After cycling from London to Paris all in aid of Mesothelioma UK, David Wingate returns to tell us all about his challenge. David has now successfully raised £1,888 smashing his £1,000 target for Mesothelioma UK.
Along the gruelling route David suffered an accident, yet this did not stop him from battling on to reach the Paris.
Here’s David’s account of the challenge which takes in all the twists and turns of his dramatic yet determined bike ride challenge:
“Well it’s over – not quite completed but has been an incredible experience.
By noon on Saturday 6th November, I was at the start line in London and raring to go. The weather was perfect for cycling, no wind or rain with a decent amount of sunshine. The countdown started and off we went – 57 riders heading to Paris.
The first leg took us to Dover via Lenham. The group wasn’t too spread out and was going at a reasonable pace when noticed I had a puncture. After years of practice, that was sorted in a matter of minutes and I was back on the road.
In all it took me six hours, including a stop to refuel, to get to Dover where the ferry awaited. I had planned to get an hour of sleep on the ferry but I was far too excited so I drank lots of coffee instead!
By 10pm we were off the ferry at Calais and were heading towards Paris, 90 miles completed, 180 to go. I had got into a steady rhythm of eating and drinking to keep my energy levels up, however tiredness was setting in having been awake for 21 hours by 2am.
By 3am it had become extremely foggy. Not only was it tough to see where I was going but even hard to tell if you were going uphill or down. All you could see was a white blanket all around with no idea where you were and little indication of how far to go to the next rest stop. The other weird thing about the fog was how it would alter your body temperature really quick. I think the humidity caused my temperature to drop and I couldn’t get warm – I was actually starting to worry about hypothermia.
By then I was fighting the urge to sleep. It was something I had been worried about in the lead up so I had bought some pro-plus tablets and energy gels with added caffeine. With hindsight, I should have slept for 20 minutes at a rest stop but I hadn’t because I didn’t want to lose time.
Disaster then struck. I must have had what is known as a micro sleep on the bike. The next thing I knew, I was heading towards a pavement head first. I immediately got up but didn’t feel right and realised I had blood all over me. My bike looked a wreck and the owners of a car that stopped to help looked rather concerned about me.
They patched me up pending the arrival of the support team who took me to the next rest stop. Whilst at the stop the team doctor had a look and said I shouldn’t do the next stage as I had a head injury. My bike was in bits too so I couldn’t go anywhere – I was utterly gutted, despondent and wanted to go home.
I went with the support team to the next stop and managed to get 30 minutes sleep but had missed chance to cycle 50 to 60 miles of the 280. With that bit of sleep and some warm food inside I felt a lot better. I retrieved my bike from the lorry and got to work fixing it. It was in a mess but with the help of the team mechanic we got it sorted and I was determined to get underway, although the Doctor got me to promise to telephone him and stop cycling if I felt at all dizzy.
Having got back on the bike I realised I could get to Paris and that I was going to be okay. I had about 4 hours left to get to Paris, the fog had lifted and the sun was coming out. It was lovely to see some of the French countryside as the foggy darkness meant couldn’t see anything before.
I was sore all over but still enjoying the ride despite the pain. I remember seeing the first sign saying Paris and feeling elated. By the time I got to the outskirts of Paris I was feeling jubilant, 4 miles left and how long could it take me? An hour!! The longest and most frightening hour of my life! Every traffic light was against me, the traffic incredible with the worst bit being the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc is one of the biggest most chaotic roundabouts in the world and I had to go round it twice as I missed my turning!
Not long afterwards, I was at the finishing line by the Eiffel Tower feeling many mixed emotions. I was exhausted, glad it was over, disappointed to not have completed the full distance but happy not to have hurt myself too badly. Most of all I was amazed at all the support I had received from friends and relatives on Facebook who had been tracking the whole of my trip online. From there I went straight to A&E to be patched up!
It has been the most amazing few days after many months of training. I still feel a sense of regret about not completing it but I am really pleased I picked myself up and got back on the bike when I could have easily given up.
I have had some amazing support, from words of encouragement to donations on JustGiving. It has been the experience of a lifetime (until I do the next one!) and I’m so pleased to have raised a fantastic sum for Mesothelioma UK.”
Wow! We think you did brilliantly David- Well done! If you’d like to donate after hearing the trials, tribulations and triumph of David’s cycling challenge, you can still donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/David-Wingate1/