Drayton Manor High School 2015

Fergus Connor, Freddie James, Joseph Ralphs, Oliver Flanagan, Samuel Gunnewicht, Tom Langton

cycle to paris

Their story, in their words…

“The eight months of planning our trip seemed very insignificant as we faced up to the daunting, marathon of a cycle ahead of us: the 453 kilometer ride from London to Paris, with each kilometer representing a British military death in Afghanistan. Our reasons for undertaking this memorial ride were further brought home to us, when just a few weeks before we set off, our 453km cycle sadly became 454km  with the death of L/Cpl Michael Campbell. We started from the gates of our own school, spirits were high. By lunch, we had only encountered a few climbs, incomparable to what we would later face through the winding country roads through the South Downs before the final push through to Dover.

Rising early to catch our ferry, we were greeted by a cover of fog and light drizzle. The disappointing weather only pushed us to get to the port faster. After a good breakfast, an ibuprofen and an attempt at drying our gear in the ferry toilet hand-dryers, morale was raised. We set off promptly, for our second leg, Calais to Amien. This proved to be the most arduous leg of the trip, with the rain, mud and poor GPS coverage across rural France all contributing factors. After a very long day, we were grateful Amiens was easier to navigate than Dover!

We awoke to a beautiful day for the final push.  We passed through countless tiny villages and vast open fields. This was the day that we realized why we had done this and how far we had come. After stopping a few times and being approached by friendly locals (especially “Chris” who showed us the correct road to Paris on his moped, Tour De France style!), we finally arrived in Paris.

We were thirsty, hungry and exhausted but ecstatic to have made it. Riding through the “banlieus” of Paris allowed us to see the real city, and we were quickly overwhelmed as we began to recognise sites. Making it to the Eiffel tower was a highlight.

As we ate our first meal in Paris we knew we had all grown up a bit, and proved to ourselves that with discipline and perseverance we could achieve positive things. Arguments, frustration amongst other things tested us, but we ultimately completed the challenge as a team, all in memoriam of fellow countrymen and women who died fighting for freedom and democracy.”