"My name is Julia Dawe and I'm team leader of plan making at Croydon Council. I'm usually a swimmer and I've worked my way through gala competitions up to doing a relay crossing of the English Channel in August.
"In the week afterwards, while I was savouring my achievement, our team manager told us to keep ourselves busy. I had a bike on order already, as I was going to try road cycling. Then I heard there was a spare place available on a four-day charity bike ride. Following my manager's advice, I took it up.
"I found a new set of sports buddies who, like the open water swimming fraternity, are really supportive. I've had a great time: today we rode about 90 miles from Dunkirk to Arras, taking in Ypres and Menin Gate, the breathtaking memorial of 580,000 names inscribed at Notre Dame de Lorette (on top of a considerable hill), and the Vimy Ridge Memorial to the Canadian soldiers at Arras.
"I have a family history of cycling: my uncle Ken Mitchell rode in the Tour de France in 1955. I should be a natural! But in Ypres I was not enough cyclist and too much planner, disappointed with poor wayfinding and looking closely at the way the authorities had separated the cycleway from road and pavement - not very well I thought. And then I hit the dividing curb and took a tumble, spraining my ankle. Others had it a bit worse though: later in the day Andy Geldard hit the curb and dented his helmet; another rider did the same and fell onto a bollard. Both were OK but Nicola Anderson also hit the curb and smacked face-first into the back of a van. She was unconscious for a while but left hospital in good shape, apart from nasty bruses and stitches in her lip.
"And now I'm very tired, but I'm still in love with my bike and looking forward to the next trip."
It’s not too late to give to the charity – here's a link to a fellow rider's Just Giving page. "