One of the most stressful aspects of LONDON-PARIS for first time riders is ‘what do you pack for 3 hard days on the road, as well as a night in Calais, a night in Amiens and a night in Paris?’
Now I am no sartorial expert, but I thought it would be good to show you my packing list to give an indication, albeit I will leave your choices for the HotChillee 15 year Anniversary Party in Paris up to you all.
Starting with the obvious cycling gear, I would suggest 3 sets of bib shorts & jerseys if you have them. It is possible to wash your kit en route, most likely on Friday evening in Amiens but I would recommend against this additional domestic chore at the end of a long day in the saddle.
Don’t forget a few base layers, at least 3 but even more if you have them. It is great to be able to put a fresh one on at lunchtime, particularly if you have been ‘riding hard on the front’ all morning on those smooth French roads.
This may be a little ‘OCD’ but I pack all my kit for each day in advance in separate bags so you can easily get them out when you arrive in your hotel without having to unpack your overnight bag completely.
As the weather between London & Paris can be very changeable, even in July, you will need a gilet, rain jacket, arm warmers, key warmers and even maybe overshoes. As we tend to roll early in the morning when it is a little chillier I would recommend wearing more layers in the morning and carrying your rain jacket, which you can then discard at lunchtime and put in your in your day bag (‘musette’).
On the subject of weather, you should also make sure you have your sunglasses, sun cream and mits for the sunshine all the way to Paris … I would also pack your waterproof gear (rain jacket and overshoes) and winter gloves, just in case the weather turns against us!
Obviously, you must not forget your cycling shoes & helmet … I know this sounds obvious but if you drop your bike off at Imber Court during sign-on the on the Wednesday before our Grand Depart, it is easy to turn up on Thursday morning with your trainers on and no cycling shoes!!
On the subject of footwear, it is a good idea to have a spare pair of socks, your trainers or flip flops in your musette, so that at the end of each day in the saddle (and in your cycling shoes) you have something to slip on for the short bus ride to your hotel. Spare socks are also helpful, in the case where we have a wet morning you can at least put some dry ones on at lunchtime.
You should also have a fresh top to slip on for the journey to make sure you do not get cold in transit. This is especially important on Day 1, where you would benefit from a set of fresh and warm clothes in your musette for the journey across the Channel, as well as of course your passport! It is also worth mentioning that if you are going to be packing your bike into a bike box at the finish in Paris, don’t forget to pop your keys in your musette on the morning of day 3. Your bike box keys will be no good to you in your luggage at the hotel!
It is important that you plan your nutrition for the 3 days and bring sufficient bars, gels and energy drinks to keep you going for 565km and 3 days. Each night I will prep my nutrition for the next morning, with enough in pockets and bottles to get me to lunch and put my afternoon requirements in my musette. You might also want to have a recovery drink in your musette so that you can start to recover as soon as you get off the bike at the end of each day. If all else fails, the support van that follows each group will be on hand with water, energy rich foods … AND bananas!!
One of the unique aspects of the HotChillee events is the support vehicles which provide mechanical support as we roll, meaning there is no need for you to bring lots of tools, inner tubes or repair kits, so you can discard your saddle bags and ride in the knowledge that if you puncture, a quick stop & a wheel change by your mechanic will get you back in the Group in no time.
-Gareth, HotChillee Ride Captain, Group 4