Bristol to London Bike Ride
28 January 2013, by Simon Wilson
As you may know, a group of us were recently inspired by the opening of the new Softwire Bristol office and decided to cycle from one Softwire office to the other! Conveniently Action Medical Research provided an organised cycle from Bristol to London and also provided a worthy cause to raise money for in the process, so we entered. The route was to be 116 miles. By way of preparation, some of us put in the odd bit of training here and there, Mike and Jenny bought themselves brand new racing bikes, and Jonathan briefly considered riding a bike with more than one gear (nah). And so on one bright weekend in August, we were ready.
The night before consisted of an entertaining evening meal in Bristol, during which we stuffed ourselves with pasta and bragged about how fast (or slow) we would cycle. The next morning we roused ourselves at an ungodly hour, donned our fetching team jerseys and fuelled up on scrambled eggs and toast. On the way to the start line we passed the shiny new Softwire Bristol office – the challenge had begun!
The team soon organised itself into three pace groups. The first of these was Ric, on his own, who made a very early break and then sprinted through the course as fast as possible. We saw his rear wheel disappear before we hit the first traffic lights, and that was the last we heard of him until the end. The rest of us divided into two more sensibly paced groups each of which worked together until the end. Actually we only worked together until the bottom of each hill (at which point it became a brutal game of survival: every man woman and child for themselves) or until we hit a red traffic light (at which point Dez went racing through it with no apparent regard for his own life – perhaps he just thought the build was broken?).
116 miles is a long way and with 25 miles to go we were finding it tough going. At the last food stop we took on a few more flapjacks and another cup of tea, and tried to prepare our tired legs for the final stage. Ric sent us a text at this time pointing out that he’d already finished, and would we be there any time soon? No, we were knackered and it would probably take us 90 more minutes! So Ric got on the bus home (or did he cycle back? Not sure) and we began our final slog. Would we make it? We had a high-performance chain gang system organised by then (think Team Sky in the Tour de France only better looking) and we kept up a good pace, coming into the finish at around the 8 hour mark.
Having arrived at the “finish” we were dismayed to find ourselves at Kempton Park race course, not in Kentish Town at all! Don’t these people know where our office is? So after a not-so-quick massage for Si we were off again, risking Dez’s dubious direction finding and only stopping once for a hotdog in Hyde Park, and completed the extra 20-odd miles up to North London.
We found out later that Ric was the fastest person to complete the course out of several hundred entrants, nice one Ric. Here he is speeding along casually:
Other notable performances were from: Tim & Jenny, who did the whole ride with flat pedals (the rest of us were clipped in); Jonathan who only had one speed available to him; Rupert, who saved the day with his puncture repair kit; and Rob Dimsdale, who almost managed to overcome his fear of hills.