It’s amazing how a conversation which starts with the question: “Are there any bike racks here?” can, through a mixture of over-enthusiasm, determination and a great cause to work for, end in cycling 100 miles.
Back in February I came into the Create office for a day of handover with Katee, the outgoing Communications Manager, before starting my new role in April. As I was about to leave at the end of the day I asked the fateful bike rack question, and within minutes was signed up as the Create staff member taking on the Prudential RideLondon – Surrey 100.
I knew there would be challenges involved in training and getting myself prepared for the event, but an unexpected hurdle arrived two weeks before the big day when I was t-boned by a van on my way to work.
Thankfully I wasn’t too badly damaged (I had my chin glued back together, nothing was broken). But I was aware there could be a fear factor involved in trying to cycle again. So three days later I forced myself to go for a 60 mile ride and was delighted to find that I could still cycle – it was just like riding a… .
RideLondon itself was a fantastic event. Setting off through closed-roads central London early in the morning gave the start a slightly 28 Days Later feel. Then you’re rolling through the Surrey countryside, taking in the views and enjoying the sunshine. The hard work starts at about 40 miles with the first hill. The three listed climbs (Newlands Corner, Leith Hill and Box Hill) were actually quite enjoyable challenges (special mention to the supporter dressed as a bear at the top of Box Hill who put a smile on my face). But the short, steep hill in Wimbledon, 90 miles in to the course, was extremely unpleasant – the promise of thoroughly unhealthy food and drink in 10 miles time was all that got me through that one.
The atmosphere between riders was great, whether it was having a chat along the way, a few words of support up a hill or working together to get through the final 10 miles. Even better was the support from people lining the route. Particular highlights were the two trips through Kingston, where there was a real carnival atmosphere, and the final straight on the Mall with everyone drumming the advertising hoardings – massive thanks to everyone who turned out the cheer the riders on; you made a real difference (personal thanks to my aunty and cousins!).
All seven Team Create riders – John, Johnathan, Peter, David, Saul, Matt and me – successfully got round the course. John, first of the team to finish, said: “The ride was great fun, with some gruelling bits. Many, many thanks to Nicky, Emma and Joe for the lovely picnic in Hyde Park afterwards – it was the perfect way to round off the event, especially Emma’s quinoa salad!”
So after months of training and 100 miles of cycling all that’s left is to say some thank yous: Firstly, big thanks and well-done to the rest of Team Create for their efforts; thanks to Pedal It bike shop in Lewisham for sorting me out with a bike whilst they’re fixing mine after the crash; thanks to Prudential for putting on an amazing event, giving Create the cycling places and treating us to hospitality before the ride; and of course an absolutely huge thank you to everyone who has already donated to Team Create – your support will allow us to provide even more free creative activities for people who have the least access to the arts but the most to gain from taking part.
You can see photos of Team Create’s RideLondon efforts here.
Team Create has already raised £6,650 to fund creative arts programmes. You can still make a donation to help us reach our £10,000 target here.