London to Paris

London to Paris by Bike: A Three Day Microadventure

It’s been four months since my last adventure.

It was a year ago – almost to the day – that I was standing at the Mexican border ready to walk the 2650 miles north to Canada. Since then I’ve had a few small trips, but with the combination of winter laziness, absence of money and work-based fatigue it’s all gone a bit downhill. The start of 2018 has featured a real absence of adventure, and I’m going through the usual withdrawal symptoms.

Time to do something about it.

With the long May bank holiday weekend approaching, I have decided to make the most of the extra day off by cycling from London to Paris. This three day, 200-mile jaunt will begin at the Greenwich Meridian line at Greenwich Observatory and will end two days at the Eiffel Tower – not very original but the best I could come up with at short notice.

London to Paris by Bike

Usually I don’t like to plan too much, preferring to play it by ear, but seeing as I only have three days to cycle over 200 miles, I have devised a rough itinerary:

Saturday: Set off from Greenwich at 9am (GMT, of course). Head south out of London and through The High Weald and the South Downs before reaching Newhaven and wild camping somewhere nearby.

Sunday & Monday: A late start on Sunday as I catch the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe, France at 10.30am. Arrive at Dieppe at 3.30pm and attempt to get as far as I can that evening. On Monday I will cover the remaining distance to Paris, travelling through a number of national forests and national parks, culminating at the Champs Du Mars. Here I will get a quick shot of myself in front of the Eiffel Tower before grabbing the Eurostar home. I’ll back in bed by midnight ready to stumble bleary-eyed into the office the next day.

A nice, simple adventure and a brilliant use of the long weekend. It will also be good training for my big bike trip in August – 1500 miles from Gibraltar to London. More details on this to follow soon.

But there’s more…

I always like my adventures to have a purpose, and this one is no exception. I wanted it to be more than just a frivolous way to spend my bank holiday weekend. One of my main goals in everything I do – whether it’s through my blog, my talks or even just shouting at strangers in the street – is to convince people to live more adventurously. And this is something anyone can do.

Often people think they are an exception to this rule, but in 99.9% of cases they are not. With this short microadventure I am attempting to challenge three of the most common objections I hear from people who claim they don’t have the ability to live more adventurously:

  1. I don’t have the time
  2. I don’t have the physical fitness
  3. I don’t have the money

These are all rubbish, and I will tell you why.

Time

Firstly, everyone has the time. Sure, it can be a challenge to fit your adventures around a 9-to-5 lifestyle, but it’s not impossible if you want it enough. If you really don’t have the time to do the things you would like to be doing, you are in the wrong job. There are extenuating circumstances of course, but I would hazard that most people do have the time and convince themselves otherwise.

I currently work 9am to 5.30pm, 5 days a week. I have 20 days of holiday a year, plus weekends and bank holidays, which adds up to a grand total of 132 days to myself a year. Considering I walked from Mexico to Canada in 135 days (122 if you don’t count the rest days), that is a huge potential for adventure. And that’s not even taking evenings into account. A lot of people are going in for the 5-to-9 adventures if that’s your bag.

If you make the optimum use of all these days, you could have – at the bare minimum – one small adventure per month with a couple of bigger ones thrown into the mix too.

It doesn’t even require much preparation. While London to Paris may not be the most original idea ever, I only decided to do it a few days ago and the last-minute planning has been minimal. I just spent an hour or so on Google Maps planning a scenic, traffic-free route, found a way to cross the Channel and I was ready to go.

You do have the time, you just need to make the best use of it.

Fitness

Secondly, you don’t need to be that fit. I am hardly a paragon of fitness, yetI’am about to cycle 200 miles with no real training. I have only just replaced my bike after it was stolen three months ago. By the time I set out for Paris I will have cycled a mere 70 miles in the preceding two weeks, an average of 5 miles a day. When I walked the Pacific Crest Trail I didn’t train at all. I just started slow and built myself up over time. All you need to do is be aware of your capabilities and don’t overestimate them. An adventure doesn’t have to be a test of endurance, it just needs to be fun.

Money

Finally, and the point I think I will get most resistance to, is that you don’t need much money to have a great adventure. And to show people that their financial objections are ill-founded and a great adventure doesn’t have to cost loads, for the duration of my journey I will have a budget of exactly zero pounds. I will carry no money. I’ll be wild camping both nights and only bringing gear that I already own. I will eat whatever food I can rustle up from the cupboards and I will be filtering water or filling up from taps along the way.

Of course on any adventure, there are a couple of inevitable initial travel costs, and I have itemised these below:

Ferry: £28

Eurostar: £165

However, once I leave London, that’s it.

Less than £200 for a three day adventure isn’t bad at all. And with a bit more planning ahead I could have saved myself a lot of money on the tickets.

To sum up, I want to use this bike ride to demonstrate that is possible to have a memorable adventure even if you think you don’t have enough time, fitness or money. All you need is the drive to actually take that first step and begin.

You can follow my London to Paris journey by subscribing to my blog or following me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

2 replies
  1. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    Whilst I agree with the sentiments in this post, your language is insensitive and patronising.
    A quick look through your twitter reveals you work in an office- people who work in physically demanding jobs will reasonably be tired on their days off. Saying that people are in the ‘wrong job’ because they don’t have much time or energy after work is ridiculous.
    Also, you are discounting huge numbers of people with families and other responsibilities as simply not wanting something, being a bit lazy and making up excuses. There will be lots of people who wish they had the time/energy/money that is plentiful for you but they have to prioritise. Your assertion that this is ‘rubbish’ is insensitive.
    £200 for three days and nothing other than the satisfaction of completing is a lot for those on minimum wage and unjustifiable for many of them, regardless of how much they want to adventure.
    Your bike looks brilliant- I assume it wasn’t cheap? (apologies if I’m wrong about this) Although this is clearly something you already own, it is a cost that many people simply can’t afford.
    Other people you are discounting here are those who juggle work and study, those on zero hour contracts who face the possibility of working 60 hours one week and 8 the next & therefore no financial security, those who are genuinely unfit- you may not work out on a regular basis but you clearly live a generally healthy lifestyle- lack of fitness is a real problem when talking about cycling hundreds of miles with no training and ironically, those with mental health issues you claim to be an advocate for, telling people with MH problems that they can do something if they put their mind to it is at the absolute best stupid and shows a huge misunderstanding of their problems (speaking from experience).

    You are quite clearly privileged and the fact that you can complete these adventures is amazing and to some degree inspirational but this article is so patronising it’s ridiculous. Time and money are huge issues for the vast majority of people, dismissing their concerns as ‘rubbish’ is pretty rubbish of you.

    Reply
    • Charlie Knight
      Charlie Knight says:

      Hi Lauren, thanks for your comment. I will try to respond to it as best I can.

      Firstly, I appreciate that this does not apply to everyone, which is why I mentioned in my post that there are “extenuating circumstances.” This post is aimed at people (of whom there are countless) who genuinely do have the time, money or fitness to have an adventure but for one reason or another believe they don’t.

      For example, I know plenty of people who spend their evenings on social media and their weekends on Netflix, yet still bemoan the fact that they have no time to do the things they would like to be doing. By prioritising their time and cutting out unproductive activities, there is plenty of opportunity to fit an adventure in there somewhere.

      I also appreciate that £200 is a lot for many people, and this was only a necessary cost for this specific adventure. Other adventures (for example camping on a hill or going on a long walk beginning and ending at your front door) don’t have to cost much money at all. The message I wanted to get across is not “adventure is cheap” but rather “adventure is cheaper than you think.”

      The same goes for the fitness aspect. An adventure does not have to be physically demanding. As I wrote in my post “All you need to do is be aware of your capabilities and don’t overestimate them. An adventure doesn’t have to be a test of endurance, it just needs to be fun.”

      Finally, I am indeed an advocate of mental health issues. I have written at length on my blog about my own struggles with mental illness and how doing these adventures and challenges has helped me to deal with many of my symptoms. I have also taked at length about how different solutions work for different people and so I know that what helps me won’t necessarily help someone else. For this reason I did not mention mental health in this post, nor do I use the phrase “you can do it if you put your mind to it.”

      The overarching message behind my post was simply intended to be “an adventure can be cheaper and easier than you think.” I apologise if this was unclear.

      Thanks for reading 🙂

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *