Miles 4 Mizpah
Statistics: Day 1
Distance cycled: 143km
Time spent in the saddle: 5 hours 40 min
On Sunday morning just after 5am I clicked into the pedals of my bike as the first shafts of light of dawn illuminated the London skyline. Ahead of me a great adventure and an opportunity to raise some much needed funds for our friends at Mizpah.
On paper it sounds simple enough; to see if I can cycle from London to Avignon (Provence) in a mere 26 days covering a distance of around 2700km (if I don’t get lost, which is highly likely given that a sense of direction is not my strong point) scaling as many Tour de France mountains and Belgian Helligen as I can find or as my legs can tolerate. And, finally if that doesn’t kill me, to terminate (probably a bad choice of vocabulary here) with an attempt on Mont Ventoux, perhaps the most iconic of Tour de France Mountains which rises out of the Provence landscape of vineyards and olive groves and ascends to dizzy heights usually augmented by a terrifying mistral (winds up to 300km/h) and baking heat. Heaven forbid, cyclists have been known to expire up there!
My complex Boris Johnson (Google him) ‘cycle superhighway’ out of the city directed me through the centre of Hyde Park, one of many fantastic ‘green’ routes in London diverting cyclists from traffic and through some of the most attractive areas of the capital. A slight intentional detour along the Mall delivered me to the iron gates of Buckingham Palace where after a quick good morning nod to Her Majesty (Mr Davis will be pleased) I peddled sedately along Birdcage Walk to Westminster my ‘official’ starting point.
The last time I had stood beneath Big Ben the city’s most famous towering landmark, had been on a cold, blustery October morning in 1993 nervously awaiting the start of the London to Brighton Ultra Marathon, a distance of 88km. At the first toll of seven bells a London bobby crowned in custodian helmet strolled purposefully across the road, held up the traffic and mustered the runners under starter’s orders. This morning there was no bobby, fanfare or well-wishers, but the excitement coupled with a similar bout of nerves was ever present.
Cycling along the Embankment I crossed the Thames over the iconic London Bridge and hit the full force of inner city traffic. Weaving through early morning commuters, taxis and traffic at London Bridge station, I silently issued a prayer of thanks to Boris and his cycle lanes.
Cycling through the outer London suburbs of Lewisham and Sidcup was fairly nerve wracking; even at that early hour, Sunday morning traffic was heavy, yet motorists were generally courteous and at no time did I feel unsafe. After a welcome pit stop in Maidstone (County Kent) for a well-earned full English breakfast, I cycled over the Kent Downs through stunning vistas of quintessential English countryside and picturesque villages before finally rolling into the ferry port of Dover.
I cycled my bike up the ramp of the Ferry and set sail for France. Tomorrow I will ride along the French coastline before crossing into Belgium to tackle the infamous cobbles and steep climbs of the Helligen.
Thank you for your support so far, I am hoping to raise $2700 for Mizpah (my cycling distance $1 per kilometre).
Take care everyone, and good luck with your exams and assessments.
Mr Peackock has been on the road for two weeks, cycled 1566 km, climbed 19,188 metres and spent 65 hours 58 min in the saddle.
He sent us this video of a stop over in Switzerland, and some amazing scenery.
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