Thursday, 23, March 2017

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The Bristol

The Bristol’s General Manager cycles from Bristol to Paris

Going Above and Beyond

Mark Payne, The Bristol’s General Manager, lifts the lid on what made him decide to cycle 430km over four days for the charity Above and Beyond and just how you train for such a journey


What inspired you to sign you to this mammoth cycle ride?

It was a culmination of things that got me interested in the event, in the first instance I know some of the team that undertook the challenge in 2016, following their blogs and journey on Twitter, it seemed like a great challenge but also a lot of fun.  

I took the plunge and got a road bike last May, with the intention of cycling to work a few days a week during the summer, 12 miles each way, and I enjoyed it.

In October when Above and Beyond was looking for participants for the 2017 ride, I went to the information session and was blown away by how much good work the charity undertakes.  The trip to Paris is open to 80 participants and all need to raise a minimum of £1,500 each, with the aim of collectively achieving a total of £150,000 for the charity.

What does the charity Above and Beyond mean to you?

Each year it invests in projects that go Above and Beyond what the NHS can provide by funding state-of-the-art equipment, innovative research and staff training for everyone from Bristol and the South West who are treated in local hospitals. 

At the information event there were some genuinely amazing stories about how Above and Beyond had helped families. In simple terms, the charity tries to inspire kids whilst they are recovering from illness or injury. For example, there was a child who was in hospital for three months so the charity painted their shower area with superheroes – I though this simple gesture was brilliant!!

The charity also resonated with me for two other reasons. Firstly, I have two girls born in Bristol hospitals and it is comforting to know there is a charity which is helping sick children and families when they most need support.

Secondly, I recall being in hospital for close to three weeks when I was eight years old. I had managed to pour boiling water all over my chest and spent some time in a burns unit, to this day I remember how boring it was for an eight-year-old (who could not have visitors due to the nature of the unit) to spend so much time with nothing to do.  I am pretty sure a more positive time recuperating can only lead to quicker healing, which is also the vision for Above and Beyond.


Mark Payne GM at The Bristol cycles from Bristol to Paris


Were you a keen cyclist before?

Definitely not! The bike I purchased ten months ago is the first I have owned in 25 years!!

What is the furthest you have cycled? How have you been training?

The furthest I have cycled is 65 miles (100km). From a training perspective, I now have less than six weeks to go so I am cycling 65km a week, once a week minimum, I did it twice last week and I really need to be doing it three times a week!

I make a point of cycling to work every day (that I can) so I am covering in excess of 100 miles a week commuting alone.  I need to start doing more hills on weekends as I have been doing my best to avoid this so far.

In an ideal world, I would like to enjoy the trip and not just do it for the sake of it so I certainly see the benefits of consistent training.

What are you most nervous about?

The route is not the most conventional of cycle routes; Day One for example takes us from Bristol to Salisbury, the route is chosen as it is the quietest piece of road between the two cities, and there is good reason for this, see the below chart as to the elevations we will see on Day One. Mile 18 looks exciting.

I am nervous that after three days of lots of hills I will end up 20-miles from Paris and my legs won’t take me any further!! I guess that should be my incentive to keep training!!

Mark Payne GM at The Bristol cycles from Bristol to Paris

Mark and his trusty stead

Do you have a time you would like to complete the challenge in?

Completing it is my only goal, the ride is over four days so we will generally all set off together each day, there will be three groups (slower, medium, fast) I will try the fast group on Day One and see how I fair from there.

The Route

Day 1 – Bristol to Salisbury

Day 2 - Salisbury to Portsmouth (overnight ferry to Caen)

Day 3 – Caen to Evreux (longest day with 90 miles)

Day 4 – Evreux to Paris


Will you take some time to enjoy Paris when you get there?

I suspect the first thing to do when I get there will be to have a very cold beer, quickly followed by a second!

Hopefully we will get some time for sightseeing, I have been to Paris a few times and the one thing I go and see every time I am there is The Notre Dame Cathedral, considering it was built back in 1200, it is a phenomenal piece of architecture and I enjoy going to the top looking out over the city. 

That evening we all have a celebratory dinner somewhere in Paris, I’m already looking forward to that!