Saturday was a big day.
Not only was it going to end with us arriving in Paris, but at 102 miles it was also the longest day in the saddle and the furthest distance many of us had ever ridden in one go - myself included.
And all that on the back of the 150-plus miles covered already covered since leaving Wembley.
Strangely the 6am breakfast call felt normal, but that didn't stop the nerves. Ever since we had received the event schedule this had been a day many had been focussing on. This last day meant pushing our bodies into unknown territory.
Breakfast eaten, the first job of the day was to put on our Help the Hospices event cycling tops we'd worn 48 earlier in front of the Wembley Arch. Water bottles were filled, followed by a quick bike check before hitting the road at 7am.
It was soon onto the serious riding as we headed for our morning water stop, 25 miles in at Parville. That stint was spent mostly with Steve from Help the Hospices, Colchester fan Louise, Notts fan Gary, Sheffield Wednesday supporter Andy and Birmingham fan Will, whose back wheel was so wobbly it must have done double the distance of his front one! Just like his club song, though, he was determined to keep right on to the end of the road.
Like Friday morning, this section was a great start to the day and a chance to chat to everyone as we rolled along. There was only one climb and that took us up to a plateau of expansive fields of corn, dotted with pretty little villages and farmhouses. Later in the stint I rode alongside Doncaster fan Graham, and then finished it off with Blackpool's Greg as he pushed himself on through the pain.
By lunch we were 50 miles short of Paris, having ridden through stunning rural French roads winding their way through poppy fields, woods and farmland. On the approach to lunch we passed a sign for 'Bar Pain' - a wonderful irony given the various niggles and sore spots that were beginning to build!
There was a much different feel about lunch than breakfast as it dawned on us that we could actually complete this challenge. Andy, Wycombe fan George, Gareth, Steve and myself set off in high spirits, but Steve was no more than a couple of minutes into the section when his gears failed and he had to head back to the lunch stop to get them fixed. Meanwhile, Gareth had a problem with his cleats having worn down making it very difficult for him to go up hills.
Some exhilarating downhills provided light relief, but as George kept reminding us with his new law of cycling, what goes down must go up. He wasn't wrong!
The title for Saturday's blog had been suggested by Steve the day before, and though there had been sweat and dreams of beers, at that point there had been no blood.
All that changed on the hill up out of Mareil-sur-Mauldre a couple of kilometres short of the last drinks stop. It was a long drag of a hill and just ahead but out of sight of us were Oxford fans Matt and Mike.
Not far off the top Mike had a fall off his bike onto the road. Like all our riders he was wearing a helmet but suffered some nasty grazes and bruises to his elbow and knee. As we came up the hill Andy and I saw cars parked by the side of the road with flashing lights and Mike lying by the side of the road so we sped up to the scene to see if we could help. Thankfully he was fine and bravely pushed on to the finish. He had a camera on his helmet, but we were all very disappointed he had not thought to capture his crash on film!
Once we'd given Mike a chance to recover properly we all then set of as a group towards Paris. Unfortunately for Owls fan Andy his bad luck with punctures continued not long after we had hit the road - his fifth puncture of the trip!!
The excitement among the group was growing with every pedal towards Paris, and the aches and pains we were feeling now didn't seem to be so bad. All was going so well until on the outskirts of Paris I got a sinking feeling as I felt my tyre go down - my first puncture! Notts County fan Gary jumped off his bike and had my wheel off and puncture fixed within a couple of minutes. The team spirit we had showed as the rest of the group waited for me.
My bike back together, we headed into Paris with a sweeping downhill section which made up for all of those steep climbs! We then came out at a set of traffic lights where you could see Paris spreading out with the Eiffel Tower right in the middle.
We were almost there!!!
After crossing the Seine a few times we arrived at the team regrouping point a few miles from the Arc de Triomphe. We had done it and now all we had to do was enjoy the celebratory ride to the finish line.
Some of the riders had been there for 90 minutes or so already - first in had again been the group of Mark and Roger representing Nottingham Forest, my roommate Nick, Mark and Peter and Steve from Watford, one of whom had apparently got so excited at finishing he fell off his bike!
Every group of riders that came in received congratulations, with the biggest saved for Notts fan David who's arrival meant everyone had made it. For David to have done this in what is his 60th year is quite some achievement, and throughout the three days I was so impressed by his attitude and determination.
All that was left for us to do was to cycle as a group to the Arc de Triumphe. We ended up going round it three times - certainly a once in a lifetime experience!! After that it was time for photos at the Trocadero with the Eiffel Tower in the background before heading to the hotel.
For what it's worth, after all of the detours and wrong turns, Oxford fan Christophe's odometer said we had travelled a total of 262.83 miles so that's the distance I'm using.
At dinner, Steve from Help the Hospices reminded us of the importance of what we had just done for Help the Hospices and their incredible work for hospice care. That had been something in all of our minds right throughout the trip, with many riders having personal reasons for raising money.
The purpose for being there was never more prevalent than on this last day when we had travelled the 102 miles into Paris carrying the Help the Hospices logos on our backs.
Special thanks at the meal also went to the support team of Martin, Jess, Sam and Alex from Global Adventure Challenges for their outstanding assistance. We certainly couldn't have done it without them.
What a trip. What an achievement - well done all!
If you haven't yet sponsored one of the Arch to Arc riders, please do so - you support really does make a difference.
Click here to see a full list of those riding in the Arch to Arc challenge