route recce

The LONDON-PARIS Gravel Recce

The LONDON-PARIS Gravel Recce, Stages 2 and 3 – France. 

Stage 1 – London – Dieppe via Newhaven Ferry Terminal – Read all about this recce here.

We’re fresh off the Eurostar and back in the UK after a weekend of gravel recceing and riding over the pond in France! We had an epic response after sharing our experience all over social media. So we thought we’d put our thoughts down on paper to share our thoughts about the ride and what you can expect on your journey.

london-paris-gravel-hotchillee
london-paris-gravel-hotchillee

Getting there

With the world finally opening up again and allowing for travel, we were super excited to be heading over to France. After meeting at the Ferry Terminal, we checked in and hopped on to the boat. It was all very hassle free, just remember to check your vaccine status with current regulations and passport validity in advance of the event! 

After a night spent researching the hotel’s extensive range of refreshments and catering facilities, we hit the hay in our rooms at the Mercure hotel – where LONDON-PARIS Gravel riders will be staying. We were delighted with the stay and are looking forward to welcoming you all as you come in after a long day on the saddle from London on the Downs Link.

Day 1 on the Recce (Stage 2)

Dieppe to Vernon – 140km – 1350m total elevation.

After a bright and early start, we set off into the countryside under stormy skies and the occasional snow shower. Luckily, we’d wrapped up in a hell of a lot of layers and morale was high as we cruised through leafy forests on pristine gravel trails. If you are riding the July event, rest assured that there won’t be any snow and you’ll be much less layered.

Our LONDON-PARIS Gravel route doesn’t follow the traditional Avenue Verte route as many might think, instead it twists and turns through more exciting and varied terrain, but almost remains in sight of the old railway line for much of the way which has become the main thoroughfare for cyclists on their way to Paris from Dieppe. We however decided to keep away from the well trodden path, to give our riders something more unique and adventurous!

london-paris-gravel-hotchillee

The weather began to clear around midday as we reached our first lunch stop at 80km in. We’d overshot our planned stop location and in true gravel fashion, all shops were closed. Luckily our wonderful support wagon crew cropped up bearing pizzas for everyone which we wolfed down without hesitation. You can expect these same delicious pizzas en route to the actual event which will be awaiting you at around the halfway mark. We’re also marking in several water stops so you needn’t worry about running out of H20, our gravel recce crew found they had plenty throughout the ride. 

A cold coke and pizza later and we were back on the trails and now following the grand Seine river towards Paris! The magnitude of the river sweeping through valleys and mountains definitely made an impression on each of us as we stood overlooking the vast landscape ahead of us on the way to Vernon, our hotel stop for the night. Despite the mountains, our next section of riding would take us along the river. With no elevation gain for the remainder of the ride we knew we’d tackled the toughest part of the route and sat back and enjoyed the sun as we pedaled our way home on the banks of the river. Dinner and warm showers awaited us, and sleep came very easily. 

london-paris-gravel-hotchillee
london-paris-gravel-hotchillee

It soon became apparent how epic the route was, in dry summer conditions it’s sure to make things a lot easier, sloshing around in the mud on technical sections gave us more to concentrate on and added to the fun but surely made things more difficult. Whilst we found certain areas challenging and engaging, we felt that the route had a really nice rhythm to it and would reward us for harder gravel sections with sweeping sections of smooth tarmac and expansive views. Rocky passes and descents would lead up or down into smooth and fast rolling forest areas, before connecting with our next section of road. 

“It’s such a fantastic route, packed with a wide variety of different surfaces and terrains, which keeps you immersed In the ride experience” – Ride Captain, Jack Kirkby

Day 2 on the Recce (Stage 3)

Vernon to Menucourt – 60km – 700m total elevation. 

Stage 3 on the LONDON-PARIS Gravel event is a total of 100km from Vernon to Paris. Riders will meet the road cyclists at Menucourt and will ride on closed roads together into the city. 

Day two of the recce began with the much anticipated unboxing of our Santini Gravel Specific kit which we’d be riding in for the day. The sun had come out, but it was still hovering just above zero which made for a frosty start after breakfast. 

Scenery, terrain and architecture seemed to dramatically change as we ventured further south on the route towards Paris. Passing through Vetheuil, the home of impressionist artist Claud Monet was a highlight and made for a lovely start to the day before we jumped back on the gravel trails. Riding parallel with the Seine still, we rode up and down on a rollercoaster profile as the route carried us from the river valley to the highest point overlooking it from above. Climbing these sections was hard going, and we were glad to have the water stops with bucket loads of Haribo at hand to keep us moving. 

See you out there!

We found there to be less tarmac on this last section and endless rapeseed fields and exposed gravel paths awaited us. Thinking forward to the event, this would make for a superb first half of the day before joining up with the road cyclists and rolling into Paris together on closed roads.

After arriving in Menucourt and snapping some last snaps, we bundled into the van and made a dash for the eurostar. LONDON-PARIS gravel event riders will however continue on for another 40km into the heart of Paris, making for a much more dramatic finish. 

Big thanks to Santini for supplying us with our Gravel specific kit for this adventure. If you want to find out more about what we rode in, head here for the bib shorts and here for the jersey. Full review coming soon.

Bon Voyage!

london-paris-gravel-hotchillee

Tickets for the LONDON-PARIS on Gravel are still available in limited quantities. 

Book your slot now on this once in a lifetime adventure through the French countryside and into Paris on the trails! 

Stay tuned for more information on the route, how you can best prepare for this epic adventure and more coming soon via all of our channels. 

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