Chris Dowd is a remarkable gentleman who is undertaking several challenges this year to raise money for Cancer Support France. Thank you for your amazing generosity Chris.

Here is Chris, in his own words, explaining what he is doing: –

I’m Chris Dowd, a 52-year old early-retiree to France, living for the last 3 years in 65700 Castelnau-Rivière-Basse. I took up cycling in 2016 as a past-time to lose some weight, get a bit fitter and enjoy the countryside but quickly, it became an obsession and an addiction.  I love to push myself, and my 2019 Cycling Triple Challenge for CSF does just that while, hopefully, raising lots of money for a fantastic cause.
In 2019 I plan to complete 3 fresh new challenges“: –

1) Cycle solo and unsupported (no back up car or luggage transfers) 1000kms from Paris (Eiffel Tower) to Les Pyrenees (Col du Tourmalet) over 8 days in August/September

2) Cycle at least 15000kms in 2019 (9320 miles)

3) Complete a 4 day 640kms endurance cycling challenge in the Ardeche region, called the, in June.

“The last day of my cycle from Paris to the Pyrenees in September will begin in Maubourguet on Sun 15th September.  After cycling 930kms from Paris, I will need all the support I can get to make it to the top of Col de Tourmalet by about 15:00 – please come along and support me along the way. For someone who spent 33 years behind a desk, these challenges certainly feel like a big ask of myself but – no pain, no gain for CSF!”

Here’s a link to The Connexion’s article on Chris (The Connexion is the monthly newspaper for English-speaking people in France): –

The Ride

On Friday 30th August Chris Dowd starts the final leg of his 2019 Triple Cycling Challenge to raise funds for Cancer Support France.Over a period of 8 days (he has given himself a day off before the final push), he will be cycling around 1200kms, passing through 6 CSF Association areas and arriving at the Col du Tourmalet on Sunday 8th September.His route takes him through the west of France and he would be thrilled for any support, 1200 kms is a long way alone, so any wave would be a bonus! If you are in Paris, do go to the Eiffel Tower around 2.30pm to wave Chris on his way! Or take a day out and visit the spectacular Col du Tourmalet near the Pic du Midi du Bigorre with its famous astronomical centre; Chris is aiming to arrive just after 2pm.

Or. if you are anywhere near his route – Épône; Le Mêle-sur-Sarthe; La Flêche; Châtellerault; Chabrac; St Romain; Casteljaloux or Nogaro, then get in touch with me for details of where you could cross his path.

A Full Update on the Ride

All done!

“I’m sad and I’m happy. Sad, that it’s all over because I really enjoyed the ride, the scenery and meeting lots of CSF folk. Happy, that the ride went so well and that I’ve raised €2550 for a fantastic cause from all your generous donations.”

Ian and Sue Purslow organised a fabulous reception for me today at the Col du Tourmalet, with over 20 people waiting to celebrate with me with a glass or two of bubbly.

“Again the weather was sunny today.  I felt really good climbing Tourmalet today – so good, that I was setting a personal record pace but had to hold for over 30 minutes at La Mongie in order to avoid arriving at the Col before anyone else!  I had planned a very pessimistic timetable, that turned out to be exactly the opposite of how I felt on the day.

Thank you to Pat, President of CSF National for a lovely gift of wine and chocolates to say thank you for my efforts.

Thank you to Jayne Ray, President of CSF Gascony for the lovely gift of a beautiful bowl made by her.

And finally, thank you to Penny Parkinson from CSF for being my organising right-hand lady with me, every step of the planning, for over a year up to today.”

TOTALS so far are: – 1182kms ridden, 11056m climbed, 43000 calories burned, in 8 1/2 days.

Goodbye for now…  Until the next time I cycle for charity in 2022.

Day 8 Update

“I’m home. Well, was I really in Paris a week ago? It doesn’t seem real at all. The week has literally flown by, which has to be a good sign. Now to rest up and be as ready as I can for 100kms to the 2000m high Col du Tourmalet on Sunday. It was sooo cold this morning, just 3 degrees for at least an hour, and all I had was summer gear plus a jacket; the sun seemed to take forever to rise up and start warming me and the air. Stage 8 of my 9-stage personal Grand Tour is now completed, with Stage 9 set to be what is called the ‘Queen Stage’.  I’ve won every stage!, but also I came last too.Physically I’m feeling good; the legs feel tired of course but I’m better than I’d expected to be.Sleep…”

Day 7 Update

“Celebrations today as my sponsorship total cruised through €2000 with a whip-round donation from CSF Haute-Vienne. Happy days; it’s more than I ever imagined I would raise. Thank you. Not a long Mail today; I am feeling quite tired now. Today was another long day at 150kms and finished with quite a few deep rolling hills too, into a headwind, just to make sure I suffered a bit more.

Stewart Baker joined me again today, riding alongside until lunch.  A big thank you for the company and conversation. I had a great evening, night and breakfast with Sue Hick, who, not even being a member of CSF, was incredibly generous putting me up for the night. The countryside was mostly pretty today, but nothing particular to photograph.  The long days are now over with ‘just’ 100kms tomorrow, to get home.  Then of course, the 100kms from home on Sunday, climbing 2000m to the Col du Tourmalet.”

TOTALS so far are: – 943kms ridden, 7635m climbed, 34335 calories burned, in 6 1/2 days.

Day 6 Update

“Another lovely day to be on a bike in the french countryside, riding over 100 miles.

Today was the longest distance yet, and the most amount of climbing, but the scenery of Haute Vienne and Dordogne was beautiful.

I had huge support today; it has been amazing. Clare of CSF Vienne set me off at 08:00 after a lovely breakfast, a good sleep and great company, though it was just 7 degrees! An hour later, 8 members of CSF Haute-Vienne, organised by Sue & Richard Ware greeted me with coffee and pastries.  I’m sad I could not stay longer and do their efforts justice. I was flagged down about 10:40 by a couple that had come out to see me en-route. Colin from CSF Dordogne Sud made me a lovely lunch that hit the spot perfectly and then Stewart Baker rode with me all afternoon, working hard to break a headwind in front of me, which otherwise would have been hugely draining. Tonight I’m staying with Sue Hick, who contacted me via the Connexion article on June, doing sterling work with a great dinner and a bed for the night. So you can see that support to get through a long day 6 has been brilliant.

Another long day tomorrow but the last long day. Stewart will again ride with me, this time all morning. I look at a map now and feel I’m well on my way to the finish, which I guess I am! Some lovely pics again today. I’m particularly pleased with the dawn on La Vienne. 360kms to go…!!”

TOTALS so far are: – 794kms ridden, 6245m climbed, 29080 calories burned, in 5 1/2 days

Day 5 Update

“A fabulous day’s cycling, the best and most beautiful yet. For all but the last 15kms, today’s 132km route was an upstream ride along La Vienne. What a beautiful river, every part of it was a picture.  If only the road builders, way back whenever, had put the road along the riverside all the way it would have been even better but instead, they seemed to have gone up and down every adjacent hill they could find!

Today marked half-way on this journey. But even more importantly it also marks the completion of another one of my cycling triple challenge for CSF targets.  Today I completed 15,000kms ridden in 2019 (with at least 150,000m of climbing), with almost 4 months to spare.  That was 600 hours in the saddle!
Don’t tell anyone, this is between just you and me! but privately, I’m now targeting 20,000kms for the year – no point in stopping now!! I had lunch today at the home of Susan Hooper, a member of CSF Vienne.  It was a real pleasure and I thank her for her kind hospitality.  In my pictures you will see her cute dog Teacup.”

“I’ve been eating a lot today, as promised to my dear wife.  A picture of the afternoon treat is below.  It’s definitely a plus side of the trip to feel free to indulge.”

“Another pic is weirdly of my mirror on my bike.  I thought I’d show you the most useful accessory/gadget on the bike.  With it, I feel so much safer and it’s so easy to see behind me without wobbling across the road!”

“So how am I feeling?  Good – is the answer. No enduring aches or pains or blisters etc. yet, so fingers crossed, I’m good to the end.”  (We think you are looking great! – CSF)

“Tonight I’m being hosted by Clare of CSF Vienne. It is so nice to stay in a home after 4 nights in budget hotels. Tomorrow brings the Charente and Dordogne, so lots of hill climbing is guaranteed.”

Day 4 Update
“Every day is turning out to be further than my route planning said but then, I am prone to the odd missed turning and my cycle computer keeps on trying to take me the wrong way up one way streets too.  By the time I tour around pretty towns and look for the only open bars to get a drink, all the extra bits add up!

Today, I rode 161kms, 100 miles.  It was again, mostly very pretty countryside but this time there were Chateaux at every turn at times.  Tonight, I appear to have made a planning error, giving myself a 1km walk each way, in flip flops, to get dinner.  I’m so very much looking forward to the next two nights when I will be hosted in a home (that’s not a mental home; I mean someone’s house).

Tomorrow I pass half way…hooray! ‘Only’ 680kms to go… …”

TOTALS so far are: – 499kms ridden, 3445m climbed, 18430 calories burned

Day 3 Update

“The third day of my 8 1/2 day – circa 1150kms challenge is complete and I’m beginning to really feel like the challenge is on. After 2 days of heading west and south west, at lunch today, I turned south and am finally heading in the right direction, passing cities that we all know from our auto-route trips to England such as, Alençon and Le Mans. Scenery today was lovely all the way; Gently rolling countryside and never-ending Oak forests. The breeze was behind me from lunch onwards too. Unlike most of France today, I saw no rain either.”

“Pictures today include my breakfast companion in a bar in Le Mêle-sur-Sarthe,”

“The house my wife and I will buy when we win Euromillions tomorrow evening.”

“And… my end of day treat, which unfortunately, is not a glass of wine as this trip is strictly tee total until I reach the Col du Tourmalet at about 14:15 next Sunday – will you be there?”

“This is the first time I’ve been away, solo with luggage on board, for longer than 1 night. I’m starting to learn new things about managing my effort, and especially managing my diet. For the last few kms today I was feeling a bit weak, I’m not eating enough. I need to eat more and, more often, ideally high carb, high protein foods but anything will do as long as it’s not too fatty, I just need to eat eat eat. Michelle’s (my wife) flapjacks are yet again my twice daily go-to miracle energy food.”

“Tomorrow’s forecast is 22 degrees and sunny with a tail breeze, so whatever happens I won’t be able to blame such perfect cycling conditions.”

TOTALS so far are: – 338kms ridden, 2443m climbed, 12800 calories burned. Only 830kms to go.

Day 2 Update

“That was a horrible day’s cycling for sure but to be balanced, not as bad as it might have been if it had been raining! Most of the 144kms was spent battling a 20kmh headwind in 30 degree heat on wide open unsheltered roads. Definitely not to be repeated any time soon! It’s done now and after lunch tomorrow, I turn south, with, according to the forecasts, a tail breeze/light wind behind me all the way. Happy days. There was nothing too picturesque about the scenery today worthy of a photo but the villages were often pretty. I’ve definitely used up too much energy today, so after a good nights sleep, I will, hopefully, be refueled and ready to go.

TOTALS so far are: – 199kms ridden, 1254m climbed, 6835 calories burned

Day 1 Update

“After so long in the planning, today the adventure finally began. 5 1/2 hours on a TGV and I was in Paris for only the third time I’ve ever been there. Yes, one was with Michelle! I had a fabulous lunch with the lovely Deborah and Patsy of CSF Paris & Île-de-France, who then gave me a great send off at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Today’s 54kms was always going to be slow. It’s a long time since I rode in the mayhem and dangers of a big city and I took it carefully. I then got well and truly lost trying to navigate the now huge expanse that is, ‘La Défense’. The sat-nav was useless among the tall buildings and it was alleys in all directions, with the only road through being motorway class. Eventually I escaped and arrived on time at the overnight hotel in Épône. Tomorrow might be the toughest day other than the Tourmalet climb,as it is all heading west in open countryside ,direct into a head wind.”

Final Update

A huge thank you to Chris for undertaking the amazing challenge of riding from the Eiffel Tower to the Col de Tourmalet in the Pyrenees. His final total in aid of Cancer Support France is a whopping €2723! We are so grateful!

Penny Parkinson – September 2019