On Saturday 29th June I participated in the Virgin Money Cyclone Challenge 2013, which is a sportive event organised by Virgin Money. The event was one of a series over the weekend, aimed at helping to promote cycling across all levels. In this case, there were family rides, the sportive for more competent riders and professional level races.
I was lucky to partake in the event as I was offered a place by Sam. His work had a team of staff members and guests, but one guy dropped out at the last minute. I was asked to fill in, and in securing the use of another friend's road bike, I gratefully accepted.
The "team" consisted of around 7-8 Banks and Banks Renewables staff members, 11 or so guests and then myself. We all had matching jerseys, which we got to keep. We did look the part, almost co-ordinated!
I borrowed a bike as the bikes I own would not have been suited for this particular situation. 63 miles on a mountain bike or 8-speed hybrid is certainly achievable, but ridden on the road in a group of riders on lightweight road bikes I'd have struggled to keep up. So my colleague Adam loaned me his Trek 1200, which meant for the first time in my like I would be riding a proper road bike! I have been wondering what it would be like, as I am pretty fit. How fast could I go? Would it be nerve-wracking? Would I be able to manage the the bent over position for a long period? I absolutely loved it, getting down on the drop handlebars on descents and climbing the ascents with ease. I rode at the front of the "peloton" for a while, taking my turn before getting my gearing completely wrong and being dropped like a sack of potatoes! Adam, in return got a tuned up bike and a commemorative Cyclone finishers water bottle in his cage.
I didn't take any photos on the day as I wanted to record the whole 63 miles in Strava. This was shaping up to be my longest ever ride and I wanted to keep the route and effort I exerted logged somehow. So no photos, occasionally checking distance and conserving battery life - I managed it, stopping recording after I crossed the finishing line with 3% remaining. The Strava route is shown below. No achievements as I have never ridden in this area before.
Riding time according to Strava is considerably less than official timing, as Strava only counts moving time. Where it reads "Michael Brown", that's the guy who dropped out. We had one major stop of over 30 minutes at the first feed station as we had to wait for a guy who had a mechanical - his pedal wound out and ended up being cross-threaded, presumably in efforts to hurriedly get it back in to carry on. Instead, he conveniently lived nearby so limped off to get another bike before rejoining us at the feed station.
After the ride we all decamped to a local pub and enjoyed a great meal and some fun prize giving. In the case of Stuart, it was no consolation "winning" the "Biggest Crash" category as his carbon framed seat stay snapped in half in a freak crash. Luckily no one was hurt, but the damage to the bike will be fatal.
Other than that, everyone had a great day out. The weather was superb, no overly competitive riders with too much adrenaline there was a general feel good factor tot the day, with spectators cheering us around the course.
I will definitely be back next year!