‘Emotional’ cycle to Paris in memory of popular teacher

Vinehall School cycle to Paris SUS-170305-085556001
Vinehall School cycle to Paris SUS-170305-085556001

A group of 23 parents, teachers and former pupils from Vinehall School cycled 170 miles in 24 hours in memory of a much-loved teacher.

The aim of the cycle, from the school in Robertsbridge to Paris, was to fundraise for a new sports pavilion, to be built and named after Ryan Mitchell – a Games and Mathematics teacher who tragically died one year ago following a battle with cancer.

Vinehall School cycle to Paris SUS-170305-085658001

Vinehall School cycle to Paris SUS-170305-085658001

The idea for the ride came from head of Maths and keen cyclist Dan Ellis, who initially suggested the idea of a ride to Paris to a few fellow teachers, but it quickly grew to involve the whole Vinehall community.

The group started their ride at Vinehall School on Friday evening, waved off by family, friends and members of Ryan Mitchell’s family, some of whom had travelled over from South Africa for the occasion.

The ride took them down to Newhaven where they caught the overnight ferry to Dieppe.

Many of the cyclists only started riding when they heard about the challenge and for some, even the

Vinehall School cycle to Paris SUS-170305-085648001

Vinehall School cycle to Paris SUS-170305-085648001

35 mile cycle down to Newhaven was the longest they had ever made, so the 137 miles completed in

France was an enormous challenge.

Arriving in Dieppe at 4.30am and without any sleep, the group then rode towards Paris with the aim of reaching the capital city within 24 hours of leaving Vinehall.

The trip was broken into stages of between 25 and 40 miles, at the end of which a small support group of five teachers and parents would be waiting with food and drinks, as well as more than a few encouraging words before the cyclists set off again.

Vinehill School cycle to Paris SUS-170305-085617001

Vinehill School cycle to Paris SUS-170305-085617001

On arrival in France, the group encountered freezing temperatures and heavy mist, which made navigation difficult and the first few hours of the day very unpleasant.

The hot breakfast was certainly welcome after three tough hours, but when the sun emerged during the second stage, spirits were lifted and the group made steady progress through the Normandy countryside.

Although the group suffered no mechanical problems and only two punctures, it was still a real challenge to reach Paris within the target time.

But, with just three minutes to spare, they achieved their goal to great delight, before finishing the journey with a celebratory ride through the streets of Paris, cheered through to the base of the Eiffel Tower by the friends, family and dedicated support team who were on hand with bottles of champagne.

Vinehall School cycle to Paris SUS-170305-085627001

Vinehall School cycle to Paris SUS-170305-085627001

Vinehall headmaster Richard Follett, who was one of the team of cyclists, said: “It was a huge challenge for everyone involved to make such a journey by bike, one which many would not have believed possible.

“We wanted to do something special in memory of a dearly missed teacher, colleague and good friend Ryan, who was a keen cyclist himself.

“There were various stages in the ride when things got pretty tough, and the memory of Ryan certainly helped push us all on to the finish line. It was quite emotional to be able to toast him under the Eiffel Tower having completed the ride inside our target time, and I would like to thank everyone who was been involved in some way.

“Whether they were sponsors, the incredible support team, family, friends and of course the brilliant team of cyclists, they all made the whole experience something we will always remember.”

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