Fri 11 March 2016, 4:49 pm
Alarm went off at 5.30 this morning and I realised: that's a lie in. It will be sounding at 4.30 every day for six days now, and an hour ahead on continental time ...
Sitting in a taxi with the bike in the back, wondering: “What have I forgotten?” – while knowing that it was too late to worry. As long as the jelly babies are there, everything will be OK.
The cab driver clocked the bike and lycra and was very careful to give cyclists on the road an extra wide berth. So, Cycle to MIPIM brings benefits to other cyclists – OK, in a small way.
At the departure, it was great to see several members of the 3Fox team, who had turned out to wave us off. I realised that we were taking off from Zizzi’s to go to somewhere called Nonsuch Park, but there was no sign of an A-Z and no one seemed to know the way. We won’t let this stand in our way – it was decided that we would head for Trafalgar Square and work it out from there – it’s only 1,450km.
There’s a waiting list of prospective riders for Cycle to MIPIM, so this year we’re taking part in an experiment, which if it works, could serve to double the event’s capacity in the future. We’re part of a smaller peloton of 22 pioneers, the Deviants on a déviation, tackling the nouveau route.
It’s not la nouvelle route, that would be French …
So as 100 riders took the well-worn route through Kent to Calais and on to Champagne and Burgundy, we were heading to Portsmouth to cruise to Caen, full of enthusiasm despite not knowing where we were going!
The first puncture happened in Battersea, falling to David Taylor of New London Architecture. This was the moment when 23 riders realised no one had a puncture repair kit or a pump. Or any money… Finally someone found a tenner and a bike shop on Balham Hill was invaded. While waiting outside, a woman walking past, stopped and said: “Are you going to MIPIM?” It turned out her brother is with JLL and is on the other route.
Finally the support van made it through traffic and caught us in Cheam. We stopped for lunch outside Godalming; a good time to wear the 3Fox shirt. The day went smoothly – a lovely ride, weather cloudy but dry, a couple of decent climbs, 1,300m up in 150km, then whizzed through the Portsmouth rush hour.
The bikes were fairly filthy. Ride director Chris says they'll stay like that, cos there's no hose. But David Taylor says it's Portsmouth – it's full of those …
By the end of the day, all seemed good, the first 100 miles done and 23 people sharing three showers before dinner, to be followed by the ferry at 22.45.
Additional reporting by Paul Bell of Ryder
Toby Fox (right) with David Hutt, director at Networkland, at the starting gate
Brendon Walsh, executive director of regeneration, economic development
and environment at Hounslow Council, gets 40 winks after day one of the ride
Journalist, David Taylor, making use of his lunch
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