The UK and France lie just 20 miles apart at their closest point; a short hop on a plane, 35 minutes by Eurotunnel or around 90 minutes on a cross-Channel ferry from Dover.
But why take any of those options when you can cycle the entire 213-mile route from Bognor Regis in West Sussex to Paris over five days?
Last month, Sammy Tarafdar from our Delivery Team embarked on the gruelling journey by bike with three friends to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.
Their ambitious, arduous adventure was supported by friends, family and colleagues and they raised an incredible £2,030 (and counting) for the charity – more than double their original target.
Sammy and his friends Jay, Finn and Billy set off from Bognor Regis, where our head office is based, on Monday 29th May. After four more days of pedalling on roads, paths and even farmyard tracks, they arrived in the French capital on Friday 2nd June.
As somebody who is not a regular cyclist, preferring instead to use his bike only for occasional journeys, Sammy had to follow a special training plan for several weeks in the run-up to the trip.
Sammy explained: “The ride was a huge challenge, but also an experience that we are very proud of. After a couple of days the soreness really got to us, but we kept pushing along. We had pre-booked accommodation along the way – in Forges-les-Eaux, Gisors and Cergy – so we had a set goal to achieve in order to lay our heads for the night.”
As well as donations from colleagues, Innovate Tax was proud to sponsor Sammy and his co-riders for their impressive endeavours.
Looking back at the main challenges he faced on the ride, Sammy said: “We were aware that France has some hilly landscape, but we didn’t fully realise how extreme some of the inclines were until we were there.
“The weather – a mixture of heat and high winds – didn’t help, but it just made it an even greater challenge. Some parts of the route took us across terrain that wasn’t fit for a road bike, but we managed to continue.
“We also had to deal with a variety of issues with the bikes themselves, including punctures and the pannier racks breaking, but thankfully we were able to fix these along the way.”
Donna Smith, Head of Operations at Innovate Tax, said: “Congratulations to Sammy and all his friends on reaching Paris by bike in just five days. What a fabulous achievement!
“As a business, we are always keen to support our colleagues as they push themselves to the limits to raise money and ultimately make a difference for their favourite charities – and we are proud to have been able to support Sammy, Jay, Finn and Billy.
“We can’t wait to see what type of challenge the next intrepid Innovator chooses to take on to help a good cause.”
Sammy and his friends chose to raise money for the British Heart Foundation in memory of Jay’s grandmother, who unexpectedly passed away at the end of 2021.
Heart problems are the most common cause of death in the UK and the British Heart Foundation conducts vital research to prevent, diagnose and treat people with cardiovascular diseases.
If you’d like to contribute to Sammy and the team’s fundraiser, you can do so here.