Welcome to the Group of Champions.
Well, first, what were you thinking? London to Paris by bike, you know there is a plane, train or automobile?! A challenge lies ahead as we have 3 solid days riding, targeting an average pace of 27/ 28kph and this short diatribe of information will hopefully shed some light on what to expect. Firstly, you are in the right group as you have selected the group with the best Ride Captains, now some would argue differently, but pay no heed as this is an elite group. “The Group of Champions!”
We WILL get it done, and, we will do so by working together, setting a steady pace, going fast and going steady, looking after each other and sharing the load. Let me explain, this is a social group and we not only ride more than 500kms together, we also make 50+ new friends so introduce yourself, chat heartily and support your fellow G3s as they will do the same for you.
In The LONDON-PARIS by Tour de France Group 3 we aim to manage our effort and set a tempo that keeps us all together, all of the time. Working as a team and not individuals, we will experience some elements that will test us, from cross winds to head winds, maybe a shower or two, but by working as a smooth peloton, sitting in the wind and taking a turn, holding a wheel or shielding and encouraging our teammates our journey will be a group effort.
Intervals work. Long intervals and short ones; do both! Make sure you get some long rides under your belt to give you confidence and endurance. Ride fast sometimes and push yourself as we will have sections of fast riding. Make sure you have some experience riding within a group, getting used to close quarters and holding a wheel.
You should also include some hilly rides as this is what you will experience. In addition, you should be able to do a solo ride (or with a couple of friends) managing a good pace over 100kms and still feel ok at the end of it. Once you’ve mastered that include a few solid back to back, rides on tired legs, with long intervals holding a very strong pace for 10 mins with short recovery of 2 mins and then going again twice more! These sessions will help you on day 3…
In your pockets? Some food bars, gels, maybe small sun cream stick; you don’t need much as we have a water van with sweets/bananas and water, and we stop for lunch. In your musette bag which you can access at lunch stops, I always carry a rain cape and if the temperature is variable, knee-, arm-warmers and gilet. Don’t eat too much at lunch as it’s hard to digest lots of food and ride, so keep it light and snack. Top tip from G-Man is to have a dry base layer in your musette for a quick change at lunch if required.
You need to arrive at the start with your bike in great order, serviced and clean with fresh tyres. You will not need lights, saddle bags or anything extra as we will have service vehicles supporting us on route and you will have access to a musette (bag) at lunch that you can put anything you think you may need in. We will also be escorted by motorcycles to keep us safe and warn us of traffic and turns but don’t get complacent, we will at all times obey the road rules and safety of each of us is our greatest priority.
Nerves, rolling hills, great byways and countryside. We will brief you every morning on what lays ahead. Always expect nerves on day 1 (this will be my 15th event and I still get excited and nervous) and expect to not be in the flow of the peloton for the first few hours as we start to settle into a rhythm, that’s just how it is. Today is the day we all get to know each other, but before you know it, we’ll be pulling in to the finish at Stop 24, ready for a cold beer on the ferry crossing to Calais.
By now you will be settled into the peloton and this is where we begin to really work as a team, sheltering riders if you’re feeling strong, keeping the pace and stretching your legs on the downhills and fast flat sections. We cannot afford to push into the red zone, going too hard on the hills, sitting to long in the wind or drifting off the back of the bunch and having to work hard to regroup. Our success is dependent on working as a team and looking out for each other. Our job as Ride Captains is to find a pace and rhythm that everyone can manage and then have some push to a good speed and fun have some fun where we are able. This group is not a race group but make no mistake that when the wind is on our back and the peloton is working well, we can crank out a very solid tempo, that’s our aim and challenge!
I love this day; the roads are good, and the hills are easier than day 2, but be careful not to underestimate the long ride to lunch! We will be working well together by now and Gareth will be able to tell you the name of everyone in the whole peloton. The roads are quiet and wider, the landscape rolling, fatigue and excitement are building in equal measure so packing an extra snack in the pocket would be wise. Several long dragging climbs will be experienced that on fresh legs look easy but now appear to invoke a heavy sigh. So, chin up, suck it up and time to dig in, this is what you trained for after all. After lunch it’s an easy ride to Paris so don’t worry just enjoy the afternoon roll as all the groups form one massive peloton.
See you at the start for the briefing, if you have any questions in the meantime please feel free to contact Ride Captain Gareth via the Hotchillee App
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