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Hear from Janet, who participated in the London to Paris Bike Ride in September 2021, raising an incredible £15,000 for Helen & Douglas House.


1. The Challenge

I was not a keen cyclist, before I did the London-Paris bike ride. I had done a little bit of cycling but not much and no more than 10 miles at any one time. Like most mums with children there was never the time to do anymore.

So when the opportunity came up to take part in the London to Paris bike ride, I thought this is way out of my comfort zone but a great way to get fitter, have some time for me, do something with friends and raise money for a great local charity.

Having a challenge like this to take part in really motivates you to step up and push yourself to do things you never thought you could do and maybe others never thought you could do which gives you a huge amount of pride.

Helen & Douglas House outreach nurse Becky with Anthony_1000x550


2. Training

Myself and four friends, who were also not keen cyclists, were all starting our training virtually from scratch so we built up the length and difficulty of our rides gradually over 6 months.

We started off cycling 10 miles on a Tuesday evening and 10 miles on a Sunday morning and then two months before the ride had moved to 20 miles on a Tuesday evening and 40-60 miles on a Sunday morning. To incentivise us we would plan breakfast halfway on a Sunday as a reward.

I have to say training for this with friends was so very special. We formed even closer bonds and shared the highs and lows of training. 

When someone was feeling low on energy or that they couldn’t do this, we were all there to reassure each other that we could and feed them energy bars to keep them going. We were close friends before but even closer friends by the end of the challenge.

The one thing we all learnt fairly quickly is to keep eating and drinking! You need to take on as many calories and liquid as you can because of burn so many calories and you need to stay hydrated.


josh with his mum at HDH_1500x1000


3. Taking part

After all our training the big day arrived. We were all feeling very nervous about our first day as it was the longest day cycling but excited about finally starting our challenge.

We stopped every 20 miles at the refreshment stops and met other participants. Many had such inspiring stories to tell about why they were taking part and were really friendly. We cycled through stunning countryside and stopped at various war graves enroute.

Day one was the longest in terms of mileage so we were all delighted once we were on the ferry at Dover that day which was cause for celebration. I thought getting on a bike day after day would be challenging but it is amazing how your body adjusts. We were glad we put the training in though as it meant we really enjoyed the challenge.

The company running it was brilliant with a back up crew to repair bikes and were always on hand to sort out any issues. All our luggage was transported and food and drink available whenever we needed it.

Chris hiking up a mountain in the snow


4. Fundraising

I was really surprised by how generous people were donating money whether they be friends, family or work colleagues. I think the fact this was a big challenge outside my comfort zone made them donate more. In addition to sponsorship, we held a Swish Ladies Evening at my house with a second-hand clothes sale. Everyone bought at least 3 items and took at least 3 items home and made a donation for addition items.  I put on some food and drink and sold tickets for £15 to friends and also raised money through a raffle and did a silent auction which raised over £500.


Chris hiking up a mountain in the snow


5. What I learnt about myself

I was reading blogs like this before I embarked on this challenge just to see what people’s experiences were and I was so inspired by them I thought “I can do this”. Although I had some self-doubt (and my doubting teenage children) in the beginning just after I signed up, by the time we started our training I realised anything was possible and I was going to really enjoy the challenge but also the training leading up to it.

I gradually felt fitter and fitter which made me feel really good and healthier. I also really enjoyed doing something for me which has now turned into a new hobby too..  After the challenge I joined a cycling club because I loved it so much and now regularly cycle 40-60 miles a week.

Overall I felt immensely proud of myself and all the other riders.

This is such a great challenge for experienced or inexperience riders alike and achievable for anyone willing to put the training in and who knows it might become a hobby.

Chris hiking up a mountain in the snow


6. Supporting local terminally ill children

Taking part to help local terminally ill children and their families supported by Helen & Douglas House is such a great cause to raise money for.

I have seen first hand the massive difference Helen & Douglas House makes to local families who are facing the loss of a child which no one should have to face. I think one of the heart-breaking stories I have heard was that one mum of a child who is cared for by the hospice said that this is the only place she can come to when she is finding it difficult to cope and have a hug.

Knowing the money we raised was helping families like this really helped motivate me get up the big hills and keep going even though it was the end of the day and my tank was on empty.

Chris hiking up a mountain in the snow


Feeling inspired?

Take part in a cycle challenge and raise vital funds for local terminally ill children and their families.