

And then of course came the moment we and perhaps more-so I had been waiting for for the last seven months. We rode out of the ferry terminal and towards the small band of family and friends who had come to welcome us home and what a welcome it was.

I suppose it's one of those moments in your life that if you had the chance to bottle it then you would there are too many emotions to describe it; joy, happiness, elation, relief, pride, love and of course our good old friend fatigue.

All of my family was there and my mother even managed to fulfil our requests for bacon sandwiches and a cup of tea!

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Still all these days after the event it's hard for me to convey how I felt arriving back. It was amazing to see so many people turn out, so many friends and in addition so many people from the local cycling club some of whom I've never met before who came all that way to ride back with myself and Tom. What a feeling!

There was still the small matter of about 30 miles to ride back to Forest Row and our celebrations would have to wait until we arrived back in the village. I was still very aware of the fact that despite being on home ground I still hadn't fulfilled my dream to ride all the way back.

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The merry band of cyclists headed off out of Newhaven following the old red London bus that had taken people down to meet us. Thankfully the motorists at this time of the day didn't seem to mind the fact that they had to follow this large convoy of cyclists and there were I'm pleased to report no tooting of the horns.

Tom and I both immediately had to come to terms with the fact that we now had to ride on the 'right' side of the road which I have to say after all these months being on the other side felt somewhat strange.

I've ridden some amazing scenery over the last seven months but when it comes down to it there is really no place like home and while I maybe a touch biased both Tom and I agreed that the rolling hills and fields which led us out of Newhaven were the most welcome of sights

My journey has been one of self discovery, adventure, surprises, freedom and a real sense of happiness of being out on the bike. Of course there were hard times but arriving home made it al worth while. One of the hardest things I had to face while being away was the death of my father's mother, my grandmother early on in my trip.

It's never easy to lose somebody and sometimes even harder to be so far away and unable to see that person before they passed on. It was therefore important for me to take a short detour on the way back to Forest Row to pay my respects to her grave as I wasn't able to come home for her funeral. I knew she was proud of me but just wished I'd have had the chance to hear her say it in person; but some things in life are just not meant to be.

I'm not a shy person but I do like to as the saying goes 'fly below the radar' as it were and I was naturally somewhat unsure of what to expect once I got into the village; I guess I'm just not the kind of person who likes too much of a fuss.

The village holds a festival every year on this weekend and I believe that it originally started out as a bicycle festival http://www.forestrowfestival.org/?page_id=4 The plan was that myself and the other cyclists who'd come down to Newhaven would all ride together to Wych Cross before being joined by my father for the final two and half miles back into the village.

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It was wonderful that Dad was there with his trusty old bike to help me see in the last section of this trip. I keep repeating it over and over again but he was the inspiration for doing this and it was only right that he was there to finish it with me. I

If I'd been blown away by the reception I received at Newhaven it was nothing compared to the amount of people who were waiting for me as I turned off at the local church and headed down to the village green.

It was totally amazing to see so many people lining the street all waving flags and shouting messages of congratulations, my words here simply cannot convey just what I felt at this moment.

Before I had any time to collect my thoughts I was led into the centre of the village green and interviewed about what it finally felt like to be home. Someone, I can't remember who handed me a pint of Sussex's finest ale and I was encouraged to pose for photos taking a sip. I think looking back now I'd have much preferred a nice pint of cold water.

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It was then simply a case of shaking hand after hand and accepting the best wishes of so many people who had come to welcome me home. To say the moment was overwhelming is quite an understatement, it meant a lot to me and I cannot thank everyone enough.

I knew there was going to be some sort of welcoming party so in anticipation of this I wrote a small speech as I'd been told I'd be expected to give one, as it turns out this wasn't the case so instead of wasting those words here they are; I think they also get across what I was thinking on my arrival quite well.

Well I should start out today by first of all thanking everyone for turning up today to welcome me back home and a very special thanks to all those who made it down to Newhaven to ride back with me today. In addition a special thanks should go to my best friend Tom who came to meet me back in Prague on the 5th of September and ridden with me solidly since then. I should also say thanks to Tom to reintroducing me to ‘good’ food because as he said when we met I looked like a bag of bones.

As many of you know I’ve kept track of my trip via my blog and to be honest writing comes far easier to me than speaking. It’s also at this very moment quite difficult for me to process that this has finally come to end but the overriding feeling is of joy and elation to be back home back where I belong.

I’m a simple guy who thanks to my faith, perseverance and determination to fulfil my dream made it back here today. For all you dreamers out there and especially young people such as my nieces Mia and Isabella I urge you

Don’t just dream your dreams
Realise them
Live them
And Achieve them.

Today marks the end of my trip 208 days since I left China on March the 7th. It’s been the adventure of a life time and one which I will never forget.

I would particularly like to thank all those people who sent me messages of support whilst on my way. They always served to give me a little extra kick and made me realize I wasn’t alone, that was of great comfort to me especially when times were hard.

And of course there were hard times, how can I ever forget the 6 punctures I got on day one due to a small piece of glass and trying to fix this on the side of the road as the rain came down.. Then there was pushing my bike through sand for hours in the desert when the road I was on disappeared. Riding in all conditions extreme heat, wind, rain, storms and even snow. Then of course there was the infamous occasions when wolves passed by my tent in Kazakhstan! So many stories just like this.

But the bad times were far outweighed by the good times. The freedom, the sometimes vast open spaces around me, stunning mountains and at times incredible scenery all made it worth while. But perhaps most of all course how could I forget the people I met along the way?

If this trip has taught me one thing it is that the world is a good place populated by good people. Sure we may read the papers and watch the news which more often that not focus on the negative stories in the world but this trip was made by the people I met along the way. Strangers who showed me kindness, generosity and hospitality beyond my wildest dreams.

I would like to think that my trip has inspired many of you to get out on your bikes and to perhaps undertake adventures of your own.

The final thing I have to say is that I did this really for two reasons the first was to prove to myself that I could do it. I suppose even as I planned this trip there was that small corner of my mind, that dark little space that said I couldn’t but it’s about silencing these doubts, believing in yourself and having the conviction to keep going forward. Eventually you WILL make it.

I’ve learned that the things I thought I needed in life I don’t. For example I’ve learned to live under bridges, in forests, behind sand dunes…..in fact you name it I’ve probably slept there. I’m not saying I want to do this on a regular basis but it certainly makes me not take things like a warm bed and hot shower for granted any more. I hope it has changed my perspective on life and made me less materialistic.

And of course I did this trip for my Dad and for all the sufferers and carers of people with Parksinsons as a mark of respect for the way that they conduct themselves through the daily struggles this disease brings.

If you are looking for a hero or inspiration then don’t look at me instead I ask you to look to them and other people who fight and struggle with all number of other diseases and refuse to yield. They are the true inspiration for us they are the true heros.

So once again thank you all for coming out today, for supporting me and for the generous donations you have made towards Parkinsons. I’m sure over the coming weeks I may see some of you around the village and perhaps on your bikes, I very much hope so. Look out for the final blogs and of course if you have any questions you’d like to ask I’d be more than happy to answer them.

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Eventually I was able to slip away from the village green and head back home, back to a hot shower, back to clean pressed clothes and most importantly back to home cooked Shepherds Pie.

I seem to have been writing this last entry to my blog for a long time now and the simple fact of the matter is I'm not sure how to finish it. Is this the end or simply a new beginning? Since being back I've been inundated with requests, well wishes and the obvious question 'So.....what are you going to do now?' The simple answer to this question is I'm not sure, it's all about processing what I've experienced for the last seven months and going from there but rest assured I'll be keeping busy and of course getting out and about on my bike.

So thank you to all those people who've shared my journey by following this blog and keep checking back here from time to time there may well be some other entries in the future, it's very much a case of watch this space!

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Posted by Ontheroadagain 08.10.2012 23:10 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)

Gisors to Dieppe 119km

This is the end my beautiful friend....the end (well almost)

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There wasn’t much of a rush this morning when we got up, we knew we had to cover about one hundred kilometres until Dieppe which I didn’t envisage being much of a problem.

It was time to rid ourselves of the extra food I’d been carrying for a while so we ate a mammoth breakfast of not only porridge but also pasta; not together you understand.

It was a strange feeling knowing that the very next day we would be back on English soil. Thankfully it wasn’t raining when we finally left but despite the fact that we were so close to home it wasn’t excitement that filled us early in morning but instead both of us were possessed with a rather dour demeanour as we pedaled our way towards Dieppe.

I suppose it just felt like one of those things we had to do and the strong headwind that we faced throughout most of the day followed by a heavy downpour didn’t help matters. Nevertheless we pushed on but conversation was minimal with both of us lost in our thoughts as we rode on.

We spent most of the day on a fairly busy road and despite our huge breakfast it wasn’t long before we were hungry again. It’s interesting how your body reacts when it’s hungry I’m sure they are many who will agree that we all tend to get a little cranky when we haven’t had any food for a while and this was certainly the case just before lunch.

We hadn’t seen any petrol stations or small shops for that matter for a while and it seems that French people don’t pick up supplies in such places. There are plenty of houses in France but not many village shops. When we did see a sign for tea rooms and headed down the small country lane it was inevitably closed.

We eventually saw a sign for one of the large supermarket chains a little way down the road and turned off at a roundabout. What the sign didn’t inform us of though was the distance to the town it was based in which ended up being about seven kilometres; not a problem if you are in a car but a different matter when you are on a bike and hungry.

We eventually came across the very pretty little town of Saint-Saëns and were deliriously happy to find a supermarket. Neither of us really wanted to take out yet more Euros so we managed to cobble together what coins we had and I was sent off into the supermarket for another of my ‘economy shops’

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You could be forgiven for thinking this was England but in fact it's the lovely French town of Saint-Saëns

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Some mixed dry fruit, chocolate and bread later and we were ready to head back out onto the road feeling energized and far more upbeat about making it to Dieppe. In actual fact that diversion we took to get to the supermarket turned out to be just the ticket and the smaller road which directed us to Dieppe took us through a forest following the river and passing through some delightful villages along the way.

Our moods certainly changed once we started seeing the signs with the number of kilometres till Dieppe continually dropping. I’m not sure how Tom felt but for me I started to think about the vast expanse of land that I’d covered and here I was once again with the sea in front of me. It was a pretty cool feeling I have to say.

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With plenty of time on our hands we stopped and for the last time took advantage of not only the free Wi-Fi at McDonalds but also their washrooms. I managed to call home to let people know that I’d arrived safely and it was only then that the excitement of being so close really hit me.

We still had the small matter of a six kilometre ride to the port but as we rode over the small hill taking us there seeing the ferry port with the sun setting in the distance was; I have to say one of the greatest sights I’ve seen since I started this trip. At this point neither of us were in the least bit concerned about the prospect of sleeping inside the ferry terminal we were just so pleased to be there.

Everything was shut inside the terminal and it kind of had the feel of an empty hospital waiting room. It wasn’t a bad place to sleep at all and in comparison to some of the places I’ve spent it was luxurious.

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The last supper

Our minds were at this point very much on returning back and the long wait we had in front of us enabled us to take the bikes outside for a bit of TLC with both of us conscious that we wanted to ride back into England with our bikes looking their very best. Tom stripped down his converted tourer bike and not for the first time reiterated his desire to throw his racks away once he got home.

My bike has been an absolute Trojan and she has taken everything that both I and the roads have thrown at her, words cannot describe how much I love this machine even after all these months together. I continued to struggle with my mudguards and vowed to treat the old LPY to some nice ones the moment I got back but at the same time I’m loathe to throw away any part of the bike that got me here.

There wasn’t really much opportunity for sleeping although we both tried our very best to get some shut eye. Travelling with a bicycle always means that you are going to attract a certain degree of attention and this was also the case as people began to filter into the terminal. We met a really nice guy who upon hearing about our trip returned with a few small bottles of beer. In addition it was great to meet a couple of ladies from Yorkshire who were also kind enough to make a donation to Parkinsons.

As we drifted in and out of sleep trying to get some rest before boarding the ferry the next morning I knew that tomorrow would be a big day but had no idea what would be waiting for me back in the UK.

Posted by Ontheroadagain 03.10.2012 03:33 Archived in France Comments (1)

Paris to Gisors 79km

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As many of you will now be aware I have finished my cycle ride and I apologise for the lateness of these final updates. I'm sure you will appreciate that I've been somewhat busy since returning to the UK; but enough of that for now I aim to post up the three remaining blogs over the next three days covering my ride from Paris all the way back to Forest Row. I will then (at a later date) try to write something to wrap up the events of the last seven months if that is at all possible!

I should also point out that I'm writing this from a bench over looking the Ashdown Forest my spiritual home having taken the bike out for a ride this morning. I know what you are thinking 'It didn't take long for him to get back out in the saddle!' and you are right but what better place to gather ones thoughts and get some inspiration for writing.

Leaving Paris

I was a little concerned about leaving Paris; it's a massive city and although it had taken us a little while to work our way through it on arrival it hadn't proved to be that much trouble. It seemed that getting out Paris posed perhaps the last 'big' challenge of my trip.

Tom had gone to a hotel with his wife Charlotte to celebrate their wedding anniversary and I half expected after a night spent in not only the luxury of a central Parisian hotel but also in the company of his beloved that he'd come back and meet me in the morning citing some mysterious muscle injury and would instead choose to pack his bike back on the Eurostar to head for the UK leaving me to pedal the final days by myself.

I needn't have been concerned Forest Row men are made of sterner stuff than this and right on time at half ten there he was bike and bags at the ready and fully prepared to finish what we started together back in Prague at the beginning of September.

The weather was gloomy as we said our goodbyes to Charlotte and headed back onto the road. I was certainly refreshed after my days of relaxation in Paris but now being back out on the road and also being so close to home there was a part of me that just wished it could all be over now and all I had to do was ride for three hours and be done.

This unfortunately wasn't the case but I drew comfort from the fact that it was only a matter of two hundred plus kilometres before I got back; small in comparison to what I'd ridden but also seemingly so far.

Working our way out of Paris in the end wasn't that much of a problem. If you've got a compass you're basically good to go and for us it was simply a case of heading on a north-west course until we hit countryside.

Our main problem on this day was the weather, it poured and our early morning jovial nature was quite literally dampened as we cut our way through the mid morning traffic.

Riding in the rain isn't actually as bad as it sounds; once you get your head down and get into a rhythm you almost become oblivious to the rain. I mean once you are wet there comes a point where you can't get any wetter.

For me my main concern for the day was that we didn't have anywhere arranged to sleep for the night. I suppose you could say we'd become slightly 'pampered' what with staying with friends just south of Paris and then of course staying in hostels and hotels for the last few days. I have to be honest and say that on a late wet September evening the prospect of finding a field in Northern France to pitch my tent in wasn't the most appealing.

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Considering we left Paris at around 11 and had to work our way out of the city we made it to the small town of Gisors some 80 kilometres north of Paris very easily. The weather had eased up somewhat and we'd also seen some glimmers of sun through the day but it was clear to me that both Tom and I were thinking very much along the same lines with regards to where we could sleep for the night.

I've come to realise that nothing is a coincidence anymore and that everything that happened on my trip was meant to happen. Things, opportunities, situations call them what you will were placed in front of me as I travelled and it was up to me to decide what to do when these events presented themselves.

This was the case on this particular day as we rode into Gisors. Neither of us were particularly enamoured with the prospect of one final night of wild camping especially considering that we also faced the following night sleeping in the ferry terminal at Dieppe.

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It was therefore a welcome relief to see the 'half pension' sign offering cheap rooms almost immediately on our arrival. We could have camped and saved ourselves twenty Euros each but when we thought about it logically it made far more sense to take the room and the bed for the night. We only had one hundred kilometres to ride before hitting Dieppe and wild camping would have meant we'd have been up and out before ten and therefore in Dieppe way too early. Taking the small room here meant we could at least freshen up, cook up the remainder of our food, have a lie in a mostly importantly finish watching the final episode of Bear Grylls Escape to the Legion TV show that has been on my computer for ages. In the end it was a no brainer.

The only problem was that the room only had one double bed. We also faced this problem once before in Romilly-sur-Seine and I offered it to Tom and took a mattress on the floor. However at this stage of the trip neither of us were about to give up the opportunity of a comfy bed (especially one we'd paid for!) and as a result the bed was divided into two with strict instructions about 'roaming' during the night implemented.

The day finished, a few Euro coins still jangling in our pockets I knew the next day would finally see me reach Dieppe and also be my first sight of the sea since leaving Xiamen on March the 6th, we were slowly but surely edging our way back.

Posted by Ontheroadagain 02.10.2012 02:42 Archived in France Comments (0)

Paris

Out of fashion Paris style

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It’s now the 26th of September and I guess this will be perhaps the last chance I will get to blog before I get back to England. I’ve been in Paris now for two days; the first day was spent catching up with the blog and basically just relaxing. Judging by the people who return to the hostel every evening looking completely exhausted I made the right call on my first day here to venture only as far as the communal area near the kitchen.

It’s been really nice to be here and I’ve met as per usual lots and lots of really cool people; I shall miss these places once I’m back home. It’s once again been great to hear of other peoples adventures and also to share my own.

I did manage to venture out of the hostel yesterday evening (Tuesday) for a short walk around the neighbourhood the hostel is located in. I’m situated in Belleville and surrounded funnily enough by all number of Chinese restaurants and shops; it’s like I’ve come full circle and am back in China!

It’s quite an arty area and the cafes at night time are populated with the chicest of the chic young things all donning the latest in fashion, crossed legged, deep in conversation over aperitifs. I looked quite out of place in my cycling shoes, shorts and fleece, very un-Parisian.

Tom’s wife Charlotte arrived this morning and we were there at ten to pick her up from Gare du Nord. It was great that she was able to come out to spend this special day and equally heart-warming to see two people close to me reunited. It reminded me very much of the quote from the movie ‘Love Actually’ by Hugh Grant and although he uses it in reference to airports it’s equally apt here:

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion... love actually is all around.

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We walked out on the streets of Paris in search of Tom and Charlotte’s hotel so that they could drop off their bags before heading out to do a spot of sightseeing. Tom and I have done well with finding our way around but Charlotte immediately took charge and new automatically where to go. I commented that it would be good if she could accompany us for the final leg of our journey such were her navigational skills.

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Walking around the streets of Paris one immediately knows why it is the home of fashion and we passed person after person all immaculately turned out. Once again I looked down at my clothes and it really looked like I didn’t belong I’m really looking forward to the prospect of a pair of jeans and a shirt with buttons!

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You can almost see Naomi looking down on my dress sense!

We took in all the usual sights The Champs-Élysée and La tour Eiffel for the customary photo opportunities but we were really just ticking boxes. This is also Tom and Charlotte’s day and as much as I’m sure they didn’t mind having me in tow I decided it would be best to leave them for lunch and head back to the hostel. We were all somewhat exhausted and despite Paris’s amazing metro system we did a fair bit of walking around.

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So hear I am, ten o’clock and I’ve managed to finish off all our food in the fridge and even prepared some extra to take on the road tomorrow. My days of having to consider whether we have enough food or not for the next day are almost at an end.

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The weather forecast doesn’t look so good and once again we hit the road tomorrow hoping to reach somewhere near Louviers south of Rouen. I am a little concerned that we don’t have place to sleep tomorrow night so it looks like it might be one final night in the bivy before heading off to Dieppe on Friday.

Our ferry leaves on Saturday morning at 5:30 so we are probably looking at the prospect of two slightly uncomfortable nights sleep before arriving back on homes shores at 8:30 Saturday morning. Nevertheless I’m sure the adrenalin and excitement of being back will mean the effects of fatigue won’t hit us until late on Saturday night; at least this is what I’m hoping.

I’ve cleaned up my Panniers, jacket and shoes and rearranged them all perhaps for one final time. I’m very conscious of the fact that I don’t want to look a complete state when I roll back into Forest Row. I’ve held off cleaning the bike due to the continual rain but hope to give her a quick clean too before arriving home. The bags feel much lighter now that I’m carrying far less food and when I look at what I have left it makes me think that I got the packing for the trip pretty much spot on.

So…….that is Paris, please pray for a dry day tomorrow but more importantly a dry night as we head north towards Blightly. Perhaps there will be an opportunity for me to update the blog from the Ferry terminal in Dieppe late on Friday night so keep a look out for any postings.

As the trip is finally coming to an end I was thinking if anyone has any specific questions they want to ask about it you could drop me an email at paulsmith90@hotmail.com and then I’ll perhaps post up the answers to some of them when I get back. I’m happy to be able to share my experiences with you all.

Au revoir mon ami……. à bientôt

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Posted by Ontheroadagain 26.09.2012 13:26 Archived in France Comments (1)

Dannemois (near Milly-la-forêt) to Paris 62km

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Yesterday afternoon neither Tom nor I knew whether we would head to Paris today or not. I think both of us had become so accustomed to being out in the countryside that the prospect of a major city such as Paris didn’t fill us with the sense of excitement that perhaps it should have. I think it might have been partly down to the fact that we hadn’t secured a place to stay in Paris which contributed to our uncertainty about arriving in the capital.

I sent out numerous couch requests but what it being Paris and a popular destination we weren’t able to find anyone to host us. We finally decided late on Sunday night to simply go ahead and book ourselves into a hostel for the duration of our stay. By hostels standards it’s a little on the expensive side but again, this is Paris!

Before we set out on our way we were once again treated to a lovely breakfast spread which interestingly enough also included chocolate brownies, not that we were b. The remaining brownies plus chocolate bar were stuffed into my handlebar bag by Monique with the words “You will need these!”

As we hadn’t got to see much of Milly the day before Monique offered to drive us into the village to have a quick look around a take some snaps. Both of us were eager to get out on the road especially as there was a break in the weather in the morning but it was a fitting way to end our ‘mini’ stay there.

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We finally waved goodbye to our incredibly generous hosts Monique and Michel just after 10:30 and were on our way to Paris. Any apathy we might have felt the day before had totally disappeared and both Tom and I were totally pumped at the prospect of arriving in this most famous of cities.

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Tom obviously has his very own reasons for being excited in that his wife Charlotte will arrive on Wednesday to celebrate their wedding anniversary; for me it really is the final landmark destination in my journey and just one step closer to completing what I set out to do 202 days ago.

It seems that the closer we get to home the worse the weather gets. The heavens certainly opened last night and perhaps it was the deafening clap of thunder that persuaded us to move to Paris today instead of doing some more wild camping in the countryside around it.

The sky looked pretty menacing as we set out from Monique and Michel’s house but we were thankful at long last for a slight tail/cross wind. It’s only about fifty kilometres from Milly to Paris but I knew only too well from past experiences that making your way through a large city on a bike and looking for a specific address can be both a time consuming and slightly stressful experience.

I was a little anxious about riding into Paris, the sheer volume of cars is enough to put you off but it turned out to be pretty straight forward. I’ve ridden for the most part extremely carefully over the last six months but if anything what with me being so close to home I’m taking more and more care as I ride now.

Despite the fact that we only covered a distance of just over sixty kilometres we arrived at our destination The Loft Hostel in Paris at just after four. It was a massive relief to get here and I’m really looking forward to the prospect of two days of rest. You might say we’ve been resting quite a lot recently but I’m now very much of the opinion that after 14, 744 kilometres I’ve earned the right to choose when it’s time to put my feet up.

The hostel turned out to be really nice and will be my home for the next three nights and Tom’s for two as he and Charlotte have booked a swankier place to celebrate their anniversary. I’m not sure bunk beds in a eight bedroom dorm is the sort of romantic place one would wish to see in such an special event.

I don’t have too much planned while I’m here, sure I’ll go out and do the sights of Paris but I’ve often found that sightseeing in itself is more tiring than riding a bike one hundred plus kilometres. The blog as per usual needs some attention and there is also the small matter of making sure we have our escape route from this mad city well planned out.

In addition, and this will certainly have to wait until I get back and sorted in the UK there are just so many people who I have to write to. The amount of support I’ve received in the form of emails, Facebook messages and Tweets has been unbelievable and without such support this journey would have been far harder. I very much hope to get the time to sit down and write to each and every person personally to thank them for keeping me going.

Posted by Ontheroadagain 26.09.2012 11:44 Archived in France Comments (0)

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