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Roger Rides to Paris in aid of Alder Hey Hospital

Now recovered from his successful ride from Southport to Paris in 3.5 days to raise money for Alder Hey Hospital, Roger Benson reflects his journey on which he was joined by fellow SCC members determined to give him the best start to his ride to Paris.At the the club house

Words by Roger Benson

Now I’ve been back a week and had time to reflect on my epic adventure to Paris I just wanted to give you all a little taste of what I got up too during my 3.5 days in the saddle and to say thanks again to all who donated. My legs would have spun all the way to Paris but in the moments where I questioned my sanity I could hear all of your encouraging comments on the page.

Leg 1 SCC Clubhouse – Alder Hey – Birmingham

NantwichLeaving Southport Cycling Clubhouse at 9:30am. Messer’s Baldwin, Taylor, Coughlan, Kirwan, White, Lloyd, Stone, Scott and Caton Southport Cycling Club Official Group headed towards Alder Hey. A puncture delayed our arrival slightly but coffee, cake and a warm welcome was received at the bustling Hospital. A photo call outside the hospital set us back on our way towards Runcorn.

Initially we were on the Liverpool loop a regenerated railway line to cycle path wiggling our way to Runcorn we encountered steps and another puncture before the Runcorn Bridge being shut stopped us in our tracks!!!!!!! At this point we lost Geoff to a towpath towards Warrington while the rest of us waited for the shuttle bus to take us to the other side.

Once all across the bridge we continued towards Cheshire the wind was on our tails so progress was quickly increased. Through Frodsham where Kirwan, White and Lloyd turned back for Southport. So an intrepid three went hunting for Geoff hoping to find him before Nantwich and a late lunch. Luckily at a cross roads five miles from Nantwich, we were going one way and Geoff was crossing our path the other the peloton was back together. One more road closure sat between us and pizza…..
After our late lunch Geoff and I continued towards Birmingham while Mr Scott And Mr Stone headed back to Southport. The drizzle didn’t put us off our plans but time was running away for Geoff to catch his train so a diversion was implemented to go to Wolverhampton. Geoff got his train and I headed on towards Birmingham via canal paths/dual carriage ways (which entailed a police escort…….)

Leg 2 Birmingham – London

Having stayed at my parents Gill Benson David Benson and having been fed by my mates in Warwick (Andrew Thomas, Stacey Hammond Sophie Thomas Kath Vose Suzanne Robbins Dough & RefreshmentsBrew) on Friday night I was back on the train at 6 am on Saturday heading back to Birmingham and to the children’s hospital there to start Leg 2.

The initial part of the journey out of Birmingham was along a canal path again but after 9 miles and 50 mins of very slow soggy and treacherous riding I got on the roads and put the hammer down to get to the meeting place to collect my brother Colin Benson

Once I had met him we headed off towards London firstly stopping at the Rapha Bicester for a coffee and cake, 70 miles into what would be a 144-mile day.

We had no hiccups on route roads were blissful though the Warwickshire country side on leaving Rapha and not having spent any money in the shop!!! we headed towards St Albans this element of the journey was slower going the wind was hitting us from all angles we endured two hale storms and a road closed due to tree being felled in the wind.
At St Albans we stopped for some pasta to refuel before heading the last 26 miles to our stop over. I NEVER WANT TO RIDE IN LONDON AGAIN wow I thought some of the drivers up here were inconsiderate but London is a different level.
But we made it had more pizza and pasta to refuel ready for Sunday. thanks Matthew Tiller Nicola Tiller Gaynor Kirk for feeding me again.

Leg 3 Great Ormond Street to Newhaven

GOSHWe rode into London with Matthew Tiller which was highly entertaining as he hadn’t ridden a bike since we were at Uni together 20 years previous and he kept falling off his bike (cleats are dangerous things) But we made it to GOSH

At this point my brother made his way home and I continued though London towards the south downs which should be renamed the “constantly going up”. Considering the previous days 144 miles I climbed 5500 total in the 73 miles to Newhaven I climbed 5500. I passed though some beautiful places but the climb at chuck hatch was definitely the most gruelling of tests.

Between arriving in Newhaven and catching the ferry I had 6 hours to kill so more refuelling took place at the local Brewers Fayre and KFC, Thanks Nicholas Bandy.

Overnight on the ferry and sleep.

Leg 4 Dieppe to Paris

This was to become the most testing of legs and became a battle of mind over matter. When I exited the ferry at 5am French time (4am UK) I hadn’t anticipated temperatures of -3…. The extra pair of gloves socks and jersey were rapidly added to my attire. While this helped in the short term what I hadn’t considered on this solo leg was that northern France is NOT 24hrs so the supermarkets weren’t open and when I saw a sign for a McDonalds that wasn’t on my route 3hrs and 48 miles in I had to deviate to find warmth and coffee but alas McDonalds are not 24hrs in France……… I did find a French boulangerie were I found refuge from the elements who supplied me with coffee and croissants it took a while to gain same form of movement in my feet and hands but once I did I set off again heading towards Paris.

The cold returned very quickly to my extremities and so the next section became a slog and very much trying to keep the power output as high as possibly to keep me progressing forwards while Pariswondering and hoping my toes and fingers would live to see another day. There was one more stop for fuel a extremely welcome jambon and fromage pannini, a café au lait and a café éclair.

The one thing I will say about riding in France is the drivers are so courteous to cyclists the space they gave me more than required no one close passed me , no one overtook and then pulled straight in front of me and from that perspective it was a pleasure in ride in France (I just wish it had been warmer )

But having been on the bike for a total of 457 miles slightly more than I had predicted (wrong turns, diversions and extras) I made it to Paris and the Arc de Triomphe where I was met by Anthony Ginn who had Champagne and cakes at the ready.

Thank you again without you this wouldn’t have been possible you have all been phenomenal and have raised a staggering £4441.25 with gift aid which is 135% of my target.