Monday, 7 September 2009

Charity 'pro' tour ride

Here I am the day after - still alive and with only slightly sore thighs. The event was a great introduction to organised road cycling. There were drinks stations, food stations with loads of free stuff, mechanics and support vehicles. There was even a free pasta meal at the finish. I'm not sure I'd do it again, but I'm proud I was able to.

We set off from the Britannia Stadium (home of the now-mighty Stoke City), at about 8:30 in the morning. Here's a pici of us getting ready to set off.
We'd never cycled together as a team before, so decided the best approach was to set a pace of about 22mph for the first hour. While most of us agreed that this was stupid, it was also quite fun and we were swept along with the early ride fervour. I was jokingly adamant that the ride should involve some sort of ordeal with one rider ending up being broken.

After about 2 hours, when we reached the first big steady hill, it became apparent that the early pace might not have been such a good idea. James was starting to flag and at one point was struggling to such an extent that I was worried he might retire. This hadn't been helped by the fact that one of his brakes had been rubbing for about the first 30 miles. He had been wondering why it was feeling so hard. Luckily, he made it to Tittesworth Reservoir where there was a food station. I'm not sure what he ate there, but from then on, he was a man transformed. No longer showing any signs of fatigue, he seemed to get stronger as the ride went on.

Apparently there were three category climbs on the ride, but they weren't really marked, so the only one we could race up was Gun Hill. This is one of my local hills, so I was keen to get to the top first of our team. We had been very grown up when discussing our strategy of trying to beat each other up this hill. "We shouldn't really race, as there are 35 miles to go after it", and "it would be silly to race each other". Having said all that, Dave and I were very slowly edging faster and faster until we were pretty much flat out (which isn't very fast up Gun Hill, but it still felt hard).

For most of the rest of the ride, which included another pretty steep hill, I was feeling pretty confident. Although I was ruing putting so much into being 'king' of my local 'mountain', when the rest of the team went for a sprint finish, and I had nothing left. I pretended I was being mature of course, but that's not really in my nature. It seems my earlier assertion that the day should end up with someone being broken, had been proven correct - and it had been me. I was later told Richard had won a fiercely contested affair from Rob. Here's a photo of us after the ride - tired but very pleased with ourselves.
I'd like to thank Mrs Richard for on-ride support, all the organisers, and the many people who sponsored us. Between the team, we raised about £1,000 for the Prostate Cancer Charity.


  1. Very well done Noel. Glad you had a good time, you should be by now looking at the fixtures for next year and looking to the next one! I can recommend the Lakeland Loop, The Etape du dales and the Fred Witton to start you off!!

  2. Thanks. I've had a quick look at the websites of those you suggested and they all look pretty hardcore. having said that, I quite fancy the Lakeland Loop (more steep than long). I'll have to sort my bike's gear ratios out first. My bike is mainly geared towards cycling on the flat, with the lower ones to allow for a head-wind ;)