The final day of Stage 5 of the Cycle Slam was a 60 mile ride from Ashford to London, finishing next to the Olympic Park in Stratford. A day to truly appreciate the efforts of all those involved in raising a staggering £1.8M for the excellent charitable causes.
The day started with the all too familiar 5.30am alarm call, but everyone was feeling remarkably fresh, in anticipation of the day ahead. Our rider numbers had doubled, as many stage riders were returning for the final day, but our group stuck together (no surprises there then!) We did have a VIP guest though – Chris Hyman who is the Chief Exec of Serco who were one of the major sponsors. And as I have done some call centre business with Serco, it was actually quite a good networking opportunity!
The morning ride took us through the Kentish North Downs and actually included the toughest hill climb of the entire stage with a 1 in 6 ascent of Vigo Hill. Now that got the lungs bursting, but I made it to the top okay. By mid morning we had reached the pit stop in Dartford, where the mood was relaxed and positive, everyone looking forward to not only the finish but equally realising the rising sense of achievement of a challenge conquered.
The next part of the ride took us into south London where the traffic volumes made it difficult to ride together. So we were pleased to make it to the Woolwich Ferry car park where everyone was assembling for a final convoy ride to the finish. Text and phone messages to my wife Louise to let her know that she still had time for lunch, as we would be another hour before arriving.
Soon though we were crossing the river, and with the tour cars at the front of the pack, we made our way steadily as one long snaking peloton through Docklands and onto our final destination Stratford.
The core riders peeled off to tell the stage riders approach the finish, where we were efficiently marshalled to form a guard of honour for Lawrence and Freddie to ride across the finish line. Queue flashbulbs, camera crew, lots of hugs and even a glass of champagne that one of my team mates had arranged with his family.
And what about my family? Well, my Dad is in his eighties and now lives in Australia. Well, he had planned his annual trip back to the UK to coincide with the finish of the Slam, so I had my own ‘fan club’ meeting me there – making it a very special day indeed.
And finally, if you have enjoyed reading about the Slam, then it is not too late to make a donation. Go to my Virgin Money Giving page now!