So what sparked my interest when I saw the Virgin Media advert offering sponsored places at this years Dallaglio Flintoff Cycle Slam challenge? Well, I actually took part in one day of the previous Dallaglio Cycle Slam event, which turned into quite a memorable adventure.
Early in 2010, a work contact at one of the event sponsors (The Listening Company), knowing that I was a keen cyclist, suggested the event to me. I could not spare 5 days to participate in a complete stage, but I could do one day, so I gratefully accepted the opportunity to participate and raise the required £500 amount.
Fundraising page established, I set about networking – Friends & Family; Triathlon club mates; Gym Buddies; Work Colleagues and customers were all made aware of my exploits. I even made a video (with the help of my son as cameraman and producer) which, thanks to the wonder of Youtube, is still available to view. You can even check it out for yourself – it is really quite good!
But, that was nothing compared to what actually happened to me when I took part on the day. My leg was a 123km ride starting close to where I live in Berkshire. I am a keen triathlete, but at the time was more used to a 40km race distance which only involved a two hour training ride. So an all day ride was certainly a step up from what I was used to.
So the March day dawned bright and frosty, as I set out to ride the 5 miles to start point. And that’s when the challenge really started… as I arrived at the start 50 minutes after everyone had already left! The length of the ride meant that the organisers had taken a decision the night before to bring forward the start time by an hour – but as I was arriving ‘on the day’ no one had told me.
Now given that 40+ people had already sponsored me, there was no way I was going to let a false start affect me, so I started the ride, trying to follow the balloon markers towards the first check point. Two hours later, deep in the Berkshire countryside, I had to admit to myself that I was lost. Without a map, I had no directions to follow, so veered off to the nearest main town (Wantage) where I purchased maps, along with a coffee and a large slice of cake (the staple diet of cyclists).
I reckoned I had about 5 hours of daylight left to complete the remaining 90 km, which was just about manageable, so with renewed vigour, off I went. Well another two hours later, and just west of Swindon, by coincidence I came across the back of the cycling pack at the second checkpoint. So with communication with the event re-established, I forged ahead and was even able to ride the last 10km as part of a group of riders – enjoying the shared joy of finishing the leg with fellow participants. And what I story I had for the bar- that night!
So for this years event, my first resolution is to definitely get to the start on time – as I don’t really fancy riding all the way from the middle of France back to the UK on my own.