I’m proud to say that 20 wealth managers and I overcame the saddle soreness, aching muscles, sunburn and exhaustion to cross the finish line at the Eiffel Tower after a gruelling but incredible four days, reports Libby Ashby from Paris.
While some found the cycling harder than others, it was one of the toughest physical challenges I have ever done, having only started cycling a couple of months ago.
I’m pleased to say both my colleague, Sian Tickner, and I made it the whole way without stopping, or getting off and walking on any of the many steep hills en route.
Congregating at Greenwich Park on a beautiful summer’s morning and setting off all together was a great way to start the event, with everyone feeling upbeat at the first pit stop. The next leg was tough – it was longer than expected until lunch and energy levels were dropping.
The first time trial hill climb just before the coast, Lympne Hill, felt more like a mountain but then it was downhill for a couple of miles to the Euro Tunnel.
That evening, after watching a disappointing result in the England vs Uruguay World Cup game, we all got some well-deserved rest in Calais.
Day two was the longest day in distance, with a hilly time trial and other steep climbs. I started in the medium speed group, hoping to keep up with many of the wealth manager riders I had profiled but soon learnt that the average speed advertised on the registration form was much slower than the actual speed we were going.
At the first possible opportunity, I dropped down to the slow group – also known as the social group.
For the rest of the ride, I had a lovely time admiring the beautiful French countryside and chatting away to other riders, both of which were much needed distractions from the increasing pain of saddle soreness.
It was great riding into Abbeville altogether as one large peloton. I had a chance to chat to the investment managers in the fast and medium groups as they weren’t allowed to speed off.
On the third day, with the aches and pains starting to take their toll, a few of the discretionaries put their pride aside and joined me in the social group as the two other speed groups stepped up a gear.
The ride captains of the fast group let the fastest of the peloton set the pace for a change and it was a couple of the wealth managers, Rathbones’ Jeff Vernon and PSigma’s Carl Fiford, who led the pack.
Ironically, at one point, the current over-forties road race champion, Vernon from Rathbones, was knocked off his bike by one of the medics as they hurtled round a corner while narrowly missing a campervan.
Not only did the medic cause Vernon’s injuries but he had no supplies to help with the cuts and bruises!
The atmosphere on the morning of day four was fantastic as everyone realised how close we were to the finish.
A few long winding hills later, we all regrouped at lunch, ready to set off to Paris together.
Riding into the French capital in a group of more than 200 riders, and with all the roads closed, was an incredible experience.
Turning the corner, seeing the Arc de Triomphe ahead then crossing the Seine with the Eiffel Tower in sight will be a great memory for us all for years to come.
Celebrations at the finish line and then the gala dinner were a fun way to end such a challenging but rewarding few days – even though it was difficult to recognise everyone once they had changed out of their lycra!
It was a humbling experience listening to the stories throughout the ride of why so many people were taking part and it reminded us of the fantastic work that Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research does to help those suffering with blood cancer.
I would like to thank all the team at LLR, the support crew and the sponsor, Catley Lakeman Securities, for such a well-organised and memorable event. And congratulations to everyone, especially all the wealth managers who were involved.
For photo highlights and wealth manager times, please click here.
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