On 17th September a team of 15 cyclists, led by Gary Chaplin, set off from The Strand, London at 7.30am on a bike ride to Manchester.
Spurred on by Theo Paphitis, following the Dragon’s launch of the Manchester Children’s Hospital ‘Many Hands’ appeal, the riders were raising money for the appeal. The initiative is very poignant to a number of the riders, especially Gary himself after the heroism of the nurses that saved the life of his 5 day old daughter.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, and with a true understanding that it’s the taking part that counts, Gary organised a charity bike ride, starting 17th September, finishing the following day.
The Ride – Day One
With all riders present and correct, thanks to Virgin Trains for the transport down there and the hospitality of the fabulous Bloomsbury Hotel, London, adrenaline was gradually replaced with trepidation. We had 130 miles to ride that day.
130 miles is a long way to drive. On a bike it meant at least 12 hours in the saddle. Safe in the knowledge that even experienced and fit cyclists hit a ‘wall’ at 70 miles, we gathered outside the Ryman store on The Strand. We were joined by Ryman PR Director Tina Fotherby and Ryman CEO, Kypros Kyprianou, who not only presented a generous cheque on behalf of the Paphitis Charitable Trust, but also rode the first few stages with us.
As the clock ticked past 7.30am, 16 riders and two support vehicles set off through the streets of London. Slow progress, even at 7.30am the miles gradually passed.
By the infamous ‘hitting the wall’ point of 70 miles, we were almost at our lunch-break point, just outside Towcester. We were ready for it. 70 miles, 3000ft of climbs, headwinds and frequent showers made a tough ride tougher – but crucially, we were half-way ….for Day One. The bad news was we had another 60 miles to ride. Hot stew courtesy of Stewed and protein energy thanks to MyProtein gave us the drive we needed to once again ‘saddle-up’ and hit the road.
With legs already very tired, we began the afternoon – knowing that a couple of unforeseen stops, and pace hampered by bad weather, meant we were running behind and already tight schedule.
The miles ticked by slowly. By the time we crossed the M6, a sign that our overnight stop in Walsall was only 20 miles away, the light was beginning to fade….just as the icy rain began to fall.
That last 20 miles tested the best of us. Temperature plummeting, legs shot after having already completed Tour-de-France stage rivalling 110 miles+, we ploughed on towards our overnight stop.
By the time we arrived at the Village Hotel, 130 miles and 13 hours after leaving The Strand, it was dark and well below the 10 degrees we had expected. Luckily with 30 Piccolino pizzas to welcome us and the day two riders to cheer us in, spirits soon returned.
We slept well that night!
The Ride – Day Two
A less hilly day in the saddle, we quickly made good progress and within 4 hours had passed Stoke and rendezvoused with the final group of cyclists – 6 experienced riders including our route designer, Paul Carruthers of Journey9, Chris Byrne, Rupert Cornford, Anthony Turner and cycling Blog supremo, Phil Jones.
The Peleton of 27 riders and 5 support vehicles made quick work of the afternoons miles and arrived at our penultimate stop, Royales bike shop in Wilmslow where an impressive group of over 20 friends and supporter waited for us, along with a well deserved, and frightfully British, cup of afternoon Tea!
The rain held off, and even the most inexperienced of legs managed faultlessly – and after a couple of nasty surprise hills coming through Styal, we soon found ourselves riding through Manchester. Given cheers of support, and some ad-hoc donations, coming through Didsbury, we finally reached our drop in at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital…..
……before the slow processional ride to the Velodrome and the finish line.
The Last corner, into the Velodrome car-park, brought sunshine and a rousing reception from the 40+ people there to greet us – including Humphrey the Bear (the RMCH Mascot).
The final element of organisation dispensed with – cold beers all round, we posed for photographs before bidding farewell to our new close friends with vows of a repeat adventure next year(!)….and a night out in October to celebrate.
Stats from the ride
Ride distance – 213 miles
Total climb – 8547 ft
Total ride time – 20hours 23mins
Calories burned per rider – c12,000
Di the Relentless – Who despite only realising the enormity of what she had signed up for 10 miles out of London (and the first hill)…kept going and had an immensely strong 2nd day.
Kypros the Brave – Ryman CEO who generously gave up his Saturday morning to ride with us and demonstrate quite how bad London is to ride through. We should have got the hint from the Florescent Body Armour he sported.
Mark the Polygamist – Who in gypsy-like fashion, systematically rode just about every bike on the event after his bike broke, twice. Once 10 miles from London, once 10 miles from Manchester. And then managed the most of the first day on ‘the Steam Roller’ – a hybrid commuter spare bike.
Meirion the Fixer – Completing the ride was immensely tough – to do the whole thing on a fix-wheel borders sheer lunacy. Not only that he was resident mechanic and was often seen up and down the pack acting as riding coach.
Mike the Face – Another amazing ride from an inexperienced rider who powered through both days. Mike manage to complete the entire 210 miles ride with the exact same thoroughly “p*ssed-off/anguished” look on his face until he saw the cold beer, then cracked a smile.
Padraic the Slippery one – Mr SlickSkin. Most riders have two VERY close ‘friends’ that will be eternally grateful to Padraic for his ‘Zero Boundaries’ anti-chaffing product (some of whom seem to be enjoying ‘very’ liberal application as if the cool-tingle was the prime benefit). Amazing ride as well, always at or near the front of the pack setting the pace….no mean feat with smaller legs (and I should know….).
Paul the Machine - Just when you thought you were doing ok up a hill or leaving a junction, Paul would power past, three cogs smaller, and remind you where you stood. Amazing power and ride leading ability. Rumour has it he had to be talked out of cycling back to Sheffield….with his kids on his back.
Phil the Hurl – Barely recovered from man-flu, Phil fought back bouts of sickness to fight on valiantly, consistently there in the group, relentless in his ability to maintain cadence and power on.
Sarah the Dynamo – Amazing rider, powered on all day, both days. Never seemed tired, never let spirits drop, put many of the far more experienced, far older guys to shame with her ability to consistently power on mile after mile.
Steve the Trainer – Strong selfless ride from Steve, despite being knocked off his bike by a car just 48 hours before the ride, inspired all riders whilst also providing technical tips, and pressuring the hotel to open the gym to lead a stretch session when the rest of us were dying after day one.
Steve the Juggernaut – Big Stevie, usually seen twisting his bike frame under the stress, sprinting past everyone “Like a ****ing Bullet”, often seen pushing other cyclists up hills and several times seen drafting for not other riders, but often the support cars as well.
Tom the Fruit – Another inexperienced rider (admitted to only getting on a bike 2 weeks before after his ‘training’ in Magaluf), Powerhouse Tom was always leading the pack and lest we forget provided our support van and 75,000 organic bananas! Helped motivate some of the female riders too…..
Wyndham the Merkin – Like being on the set of Four Weddings & a Funeral, baggy-short-shod Wyndham, powered on and never seemed tired or phased whilst constantly entertaining us all with his furry seat cover, nicknamed ‘The Merkin’ (just go careful with the SlickSkin)
….and of course Gary the ****** who had put the whole thing together in the first place.
The Support Team
Ruth, Alexis & Paul - the real heroes of the days. Fantastic support drivers, kept us on track (literally), kept us fed, watered, sane, safe and smiling. All the riders owe them such immense gratitude – thank you!!
Pete & Annabelle – who joined the support crew for day two to manage the larger numbers.
This was the main reason for doing it – altogether, the fundraising as exceeded £14,000 and looks to be heading towards £15,000 which is a tremendous achievement….but as all the riders will testify, we did earn your support over the 210 miles!!
And it’s not too late to support us! The main page can be found here:
You can also donate by text message. Simply text the code RMCH50 and the amount (with £ sign) to 70070 – bob a few words of encouragement on there too!