The Master’s Charity Bike Ride from London to Paris
22nd June 2017
‘Poulters to Paris’
Bike Ride for the RABI the Masters chosen charity.
Way back in the depths of Winter Master George Harris sent an email asking if anyone was into cycling, the only person mad enough to reply was one of the newest members of the company; me. We met up to discuss plans, John O’ Groats, Moscow, Paris or the Pub, we settled on Paris but never wanting things to be too easy we settled on a route via the Great War Battle Fields. 2000 miles of training & 15 weeks later the day finally arrived, we had a very nice Mid-Summer Lunch before an early night ready for the big off from the Armourers Hall in the Old City of London.
Day one consisted of fighting our way through the London traffic & into the Kent countryside, picking up a couple of punctures & riding through a heavy thunderstorm on the way to Dover, we rolled in just in time for the ferry to Calais where we spent the night; ready for the next leg to Arras.
Day two was a lovely ride through the French countryside, the route kept us mainly on single track roads & at one point we ended up on a gravel farm track! The farming was excellent, professional & large scale, we saw 7 pea viners working in one field & the crops were amazing.
After a night in the lovely city of Arras day 3 was through the Somme to Compiegne, we had a few Poulters who had relatives lost in the Great War & we had promised to try & find there memorials. This resulted in a detour & having got a little lost we ended up with nearly 100 mile day.
We visited the Thiepval Memorial to the Fallen of the Battle of the Somme, The British Army suffered over 60,0000 casualties in one day on July 1st 1916, neither of us could speak during the visit, it was overwhelming & even writing this now the emotion is powerful. We found the inscription of Fred Byrtles a soldier of the Lincs & Derby Regiment. We both said a prayer then back in the saddle. Within 10 miles we had crossed the old front lines & came across the German Cemetery, this was just as emotional, just farm lads & ordinary people just like our lads, what a waste, we had some deep conversations for the rest of the days ride about the order of society & its injustices back then.
After a night in a grotty hotel in Compeigne we had our last leg to Paris, through beautiful woodlands & Villages. The villages & Chateaus getting bigger & grander as we neared Paris, eventually we came over the crest of a hill & there it was, the Paris skyline, the Eiffel Tower, Domes & towers all laid out ahead of us, only 20 miles to go… the traffic in Paris was like being attacked on all sides but after battling through it we arrived at the famous Arc du Triumph where we rode around it & down the Champs Elyse just like the end of the Tour de France.
We had a great trip, rode 334 miles, 15,000 feet of ascent, 15,000 calories & in the process over £10,000 for Farmworkers & Farmers less fortunate than us.
To date they have raised £13,411.43.