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London to Paris Charity Bike Ride - Our Q&A with Harriett ahead of the challenge

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Ahead of Harriett's 315 mile charity bike ride from London to Paris, we sat down to do a Q&A session with her to see how she's feeling...

​So Harriett, what motivated you to do this mammoth 315 mile ride to Paris?

I’ve always wanted to do a big charity challenge and the opportunity came about when my sister (Lucy) and her company (Tristone Capital) were getting a team of cyclists together to do the ride. It sounded like it could be a fantastic experience so I signed up back in 2020. I’ve been to Disneyland Paris and done touristy things in France before but I’ve never spent time travelling through the French countryside, so a 4 day trip really appealed to me.

Have you ever done anything like this before?
I’ve only ever done the Manchester 10k run back in 2013. It was a great experience running with 20,000 other runners and I raised money for the MS Society. I didn’t do much training though, so I wanted the next thing to be a bigger challenge and something that I had to train properly for. I’d never owned a road bike before I signed up for the event so I knew I’d have to take the training seriously to get through all 315 miles of it. Some people might find that daunting but it makes it all even more exciting for me, so I’m really up for the challenge!

315 miles is a huge distance, how are your preparations going?
My training started in early June and it’s going really well. Initially I did a few smaller, flatter routes through Middleton and across to Salford to get me used to the bike and get my fitness levels up.

More recently I’ve been training with my cousin who is an experienced cyclist. He’s been really supportive and has given me advice on my technique, nutrition and has helped me get used to some more challenging local routes. He’s really gone above and beyond for me and has pushed me to try some big hills that I never thought I could manage. Together, we did a 65 mile ride a few weeks ago which had 5,500ft of elevation and included Cragg Vale, which is the longest continuous gradient in England, rising 970ft in a 9km stretch.

Back-to-back rides over the August Bank Holiday saw me ride from Failsworth to Jodrell Bank on the Saturday and then Failsworth to Hebden Bridge on the Sunday. I was exhausted and really needed the Bank Holiday Monday to recover, but it will stand me in good stead for the challenging French hills. I may feel exhausted after each training session but I feel fitter and faster every time I get back on the saddle!

It will be an enormous physical and mental challenge, you must feel strongly about the Rainbow Children’s’ Charity that you’re riding for. What has drawn you to ride for this particular charity?

Yes I do. The Rainbow Trust are an amazing charity who support families with children 0 – 18 who are suffering from a life-threatening or terminal illness. Seeing your child suffer in this way must be the worst possible thing to experience, so riding 315 miles over 4 days to raise some money is the least I can do, no matter how gruelling it is.

What are you most excited about ahead of the big ride?
The challenge really – I’m so up for it. It’ll be great to travel down to London with the team and I can’t wait for the first leg to Dover on day 1. It’ll be a bit of a race as we’ve got 85 miles to do before our ferry departs for Calais. It should be doable if we maintain a good speed but it will be the longest ride I’ve ever done, so I can’t wait. Crossing the English Channel on the ferry will be a nice chance to get to know everyone. I’m really excited to see the stunning landscape Northern France has to offer too.

What are you most apprehensive about?
Haha probably saddle sore. I had a bruised feeling in my bum after the Bank Holiday – it was a brutal doing back-to-back rides but I’m just going to have to get used to it. I’m hoping that the various creams and gels do their work! My fitness is at a really good level right now so I have no doubts about finishing. I’m determined to reach Paris to complete the challenge and raise lots of money for The Rainbow Trust.

Travelling between two of Europe’s major cities will be incredible. Are there any iconic landmarks you’re excited to see on your way?
I’m looking forward to day 3 when we ride from Arras to Compiègne. We’ll pass through the Somme region and through some WW1 memorials and monuments. It’ll be incredible to be able to see those first hand. I’m excited about cycling into Paris on day 4, especially when we get to go past the Arc de Triomphe and down the Champs-Élysées towards the finish line. My full itinerary is so exciting:

Day 1 – London to Dover (86 miles)
Day 2 – Calais to Arras (82 miles)
Day 3 – Arras to Compiègne (76 miles)
Day 4 – Compiègne to Paris (71 miles)

The Saturday (17th Sep) is the final day, a 67 mile ride from Compiègne to the Eiffel Tower. I bet you'll be sprinting once you hit central Paris!

Yes, I expect the adrenaline will really kick in and it’ll probably end up being the fastest leg of the lot in the end. The collective sense of joy, relief and achievement will be huge. I will definitely be sprinting that final 3km through the Champs-Élysées to the Eiffel Tower – what an experience that will be!

Charity work is so important. How has Axon Moore supported you and others to do challenges like this?
Axon Moore have offered an exceptional level of support to enable me to do the ride. Not only do they offer every employee 2 fully paid charity days per year in addition to our annual leave, but they have also sponsored the entire team kit so you’ll spot the Axon Moore logo on the front of our jerseys. Our pre-ride target was to raise £15,000 for The Rainbow Trust and, despite not having left Manchester yet, we’ve already raised 94% of the target. I even have several Managers and Directors wanting to sponsor me too! I love working for such a generous and encouraging company like Axon Moore. It’s great that they allow for each of us to commit time to helping charities.

We're all cheering you on at Axon Moore - any final thoughts!
I can’t praise Axon Moore enough for the support they have given me. It really has been fantastic. Thank you for helping me do this and making it all possible. I’m excited to keep you all updated on my progress whenever I get a break from the saddle… Allons-y!

Donate to The Rainbow Trust via Tristone Capital's Just Giving page here: