Just as the early stages of the Tour de France can often be eventful, the first day of the MFCCC bike ride from London to Utrecht was full of drama.

Miffy and Friends Charity Cycle Challenge, Day 1 – sponsored by Kinnerton

All 43 participants arrived safely in Folkestone last night after 80 miles of cycling in searing heat, but there were certainly some memorable moments along the way.

Starting out from the Emirates Cable Car by the O2, the group rode together in the early morning sunshine along the river tow path, past the Thames Barrier. Riders then started to jostle for positions within the various pelotons as we hit the centre of Woolwich, in the thick of rush hour traffic. US and Dutch participants had the added stress of remembering to ride on the left.

For the next four hours, the fast and slow pelotons battled their way through South East London, negotiating busy roads and temperatures which soared to 28 degrees. Along the way, there were: a flat tyre (after just ten miles), four falls (Rich Collins and Mark Booker both fell twice), one multiple collision involving various riders but only poor Becky Coles hit the tarmac with minor damage to her bike, plus one ‘lost en route’ – Alison Vellacott got separated from the group and had to be rescued from outside Bexley bus station.

After a drinks stop next to Rochester Castle, the group finally made it to Faversham for lunch at 2.30pm, an hour later than scheduled. The oldest brewery in the UK provided some well needed refreshments before it was time to hit the road again.

The afternoon was less eventful but far more exhausting, with some steep, long climbs which were punishing to many pairs of already tired legs, in temperatures of over 30 degrees. However after the morning’s ride through London’s sprawling suburbia, the beautiful Kent countryside and quaint villages made a welcome change. At times we reached the top of hills and could see for miles. At one point a diversion was in place due to roadworks – but the MFCCC were having none of it – they just picked up their bikes and walked right through the middle of the roadworks, with the builders looking on in bewilderment.

The final descent into Folkestone was fast and breezy; the group was weary but jubilant as they cycled to the seafront and under the sponsored banner which had been resurrected outside the hotel.

First Day Awards were given out at dinner by the organisors – the prizes were miniature Miffys dressed in Tour de France jerseys. Winners were as follows:

King of the mountains – Alastair McHarrie

Queen of the Day – Jayne Wadsworth

Most Determined Sprint King – James Whitburn

Most Determined to Finish – Howard Siegel

The Rookie Award – Daphne Kellerman

First Man Down (twice) – Mark Brooker

Double Whammy (lost en route, lost luggage) – Alison Vellacott

The group had an early start today (7.30am) in order to cycle from Folkestone to Dover, where we are catching a ferry to Dunkirk (avoiding the strike action at Calais).

Today’s cycle challenge blog was bought to you in association with Kinnerton.

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