Interviews: Cycle to MIPIM's Team Sitematch London

Thu 26th March 2015, 5:09 pm

Five members of Cycle To MIPIM's Team Sitematch London (David Lunts (DL), Matthew McMillan (MM), Lucy Taylor (LT) and Brendon Walsh (BW) and Toby Fox (TF)) share some of their experiences from the 932-mile trip from London to Cannes, in aid of children's charity Coram. The team dealt with (very) early wake-up calls, over-enthusiastic police motorcyclists and the odd medical emergency.

Why did you take part?

DL: Because I love cycling, I love France and riding in an organised peloton with full rolling road closure for 932 miles is very special. But what seals the deal is raising so much for such amazing charities - especially Coram. It's nice too, to be able to do MIPIM without a trace of guilt or apology!

MM: Well, I was going to MIPIM anyway and the airfares looked pricey, so.... But seriously, it was the great company, great charity and a great challenge.

LT: I have watched the cyclists ride into Cannes for the past five years and decided to challenge myself to do it.

BW: Because I must be getting old and the rose-tinted memories of having done it four times before overrode my memory of the pain involved.

TF: It's the opportunity of a lifetime, the closest anyone like me is ever going to get to Tour de France-style clycling, in a big peloton with the support of mechanics, police outriders, closed roads, physios and so on.

What was your highlight of the ride? 

DL: The highlight was the ride into Dijon in the dark. Our motorbike outriders were amazing, stopping the traffic with consummate professionalism and hurtling through Dijon's red lights at 25 miles an hour on a busy Saturday night is as good as urban cycling can ever get.

MM: Watching the frosty dawn over the vineyards of Champagne is going to be a tough cycling memory to better, although the first sight of the sea on the descent to Cannes is a close second.

LT: Riding at the front of the 100 plus rider peloton with my fellow lady cyclists, accompanied by “Moustache” the motorcycle outrider playing Queen’s “We are the Champions”.

BW: Finishing the ride!

TF: Climbing a steep and seemingly endless hill road at the end of a long day, in the dark, a few hundred metres behind the peloton, with the police motorcyclist called "Moustache" alongside me playing massive Eurodisco beats on his radio and yelling "allez allez", "encore" and "formidable" in encouragement. If he'd had a whip he'd have cracked it. It's a perverse kind of fun.

What was the toughest moment of the ride?

DL: The toughest moments were the 4.30 wake up calls, closely followed by the scorched earth five am breakfasts [at which cyclists compete to hoover up everything edible in sight in a few frantic moments]. Horrible!

MM: Getting back on the bike for stage six on day four. After 175 kilometres and four consecutive brutal hills on stage five, there was almost nothing I wanted to do less. I wasn't all that keen on the 4.30am wake up calls either.

LT: Another 4.30am alarm call and riding in the dark with freezing cold feet and hands.

BW: Coughing up blood on a big climb at the end of day four and having to take oxygen to recover – it made me feel very fallible.

TF: At 4.30am on day five, sitting at the edge of my bed, in despair, pleading with the bag to yield a clean pair of socks. 

What was the nicest place you visited during the ride?

DL: There are some very special places along the ride but my favourite is probably Grignan, a lovely medieval Provencal town on day five.

MM: The massage room! On the bike, so many beautiful moments but cycling through the red mountains on the last day was breathtaking and the walled town on the top of the gorge on day five was worth the seven and a half mile ascent.

LT: The bar for a medicinal glass of wine and my bed… and some beautiful French villages where the locals welcomed us with homemade cake.

BW: The Savills beer tent at the end.

TF: The incredible medieval mountaintop town of Bonnieux, though as we rattled over the cobbles at a fair lick, with many more miles to get under the belt, the thought occured: would this be better if we could stop, have a pizza and a beer and take in the view?

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