In-tandem Management Solutions Ltd
Charity Challenge Cycle Ride 2012
Here is very personal story of the i-tms charity ride for Diabetes UK on 1st April 2012 as told by Graham.......
The weather forecast for 1st April 2012 was cold and grey, but dry. Fortunately for us the forecasters were wrong and the day dawned clear and crisp with cobalt blue skies and a temperature of -3°c as Jean and I drove to the Four Ashes.
When we arrived, there were already half a dozen keen volunteers and riders preparing themselves for the day ahead, breath hanging lazily in the frosty air.
While we unloaded the car and prepared the tandem, more riders joined us, including the four “Born to Bike” team riders, each of whom had cycled from home to be with us. Cycle jerseys, bottles, energy bars and other goodies were handed out to riders before draw prizes were given to the lucky winners. Finally we posed for a group photo under the canvas of the marquee.
At 8:15, those of us on the longer ride set off for our day in the saddle, led by Steven and Sharan in the control car, Jean and myself “chasing” on the tandem. After crossing the A49, the Born to Bike “pros” passed us, quickly followed by the rest of the peleton and we each wished the other a pleasant day of cycling. We were now bringing up the rear, followed by Anna, Neil and Mark in the minibus and Paul in the broom wagon.
The cold was biting for the first 20 minutes, but after some steady pedalling, the sun started to make it’s presence felt and the feeling started to return to our hands, face and ears. Pedaling up the first hill, a bit of a gremlin showed itself in the gears, and the chain started to slip occasionally. Only a problem in the lower gears, we ignored it and continued on to Boscobel House to say a quick hello to the staff who were kind enough to look after the riders on the leisure ride. We were caught up here by Dave Gill who, along with Dave Wright was looking after these riders’ wellbeing.
Setting off again, we enjoyed a fabulous descent past Cosford, enjoying the spectacular scenery. At 14.8 miles, after short but very steep ascent, we stopped for a drink. We were somewhat surprised to be passed first by the Control car, followed by Phil Watson who had been “dropped” by his group and missed a turning. Back on track, he was off in pursuit of the pack. We re-mounted the tandem and attempted to set off but the chain snapped, highlighting the cause of the earlier slipping. Without spare chain links, time or the desire to fix it I mounted the road bike and Jean joined Anna in the minibus.
Arriving at Ironbridge, it was great to see Phil Watson enjoying a drink with Dave Blackwell, who was kitted out ready for a trip across the Serengeti! A coffee was ordered and consumed with some gusto before Phil and I set off towards Church Stretton. We rolled through Ironbridge together and decided to ride together for the rest of the day. This was a huge turning point for me because I really didn’t feel that I had a hundred miles in me at that point.
We chatted, panted and grunted our way up the hills in our separate worlds, coming back together on the descents to continue our conversation or just enjoy the camaraderie and spectacular scenery afforded us by the Shropshire countryside.
We arrived at Church Stretton to see Clive Dunkey manning the checkpoint and offering a few words of encouragement as we talked of “real” food instead of energy bars. Phil decided to pop into the co-op for a sandwich, and the minibus turned up with Jean offering me one of her sandwiches. Just before we headed off to The Wrekin, Ricky pulled up on his mom’s shopping bike and Jason on his new off-road bike. Sadly Danny (Ricky’s brother) had to retire due to a knee problem and was riding in the broom wagon with Paul.
The 20 or so mile to The Wrekin was going to be tough, we knew that, but the sun was high in the sky and the banter continued to take our minds off such things as muscles and saddles. The hilly bits were steep, and Phil (on a single speed!) Climbed most of them with elan, me searching for ever lower gears. We did eventually have to stop and walk after Phil pulled out of the pedal and I took the opportunity to practice my “John Wayne” walk in my cleated cycle shoes.
At the top of a hill, just after crossing the bridge next to the ford, we rested briefly to get our breath and partake of more sweet energy bars, and to be joined by Ricky on the shopping bike. He told us that Jason had tried to cross the ford, but a huge pothole sent him over the bars, buckling the front wheel beyond immediate repair. We continued as a trio, but it wasn’t long before Ricky left us trailing in the long climb up the side of The Wrekin. It was on this long ascent that I started to tell Phil of the lovely tuna, cheese and ham sandwiches that awaited us at the next Checkpoint. The rapid descent to meet a cheery wave from Zoe Slattery and Wendy Carpenter was excellent, but sadly, the promised sandwiches were still in the Control car! Still, we enjoyed a bit if banter and refilled our bottle and pockets before setting off for Edgmond.
Word was sent to Control to come back with the sandwiches, and they met us after a few miles, where we enjoyed and impromptu picnic of sandwiches and cupcakes at the roadside.
Before we knew it, we were looking at signs for the college in Edgmond, and pulling over to see Anita and Dave Alcock at the last checkpoint. I can’t tell you how nice it is to see people waiting to see and help you. They had been there all afternoon, and we didn’t get to them until just before 6:00pm. What stalwarts!
We had just 20 more miles to suffer before reaching the finish - Phil with his aching wrists and hand blisters, me with my sore backside. Still, the roads were familiar now, and the surface mostly good. We passed Weston Park in the late evening sunshine, and all manner of wildlife was out to share it with us, including a buzzard who perched in a tree to see us go by.
About a quarter of a mile from the finish, the traffic lights and pub can be seen, and Phil said maybe we should sprint to see if we could get up to 20mph. Brilliant idea - a Cavendish style finish! Who would have thought we had it in us? But we did, and it felt good!
A warm welcome back to the pub was enjoyed, but we had to hurry because a local car club had hired the car park for the evening for a show. We packed and changed quickly before heading home after some 11 hours on the bike!
Well, that’s my story, hope you have some good memories of the day too. Why not share them with me? I’ll put them here on the blog.
We have to say a big thank you here to all who rode, manned checkpoints, drove or sponsored our event for Diabetes UK. Without you people it would not have been possible. Our sponsors are below, please take the time to take a look at their website by clicking on their logo.