From April 3-7 2010, I rode to Paris from my home village of Radwinter in North West Essex with Murray Fraser, another Director of Breeze and Wyles Solicitors LLP, Simon Berry, a Director and owner or Early Doors Limited and his fourteen year old son Tom Berry. Preparation was mixed to say the least varying from 200 miles worth of training to 1500 miles between us. The charitable cause being supported was that of the local church. Significant recent changes have seen the loss of all but one of the focuses of the community but the church remains. However, due to the lack of funding the parish church, St Mary the Virgin, is failing to meet its main financial commitment and there is a very real possibility that the church will see diminishing finances to meet its day to day running. This may leave the PCC at some time in the future with the unenviable decision to restrict the amount that the Church is being used. In order to try to postpone or remove this decision I decided to try to raise funds so that the balance of capital within the accounts could be increased to a level that ensures that the decision is postponed.

As regards the journey I can confirm that we completed the journey despite many problems along the way including, 15 punctures and a Sea France strike making it impossible for us to make the trip from Dover to Boulogne.

Day One (75 Miles Radwinter to Chislehurst)

Leaving the Parish church at 9.00 am we travelled from Radwinter to Stanstead Abbotts via Rickling, Farnham and Much Hadham stopping for lunch at Ware for lunch. We then joined the Lea Valley cycle path taking us from Ware to the Greenwich footway under the Thames. From the Cutty Sark we rode to Chislehurst arriving shortly before 8.00 pm. During the day we suffered six punctures and the failure of a pannier support that required bicycle shop repairs in Ware thus meaning a detour to Ware. We then spent the evening repairing the punctured inner tubes.

Day Two (78 Miles Chislehurst to Calais)

Starting the day following cycle route 21 it soon became clear, with further puncture problems, that progress would be too slow to make Dover and a crossing in the evening, whilst the route was scenic it zigzagged across the Kent countryside. So at about 11.30 am we joined the A20 and our speed started to increase. However, the A20 ends in Folkestone (from where nowadays few if any ferries can be found to take you to France) rather than Dover. Arriving in Folkestone we needed to make the short but circuitous journey between the two towns but found ourselves lost until we located the Alkham valley. We eventually arrived in Dover at 6.50 pm and caught a ferry to Calais at 7.45 pm arriving at 10.15 pm local time. Fortunately for us the Hotel Mercure in Calais centre had spare rooms. During the day (Easter Sunday) we managed to find an open Halfords in Maidstone and replaced the worst offending tyres with Kevlar (Puncture proof) versions. I am still unable to work out how we found this place open on Easter Sunday but am extremely grateful that we did.

Day Three (56 Miles Calais to Hesdin)

Having arrived in Calais rather than Boulogne we had now added approximately 30 miles to the journey. In addition, what had previously been a westerly wind now turned to a 20 mile an hour head wind slowing progress dramatically. Moreover, to travel inland requires a cyclist to climb some pretty steep hills. Unfortunately, I was passed the map and given the responsibility for the route for that day. Suffice to say that we climbed many more hills than was needed with the obvious impact that this had on our rate of progress. Eventually we arrived in Hesdin at 6.45 pm having travelled through Les Sept Vallees [my mistake on map reading as I told the other riders that there was only a few hills between Calais and Paris – ooops]. All of the obvious Hotels were full/closed but upon asking a local in our pigeon French if they knew of any hotels in the vicinity that might be open the local pointed to the nearest building and clearly disturbed by our massacre of the French language said in perfect English Do you mean here? My Hotel. It transpires that the Hotel was closed for bereavement reasons but the owner taking pity on us decided that we would be little problem to them in their difficult time.

Day Four (93 Miles Hesdin to Beauvais)

Leaving at 8.30 am we departed Hesdin on an extremely busy road towards Abbeville. It became clear almost immediately that our safety was in jeopardy every time a lorry passed us, so about three miles out of the town we deviated onto smaller D class roads. Anticipating a long day as we tried to catch up both the extra 30 miles that the crossing to Calais had created and the shorter riding time of the previous we did not expect to have to ride into the night. However, on reaching Crevecoeur where we hoped to finish our day we found that the only hotel in the town was full and the owner somewhat unhelpful. A decision was then taken to attach our lights and make the 15 miles journey from Crevecoeur to Beauvais. Riding in a block of four rather than strung out (my lights had failed but I had brought with me a miners lamp than could be fitted to my forehead) we doubled our rate of progress, noticing that the wind was now almost negligible, making Beauvais inside the hour. Arriving at Beauvais at 10.30 pm we eventually found a Hotel that would take us at about 11.10 pm.

Day Five (78 Miles Beauvais to Paris)

We started the day at 8.15 am heading towards Paris on the N1. Our average speed was quite high with the team maintaining progress of about 28 KPH average. Our plan was to try to take the most direct route into Paris passing through Chambly and then down into Saint Denis. A fine plan in theory but the practice was something completely different. Our aim had been to arrive at the Eiffel Tower at about 5.00 pm but in the event this did not happen until about 8.00 pm as we tried to locate a D Class road to take us into the immediate outskirts of Paris and when we eventually found one (D928) to find it again when we lost it in Taverny. Before moving on to the Eiffel Tower we needed to find a hotel near the Gare du Nord (and therefore the Eurostar) succeeding eventually after much negotiation in finding two rooms in a rather seedy 1* Hotel. We then travelled to the Eiffel Tower and took our photographs among all of the other tourists.


I wish to thank my fellow participants but in particular Tom who despite having being diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes some years ago was by far and away the strongest cyclist among us. His energy kept us all going and I hope that he appreciates what he has achieved. I would like to thank all those people who have donated money to the Church and will report how much we collect when I have a final figure, this being delayed as funds continue to be received. In addition, I would like to thank Newdales in Saffron Walden for all of their advice and assistance prior to the trip. I must also thank Alan Drury of adsignwriting for preparing the firms shirts at such short notice. Finally, none of this would have happened without the support of all of our families.

As a final note, donations continue to be received and if you wish to donate to this cause please let me have a cheque made payable to Radwinter PCC at my office.

Breeze and Wyles Solicitors LLP
11 Ducketts Wharf
South Street
Bishops Stortford
Hertfordshire CM23 3AR

Brendan OBrien