Our London to Paris ride with children

crisscross

Senior Member
We have just returned from a family charity ride from London to Paris and would like to thank some of the people on here that gave us incredibly valuable advice and help in the preparation for the trip – most of which I forgot instantly!

I had loads of great advice and would like to thank a few people but I’m not going to ‘cus none of you buggers told me how hard it would be!!!!

Only kidding – Jack E, Arch, Howie, and Donald were very helpful and we really appreciated all your advice.

We were really ill equipped, ill prepared and ill disciplined but had a great time none the less.

Riding four heavy mountain bikes wasn’t a good start but these weren’t even good mountain bikes – the children’s were £30 eBay specials. At least I put skinnier tyres on my daughters which helped.

Doing the L2P is probably not much of a challenge for a real cyclist but we aren’t proper pedallers, our training consisted of rides to the ice cream parlour and kebab shop but each time adding fewer sauces and a few more miles.

Some would say contemplating a ride like this with children would be a severe problem – our children considered us to be the real handicap and they were probably right.

We looked at a (hell of a) lot of routes and in the end decided to cheat. We had the “luxury” of a Ford Focus driven by my dad to meet us at the end of each day. This meant our panniers only weighed 1 ton and not 3.

We chose Greenwich to Eastbourne as our trek to the coast, using some great cycle paths, particularly the Waterlink from Greenwich to Addington, Forest Row and the Cuckoo Trail which made up about 35 miles of off road tracks.

The other half of the English side was on quiet roads although these were more undulating than we were used to.

We managed to break the speed limit going down hill on one section which was scary, exhilarating and fun in equal measures. We are, after all, Sunday afternoon plodders so 34 miles per hour was like warp factor 10 for a 7 year old (and his petrified dad.)

The weather turned v. nasty heading towards the coast and we had to get changed in the disabled loos at Tesco near the beach.

We were supposed to take the next day off to look around Dieppe as we only arrived at 3pm but as the weather was better we decide to make hay whilst the sun shone.

Georgia tried to ride the 30 miles of Avenue Verte no-handed – stooopid girl!!! She was only thwarted by a nasty diversion that took us over une grande ‘ill.


We had planned to go to the west of Paris and do a Donald – in recognition of M. Hirsch and his brilliant web site but got lost during a reccie and bottled it.

Our next leg was a 50 miler to just outside Chantilly. This was a great day, plenty of empty roads through lovely countryside, no major climbs and a few other cyclists to chat to.

From Chantilly we headed to the east of Paris to a place called Gressy, here we took the superb bike lane along the Canal L’Ourcq all the way into La Republique in the heart of the city.

My dad joined us for the last 7 miles riding Velib bikes - the (practically) free bike rental scheme in Paris. He hasn’t been on a bike for 30 years but coped admirably.

Maybe it was because we had two children with us - or because we were wearing our bright yellow T-shirts – or the fact that I am the size of a tank but the Parisian drivers were incredibly considerate on the whole.

We tried to be clever and follow the pedestrians along the side of the Seine but soon realised that cobbles, lots of stone steps and big Americans aren’t a good combination for cycling on/ over/ around.

Eventually we made it to the Eiffel Tower where Jack tried to stand on his seat whilst riding superman style. Thankfully his pride was hurt more than any body parts.

A big group from Redhill arrived at the same time as us and were lovely and genuinely shocked that a seven and ten year old had done the trip.

The only whinge and sulk from Georgia was when I refused to allow her to ride around the Arc de Triomphe after we did the Champs Elysee.

We did 235 miles altogether in 5 days which may not sound a lot to serious cyclists but this was our Everest.

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Feelin' a proper gerkhin


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Just outside the Big Smoke


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Wot no speed camera!


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Forest Row


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Cuckoo Trail


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Soggy on Sea


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Look mum, no hands

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Not our favourite French word

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Forget Hovis, he's the baquette boy

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Je suis lost

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The main road to nowhere

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When we win the lottery ....

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Poppy

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Racing the boats

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The Geode

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First sight of the Tower

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Paris at rush hour


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Chumps Elysee

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Done it!

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Wot, no medal?!

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War wounds!
 

HJ

Cycling in Scotland
Location
Auld Reekie
Good to see that you enjoyed your selves :laugh:
 

summerdays

Cycling in the sun
Location
Bristol
Seriously impressed:bravo::laugh::bravo:.

As adults I don't think that's a distance to sneeze at, but for a 7 and 10 year old - fantastic. I'm going to tell my kids tomorrow ... but I know what their reaction will be in advance - mad!!!:laugh: (and NO we aren't doing that).
 
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crisscross

Senior Member
Thanks guys, our kids are special, but no more so than anyone elses.

We like to do things together and challenge ourselves - my son is still nicknamed Lazy Jack for reasons that are self explained.

The funny thing is that everytime we stopped for lunck / a drink / me to get my breath back they went off playing.

The war wounds aren't from falling off their bikes during the ride but from having fun.

OH says I may be exagerating mileage as it includes an extra half day bike riding around Paris after we finished the official ride, so probably 220 miles for the trp.
 
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crisscross

Senior Member
Crankarm said:
Nice pics. Your family cycled up the Champs Elysee in traffic? Blimey :biggrin:!
To be fair, it was quieter than our local High Street, we waited until Sunday to do that part of the ride, although the roundabout at the Arc de triomphe was pretty hairy scary.
 
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crisscross

Senior Member
Thanks Cathryn, you are right, it is fab especially for a lardy like me and 2 sprogs.

It's partly your fault as well!

If your Leeds Liverpool canal trip hadn't inspired us to do our first trek last summer we wouldn't have made it to this one.

We won't be copying any more of your adventures though as they are well out of our league.

If anyone wants any help planning what i think may be the easier option to Paris from Dieppe please get in touch.
 

JackE

Über Member
Location
Hertfordshire
Thank you for a very inspirational write up and great photos. When you get Jack a "proper bike" the sky's the limit.
What about Paris to Brussels next time!!!!! About the same distance, it starts and finishes on canals and is a fantastic ride.
 
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crisscross

Senior Member
Thanks JackE, you know we couldn't have done it without your help.

Our Jack is pretty useless at looking after his bike and so it will be a while before he gets a "proper" one.

Like the sound of the Brussels trip though.

Too busy for the next month to even look at maps!
 

CopperBrompton

Bicycle: a means of transport between cake-stops
Location
London
Wow, that's great with the kids!

Do you have a map of your route? I just popped in here to ask for recommendations for routes from London to Paris when I spotted your thread, so that seems a good place to start. :-)
 
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crisscross

Senior Member
Hi Ben I will sort something out for you, our route isn't as taxing as others I am sure, give me a couple of days please as need to find where I hid them.
 

CopperBrompton

Bicycle: a means of transport between cake-stops
Location
London
That would be brilliant, thanks! Non-taxing is just fine with me. :-) We'll be looking to do around 50 miles a day.
 
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