I live with a very keen cyclist making me a cycling widow. I am equally a very reluctant social cyclist. In fact, the last time I was on 2 wheels was a good few years ago (just prior to the sickness taking hold of my husband) despite having been bought an apparently high-end bike which now sits, unused, gathering dust, in the garage, next to his 5 or 6 bikes. This he mentions regularly.
I now work with a crazy cyclist too, our great leader, Francis McPeake. In September last year, I was given the task of pulling together and organising a corporate team to take part in the London Dulux Revolution for CIPS. Francis had successfully completed the ride the year previously as part of C Field’s corporate team and was keen to do it all again but this time with his own team.
Threshold Sports, the organisers of the event, were a delight to work with which made the set up simple and straightforward. All I had to do (!), was rally the troops, ensure they registered, order the correct number of branded cycling jerseys in the right size (this proved harder than was expected!), book the hotel, book supper in the vicinity of the hotel, organise the goody bag and support van, set up a What’sApp group and get everyone there on time.
Friday 11 May came, and after many emails back and forth, we all met at the salubrious Travelodge in Enfield and later enjoyed a last supper at local Italian, Nelito’s. Leaving rather later than we intended, the early start of 6.15am proved a little difficult for many but we did arrive at Lee Valley Athletics Centre with plenty of time to drop off overnight luggage for the Saturday night camping element, register, take a few photos and wave the happy 12 riders off – in the sunshine and what looked like dry weather. Rain was forecast but no-one expected the heavy persistent rain that the riders encountered a few hours into their ride. Obviously, I returned home to put my feet up and enjoyed regular updates via the WhatsApp group (“where are you?”; “by the beer tent”, “are there chargers?”, ”what’s the number of the van??”, “I’m at pit stop 2 stuffing my face!” etc..!) and from Nigel, the driver of our support van who had a fair few passengers during the 2 days.
So what was the ride like? The first day they covered 100 miles, interrupted by many punctures, across the picturesque sights of London, through the various Surrey hills in the pouring rain and, by the time they reached Basecamp at Windsor, they were basically soaked through and freezing cold. Will from Threshold Sports told me that they aimed to have a ‘music festival vibe’ at Basecamp but it seems that the cold and wet killed that a little. But once they had showered, thawed and eaten, everyone got into the mood.
The second day was 85 miles with no rain but many more hills… The supporters arrived back at Lee Valley on the Sunday afternoon to a wonderful atmosphere with a steel band playing in the sunshine and the ringing of cow bells to welcome the weary riders. The team slowly filtered back in, exhausted but in great spirits, mainly vowing to never do it again and then, by the time they had had something to eat and drink, feeling that maybe they might do it all again next year!
Here is a short video (above) that gives a flavour of the weekend – from the point of view of a non-cyclist!
Roll on May 2019!
by Sema Rubins