My Paris2Nice "Band of Brothers and Sisters" Diary

My motivation for cycling over 700km from Paris to Nice in September 2019 is well covered in earlier blogs and was not a mid life crisis as some have suggested! In fact I am already recruiting Paris2Nicers for 2020

For me Paris2Nice this was a “Band of Brothers & Sisters” experience with many highs and lows. I was on a six day roller coaster of emotions. One minute I was hugging my husband for all the support and coaching he was giving me the next minute I was cursing him for all the hills he never told me about. 

3 years ago lying in my hospital bed I was facing the prospect of having my bowel removed, 18 months ago I was having chemotherapy. Here I was now cycling over 100km a day in temperatures that reached 34 degrees celsius.

The Paris2Nicers range in age from 22 to 77 with varying fitness levels and cycling experience. It was a cross section of humanity and personalities with everyone from the milkman to the multi-millionaire.

Saturday: Paris to Montargis was a 137km cycle through Paris along the banks of the Seine and past the Eiffel Tower. A dedicated cycle route took us through national park and small villages to the town of Montargis, nicknamed the “Venice of Gatinais” owing to its 131 bridges. The Venice reference was a bit of an oversell. By the end of the day we had been lulled into a sense of “this isn't that difficult”. The main challenge that day was getting the Dublin v Kerry match on the hotel’s big screen.

Sunday: Montargis to Nevers was a 145km cycle taking us deep into the Loire Valley through increasingly hilly countryside, miles of vineyards and on towards our lunch stop. This is where I met one of my many almost Waterloos with a 2km 9% climb taking us into the very nondescript town of Sancerre. The town might be nondescript but the views were magnificent and a just reward for the excruciating climb. 

With my sense of “this isn't that difficult” well and truly shattered I wondered how I was going to be able to finish the day. The afternoon was a cycle through rustic vineyards and just a I settled into a gentle cycle another whopper of a climb would appear. I cursed all the climbs my husband never told me about.  I eventually arrived in Nevers wondering how on earth I was going to cycle 4 more days but on a brighter note I had cycled 282km so far.

Monday started at 5pm with a coach transfer avoiding the busy city of Lyon to arrive in Provence at Montelimar a 90km cycle to Carpentras. Lured into a false sense of security I was looking forward to only doing 90km.

Nothing could be further from the truth, a 12 km 7% climb greeted us after lunch. Truly I was tested here. The temperature was 34 degrees celsius, I felt like I was in an oven and could not keep cool no matter how much water Ultan poured over me as we cycled. To add insult to injury my bowel started to play up and I had to do “a bear in the woods”. It took all my willpower not to get in the support van and take the afternoon off.

When I made it to the top the reward was a mind blowing downhill for the next 30km where i hit speeds over 55km per hour. This afternoon’s cycle took us through the lavender fields of Provence. In the late afternoon, Grignan the 11th century, fortified village with its stunning Renaissance Castle appeared in our view. The climb had been worth it.

Tuesday was to be the the hilliest day so far. I couldn't imagine anything hillier than the previous day. Our destination was Aix-En-Provence 125km. I am not going to describe the climbs but they were endless, each one interspersed with long downhills, quiet roads  and some of the most magnificent scenery I had ever seen.

I would be lying if I said I was getting my ‘climbing legs’. This day was the most challenging and many times I thought about giving up, I thought about my deceased mum and dad and applied my “persistence over pain” mantra and somehow got to Aix-En-Provence. I also received beautiful motivational messages from work colleagues and friends who read my daily update on LinkedIn and encouraged me to continue. Thank you to all of you, you know who you are. 

Wednesday gave some respite from the climbs but we were now in the south of France, the birthplace of the painter Paul Cézanne. As we cycled in the footsteps of Cezanne we could sense the mediterranean was near. Our 127km cycle brought us to St Maxime on the shores of the French Riviera - we had made it to the sea. Giddy with excitement forgetting the pain and blisters I knew we couldn’t fail now.

Thursday was the final 110km to Nice. You cannot imagine my excitement as I knew our destination was so close. A pleasant 30km cycle along the coast warmed us up for what was to come. We headed inland through the magnificent Cap Esterel National Park overlooking the Mediterranean. The cliffs and mountains rise steeply from the coast, the deep red colour of the rock makes the lunar landscape by far the most magnificent scenery we had seen - the best had been saved until last. While there were several big climbs at this stage nothing was going to stop me now.

Our last 40km took us through  the glamorous resorts of Cannes and Antibes. The famous Promenade des Anglais and the finish line was waiting in Nice. The last 4kms are almost a daze as I cried with relief and pride. I was met at the finish line by Dr Aoibhlinn O’Toole, Mary Forry and her husband Philip and my friend Tracey Donnery and her husband Ciaran, they were crying too and holding glasses of champagne. We hugged and laughed and shared the euphoria.

Paris2Nice was a life changing experience. It challenged me mentally, physically and emotionally. My saving grace was the photo of my Mom and Dad in the back pocket of my cycle jersey and the mantra ‘Persistence over Pain’. I made Paris2Nice alumni friends with whom I laughed and cried. We held each together when the going got tough and I feel blessed to have shared my journey with such amazing band of brothers and sisters.

To date we have raised over €31,000. These funds have been raised due to the generous donations of friends, family and solicitor colleagues and through the GDPR/LLP and Probate Seminars that were so well attended in Dublin and Limerick.

None of this would have been possible without the very generous support of my wonderful colleagues in Law Society Professional Training and many other colleagues, friends and family who gave so generously of their time to organise and promote the seminar fundraisers and speak at these events and who also promoted the cycle fundraiser which led to such generous donations.

Words cannot express my husband and my gratitude to everyone who has helped, donated and supported us in our goal to help others achieve a more tolerable life in living with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

Happy New Year to you and your families and may it bring good health, happiness and fun.

Warmest holiday wishes, 

Attracta O’Regan & Ultan Bannon

What is Cycle4CrohnsColitis?

We wish to establish a fellowship that will pay for a dedicated doctor to provide exclusive on-going patient care supports for people with Crohn's Disease & Ulcerative Colitis. This service is not currently available in Ireland and would radically change the isolation and untreated side effects for people with inflammatory bowel disease. The  fellowship will cost €70,000 per annum. Our overall objective is to improve patient care and support, and generate an awareness of this debilitating, incurable disease.

Paris2Nice is a unique and exceptional  charity cycle challenge that raises much needed funds for Irish charities. This year the 62 cyclists including myself and my husband Ultan raised over €342,000. Paris2Nice is  like no other charity events. It is an extraordinary life changing quest where you literally shed blood, sweat and tears, make amazing friendships and when you arrive in Nice having cycled 700+km in 6 days have the most incredible sense of achievement. Click here to find out more.

I have a dream that I’m turning into reality! Help me and my fellow Crohn’s disease & ulcerative colitis warriors on our journey by pledging funds to our fellowship.

On Thursday 12th September, we are hosting a continuing professional development event at Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Ennis Road, Burtonhill, Limerick.  The event topics are -


All proceeds from this event will be donated to Cycle4CrohnsColitis an initiative by Attracta O’Regan, supported by Beaumont Hospital Foundation and the Law Society Finuas Skillnet.