Day two saw a first full day of cycling, and riders got off to a great start at 9.00am on Saturday as they set off from sunny Paris to make their way to their destination at Louviers. Today's ride will take the team to the ferry terminal in Le Havre where they will cross to Portsmouth in readiness for Monday's final push back to Swindon HQ.
Group Communications Director Mark Charlton brings us his report from the heart of the action on day one:
At 9.00am we counted them all out...
After enjoying a welcome evening in Paris, hosted by Ludovic Lautussier and colleagues at Dawson France, our cyclists headed north west from the capital at 9.00am this morning.
There were some bleary eyes from those who'd stayed up to sample the vino and beer - nonetheless the group made a brisk pace along the river Seine to escape the traffic. Ten miles later we were in open countryside.
Riding in the quieter lanes, I had a chance to notice the variety of approaches to this year's ride - from 'racing snake' Adrian Howitt (all carbon fibre and top spec kit) to Polly Baker’s more casual 'would anyone like a jelly snake' attitude. There's a wide range of bikes and abilities as well, but two things everyone has in common are fellowship and determination.
Our route took us on small lanes through beautiful villages and even avoided most of the hills. With sunshine all day and temperatures in the twenties it’s hard to think of more perfect cycling. Quite a few were red by lunchtime - some from effort, some from sunburn, but importantly everyone was smiling.
For quite a few, today's route was the longest they'd ever ridden - a real physical and mental challenge. So it was great to see the cooperation and camaraderie, with the more experienced cyclists encouraging and coaching the others. As our route leader Andy Cook reminded everyone; this isn't a race, it's a ride that we’re starting together and want to finish together.
And so it was, at 5.00pm, with 80 miles completed, some tired legs and sore behinds, we counted in the last of our riders for today.
Here's to the same again tomorrow.