Cycling in the Channel Tunnel

Cycling on the screed surface in the Channel Tunnel service tunnel, between the two railway tunnels
Mike Turner (left) and Wally Michalski (right) inside the French Portal in October 1993 with two Saracen Sahara bicycles they had ridden from the UK construction site
Michalski and Turner at UK portal with the same UK Site Construction Saracen Saharas

Pedal cycles in the Channel Tunnel are normally only allowed to cross the Channel Tunnel fixed link between the United Kingdom and France using the Eurotunnel cycle service, on board a Le Shuttle train. This consists of a minibus and bicycle trailer for six bicycles.

On a number of special occasions since 1993, crossings have been made directly using the bidirectional Channel Tunnel service tunnel, positioned between the two rail tunnel bores. This central service tunnel has airlocks at both ends, and a concrete screed road surface.


Mike Turner on a bike in the service tunnel in 1993

During construction, over 200 bicycles were used by construction workers. These consisted of 80 bicycles from Peugeot bicycles on the French side; plus 125 bicycles from Saracen Cycles on the British side.[1] The Saracen mountain bikes had been ordered by plant manager Kevin Otto—an initial order of twenty-five had been ordered with the rest of the fleet following on later.[2] On the UK side, over 850 workers had been trained and issued with passes for their use inside the service tunnel.[2]

During one Sunday in October 1993, Wally Michalski and Mike Turner, working as contractors on the British side, used a pair of the Saracen bicycles to cycle the 100-kilometre round-trip from Folkestone to Coquelles and back again. The journey took around five hours to complete, while wearing full overalls and needing to carry respirators.[3][4]

In November 1993, journalists Nick Dutton-Taylor and Damon Brown used the same Saracen bicycles as other construction workers to cycle into the tunnel for an article in Mountain Biking UK.[2][5][6][7][8] They were trained and accompanied by the cycling trainer Clive, but not allowed to go the full way through.[2]

After opening

Chris Froome in June 2014, one of a number of cyclists to have ridden through the Channel Tunnel

On the night of 2/3 December 1994,[9][10] a group of professional and semi-professional cyclists went road bicycle racing from London to Paris in aid of Téléthon en France '94 broadcast live on French national television.[11][12] This 1994 peloton was led by Henri Sannier and accompanied by Jean-Michel Guidez,[13] Patrick Chêne,[14] Jean Mamère, Marc Toesca,[15] Thierry Marie,[14] Paul Belmondo,[14] Bernard Darniche,[14] Jean-François Guiborel[16] and others. The group used the service tunnel to cross the channel between Folkestone and Coquelles, accompanied by a STTS vehicle.

On 1 June 2014, Chris Froome rode eastbound from England to France in a video promoting Team Sky and publicised during the 2014 Tour de France season.[17]


  1. Hamlen, John, ed. (October 1993). "On Your Bike". The Link. Folkestone: Translink J.V. (TransManche Link) (47): 21.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Dutton-Taylor, Nick; Behr, Steve; Brown, Damon (June 1994). Manley, Tym, ed. "MBUK Opens Chunnel Shock!". Scoopette. Mountain Biking UK. Vol. 7 no. 6. Future Publishing. pp. 64‒68. ISSN 0954-8696. EAN 9770954869039. Of course we wanted to be the first to ride right through, but security put the mocker on that. … Clive is a loco driver, who, having trained other loco drivers, had been drafted in to train cyclists, 850 of them to date. … Plant manager Kevin Otto, himself a cyclist, set about looking for a supply and, after a commercial assessment of manufacturers, asked Saracen to supply the bikes. Initially they bought 25 Sahara Elites
  3. Wright, Michael (22 June 2014). "Calgarian claims title of first to cycle through Europe's Channel Tunnel". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  4. Laker, Linda (7 August 2014). "Riding the Channel Tunnel". Cycling Weekly.
  5. "Ben Nevis ridable?" (comment). Bike Magic. 9 May 2001. Retrieved 29 January 2015. Who do you think we are?MBUK absailing into quaries with bikes on our backs, and riding through the channel tunnel.
  6. "Singletrack latest issue WTF". 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2015. Lets not forget MBUK of oldish days … It also did features on riding through the Channel Tunnel before it opened to trains
  7. " – Timeline photos". 7 July 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2015. An MBUK journalist rode through the tunnel … Damon Brown That was me and my friend Nick but we didn't ride all the way through. Well remembered!
  8. "Video: Chris Froome v the Channel Tunnel". 7 July 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2015. Didn't MBUK ride through the Channel Tunnel shortly after it opened? Or possibly during construction? There was definitely a feature along those lines.
  9. Association Francaise contre la Myopathie, France 2 (3 December 2014). "Défi cycliste passant par le tunnel sous la Manche" (Video: 45 seconds) (in French). Institut national de l'audiovisuel. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  10. Eurotunnel (February 1995). "Le Téléthon en Tunnel". Eurotunnel News (in French) (10). p. 7. Dans la nuit du 2 au 3 décembre dernier, un groupe vingt journalistes et de sportifs a participé au Téléthon 94 en traversant le tunnel de service à vélo. Après «Le Walk», ce raid cycliste a constitué une première qui, de l'avis de tous les participants, fut aussi insolite que passionnante, ainsi que le confirme le rédacteur en chef de France 3, Henri Sannier: «grâce à cous, ce Téléthon a été une fois de plus un succès. (…) Qui pouvait imaginer qu'un jour vingt fous traverseraient la Manche à vélo ?»
  11. Widemann, Dominique (3 December 1994). "Téléthon: trente heures de générosité contre les maladies génétiques". L'Humanité (in French). Retrieved 16 July 2014. Henri Sannier sera le fer de lance des trente heures de cyclisme dont le départ a été donné au pied de la tour de Londres avant de rejoindre Paris via le tunnel sous la Manche…
  12. Boujard, Christian (25 September 2014). "Froome en a dans la manche!" (in French). Chamrousse Team. Retrieved 4 February 2015. Même si Froome dit qu’il est le premier c’est faux, cela avait déjà était fait pour le Téléthon.
  13. Carpentier, Serge (30 April 2014). "Lambersart: Jean-Michel Guidez met sa passion de la vidéo au service des courses cyclistes amateurs". La Voix du Nord (in French). Retrieved 16 July 2014. Dans les années 90, il sera le complice d’Henri Sannier sur les grands raids du téléthon. Il fera Bordeaux-Paris, Berlin—Paris, Londres—Paris aux côtés d'Antoine de Caunes, Marc Toesca, Patrick Chêne ou encore Jean Mamère, entouré par des pros de l’équipe Castorama comme Thierry Marie.
  14. 1 2 3 4 "C'était dans l'édition calaisienne de " La Voix du Nord ", en novembre 1994". La Voix du Nord (in French). 28 November 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2015. Aujourd'hui, retour sur la semaine du 27 novembre au 4 décembre 1994 … Ils ont pédalé sous la Manche … Toujours du côté du Tunnel, mais à l'intérieur cette fois, un peloton traverse la Manche pour la bonne cause. Le Téléthon 94 conduit par quelques célébrités (Paul Belmondo, Bernard Darniche, Thierry Marie, Patrick Chêne…) rallie l'Angleterre en passant sous la mer.
  15. Walter, Jacques (1998). Le Téléthon: Scène - Intérêts - Ethique. Champs visuels (in French). Editions L'Harmattan. p. 41. ISBN 9782296361270. Retrieved 16 July 2014. parmi lesquelles les fameux «fils rouges» : l'épreuve cycliste Londres‒Paris, avec Henri Sannier, Patrick Chêne, Patrice Cordebar (Founder of www.BelSeva), Jean Mamère, Marc Toesca, etc.
  16. Papin, Denis (2013). "Jean-François Guiborel, de Ménilmuche à Longchamp". Interview. La Sport Breizh (in French). Retrieved 5 February 2015. …où chaque année, j'étais partie prenante pour le Téléthon. Nous avions ainsi parcouru chaque année, Bordeaux-Paris, Berlin Paris, Albertville-Paris, Londres-Paris avec le premier franchissement du Tunnel sous la Manche à vélo soit 50 kms (sic)!
  17. "Chris Froome cycles through the Channel Tunnel". The Daily Telegraph. 7 July 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015.

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