Q&A: Caroline Hall - DAC Beachcroft In April 2017, a team of 25 from DAC Beachcroft's Bristol office took part in the Bristol to Paris Cycle Challenge. Together they raised over £50,000 for the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children’s Neuroscience and Major Trauma and Rehabilitation Unit which provides vital support to children on the road to recovery after serious illnesses. One of the cyclists who took part was Caroline Hall who has worked for the law firm for almost 17 years. We caught up with her to find out about her experiences and why she thinks you should sign up to next year’s challenge! How did you first hear about the Bristol to Paris Cycle Challenge and why did you sign up? The firm had a team of 10 riders take part in 2016 and one of them, Chris, had been evangelical about how good the whole experience had been. Around this time, I had started cycling to work but, after an incident where my brakes failed and I ended up crashing at speed into a wall, I had given up. I was approaching 40 and something had to change – I needed a challenge and a cause that I could commit to. Chris had been my cycle guru when I first started riding and he was the reason I got back into it. Add in some healthy competition amongst my immediate team – we are lawyers, after all – and before I knew it I was signed up with 24 others from the firm! Do you have a specific link with Bristol’s city centre hospitals? Living in Bristol, I've thankfully only had a small involvement with the hospitals but I know lots of people have benefited from the amazing care they provide. In addition, we were raising money for the children’s neuro-rehab unit so it was directly linked to the work I do. I deal with personal injury claims so deal with the results of brain injuries involving both children and adults. I have seen the benefit of early intervention with their treatment and the huge difference that makes so by taking part, I was doing my bit to help make a difference in the long recovery process. How did you find the training in the lead up to the event? I must admit, by the end, I loved the training but I was slow to get started. When you are told you have 10 months to train it feels like forever but soon the days start slipping away. I'm lucky that I can commute to work on the cycle path, almost from my front door, so just by commuting twice a week I could get in 35 miles of training. The training rides run by Bike Science were invaluable and I would urge anyone who has signed up for next year to go to as many as they are able. They open your eyes to the reality of how much training you need to do but at the same time make you realise that it's not entirely out of your reach. All I would say in terms of training is when you think you've done enough, do a bit more and climb another hill! Did it help that you were taking part as a team? Being part of such a big team was incredibly motivating. Strava became ridiculously competitive and emails would fly around almost daily comparing times and suggesting rides. There was always someone to train with if you wanted to push yourself and one memorable training ride after work involved a peloton leaving the office and cycling to the two tunnels in Bath. People were of varying abilities but there was always someone to encourage you if you had a bad ride. Initially we were terrified by the fundraising target but by pooling resources and using the different skills of our large group, it meant we smashed the target and just kept going! How did you find the four day challenge? It was a truly memorable experience and I would recommend it to anyone. That's not to say bits weren't tough. People who you had never met before would help you dig in through difficult patches or you would have a laugh with them over a glass of wine at the end of the day. Arriving in Paris was slightly unreal and when you get your first glance of the Eiffel Tower to your right as you head downhill you don’t stop smiling until you’re under it. There were points during the training when I never thought I would get there but standing under the Eiffel tower with everyone was an awesome experience. What would you say to encourage others to take on the challenge? Go for it! It's something you will never regret taking part in and you're helping the city in which you live. I can honestly say the ride has changed my life. Since returning from Paris I have cycled another 1,000 miles, taken part in Sportives and I commute most days by bike. I’m not the only person whose life has been changed by the Bristol to Paris Cycle Challenge and I know we all secretly wish we were still in training! Sign up to the Bristol to Paris Cycle Challenge 2018 and contact [email protected] or 0117 927 7120 with any queries.