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Last weekend, 18 plucky members of RUMSBC traded in their oars for wheels and cycled the infamous London to Paris route in aid of Anthony Nolan. A challenge involving nearly 17 hours of continuous exercise. We decided to support Anthony Nolan because blood cancer affects so many people, including a member of our club. We have witnessed first-hand the support that is needed through such a difficult experience. Anthony Nolan helps match people who need bone marrow transplants to potential donors via the bone marrow register, supports people and their families who are affected by the disease, and conducts vital research into curing blood cancer.

To prepare for the big day, we organised weekly training rides around London. These ranged from 85km to >150km, including cycles to Brighton, Oxfordshire and Windsor. We also launched an Instagram account to track our adventures: @rumsbc_cycling. Leading up to the ride, there was some concern over Storm Brain and Hurricane Ophelia, but after receiving over £2,500 of donations prior to setting off, there was no stopping us. Unfortunately, only 15 minutes into the cycle we received a call informing us that the ferry would be delayed by 3 hours. This setback would eat into our time in France, so we all knew that when we landed we would have to dig deep, or ‘turn the screw’ as they’d say in rowing terms.

The Ferry crossing was incredibly choppy but we made it to Dieppe in one piece, and started our 150km stint to Paris as the sun rose over rural France. En route, we had a few technical errors: a broken chain, several punctures and a few falls, but our main obstacle was the 20mph winds that battered us for the duration of the route. Our support van drove with us the whole way, stopping for water and food, and coming to our rescue with any mechanical issues. We could not have done it without our van drivers Ollie and Will! We were also incredibly grateful for lack of rain, and morale remained high all the way to Paris, only beginning to waver after a brief hail storm hit us in the Parisian suburbs.

As we approached the city centre, our navigation systems began to fail and we had to resort to Google Maps (thank you EU roaming laws for saving our phone bills) which told us we were 24 minutes away from our destination, the Arc de Triomphe. We had 20 mins left on the clock to have completed the route within 24 hours. In an almost blind panic, we sprinted through the centre of Paris, weaving through traffic as the clock approached 5:20pm. With two minutes to go, we rounded a corner and at the top of the hill was the Arc de Triomphe! Putting in one final hill sprint, the peloton raced to the roundabout and we forced our way through five lanes of French traffic without any scrapes. We made it to the island at the centre and flung our bikes down. We had cycled from Trafalgar Square to the Arc de Triomphe in 23 hours 59 minutes – despite our three-hour ferry delay! Everyone was exalted that we had finished it on time, not to mention surpassing £3,000 of donations on our JustGiving page.

If you would like to donate to the cycle, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rumsbc-cc and help us raise as much as we can for such a wonderful charity.

Finally, we would like to thank our wonderful sponsors: Wesleyan, The Mob Kitchen, Battle Oats and Snap Fitness for helping fuel us during the ride and contributing to our cause.