I wasn’t really too sure what to expect when I signed up last minute to hand-cycling 180 miles around London in two days. It certainly wasn’t quite the way I had planned to celebrate my 30th Birthday!! Having just got back from ski-competitions in Europe with the GB Disabled Ski Team I only had very little time to get back on the bike and train.
I had never cycled anything more than 80 miles in a day, a good 100 short of this latest challenge. What appealed to me was the chance of great cross training and a way to get the fitness back for skiing. To be honest my arm didn’t need to be twisted, I love a challenge and being a London boy the attraction of cycling through and around London taking in parts I wouldn’t normally cycle including parts of the 1948 and 2012 Olympic cycle routes were a significant bonus.
From the moment I arrived next to the vast Tate and Lyle Golden Syrup factory in Peruvian Wharf, everything was a go, registration, bike tagging, pre ride nutrition top up and bag drop off. I immediately impressed with the orgainisation of having to sort out so many cyclists. There were plenty of riders of all abilities ranging from the seasoned pros to which the ride was a mere warm up to the summer season, to the casual cyclist all set for their biggest endurance challenge, and to Alan and myself on hand bikes praying for a flat ride. Due to the fact it was not a race, the atmosphere was very friendly open and warm, at 7am in London people were surprisingly helpful.
Despite never having done a ride anywhere near as long, especially over two days the Threshold team made sure that it felt like a breeze and all you had to think about was your legs, or in my case my arms. From the go it was well signed posted and there was plenty of visible mechanical, medical and nutritional support, as well as the superb cycling support from the chaperone riders helping us on the way, keeping us chatting and distracted while teaching riders about group riding and safety. I want to thank the motorbike support stopping traffic and keeping us safe on some of the busier roads. The pit stops were well stocked and as we cycled into the Windsor Race Course at the end of day 1 we were greeted by the Threshold team and taken straight to the dinner where there was a feast waiting for us to make sure we
could fuel for the next day. The evening was then followed with an outdoor cinema, music and watching Chelsea winning the Champions league in the bar.
Day two was 20 miles shorter than the first, but was very tough, the ride included the Olympic cycling venue of Box Hill and parts of the stunning South Downs before heading back into town via the Herne Hill Velodrome. It was a great relief cycling back towards the docklands towards the looming Tate and Lyle Factory, the feeling of elation having completed such a vast challenge was awe inspiring, I was definitely not alone in the feeling. I wouldn’t have made it without the support from the crew, other riders and my hand cycling companion Alan Cook, the ride revolves around the idea of camaraderie, I’m now looking forward to joining Threshold for another challenge when I get the chance.