Juliette first rode London to Paris in 2010 in Group 2 as a client, then went on to complete the Alpine Challenge that same year and came back for London to Paris in 2011. She loved the Hotchillee ethos and camaraderie and joined the Ride Captain team for the 2012 event.
This was the first time that hand-cyclists attempted the ride and, although Juliette describes it as being one of the hardest things she’s ever done it was almost the most rewarding and the three days rank up there as the best of her life. She’s now completed ten London to Paris rides, always with hand-cyclists if on the event or with the slowest group on the road which she describes as “her happy home”.
It’s a split role. The priority is safety for the riders an, after that, it’s about motivation and help – especially in the lower groups. There are always hugs, tears, laughs and the occasional helping hand up a hill.
It’s really special and unique as it’s a charity group where all riders share common aims. Those aims are to assist the hand-cyclists and to raise money for Back-Up Trust. It’s full of emotion and fun but also definitely has challenges for all. As we have to accommodate the hand-cyclists, experienced riders and novices in one group pretty much everyone will be riding outside of their comfort zone.
No as you will get a bit of a boost from riding in a group but don’t expect miracles. You want to be averaging as close to that range as possible in training.
We’ve been working on these skills at our pre-event rides and it’s really important that you’re happy in a group right from when we roll out at “silly o’clock” from Imber Court as there simply isn’t the time to be learning then. If you haven’t made any of the group rides or Hotchillee monthly rides, do really try to before the event. https://www.hotchillee.com/hotchilleehandbook-group-riding-tips/
Don’t cross the white line ever. No unnecessary or unauthorised stopping. Never go past the front Ride Captain or drop behind the rear Ride Captain.
You need to have done 100 miles at least once as, in my experience, if you haven’t doe that, you’ll struggle to make it to Paris. You should also do some consecutive long days on the bike. Refer to the training plan linked below and check where you are reflects what it suggests.
We’ll do our best to keep you going but, if you can’t stay with the group, you will have to have a break in the “fun bus”. Riders will often say that they could keep going on their own at their own pace but, for safety and logistical reasons, this just isn’t possible.
You’ll pull back with a Ride Captain to the mechanic who’ll sort you out. This will probably involve a bit of time in the van and you will only be dropped back on the road and with the group when it’s safe to do so.
You can really mitigate against the likelihood of this by having a full service before the event, fitting new tyres and doing simple pre and post-ride checks.
Absolutely essential and you have to be able to eat and drink on the bike while moving. Practice this in training and try systems to make this as easy as possible. I’d strongly suggest a seat-tube/“bento box” and unwrapping and cutting up your bars for the day.
We’ll schedule in stops/comfort breaks every two hours or so where you can refill your bottles and top up your supplies but you can’t only be eating and drinking this infrequently. You need to be constantly grazing and sipping right from the start of the ride.
You’ll be transported from the finish to your hotel and then you really need to prioritise washing, eating and sleeping. We have long days, we’re always the last group to finish and you’ve got to do it again the next day. Have one beer but save the celebrations for Paris.
When you sign-on, you’ll get given a luggage label. Take a picture of this as it’ll have the name of your hotel on it. This can save you a frustrating trip to the wrong hotel – as there’s sometimes more than one, at the end of a long day.
It’s incredible thing you’re doing, it won’t be easy but you will be changing lives and will have an amazing experience.
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