On the back of a wet April and following a bizarre rib injury involving a skip, I turned out for the first charity sportive of my season, this time accompanied by my 9 year old daughter, Harriet. She was determined to ride the 10km without issue and in the hope that she would see some of her friends too. I had attempted to explain that we needed to prepare for the ride during the previous day but this had fallen on deaf ears. The task of prepping two bikes fell to me; and then I had a last minute change of heart and decided to take my mountain bike given the bridal paths we were due to ride.
Sunday, 27th April was ‘Stand up to Cancer’ day in Wantage. An event organised by the redoubtable Ray Collins and staffed by many willing volunteers. The ride formed a part of this action packed day, in addition to cyclists, there were 5k runners and a group of Konga-thoners (a bit like Zumba but Konga). The square was packed and it was a good chance to catch up with people I don’t usually see locally.
My fellow challenge riders from the Isle of Wight ride (2013) were there too. I sported my ‘Big Isle Be Back’ (BIBB) challenge jersey for our ride; a jersey that I am proud to wear and I know that Phil and Mark feel the same, we definitely earned the right over 24 hours and 243 miles. If you are in anyways curious as to what a ride of this length does to mere humans, please have a look at my 3 part blog here:
We also caught up with the foreign BIBB team member, Brian (German blood, lives on the Isle of Wight). He had made the trip with two of his colleagues from the Anthony Nolan Trust and had set up their stall next to the information tent. You can read more about Brian’s amazing story here:
We arrived in the square around 9am, Harriet disappeared to find mum who happened to be manning the information tent with Sarah, Phil’s partner. I was left with two bikes and a ruck sack trying to make my way through the crowd to the start point. Harriet appeared in time for the line-up, we chose a spot half way down the field and waited for the off. A couple of her school friends joined us along with their parents and we all set off together.
Two things immediately occurred to me as we crossed the line: Harriet has never ridden in a group before (or peloton as us amateur athletes like to call it in conversations at the pub ;o)) and I had a ridiculous amount of kit for a 10km ride. It became clear that riding in a group wasn’t going to be an issue for any of the kids, they simple talked amongst themselves remaining oblivious to the outside world. In fairness, they didn’t stuff their brakes on at inappropriate times that often so all went smoothly for the first couple of miles out of the town.
The weather was kind with some sun; things were progressing nicely until Harriet asked what ‘that hissing sound’ was. Being a little hearing impaired in my left ear, I couldn’t discern anything but hoped that some poor sod wasn’t going to have a puncture. Approximately 300 metres later my front tyre was looking quite poorly.
Harriet and her friends sailed on with the other beleaguered parents as I turned my bike upside down and struggled to get the inner tube out. Since getting my posh road bike, I have paid little attention to my mountain bike, it needs a good clean and de-grease plus the front brake bleeding. My road bike, of course, shines and you could eat your dinner off the drivetrain. To add insult to injury I forgot to use the foam sleeve on the CO2 cartridge and burned my fingers; cycling is about enjoyment apparently.
With the tyre done, though a little under inflated, I now had a good opportunity to flex my lungs and catch up. There was a nice incline followed by some downhill stuff, I managed to catch up with the group in Ardington. After a few bridle path sections to Wantage, there was a short stretch along Ormond Road to negotiate along with a few other cyclists and motorist intent of getting somewhere quickly. Once we had turned into Church Street things were slightly more relaxed. A warm welcome awaited us in the town square, the kids had done really well as the route was by no means flat.
The rest of the day was spent supporting the event and finally, lending a hand to clear the square once things were finished. The community really comes together on occasions like this, it’s great to see. Once again, a cracking effort by Ray and his team, roll on the carnival in June!
If you liked this blog please take a moment to check out my book describing the solo Land’s End to John O’Groats ride in 2012, all profit from sales to www.criduchat.org.uk
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