On the 28th August 2016, Jonathan Parker attempt to break the World Record for the fastest bicycle ride from London to Paris in the hope of raising £10,000 for Cyclist Fighting Cancer (CfC).
By 33 Jonathan had lost his Mum and two Uncles to cancer. This year his Dad died of cancer too. Cancer has hit Jonathan’s family hard, and he wants to try and help other families affected by the disease.
On Sunday 28th August 2016 – a World Record was broken. Jonathan Parker,a Barrister from Herne Bay, Kent, cycled from London to Paris in the fastest time ever recorded: 12 hours and 31 minutes. As the weeks pass by since world record was broken, he is still astounded that the donations keep coming. The page has currently raised over £12,000.00 for the charity Cyclists Fighting Cancer. Here is his journey.
Having lost his father this year and his mother and uncles previously to that awful disease every single one of us knows too well, Jonathan decided he wanted to raise some money in memory of his family members. JP had ridden London to Paris before over a number of days with the Bloodwise charity and had loved every minute, heard every heart breaking story and felt every inch of euphoria as they all rode towards the Champs-Elysees together to the heart of Paris. Having had such an inspiring experience, JP knew that London to Paris in aid of raising money for a charity would be his goal. The world record attempt had not yet even crossed his mind.
As Jonathan (or ‘JP’ to most cyclists who know him) continued his research into the trip, he came across the charity Cyclists Fighting Cancer – they would provide families with vouchers towards bikes for children and build specially adapted trikes for children with particular difficulties. Cycling is a fantastic way to rebuild muscle mass in a low impact way. Often children who have been through a rehabilitation process would even need custom made bikes and this is what CFC helped with. JP read through many of their cases and with each one his motivation to do something big grew. And that’s when ride to Paris became a world record attempt!
This charity was close to JP’s heart for multiple reasons, not only that he has lost family members to cancer, but also that JP has been through a rehabilitation process himself. JP had a serious fall a number of years ago, resulting losing 8 pints of blood and braking numerous limbs and including an elbow. Some of that has been reconstructed with titanium rods and bolts. JP had been told by doctors that he would be lucky to could walk properly again, let alone compete in sport like he had done before this accident. JP’s response to that was admirable, he spent over a year in a wheelchair and undertook a painstaking process of regaining the use of his legs, JP is now cycling to a high level in the UK and has even won 5 National Champion titles in the past two years. Nothing is ever impossible. JP said that had the help of a charity such as CFC been there for him, then his rehabilitation would have been less painful and drawn out. So if he could help others with any monies raised, he knew he would have done a good job.
The training for a World Record attempt is no easy feat, JP is coached by a renowned multiple national champion Time Trialist and now Triathlete Matt Bottrill. Matt had been giving JP months of training, he had spent hours on his time trial bike (for those of you scratching your head; a time trial bike is a more aerodynamic bike, set up in such a way to make the rider more streamline). During those hours of training at first, JP explained how he could recount every minute, every pedal stroke, every mile. But eventually, it became the norm. It felt weird to be upright walking on his own two feet! It became the norm to come back to his house after hours on the bike, covered in sticky energy gels and soaked in sweat. Each time JP’s mind questioned why on earth he was putting himself through this, but he would simply go back to the CFC website and read the case studies of those they’d helped. That would inspire him to drag his heavy legs out of bed in the early hours on a weekend and get back on the bike for more hours on the road.
As the weeks came closer to the big day, JP had prepared as much as he could; he had ridden the exact route for the ride over a couple of separate days. He knew the timings where he needed to arrive at the ferry port in Newhaven to catch the ferry on time; he knew the speed he had to keep throughout the ride to achieve his goal. JP had prepared each and every drink, energy gel and food bars up to every 30 mins of the ride. Once this was all done, JP could do nothing but wait for the big day to arrive. The only thing he couldn’t control was the weather. The wind would have a huge impact on JP’s timings and overall time; he had been checking the wind speed and direction on a daily basis from around 10 days until the event. Looking back now he explains how he almost misses checking his weather app on an hourly basis!
When the big day arrived, JP received a devastating phone call, at midnight, only 3 hours before he was due to be picked up, JP was told that his father’s house had been gutted by a fire. JP had no choice but to put this to the back of his mind until he finished the ride. Undeterred, albeit quite distracted, JP set off for London at 3am. As 5am turned JP set off on what would be his greatest achievement yet. The darkness loomed over him for the first hour of the ride, his support vehicle keeping an eye on his rear flashing light as it dotted across the roads out of London. As the morning dawned, JP was making great progress, holding an average of 28mph on his bike. Try cycling at 28mph when you next ride your bike, its hard work to do it for a few minutes, let alone hours. And maintaining that average speed means riding faster most of the time to offset having to stop in traffic or at lights.
However this is how the ride went until JP pulled into the ferry port at Newhaven after just 3 hours of riding. The ferry crossing lasted 4 hours, where JP had a well-earned shower and kip. Just 30 minutes before the ferry docked, JP was up and getting changed ready for the epic 110 final miles of the ride. The wind was quite abrupt, causing JP extra work on his bike than expected. However he powered through, the miles simply went by, JP was in the zone and continued at about 29 mph on the uninterrupted runs and felt as OK as he could, until 15 miles to go. The weather had been getting warmer and warmer as the hours ticked by, reaching scorching temperatures of over 30 degrees, lovely if you’re close to a beach, not so lovely if you are trying to speed your way to a world record in a lycra full body skin suit and aero helmet. JP explains that he hadn’t even noticed what mileage he had done until around 15 miles to go where he began to really feel the pain. His legs were as if made from lead, his clothing was drenched in sweat and white from salt loss. JP could no longer open his food to eat as he rode and had to be fed by his support vehicle.
As JP entered Paris and the traffic thickened, he lost his support vehicle; it was just him and the Parisian traffic. He navigated through twists and turns, traffic lights and the notorious ‘roundabouts with no rules’ in the centre of Paris. The Champs-Elysees, which is the road that leads to the Eiffel Tower, felt never ending; but JP gave it one final push to fully leave every ounce of his energy on the road. He stopped with the Eiffel Tower in the background and fumbled with his phone to try and take a selfie – a world record breaking selfie! As you can see it is evidence of the state JP was on when he finished. A few moments later his support vehicle found JP sat on the floor in a heap of a mess. He tells us that before the vehicle arrived, he had been jigging up and down doing a half-hearted victory dance to himself, with bewildered tourists passing by. JP finished off the night in style, celebrating with a beer or two after his well-earned shower and dinner!
JP has expressed his sincere gratitude for all those who have been involved in the planning, organising and support in the run up and on the day of this world record. In particular he would like to thank:
- Emma Lewis and Craig Joy – who basically looked after him though out all of the training (they do most of the time!)
- Matt Bottrill and the team for immense support, coaching and helping maintain a level of sanity
- Quigg Golden Solicitors for the financial support and the time spent organising, booking, etc.
- Paul Morton and Scott Norman of PMR events for the working put in making it all happen, and in particular taking care of him on the big day.
He has been through a lot to get to this moment however, knowing he has helped some truly inspirational people gain some form of life back has made this all worthwhile.
This year Jonathan Parker achieved the Official World Record for this amazing ride:
OWR certifies that Jonathan Parker has established a new Official World Record for:
The fastest solo cycle ride from London to Paris. On the 28th August 2016, Jonathan Parker from Herne Bay, Kent, the UK, cycled from London to Paris in the fastest time ever recorded breaking the Official World Record, 12 hours and 31 minutes.
The challenge was for the charity Cyclists Fighting Cancer.
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