Radiant Riders cycle London to Paris!

Note to reader: Despite the trip originally being planned as just a challenge for us all, we later decided it would be a great opportunity to raise money for a worthwhile charity. If you would like to sponsor us we are raising money for Calais Kitchen, who work in refugee camps in Calais and feed over 9,000 refugees in Calais and Dunkirk daily. Thank you.

Having conquered lots of short rides in East London (usually finishing in a good pub for a well earned drink), the Radiant Riders started to think about something more challenging…and the classic cycle from London to Paris was the one that captured our imagination. Nine members signed up and the planning and training began, with a decision to follow a scenic 340km route over four days. We did plenty of training rides, learning useful things along the way, like the fact Essex is lovely, and it’s pretty hilly on the way to Brighton. A few members of the group hadn’t ridden since they were about 15 and so new bikes and learning how to maintain them suddenly became more important!

Then two weeks before D-Day disaster struck. Stef was hit by a car door when cycling home and ended up with a broken wrist – very sadly she had to pull out. (Get Well Soon Stef!)

So eight ladies set off for Paris, leaving in a range of groups, meeting up in the lovely village of Lindfield to start our journey proper.


After a pleasant 35mile ride through beautiful Sussex we made it down to the coast for the HUGE ferry to France!


We started our time in France as we meant to go on : with delicious things. After bakery products and coffee we set off on our 35 miles of the Avenue Vert – an old railway line converted to a lovely cycle path – nice and flat!!

After a relaxing lunch it was time for the hills to begin! At least hills=views


Upon arrival at our overnight stop, celebratory drinks were in order!!


The second day in France was more rolling hills. The spectacular views just about made up for the pain of pedaling up them. And then we arrived at our accommodation for the evening – a chateau!!!


After relaxing on the terrace and a eating a delicious home cooked dinner (made by the owner, not us) we retired to bed at about 9.20pm (rock and roll!).

Final day!! We set off for the final 40 miles in high spirits, knowing most of the route was through beautiful forests and we’d be in Paris for dinner.

Minor disaster with a detour for Kathryn off of a dual carriageway and Karen experiencing the only puncture of the trip, but these didn’t hold us up for long and we were soon on our way again.

We stopped to enjoy French bread, cheese and salami in an uber picnic in the genteel gardens of Versaille, before pushing on for the final stretch to the Eiffel Tower!!


As we started our final descent we turned a corner and caught our first glimpse of the city, and moments later the Eiffel Tower was revealed, standing proudly like a beacon over the rooftops. We paused to squeal and enjoy the magical moment before doing our final weave through the city streets, with the tower getting larger with every pedal stroke.

And then we made it! We were greeted by the lovely Katie and Stef at the Eiffel Tower, waiting with bottles of sparkling wine and medals to congratulate us on completing the route.


Cycling through Paris to Gare du Nord to drop off our bikes was an experience but we all survived and made it for dinner involving copious amounts of wine and ALL OF THE CHEESE.

We had a well earned relaxing Sunday in Paris and then a Eurostar journey home with more wine!

Here’s to the next challenge in 2017!!

Badass Woman of the Month: Elizabeth Fry

Badass Woman of the Month - Elizabeth FryShe was born in the late spring of 1780 to John Gurney of Gurney’s Bank (nah, never heard of it) and Catherine Barclay of Barclay’s Bank (ohhh, think I’ve heard of that one). By the age of 18 she began regularly collecting clothes for the poor and dispossessed, visiting the sick and setting up a Sunday school in a summer house she had going spare to teach children to read and write.

At 20 she married a banker (because, unlike post-boom Britain, she hadn’t had enough of them) in a ruddy lovely service in the Norwich Goat Lane Friends Meeting House which sounds… like a nice venue. They promptly had eleven children and Elizabeth taking a good look around thought: “I just don’t feel like I’ve got enough sh*t on my plate yet, you know?”

So she got herself down to Newgate Prison, had a look at the appalling overcrowding of prisoners – often held without trial – sometimes literally dying from the conditions in which they were forced to live. She came back armed with blankets and food then set up a prison school on the spot to teach the children who were held along with their mothers. Next she set up the British Ladies’ Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners, which was the first nationwide women’s organisation, and campaigned tirelessly to change the conditions of prisons. She became so well-known that she was invited to speak to a House of Commons committee on the subject and just casually in the process became the first ever woman to present evidence in parliament. Her campaigning lead directly to prison reforms across Europe.

Once she’d done this she set up a night shelter to care for the homeless and a training school for nurses, which then inspired Florence Nightingale who took a bunch of the nurses Elizabeth had trained out to the Crimea to save people’s lives and hold lamps and that. Elizabeth consistently made the problems of people she sometimes didn’t even know her own, she used her intelligence and determination to secure them better lives. She saw situations that she did not agree with and felt her responsibility to change them. It is for those reasons that when she died at the age of 65 a thousand people lined her graveside to celebrate her life.

Elizabeth Fry, our Badass Woman of the Month, we salute you.

Blog post by Jodie Major for Shoreditch Sisters WI