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!!!