“It was epic. At times, I hated it, but when I saw the Arc de Triomphe and got on the cobbles it was all worth it. And compared to Flanders cobbles they were nothing anyway.”
So said nine-year-old Alfie Earl yesterday afternoon after adding London to Paris via Dover to his list of cycling achievements, becoming the youngest known person to do so.
Alfie, who gets support from 99 Bikes, made it to the Eiffel Tower after setting out on Saturday from Blackheath with his sister Saskia, 12, also believed to be the youngest girl to have made the distance.
After scaling the Col du Tourmalet last June aged eight, Alfie vowed the conquer the Passo dello Stelvio, Mont Ventoux and London to Paris before he turned 10. Yesterday he ticked the last one off the list, and set his sights on the Col du Galibier in July “for good measure”.
The pair covered 270miles/432km in strong sunshine, thundery showers and tackled a hilly route.
Said Alfie: “A year ago a lot of people didn’t think I could do this. Some people think a boy this young shouldn’t even try it. I do it because I want to though, and I feel proud, and I have been helping lots of people by doing this ride.
“To anyone who doubts my determination and why I like pushing myself to do more, I say this – in your face.”
Alfie rode a Pinarello FP-Zero 24ins and Saskia a Specialized Allez Junior 650c. Alfie is now supported by Hargroves and we provided his kit for the ride, and jerseys for Saskia too.
“It was really hard at times and sometimes I wanted to stop but I did this in memory of my granny who died in November, to raise money for Cancer Research, and when I got to the Eiffel Tower it was amazing. Granny was a daredevil and loved challenging herself to do more, and when I got to Paris I thought about her a lot. She inspires me,” she said.
Alfie even had the energy to bunnyhop drain covers and put in a sprint finish as the Champ du Mars loomed.
He rode to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital, where his younger brother Ivan had life-saving heart surgery aged 18 months.
“Thank you to everyone who helped us win this and who sponsored us. It was so tough but worth it. And when we got to the Eiffel Tower I poured champagne on dad’s head both to thank him and to tell him I want a few days off my bike now,” said Alfie.
Until the Galibier training begins, of course…