Last week, three french long-distance cyclists challenged themselves to ride from Nice to London within seven days.
What are Matthieu, Elisabeth and Greg’s motivations, plans and equipment ?
We interviewed them before the start.

What is the origin of this project ?

Matthieu : After their first shop in Nice, Café Du Cycliste just opened a second one in London.
With Ali (Note : e-marketing manager at CdC), we always try to find two-bit ideas to field-test our gear and have some fun.

It was that simple : “Know what ? Let’s ride to London !”

How did you first meet ?

Ely : We met by sheer luck during the Born To ride, in Perpignan. Each of us had ridden with others and it didn’t happen exactly the way we expected… The three of us got together and it did work well.

Matthieu : We went on this fantastic breakaway to Barcelona ! Most people in the groups we rode with wanted to make it in two stages and were all stopping… We asked each-other : “Are you going to Barcelona?” “-Yup” “-Yup” “-Let’s go !” It was really cool.

A bad stumble or just wear and tear : the life expectancy of bikepacking bags is being challenged.
Still, let’s not throw them away as soon as they are damaged !


In the field

Fix a hole :
Gorilla tape. A piece inside, a piece outside to be sure, and off we go !
Tip not to have to carry the whole roll : wrap some around a pen.

Fix a strap :
Some zipties or paracord are always useful !


Clean work

For Cordura as well as X-Pac, a solution is to glue a patch inside and another outside.
The back of Cordura is coated with smooth polyurethane, thus will stick better.
Unfortunately, polyurethane glues aren’t exactly eco-friendly…


A grandma’s trick

Stitch a patch over the hole, rub the seams with wax and heat it with a hairdryer.
It is sturdy and weatherproof. You will just need to re-wax it once in a while.

Do not forget

Eventually, different manufacturers offer different warranties. A selling point to consider !

Elisabeth's titanium Le Vacon

  • Frame : custom Le Vacon
  • Fork : Enigma C-SixD
  • Rims : DT Swiss RR411DB
  • Spokes : DT Swiss Aerolite
  • Front hub : Shutter Precision
  • Rear Hub : DT Swiss 240
  • Tires : Compass Chinook Pass
  • Headset : Chris King
  • Tri-bars : Profile Design
  • Rear derailleur : Sram XX
  • Front Derailleur : Sram Red 10v
  • Crankset : Sram Red 50-34 11v
  • Pedals : Shimano Deore XT
  • Brakes : TRP Spyre
  • Shifters : Sram Red
  • Saddle : Specialized Phenom
  • Mudguards : Sks bluemels
  • Bags : Helmut Equipement
  • Bar-ends : Branaire-Ducru 2010

How will you manage everybody’s different paces ?

Greg :  Easy : One beer an hour !

Matthieu : If it were a brevet, with a complicated schedule, a race to manage, things would be different. Plus, our paces are pretty similar. There will be tough days -not to be taken lightly to make it within reasonnable hours every day- but there is no other need than having a good time. So, it would be stupid to have different rythms, leave someone far behind or breakaway… Unless one has the jimmy legs and wants to beat his PB on a col…

Ely : And there is no col !

Greg : I think our expectations are quite realistic : make it to London, fulfill our stages as planned and have fun riding together.

Ely : Our only concern is to be on time for dinner !


Will it be only hotels and restaurants all along ?

Ely : Hotels, shelters and restaurants. I guess sometimes we’ll be happy to cook ! When having only restaurant lunch and dinner everyday, one might get bored and fancy a salad… I think I’ll fancy a beef rib !
Besides, we will “only” ride 240 km a day, it means 10 to 12 hours riding. The only break we’ll have will be for lunch, that’s it. And we’ll have to have it, as we are bound to drink two bottles a day !


How’s that, “bound to drink” ?

Ely : We were talking about a wine gimmick on Matthieu’s Facebook. I quickly thought about what would match the places we would cross and came up with a wine program for every lunch and dinner !

Greg : My drinking friends have a cycling problem !


Drinking program

Day / Km / Lunch / Dinner

D1 : 235 — Bandol • Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence
D2 : 240 — Chateauneuf du Pape • Côte Rôtie
D3 : 235 — Beaujolais • Givry
D4 : 220 — Vezelay beer • Chablis
D5 : 220 — Crazy Hops beer • Jasnières
D6 : 125 — Cider • Calvados
D7 : 160 — Beer • Beer


How did you plan your route ?

Matthieu : First, we had to consider the weather. Honestly, if we rode it during summer, we wouldn’t take the seaside, but would cut through the Alps, which would be much more fun. But you know, within a week, we would have got completely stuck, which would have been really terrible.
I insisted on going to Dieppe, it seemed more fun than ending in Calais.
Then we split the route : As I am from the area, I took care of the 1st part ; Greg took over to Lyon, where he comes from. Then Ely planned all the way to Dieppe, as she knows this part well. After that, as I don’t know it there, I just followed the Veloroute from Newhaven to London. We’ll see.
That’s how we shared tasks, it came together pretty well.


Matthieu's Victoire prototype

Victoire experimented with this frame. It changed forms several times and allowed Luka -new hire and former aircraft welder- to try his hand, which explains the irregular weldings.
Fork also was asuccessful experiment, as it is now in the Victoire Catalogue.

Also worthy of note is the tapered headtube with external bearing of different diameters !

  • Frame : Victoire prototype, stainless Reynolds 921 tubes
  • Fork : Victoire Aventure
  • Rims : Mavic Open Pro Disc
  • Front hub : Shutter Precision PD-8X
  • Rear hub : Hope RS4
  • Tyres : Compass Barlow Pass
  • Headset : Chris King
  • Tri-bars : Profile Design
  • Rear derailleur : Sram Rival
  • Front derailleur : Sram Rival
  • Crankset : Praxis Alba M30 50-34
  • Pedals : Look S-Track
  • Brakes : Sram Rival
  • Shifters : Sram Rival
  • Saddle : Berthoud Aravis
  • Seat tube : Thomson Elite
  • Bags : Helmut Equipement
  • Mudguard : Full Windsor

We all have habits… Do you carry anything odd ?

Matthieu : I have my “Fidèle” my mother gave me. It isn’t the world’s lightest knife but I care a lot about it. Apart of that, I only have useful stuff…

Ely : Actually, we don’t carry much. All my things here don’t weight much. My evening outfit weights 500 grams. I have this jacket I had to leave with, as it only was 12 degrees in Paris ! Everything else has been weighted : my stilettos are 309 grams, which is quite reasonable…

Matthieu : Still, this has to be the most incongruous thing ! Going long-distance with high heels, that’s awesome !

Greg : As for me, well, not much… You saw me : I came here and discarded my clothes. If the plane had been heated (Note : Greg came from Berlin), I would have worn shorts and a t-shirt, and would have thrown them away too.
From my experience, I realize that the more you bring, the more time you waste. These things clutter up and you don’t know what to do with them.


Greg's Canyon Inflite AL SLX

Here is a proof that one can ride long-distance without a bike made to measure !

Greg rides a stock cyclocross Canyon (It even still has its spoke guard…) A personal saddle, a pair of pedals, road tires and go !

  • Frame kit : Canyon Inflite AL SLX :
  • Wheels : DT Swiss CR1600 Spline
  • Tires : Compass Chinook Pass
  • Headset : Acros The Clamp
  • Tri-bars : Profile Design T3+
  • Rear derailleur : Sram Rival 1, 11v
  • Crankset : Quark Prime 11v, 40t
  • Pedals : Crankbrothers Eggbeaters
  • Brakes : Sram Rival 1
  • Shifters : Sram Rival 1, 11v
  • Saddle : Brooks Cambium C13 Carved Carbon
  • Harness : Topeak Front Loader
  • Top tube bag : Salsa EXP
  • Frame bag : Vaude

Are you riding the Transcontinental Race again ?

Matthieu : Hell yeah !

Greg : I’m not.

Matthieu : But he already finished it ! I need revenge ! I have no competitive spirit to others. I have pride, a competitive spirit towards myself, targets I set myself, that’s for sure. But I am not competing with others -I don’t think I have the level for that- It really is a personal revenge.
Anyway, my wife won’t let me come home before I hit Meteora !


Do you have other plans for this season ?

Ely : I’m riding the Born To Ride in june, the Torino-Nice Rally (I’ll be cyclocamping for the first time !) After that, I’m willing to ride a diagonal Dunkerque-Perpignan in the FFCT time limits, solo and unassisted… Then I want to ride the 7 Majeurs in 48h and finish with the BRM1000 TriRhéna in France, Germany and Switzerland, with 1000km, 17 000m E.G. in 75h, which is insane !

Greg : I am going for the Japanese Odissey. I love japan. I want to live there since I was 10 years old. My girlfriend and I are planning to move there. We went there last year and I’ve been thinking about this race for a while now. I’m turning 30 this year, I love this country.
I’d also like to create a long-distance adventure, in the spirit of Chillkoot. Maybe a Berlin-Lyon, an event where one gets to discover something.


Midi @cafeducycliste_style DUE NORTH #suntothecity

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