About the challenge
We pedal out of London heading for the North Downs and the picturesque Sussex countryside to Newhaven. We cross the Channel and continue through the night, passing through the small villages and medieval market towns of Northern France. This is a tough challenge, requiring good fitness, stamina and experience – and a healthy dose of self-belief! We arrive in Paris after more than 208 miles in the saddle – seeing the legendary sight of the Eiffel Tower on the skyline will evoke a real sense of achievement.
Days 1 - 2: London – Newhaven – Dieppe – Paris
Cycle approx 335km (208 miles)
We meet in the afternoon at Blackheath Common and set off through the busy outskirts of London onto quieter roads. It is not long before we are among rolling fields and villages as we head south. Crossing the North Downs, we tackle our first demanding hills as we ride towards the Kent border, then enjoy a fairly flat section before the more undulating roads of Sussex. Passing through farmland and small villages on quiet roads lined with hedgerows, we head towards Polegate and the south coast.
Our last few miles in England take us on a beautiful rolling road across the South Downs, inland from the famous Seven Sisters. We roll down to the picturesque meandering Cuckmere River and climb again as we ride west towards Newhaven. The light will have faded by now, and we have time for an evening meal before boarding the ferry to Dieppe. On board we have a well-earned rest before we disembark and set off again.
We head southeast, leaving the busy port behind and quickly emerge into typical French countryside. Passing a few small villages, we ride through the small, 12th-century town of Neufchatel-en-Bray. Our small roads should be very quiet at this time of night, and we ride on through farmland and pockets of woodland.
Apart from an early breakfast stop, we plough on through the dark early hours of the morning, ticking off the miles towards Paris. As it starts to grow light again, we can appreciate the lovely scenery around us, and we feel newly refreshed and re-motivated! This part of our ride is fairly hilly, though generally the gradients are long and gradual with some well-earned descents, including a wonderfully long downhill stretch of over 10km near the town of Sainte-Genevieve. These descents are very welcome as we’ll be feeling very tired, but it’s even more important to stay alert when going downhill! We ride through more peaceful farmland and villages, but they soon give way to busier suburbs as we approach Paris after lunch. Looking out for the distinctive landmarks of the Eiffel Tower and the Sacré Coeur standing out on the skyline, we come to the suburb of St. Denis and the River Seine. We follow the river’s southern esplanade as it turns towards the city, and then peel off towards central Paris and the lofty Eiffel Tower, where our finish awaits.
We should arrive mid-afternoon, and after celebratory drinks and photos at the Eiffel Tower we’ll head to the hotel where you can rest before gathering together in the evening to celebrate your impressive achievement! Night hotel.
Day 3: Paris – London
After breakfast we transfer to the Gare du Nord in good time for our Eurostar train back to St Pancras, where we meet the bikes. (Lunch not included).
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The cost includes one night’s hotel accommodation on a twin-share basis, as well as transport (by ferry and Eurostar) and all meals except one as specified in the itinerary. It also includes full trip support of experienced Discover Adventure leaders, drivers and mechanics.
It does not include personal travel insurance, one meal as specified, drinks, extra food, personal items or entry to any optional tourist sites you may wish to visit. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Accommodation is in a 2-3* hotel, which is comfortable and well-situated with en suite facilities, but not luxurious.
All food is included except 1 meal where specified. Meals when cycling are generous buffet-style with plenty of energy food to keep you going!
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Bear in mind that being vegetarian is not generally well-understood in France, so meals may not be as varied as you are used to. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities where you are free to explore and find something to suit your budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic, who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. The number of crew and support vehicles looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but the team will be looking after every aspect of your trip whether that’s transporting your luggage, ensuring your route is well-marked, making you lunch and sorting out any mechanical problems. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: cyclist ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Support vehicles are with the group all of the time. All luggage and spares will be carried in them. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack or large waist-pack to carry items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening. Your bikes will return in our vehicles in time to meet you at St Pancras. They will be well-packed and protected during transit in our vehicles, but if you have an expensive or delicate frame, you may prefer to bring extra lagging to protect it more, or a soft bike bag. Hard case bike bags are not suitable as we do not have space to store them.
We can offer a bike courier service for a limited amount of bikes – useful if you prefer not to collect your bike at the station. Further details and costs will be sent to you nearer the time; bookings for this service will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency mobile phones, first-aid kits and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
The cycling is mainly undulating. The distance is long, but achievable in 24 hours provided you train in advance. The UK section is particularly strenuous with some tough climbs. We ride mainly on small country roads. Traffic is light on most of the roads but when we pass through busy areas we may go through as a group. French drivers are generally far more considerate to cyclists than here in the UK. We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
We strongly recommend that you ride a road/racing bike (rather than a mountain bike) for this trip due to the long distances involved on well-surfaced roads. However Discover Adventure can provide hybrid or mountain bikes at an extra cost if you wish.
A range of spares will be carried as well as a full tool kit. However it is impossible for us to carry spares for every eventuality so it is vital that your bike is in good order before departure. It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with the straps done up.
Clothing & Equipment
We could be exposed to bad weather at any time. The information below gives you an idea of the climate, but be prepared for all weathers and temperatures and remember that weather conditions can change quickly. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice. You must ensure you wear good-quality high-visibility clothing and have good lights on the front and rear of your bike.
The climate of northern France is very similar to that of southern England. Temperatures can vary widely, rain is always a possibility and it may be windy in flatter areas.
This event is an endurance event, designed to be very challenging for those of good health and fitness. It is achievable for most people provided they train far enough in advance to gain the fitness and experience required – and have a healthy dose of self-belief and determination. We supply you with a thorough training guide when you have registered.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is essential; it must be valid for at least three months after entry into France. There is no visa requirement for UK citizens. Other nationalities should check entry requirements.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up. Please see our website for more details.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with The Conservation Volunteers and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Go to http://www.tcv.org.uk/volunteering