Well the final day of my adventure has arrived!
We were out of our hotel and riding towards Blackheath by 6.30am. More glorious sunshine and no small amount of anticipation for what the day would bring.
Our first scheduled stop was supposed to be after 27 miles but remember the additional mileage to/from the hotel I mentioned yesterday? 30 miles later and two category 4 climbs (Meopham and Shooters Hill) I could see the London Eye and I knew I was nearly there…
4 miles later and we were greeted at Blackheath, checked in from whichever ride had got us there (as well as coming from Paris, riders were also arriving from the Edinburgh, Plymouth, Tedworth and Colchester recovery centres).
We were given our medals, food vouchers and a coloured T-Shirt for the final ride into Whitehall – either Dark Blue representing the Navy, Red for the Army or Sky Blue for the RAF. Wounded participants were given Gold shirts and we would need them for a fantastic photo opportunity at the finish.
There was also an opportunity to have a quick chat with some of the patrons of H4H and the ride ambassadors. Although they had been riding with us from Paris, it was great to catch up with Jonallan Butterworth and Helen Scott as well as Mark Cavendish who joined us at Blackheath for the ride into central London.
We formed up and, at 12.00pm on the dot we headed out of Blackheath as part of a 1500 strong peloton, Police motor cycle outriders leading, then the wounded servicemen in Gold, then Navy Blue, Red and Sky Blue sections following on.
It took a lot of concentration to ride in such close proximity to other riders. We averaged 10mph but we were able to ‘run’ red lights as there were police on every junction as we made our way along the route.
As we cycled through Greenwich, we got to hear the fantastic support as people lined the streets to wish us well on our way. The welcome we received from everyone as we made our way through the streets was exceptional and as we reached the more ‘touristy’ areas of London (from Tower Bridge onwards) it was amazing to hear all the car horns and cheers supporting us.
We cycled past the Tower of London and on towards Temple, along Victoria Embankment and arriving into Horse Guards Avenue at 1.00pm where we were organised into an enormous Help for Heroes medal ready for the final part of our journey…
Once we were formed up, we made our way along Whitehall to the National Monument to the Women of World War II where we paused for a Wreath laying ceremony.
From Whitehall we cycled to Parliament Square turning right into Birdcage walk before halting to form into the Help for Heroes Medal once more by Buckingham Palace at the Queen Victoria Memorial.
Once formed up, we proceeded slowly down the Mall towards our finishing point at Horse Guards Parade. As we turned into the parade square the place erupted with noise which completely took your breath away. I managed to spot Wendy, Emma and Mum in the stands and we formed up in front of the stage for our final farewell.
Peta Todd and Roger Dawson read moving accounts from participants on the ride; the first from the girlfriend, soon to be wife, of an Engineer who was paralysed in Afghanistan. They rode to London from Paris together; the second from a soldier who suffered triple amputation as a result of an IED. He rode with us too. Bryn and Emma gave a short address and we were treated to the highlights of our ride in from Paris.
The end of an astonishing day and a wonderful week. Many friends re-acquainted and many new ones made too. I hope to take part in another ride but exactly what and where remains to be seen. I’m going to enjoy the memories of The Big Battlefield Bike Ride 2013 for a long time to come.
Thank you so much for following my adventure on this blog. Your support has been tremendous and it has been so much fun keeping the diary up to date as I’ve gone along.
Thank you again if you sponsored me. As it stands today, I have managed to raise a staggering £2553.99 for Help for Heroes.
If you want to sponsor me, there’s still time… please visit my fundraising site at www.bmycharity.com/bbbr13
If you feel inspired to take part in a challenge yourself, please visit Help for Heroes , the Challenges team are the most fantastic bunch of people and will be happy to help!
As always, thanks for looking…
- Paris to Compiègne: 67 Miles
- Compiègne to Amiens: 88 Miles
- Amiens to Le Touquet: 81.5 Miles
- Le Touquet to Calais: 53 Miles
- Calais to Chatham: 74.5 Miles
- Chatham to Whitehall: 43.5 Miles
- Total: 407.5 Miles