What's Cool In Road Cycling

Travel: Paris-Hayling Charity Ride

Any loyal PEZ-Fan knows the one thing we love more than racing, is riding. Chasing a race on your bike is an adventure like no other, but who says you need a race to really enjoy your bike? PEZ-Fan Dean Clinard joined 179 cyclo-tourists for a charity ride around northern France and sent us proof that great riding comes in many forms…

Submitted by Dean Clinard

Hello everyone. Like most PEZ readers I do like a good ride. I’m not a club racer, amateur racer or even a tri-athlete. I don’t worry about my Vo2 max, my heart rate or my training schedule. I’m just a guy who likes to put on his helmet, clip into the pedals and hit the road.

Terrain is not technical: rolling hills, a couple of brief climbs. The only difficulty that may be a problem for some riders is the daily distances. Our longest day was 90 miles (140km). Everyone finished it just took some longer then others.

So if you’re like me, you might try this little tour on for size – the Paris to Hayling Charity Cycle Ride. It’s organized by the Association for Charitable Endeavors (Hayling Island), or A.C.E. Besides the great ride it is also for a very worthwhile cause known in England as “cot research”, also known in America as SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

It’s a well-supported week for the 180 riders who signed up for the price of Ј375 GBP (about US $735.00), including the round trip, 6 nights hotel, sag support, luggage transfer, and breakfasts. When you consider that Ј150GBP is the charitable donation, the price is pretty good.

Our ferryboat from England. Not a bad way to travel.

Where to Start?
Last summer, July 16–22, 2006, several friends and I took a trip from Lakewood, Colorado to Portsmouth, England on a city-to-city exchange program. While there visiting we were connected with an English charity organization, Paris-Hayling Charity Ride, that every year for the past 21 years, leaves Portsmouth via ferryboat for an overnight crossing of the English Channel to France. No need to breakdown your bike and pack it for this international leg of the trip. All bikes are rolled onboard the ferry and parked very carefully in the holding area with the autos. Not to worry. No one is going to steal your bike. Where could they go with it in the middle of the English Channel?

Hayling is a small island town near Portsmouth, England. It is only a formality that they use Hayling Island as the starting point rather then Portsmouth. There is no ferry service from Hayling Island, the ferry service leaves from Portsmouth.

Upon landing in France the fun begins. For the next 6 days we rode the 400+ miles from the coast at La Havre, France to Paris and back again to the coast at Dieppe, France. A shorter 3 – day 230+ mile route is also available if the full week seems like to much. Soaking up the French countryside, sunshine, ambience, food and (of course) drink along the way. Try and put all that in a training schedule.

The Cathedral at Chartres, France.

Those French farmers can grow nearly anything.

Cycling was a great way to see the sites of the Normandy area of France and meet a fine group of people. I guess biking brings that out in people. It keeps them young and feeling young. The peaceful countryside was made for biking.

If the day’s ride isn’t quite enough and you still feel a little frisky at the end maybe lifting a few pints with the locals will calm you down.

The route is pre-determined and each morning a detailed route/map is handed out for that day. This helps rein in those riders that like to leave at the crack of dawn. Without the map getting lost on the many small country roads is quite easy. Lodging, some meals, luggage transport (try and travel light if possible) and support is all done for you. Accommodations are very good and the pace (60-90miles/day) is relaxing and easy going.

The scenery is memorable all along the way.

Converted mill and waterwheel.

• Overall the food very good. Lunch stops are set-up in towns along the route to handle the large group, and the food is waiting for you. You can eat on your own if you wish to do so and there are many pubs and taverns along the way serving fine sandwiches, etc..

• Lodging is also good – probably 3-4 stars, and all places are very comfortable. And breakfast is included at each, cereal, juices, rolls, meats and cheeses. Some had full buffet with eggs, breakfast meats, etc. It’s a big group so what the hotels lack in character, they make up for in amenities.

• The level of riders varies from club racers to mainly weekend warriors to even once-a-year warriors. It is a charity ride and the main motivator is to support the cause.

Inspite of its name, the ride does not go just from Paris – Hayling, but actually goes Hayling-Paris-Hayling. A shorter version is available where individuals on the short route meet the group doing the full ride along the way. They come over on the ferry and then are bussed to a rendezvous point to continue the journey by bike with the main group that is doing the full circle back to the coast.

I’m sure you are all familiar with this.

I felt that the return on my investment was huge. A fun ride through beautiful French countryside on roads nearly void of traffic was a treat in itself but the fact that I was also helping raise money for this charity gave it added pleasure. If my pictures whet your appetite, if your travel plans haven’t been set and you are looking for something a little bit different, a little bit of an adventure, this could very well be what you need. This is a back to the basics, ride like you were a kid again good time.

• See the website, Paris-Hayling Charity Ride, and consider joining in the fun.

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