So, Sunday 21st June dawned (and we would know given our early start) dry and slightly overcast, a good start to the day. Well, what a day it was. A long day!
We met at 5.30am at Rohan head office, all having slept badly the night before, worried we’d oversleep and let the team down. That being so, everyone was in surprisingly good spirits and there was chat and hearty laughter in the mini bus all the way down to London.
A few hiccups as you’d expect. John’s sat nav stopped working the minute we entered London due to a faulty mount, but fortunately Alan who was following the mini bus with the van carrying our bikes had one that was working, crisis averted. There was a touch and go moment where the engine in the mini-bus decided to cut-out and not start again, but fortunately John’s perseverance got us on our way again! A big thank you is due to John Rigby, our Operations manager who drove the mini-bus and Alan Clarke, our Maintenance and Warehouse man who drove the van with our bikes. They were integral in making the day run as smoothly as it did.
We were on Clapham Common, bacon butties in hand, raring to go by 8.00am. Our start time was 9.00am. And we were off. We managed to stay together as a group for about the first half an hour, but we soon became diluted with traffic lights and the thousands of other cyclists. The group split naturally and no one was left on their own.
Getting through London was surprisingly smooth, hats off to the organisers of the event. I’m convinced the motorists would’ve been cursing the cyclists however! The first 15 miles were somewhat frustrating because there was a lot of hopping on and off, people walking up ahead had a knock on effect for anyone behind because the roads were so narrow. Three hours it took to do those first 15 miles and at about 1pm I was thinking we’d never get to Brighton! Fortunately soon after 1pm we were back on our bikes and picking up some pace.
Cycling in Milton Keynes is, well totally flat, so when I was informed that there was only one hill on the bike ride, right at the end, I was quite relieved. As it turned out there are most certainly other hills before the last hill, maybe not challenging for people who live in hilly areas, but for me definitely enough to puff me out! And the last hill was a monster! I can honestly say I have never cycled a hill like it. When we were still a few miles away from Brighton, we could see a hill in the distance, and we joked about hoping that wasn’t where we were going, unfortunately it was! On the hill, the ratio of people walking to cycling was probably 80/20 but the support given to those brave enough to cycle it was phenomenal. The exhilaration after getting over the hill was quite overpowering, to be honest I felt a bit giddy. The down hill there after was much fun.
We all made it to Brighton by 6.00pm, cycling in at various times. Alan and John had been in Brighton a few hours eating ice creams and watching the world go by, it was great to be greeted and congratulated by friendly faces. Everyone, took the ride at their own pace, there wasn’t any pressure to break any records. What with the weather being good and the banter along the way the day was very enjoyable. There was a great feeling of satisfaction crossing the finishing line and receiving a medal, a stamp for proof and more importantly a bottle of water. The chips went down pretty well too. You can’t beat chips at the seaside can you?
Between us, we raised £750 for the British Heart Foundation. Well done to everyone who took part and a big thank you to everyone who sponsored us. There has been talk of taking part again next year; I definitely need to get in some hill cycling practice!
Laura Whinyates – Rohan Marketing Team