Donald's Top Tips for a more enjoyable ride

1. Train for distance. If you're new to long distance cycling, make sure you build up your practice runs so that you've done at least one or two of a comparable length to your longest day. If you've never done more than 30 miles, 60 will feel pretty awful. If you've done a couple of practice runs of 50, it will seem manageable. This is true even if you're quite fit in other ways: endurance does require its own training.

2. Throw it out.
When you've first packed your paniers, you've certainly put in a lot that you don't strictly need. Take out those hair curlers, and  ask yourself whether you will really suffer from having fewer clothes, because it's certain that you will suffer if you carry too many. A lightweight waterproof yes; an extra set of clothes for evening wear no.  B&B owners tell me of many people new to cycling who arrive bedraggled at the end of a long day weighed down by their luggage. They'd rather you arrive smiling than look smart at dinner (you can wear tomorrow's T shirt etc to avoid wearing sweaty clothes in the evening).

3.  D.I.P (drink in peace).  A rather useful fact I learned recently is that every French cemetery has a tap, for people laying flowers, with drinkable water! It's also worth knowing that most shops selling water have one brand of bottled water priced at about 30-50 cents for a litre, among the more expensive ones.

4. Be the French Garfield. He hates Mondays and you should at least be aware that very little is open then (or on Sunday afternoons) in France. However, near the end of the quietest stretch of the route,I found  a useful large supermarket open on Mondays in Menucourt (Mile 92)

5. Allow time to enjoy the forests The forest tracks going into Paris are well surfaced, but you need to follow the directions carefully here, and don't expect to make as good time as on the open road. Allow an additional hour for the last 25 miles into Paris than if you were doing your average speed and you'll enjoy the experience more.

6. Avoid the Paris panic If' you're catching a train back on the day you arrive, don't forget it's over three miles and quite busy getting from the Eiffel Tower to Gare du Nord, plus you'll enjoy looking around at the sights en route, and may need time to find your way: think Marble Arch to Tower Bridge, a similar distance. So give yourself 45 minutes or so to do this, in addition to your photo time at the Eiffel Tower. Rushing for a train is not the ideal way to end a trip...