Text by Bill Springer, photographs by David Churchill, film footage by Drone Exposure.
For those who were lucky enough to be there, the last 110 kilometres of this year’s London to Monaco ride put a fitting exclamation mark on the Blue Marine Foundation’s (BLUE’s) largest and most successful ride ever.
As one of the lucky seven-day riders who experienced the all joy, headwinds, humour, hunger, and most of all, the meaningful community that formed on our week-long romp through eight countries, the stiff tailwind we enjoyed all the way from our resort hotel in Loano, Italy, to the Prince’s Palace in Monaco had a special meaning. Of course, we were all tired. But the twenty-knot tailwind that was literally blowing us to the finish took the sting out of those last kilometres.
In fact, that blessed tailwind we enjoyed seemed to confirm that all the work that BLUE has poured into protecting the world’s oceans (and hosting huge events like the London to Monaco ride to help raise much-needed funds and awareness) is really paying off.
And of course, it was fun. The Northern Italian coastline was romantic, sun-kissed and spectacular, despite the “passion” of the Italian drivers we encountered. Seven-day riders celebrated the bittersweet joy that comes at the end of a long adventure, while many one-day riders looked on and said: “I’m going to ride the whole seven-days next year!” And we all marvelled at the combination of expertise, hard work and community spirit that the large team from Just Pedal brought to the ride that quite simply could not have happened without them!
Now that most of us had never ridden longer or harder in a week (including three days were we covered 200 kilometres each day), the hills didn’t seem as hard, the descents didn’t seem as scary, and we all agreed that nothing leads to mental clarity and overall fitness better than riding 1,000 kilometres in seven days!
But it was only when we came to the last coffee stop on the outskirts of San Remo, Italy when things really got real. I know that every single rider looked forward to the over-the-top-coffee stops put on by London’s Climpson and Son’s like five-year-olds look forward to eating birthday cake. Not only was every aspect (taste, smell, caffeine jolt and excuse to stop pedalling at kilometre 150!) of Climpson and Son’s coffee amazing, the consistent smiling encouragement we got from the hardworking Climpson’s team was as meaningful and powerful as our beloved tailwind!
Before we knew it, our 100-rider-strong peloton was being led by a couple of tall boot-wearing, siren-sounding motorcycle policemen to meet Prince Albert II at the Palace of Monaco. We all agreed that our police motorcycle escort through one of Monaco’s tunnels that Formula 1 cars race through during the Monaco Grand Prix made the end of the ride even more special. Then we crossed the finish line.
Champagne flowed. Speeches were made. And BLUE CEO Clare Brook announced that just that very day, the UK Government had made the largest commitment to marine protection ever! Now that’s something we could all celebrate. And we did!
For the third year in a row, Monaco’s Icon Connect hosted the end-of-the-ride bash that let riders trade in their cycling kit for stylish evening wear and allowed everyone involved in this amazing event to celebrate well into the night! As if that wasn’t enough, Prince Albert II and many high-profile sponsors also attended the annual Blue Marine Yacht Club party that was held this year at the Monaco Yacht Club where we heard more about BLUE’s great work and the many exciting projects that are in need of support this year.
The ride may be over this year, but the need for donations goes on. You can still support BLUE and this year’s group of intrepid riders here. And if you’re thinking about signing up for next year, do it now. Places are already filling up fast!