The start of the journey happened over Christmas 2021, when Jane and Philip Myerscough and I shook hands and took on the challenge of cycling from Paris2Nice. The challenge was definitely a significant one as I had not owned a bicycle since I was a teenager! Add to that our combined ages at the time of the cycle was going to be 204 yrs and neither Jane or I had ridden a bicycle since our childhoods. The hand shake was a commitment and we did not break our promise to each other!
Step one was the meeting in The Goat and listening to the testimonies of alumni. Then the steps from there are too numerous to mention but include the training…..well, that was tough as every step had to be done. At no time was I on my own though, Darren and Tom were always there, encouraging and giving advice when the mission seemed almost too much. My lasting memories are of the encouragement of the numerous Alumni that come out to enjoy the ‘craic’. I can’t say I love cycling into a head wind but I learnt to enjoy, perhaps even love the sense of freedom, fitness and excitement that went with the Sunday sessions……followed by the Wednesday evenings. BLOODY Johnny Fox’s hill - I had no idea there were so many ways up to the same Pub! Every time you go up a hill, it is easier the next time!
The fundraising was a journey that was also filled with exhilaration. I was daunted to think I needed to raise €3,000 but we were so passionate about our choice of Charity that we (as a team of a three) were overwhelmed by the generosity of friends, family and contacts. I came to realise that our positivity and passion for those that are born with Downs Syndrome and their need for support through their lives, meant that our enthusiasm was infectious.
The P2N team in HQ are the best. I can only sing their praises and tell you all how much you are appreciated. I, for one, have an overwhelming feeling of gratitude that I was introduced to P2N and the life enhancing experience it gave me, my team mates and all of those that cycled in 2022. An opportunity not to be missed."
What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Paris2Nice. It was truly a marvellous experience, from March, when the official Paris2Nice training started, right up to the finish line on the Promenade in Nice, 6 months later.
I had heard of this cycle event a number of years previously and made a mental note-to-self to aspire to do it one-day! 2022 was the year! I chose BeLongTo to raise funds for. I was a solo fundraiser and was very grateful to raise €5,000 for LGTB Youth in Ireland.
The crew behind the scenes at P2N are just wonderful. Constant communication from Vivienne, so that everyone is informed of the weekly plan to meet up and cycle. Out on the weekly spins it was such a comfort to have Darren and Tom close by if anything was to go wrong, with your equipment or indeed with you. I was blown away with the support from the alumni members during our weekly training spins. Every question was answered, and fear dispelled. And a lot of fun was had on those spins, it’s incredible how quickly you’ll get to know someone when they are coming up behind you on Stocking Lane.
If you have never cycled these kinds of distances before, start getting on a bike as early as you can, build it into your weekly routine. Whether you begin with a few indoor spin classes or you spend some time adjusting to using cleats. Once March rolls by, you’ll be ready to join the Sunday morning road spins and in June, you’ll double down with the added Wednesday evening training, perhaps even a third weekly spin in those long summer evenings. Consistency is key. The more you do, the more you’ll want to do and soon the idea of cycling 750km’s through gorgeous sunny French countryside, in a week, becomes a lot less daunting. You just need to ‘show up’ every week and the rest just happens!
I’ll never forget the morning of our flight. We gathered in the airport café areas. Everyone giddy with excitement, despite the ungodly hour. Frantically calculating if we had packed everything, mentally checking off gear lists. Meeting people we had trained with, who once were strangers, now familiar pals. The anticipation of it all. The tour company, Cycling Safari’s, took very good care of us from the moment we arrived in Paris. We were broken up into groups (those with shiny shoes and those without ) and each group had a guide who helped navigate our way to the end of each day.
The Cycle Itself
Parts of it were tough. Cycling for hours, into a headwind in open fields with no shelter is tough but you keep going and you get to smell the lavender and feel the warm sun on your face. Soon it will be dinner time. And you’ll do it all again tomorrow. Each day is over 100k and over 1,000 meters of hill climbing. But something happens around Day4 where your body now understands the brief a bit better and has eliminated all the lactic build-up, you just power on faster than you thought was possible. Certainly, a hell of a lot easier than when you started out 6 months previously.
My absolute favourite part of the whole trip was the last 3 days approaching the Cote d’Azure, through the city Aix-en-Provence. We saw some stunning countryside and cycled some epic roads, even if one of those days was torrential rain, complete with thunder & lightening, French style. You must remind yourself to take it all in as it all goes by in the flash of an eye. A life affirming experience for me, that’s for sure. I would highly recommend anyone to do it.
Paris2Nice is one of those great life experiences that you will fondly reminisce over for years, a bit like a J1 summer, only a grown-up version!
What makes it so great is the combination of commitment to a common goal, challenge, making new friends, banter on the training sessions, the build-up and anticipation and the cherry on top, the trip itself - 6 days and 730km cycling from Paris, past the Eiffel Tower, through vineyards and lavender fields, over mountains until finally you reach the aquamarine Cote D’Azur.
The trip feels like a journey as you are constantly on the move enjoying amazing scenery and weather. At times it was tougher than I had expected and I was very glad I had availed of the Paris2Nice training sessions in advance as they really prepared me for France. I had gradually built up my fitness over 4 months, training twice a week and I picked up lots of tips from the amazingly supportive trainers and Paris2Nice alumni and learnt loads of new routes around Wicklow and greater Dublin. The trainers get to know you on these sessions and then group you with cyclists of similar ability on the trip which really works.
The charity element is also a very important part of the Paris2Nice experience. I was genuinely blown away and motivated by the unbelievable generosity and support of our friends and family. We raised well over our target sponsorship and I was hugely proud to hand over our cheque to the Irish Cancer Society. There is a massive feel-good factor in knowing that our 2021 group of 34 cyclists collectively raised an astounding €260,000 for charity.
The sense of achievement when we eventually made it to Nice was absolutely incredible and uplifting and I will be living off the ‘high’ for months. I also finished physically fitter than I have felt in years. I would highly encourage anyone to accept the Paris2Nice challenge
If you’re thinking about doing this tour, the question that you should really be asking yourself is, why would I not want to do it?
P2N 2021 was a total of 34 cyclists, of mixed abilities coupled with an excellent group morale and genuine friendship that will continue long after our tour.
I had the most remarkable tour with thanks to all behind P2N. Not only was the trip perfect, but as a group we felt, in every instance, that our guides were so experienced and thoroughly briefed and our maintenance crew truly cared about us (and more importantly, our bikes!), the food was excellent, and Vivienne did her very best to make this trip memorable for everyone.
This was the most eye-opening, adventurous, and stunning journey of my life - something that I will remember, draw upon, and cherish for many years to come. We were pleasantly surprised by the diversity of our trip: from Cycling through Paris to the vineyards spanning as far as the eye could see, shadowed by the indomitable Mount Ventoux, to medieval castles, the Parc naturel régional des Préalpes d'Azur with winding switchbacks and so much more.
Sounds great? But you have to earn it. Completing your Weekly training sessions are imperative if you want to enjoy it. Sure everyone loves a cycle out around blessington on a lovely summers day, but heading up and around Enniskerry & Sally’s Gap, in hale, wind and rain is now going to be your Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. But it’s worth it. The trainers that will take you out will be urging you on from the moment you sign up, until you unclip on Promenade des Anglais and sharing with you their tips and tricks for climbing, gearing, fuelling yourself properly and managing your breathing. All things that I, as a very new cyclist, desperately needed.
As the old adage goes; Nothing worth doing is easy, but I assure you, this is life changing. Register now and get it done.
Turning 50, I had wanted to take on a significant physical challenge. When I heard about Paris2Nice I had barely been on a bike in 30 years, but having 8 months to hit the level of fitness required seemed doable. Add to that, the route - taking us from Paris through the heart of France - and the opportunity to use the event to raise money for a charity of my own choice - and I was sold.
The training kicked off in March/April and was pitched perfectly to allow for all levels to get their fitness and stamina up slowly but steadily. The P2N coaches and veteran volunteers were excellent. (Darren and Tom in particular know exactly what they are doing and if you listen to them - you can't go wrong). The distance and level of hills increased as we went through the Summer, and it was great to see the confidence for the tougher hill challenges build across the group right up to the end of training in late August.
The trip itself was excellent. Vivienne and the team from Cycling Safari ensured that all we had to do was focus on cycling. The guides were excellent, as were the accommodation, meals, transit etc.
Six days cycling through the French countryside tackling steep hills (including taking on Tour de France stage 'Mount Ventoux'), passing through the Loire Valley, riding through numerous vineyards and finishing along the South coast - made all the training worthwhile.
Raising money for my chosen charity (Marie Keating Foundation) was hugely rewarding. Everyone achieved the fundraising target despite Covid making it difficult to hold fundraising events.
I'm a massive advocate for Paris2Nice; I'm the fittest I've been in 10 years. I'll be keeping up the spins through the Winter with many of the 'class of 2021' and entering sportifs around Ireland in 2022. For anyone half-thinking of taking it on - just go ahead and sign up. You'll never regret it.
Paris2Nice was the most incredible adventure and fulfilling experience of 2021 and possibly my life!
Maybe it was because we had been locked up due to covid for so long but I loved it so much, even the hill climbing, and was on a high for at least 6 weeks afterwards.
Having a concrete goal, the sense of personal achievement, camaraderie and raising money for a good cause - in my case - The Irish Cancer Society - was so worthwhile and meaningful.
The support from friends, families and strangers was humbling and life-affirming. As it is a six-day event it far surpasses many other single-day sporting events and truly exceeded my expectations.
I highly recommend the experience - don't hesitate, don't overthink it - identify your charity, get on your bike and sign up now!
Where do I start…..I have a few girlfriends who took up cycling and were forever telling me how good it was and had asked me if I would join them but to no avail…
Then at some point in 2019, I borrowed my friends bike, cycled a few times, liked it and bought myself a bike.
Some weeks later my friend Carol mentioned Paris2Nice and the information evening which I went along to with no great expectations or intentions. Basically the rest is history…..
Training began and fundraising too, Covid happened and the trip in 2020 was cancelled. New Year restrictions were lifted and before I knew it we were finally heading for Paris in September 2021 where we cycled for six glorious days through amazing countryside, vineyards, coastal views, little towns and villages before arriving into picturesque Nice to the applause of Paris2Nice alumni and family, (my daughter Bobbie Rose in my case).
The Beau Rivage Hotel, so aptly named, was the perfect finish to a perfect week, filled with great stories, fun and laughter with a fantastic group of new friends enjoying the same amazing, inspirational, humbling experience that is Paris2Nice.
There you have it and for what it’s worth it has been one of the most memorable weeks of my life.
Don’t over think it, I didn’t. Will I do it again? Most definitely Yes!
A little piece of advice; listen to Tom, Darren and Brendan our amazing coaches , do your training - the more you put in, the more you get back.
The entire Paris2Nice team are an amazing bunch who made our trip absolutely seamless.
Thank you gals and guys
Paris to Nice (P2N) was one of the best things that I have ever done. I got to raise money for charity, lose weight, cycle from Paris to Nice in beautiful weather and get to know a wonderful group of people, each one with their own fascinating unique story.
So how did I get involved in this life changing event? Well I was due to retire from AIB in April 2019 after working there for over forty five years. So in preparation for this life changing event (my retirement) I bought my bike in June 2018, through the Bike to Work Scheme (although for me, it was more a Bike for Retirement Scheme). In September 2018, I heard about Paris to Nice from a colleague and thought “Wow what an opportunity”. Now people of my vintage had been enthralled by Sean Kelly’s seven victories in the Paris to Nice Stage Cycling race in the 1980’s, so the idea, that I might be able to cycle in his tyre lengths, was magical. On looking up the P2N web site, I found that that year’s group were already on the road to Nice, so I signed up to express my interest for 2019 and thus began my adventure.
In February 2019 I went to one of the P2N Information evenings. As I listened to each of the speakers, who spoke about the event itself, the equipment needed (you need more than a bike) and the training regime to ensure you enjoy the event, it just served to reenforce the magical nature of the event itself and of the people involved. One of those people was Orla from ARC Cancer Support Services, who had previously cycled P2N to raise funds for ARC. I am a cancer survivor and wanted to raise funds for a cancer related charity and decided there and then to cycle for ARC.
In March 2019, I started the first of our Sunday morning training cycles. It was from Blackrock to Enniskerry and back (I was feeling confident, so I actually cycled across the Liffey from the Northside). There I met other confident fellow first timers and the hero’s of P2N like Tom, Paddy, Darren, and Brendan who would be our guides and mentors from then until our arrival on Promenade des Anglais in Nice in September. Sitting in Enniskerry at the half way point having my tea and scone (the first of many and one of the highlights of each training spin), my confidence was somewhat dented as I wondered how I was going to get out of Enniskerry as it involved cycling up a hill. I was reassured that all I needed to do was select a low gear and cycle at my own pace and so I did. It was the first of the many hills that I got to climb and since then I have cycled over six thousand kilometres and climbed over fifty seven thousand metres (I forgot to mention, that you become addicted to Strava, which records all your cycles including your heart rate, which at times can be a scary thing to see!). I have got to cycle the Wild Atlantic Way from Kinsale to Glenbeigh, all parts of Dublin and Wicklow, and Paris to Nice and in the company of great people.
It has been life changing and magical. Roll on P2N 2020!!!
Paris2Nice was the most unexpected and unforgettable highlight of 2019.
I signed up late, with no bike, no gear and no cycling experience…..but I was met with endless support, encouragement, kindness and great friendship which quite literally got me up hills all through last summer. I’ll never forget the patience of Darren O’Reilly, on some of the early spins when I was barely moving!
Once signed up, I thought I would have lots of questions. But the logistics, fundraising and training questions were answered before I could ask them! With Paris2Nice coming up to its 10th anniversary, it is very clear this isn’t their first rodeo!
The trip itself is impossible to put in to words. There is an intensity of emotion perhaps due to the sense of achievement, connection as a team, stunning scenery and pure exhilaration from cycling so far and at times so high!
Being part of P2N2019 was the greatest gift. Beyond fundraising and fitness, there is friendship, fun and wonderful connection. Sign up for P2N2020 and be prepared for a fabulous adventure.
I would highly recommend Paris2Nice, it was genuinely a life changing experience for me.
Myself and my partner Kevin (who is a much keener cyclist than me!) decided in early 2019 to take on the challenge last September. At the time I was feeling emotionally drained and physically unfit. My lovely Dad had died suddenly in Sept 2017 and we’d been through a tough (and incredibly busy) time since then; trying to deal with my Dads business & affairs, and the grief the family were going through, on top of our normally hectic life juggling work and four children. I wanted to get fit again but we also really wanted to raise funds for Pieta House as we both had sadly experienced suicide in our families.
We started to go along to the Sunday training sessions. We got fantastic support from the trainers Darren, Tom and Brendan and, after a few months training to get my level of fitness up a notch I started to enjoy the cycles. We also got our fundraising efforts into gear and managed to raise over 12,000 euro between us for Pieta House. The added unexpected bonus was that over the months leading up to Paris2Nice we met lots of new people, Alumni and people planning to do the trip, which was lovely as we had reached a stage in our lives where we had stopped meeting many new people socially.
We set off for Paris the day after the second anniversary of my Dad’s death and it really felt like I was closing a sad chapter in my life and opening the door to a brighter future. The trip itself was great. It was not easy, and the days in the saddle were longer than I expected, BUT we got to know some more fantastic people, all with their own interesting stories and special reason for taking on the challenge. The camaraderie within the groups was great and it was lovely to take on this challenge with Kevin (who, I will admit, gave me a sneaky push up the odd hill!). The organization and support from Cynthia and the Cycling Safari team was absolutely top notch – everything ran really smoothly and they knew exactly what support we needed and when in terms of food, drink, mechanical etc.
The feeling of (eventually!) getting to the top of Mont Ventoux and of cycling into Nice at the end of the trip to the waiting crowd was really fantastic and definitely worth all the pain! I would highly recommend the Paris2Nice trip to anyone who is prepared to put in a bit of training and particularly for anyone who has a cause that is close to their heart that they want to raise funds for – this really is a big challenge and we found that our friends and family recognized that and were incredibly generous in their support. I came home feeling the fittest I have ever been but also delighted to have raised so much for Pieta House and pleasantly surprised on how little pain I felt in my body having put it through six intense days in the saddle (and a few equally intense celebratory days in Nice at the end as well!).
In January 2016, I was enjoying family life with my husband and four children and leading a successful and challenging career as a busy solicitor.
A month later, I was admitted to hospital with constant diarrhoea and bleeding, severe abdominal pain, weight loss, exhaustion, heart palpitations and vomiting. I thought my ill health was caused by an infection caught during an overseas work trip but after two weeks of invasive tests, I was diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease*, called Ulcerative Colitis, which occurs when the lining of the large intestine (colon) or rectum, or both, becomes inflamed producing tiny sores or ulcers on the lining of the colon.
I was in a mess. I was in pain, running to the toilet every few minutes. The steroids I was on caused insomnia and the loss of body minerals was affecting my heart and other organs. Every joint in my body was in pain and swollen from fingers to toes. My jaw kept locking when I tried to eat or speak and I found it difficult to walk. As a result, I was confused and irrational. My speech was slurred which was embarrassing and upsetting and I was truly terrified as my livelihood depends on my mental ability.
Now three years later after two years of many treatment routes including steroids, immunosuppressive and biologic medications, adverse complications including steroid dependency disease, abnormal cervical cells, IBD related arthritis and numerous other complications my ulcerative colitis is in remission. This is due to the expertise, care and patience of Dr Aoibhlinn O’Toole and Mary Forry, who guided, supported and brought me successfully through this very complicated personal journey. I am now living a healthy, normal, rewarding life and my remission is being maintained through daily medication, diet and exercise.
In September this year my husband Ultan and I, cycled from Paris to Nice. 702kms over six days to fundraise for the salary of Ireland’s first research fellow. This doctor will provide one-to-one patient care and support for people with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis and research the effects on the day-to-day lives of those who suffer with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis – both of which are incurable diseases. This fundraiser was inspired by the wonderful care I received from my medical team and their suggestion that this research fellow could make an enormous difference to those suffering with inflammatory bowel disease.
The Paris2Nice cycle is a life changing experience. It challenged me mentally, physically and emotionally. Nothing could have prepared me for 34 degree heat, torturous climbs and equally daunting descents and six to eight hours in the saddle for six successive days. My saving grace was the photo of my deceased Mom and Dad in the back pocket of my cycle jersey, the mantra ‘Persistence over Pain’ and the patience and love of Ultan who helped me through every pedal stroke. I made Paris2Nice alumni friends with whom I laughed and cried. We held each other together when the going got tough and I feel blessed to have shared my journey with such amazing people.
To date we have raised €31,000 and hope to reach €35,000 before the end of the 2019. These funds have been raised due to the generous donations from solicitors in Ireland and from family and friends.
Words cannot express our sincere gratitude to everyone who has helped, donated and supported us in our goal to help others achieve a more tolerable life in living with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. It’s still not too late to donate through www.cycle4cc.com. We would love to hear from new Paris2Nicers who would like to cycle with us next year, we are contactable though www.cycle4cc.come
It's not often I’m stuck for words, but when I think back on P2N 2019, I can't think of adequate words to properly describe it
There’s no one word that can truly describe the experience of Paris2Nice, so Wow is as good a word as I can think of..
If P2N is an idea that you are toying with or vaguely contemplating, my only advice would be…. Do it!!! Sign up and commit yourself to what will be one of the best experiences you will ever have!!
From the second I signed up I was overwhelmed by the amount of support and encouragement on offer. Organised Sunday spins from March headed up by the wonderful Darren, Brendan and Tom were aimed at building us up gradually to where we needed to be cycling wise for the challenge of P2N. Little did we imagine on our 1st spin out to Enniskerry in March that come June, we’d be capable of taking on the challenge of the Wicklow 100.
There was always an abundance of support and advice, tips on which gears to use and when and a gentle hand on your back to help you up the ever increasing climbs.
For me it truly was an experience of a lifetime. It’s not often you get a chance to cycle through rolling vineyards, lavender fields and along the Riviera with an amazing bunch of inspirational people, .with the added benefits of a major personal achievement physically, making great new friends AND raising much needed funds for your particular charity. Everyone’s a winner!!!
Sign up now!!