The final day was here already. “Only” 50 odd miles lay between us and Paris. Even so, it was another early start so as to get us all to where we were supposed to be on time.
I wasn’t sure how my knee was going to be feeling, even with the aid of “pink pills”, and so set off a little gingerly. It felt ok, and as we left Chartres the roads turned into the same long flat smooth roads that we had arrived on the night before. I was still a little restricted going uphill, but the hills went away… The first water stop was only 20 miles away, and as I cycled along with quite a little group, it occurred to me that doing the speeds that could be done along there, if the roads lasted, that maybe I could get there in an hour… So, I put my best foot down, hurtled past the group, and zoomed off down the road, taking Bill along behind me. It was FABULOUS! I flew… I got to the first stop, about 21 miles in, after a little over an hour, having averaged 18.6mph due to the slower section at the start, feeling extremely pleased with myself *grin*. The rest of the group came in a while later, wondering what I’d had for breakfast to set me off like that!
After that we pretty much stuck together as the roads got busier and less flat. Some fairly serious long hills followed, as the route profile had warned, and I plodded my way up them favouring the knee. We had a lovely coffee stop at a funny alpine style shack in the middle of some hills, complete with lake and ducks. Things were going pretty well until we were in Versailles, getting close to the food stop, about 12 miles out from Paris. We were going through an old military camp style area, and came across some old train tracks in the road. Jon, just ahead of me, yelled about the tracks. I was slowing and turning to go across them at 90 degrees when he went down, I had to swerve left to avoid him thus putting my front tyre straight into them… I skidded along them and went down hard on my right hand side, swearing like a trooper. After my very similar feeling accident two weeks ago I couldn’t believe I was doing it again!!! I was NOT amused! 🙁
So, back on the ground again. I’d gashed my right elbow, nicely removing all the just healed area there, grazed my knee, banged my head, and bashed my shoulder. Nothing too obviously serious though. I did feel very shaky, and in shock, unlike last time which was probably a sign. Jon was likewise bruised and battered but ok. Back on the bike, round the corner under a bridge, and there was the food stop on the LHS just down a hill. I didn’t feel up to downhill, so got off and walked in, dripping blood, in tears, in front of what felt like the entire cycling world. The DA team patched me up, and checked my bike over (back wheel out of true, back brake needs work, scratches, bashed gears again, damaged brand new handlebar tape). The doctors weren’t happy with my shoulder and I knew it hurt more than it ought to…
…but there was no way I was not going to cycle in the last 12 miles. Not after all that way. I cycled the rest of the way in extremely carefully with some other tail enders – having told my mates to go on without me. Plenty of traffic lights meant lots of stop starting, and no need to build up any speed. Cycling into Paris was a bit emotional, down all those familiar streets, and the atmosphere was awesome. I made it to the Trocadero where everyone was gathering without further incident. After everyone was in, the riders from several routes set off together to go down the Champs Elysee to the Eiffel Tower, at which point my chain fell off. I put it back on and got going again, but sadly had to cycle that last bit with people I didn’t know at all, which wasn’t quite the same. However with all the traffic and the cyclists it actually felt more comfortable to be at the back with a bit of space and a reduced likelihood of falling off again! All of us together made quite a spectacle, with bells ringing and horns tooting.
So, that was that. We all gathered together under the Eiffel Tower for medals, group photos, and the like. I was kinda sheet white by this point, but really happy to have made it. Day 4, and the L2P was done. And I was done for 🙂
Average Speed 14.9
(Odd to see that my average speed actually went up each day, as you’d sort have expected the opposite!)