Today’s the start of London-Paris 2011 and there’s a tiny part of me that wishes I were doing it again this year. A bit like childbirth (or so I’ve been assured), the pain’s long forgotten and just the great memories remain. I have promised myself that I will do it again, probably with my beloved, although I’ll let him cycle in a faster group. Having taken part last year, I’m still on the newsletter distribution list so I get to live it again, albeit vicariously. There’s a couple of innovations this year, one of which I would have welcomed last year. Haribo are one of this year’s sponsors and they’re going to be handing out sweeties en route. What I wouldn’t have done for a few gummi bears last year!
The other innovations include live tracking of the individual groups. This is somewhat embarrassing for those of us in the slower groups. I’m not sure I would want anyone knowing I’m travelling twice as slowly as the fast group. However, there’s worse to come. Hot Chillee send you a slickly edited video compilation of the ride well after the event is finished. It’s a really nice memento. This year the compilation is going to be shown on Eurosport. Remembering that a camera adds 10lbs, I would need to be well below my ideal weight before making my debut appearance on television. Of course one can hardly claim to have been tearing through the French countryside when Eurosport has the evidence of you rolling sedately along in what appears to be slow motion.
Places for London-Paris sell out incredibly quickly and while there’s a number of organised events of this type, IMHO, the one organised by Hot Chillee is in a class of its own. Everything is taken care of so that you can just concentrate on riding your bike. It all started in 2004, with just 13 participants. Today, it is recognised as one of the world’s most exciting Cyclosportives and is the closest the amateur rider can get to the Tour de France experience. It has rolling road closures, outriders and professional logistical back up along the entire route, from Hampton Court to The Eiffel Tower. It’s one of only two events that finishes in the centre of Paris with rolling road closures, the other’s the Tour de France. The peloton with its 45 motorbike outriders, rolls along the famous Parisian streets to an emotional finish. The 365 riders in five speed groups are supported by HotChillee’s 100-strong crew, which includes mechanics, sports therapists and 14 Ride Captains.
The Daily Telegraph listed The London-Paris as one of the world’s top 25 mass participation events, along side the New York and London marathons. I’ve done two of those, does this mean I’m going to have to do the NY marathon? The event has an impressive list of sponsors including London 2012 sponsor adidas, Mavic, DHL and (our club sponsor) Skoda, 20 corporate teams and a variety of high profile individuals from sport and business who greatly add to the ambience of the ride, along with the Ride Captains. Have fun this year!