Initial thoughts about training
We all knew that we’d be able to cycle the distances involved, we just needed to train properly but with months to go it that wouldn’t be a problem.
Like the training for last year’s London Nightrider we would start small and work our way up to the distances, then drop back the distances when starting to do rides on consecutive days, then build up the distances again.
We knew that we would need to make sure we could do training rides to match the first three days distances of 100km, 100km and 65km.
Or would we?
Need a training guide?
I found an online training guide which said over 18 weeks I would need to start riding at 8mph for 10 miles, then finally up my speed to 16mph over 70 miles or so.
Well I’ve never managed to average 16mph over a long distance and realistically if we’d done that speed on Day 2 we would have got to our accommodation before the previous night’s residents had left…and then would have to wait around for 7 hours until our rooms were ready.
No, you don’t need to be able to average 16mph to ride from London to Paris.
In reality our average pace worked out at 16.8kmh (10.4mph) on days 2 and 3 and these days felt like fun, easy enjoyable cycling.
On day 1 our average was 18.9km/h which is probably to the slowness of getting out of London and the tired legs after the two big hills had been climbed. It felt like a hard day of cycling but the elevation was probably the reason for that, not the slightly faster pace.
Our day 4 average was really slow (14.5kmh – 9mph) and again I think we can put this down to rolling into Paris on cycleways for a lot of kilometres as well as mucking around at Arc de Triomphe, and rolling down to the Eiffel on an almost flat tyre.
The training reality
The reality is that we all trained completely differently, with perhaps Alan and I being the exception as we ride together most of the time. It’s important to note then that there is no single correct way to train for London to Paris.
Alan and I trained to be able to do 70km and I think only I got to the point of doing this for two days on the trot. We got the mileage up first and then with a month to go trained with loaded panniers. We made sure our training rides took us on hills matching the elevation of those we would encounter, which was quite easy as we live near the South Downs.
Sue started early and managed to do 30km for four days on the trot over Easter but then didn’t manage to do any cycling during May due to a long holiday. She did lots of 40km & 50km rides. Sue didn’t struggle with the trip although she did choose to omit 40km of the London to Newhaven leg as she wanted to make sure she was fit for the France element.
Tim is an everyday cyclist, riding 10 miles each day on his commute using the same Hybrid he did London to Paris with. On top of that he did very little training, he didn’t need to, and only went out on four non-commute rides in the 3 months before we went (March 45km, April 26km, May 34km and 77km). If you listened to the experts this would not have been enough training but he breezed it.