They're home! But that doesn't mean there isn't anything to tell you about our intrepid team's return to English soil and their final day's ride. Mark Charlton closes his Bike Ride Diary for this year with news of a great Smiths News homecoming...
The trouble with technology is that we come to rely on it. So when it
[caption id="attachment_6831" align="alignright" width="225"] Just the last few yards to go - arriving at Rowan House[/caption]
The route from Portsmouth to Swindon is 76 miles long, and according to our mapping software it had only 1000 feet of climbing. Not too bad as a final day’s spin to the office.
But as anyone who’s driven the route would know, there’s something not quite right with those figures. The miles are about what you’d expect, but surely there’s a big rise above Portsmouth – and the South Downs to cross, and then the Ridgeway?
In fact, the route has 4,500ft of hills!
But, hey, we’d come this far, so it shouldn’t be a problem – or at least that’s what our route leaders said.
And as it turned out, it wasn’t.
In typically English drizzle we made our way north, clocking up the miles, ticking off the hills – every push a little nearer to home. By lunchtime, Paris was a distant memory and everyone was keen to press on. It was great to see how the novice riders had improved – peddling together, moving slowly through the gears, taking the hills in their stride.
If you ride this way the miles soon go by. On the other hand, you could take the ‘Cayleb and Max’ approach, which is to wind up the pace so you gradually leave everyone trailing in your wake and in awe of your fitness (fantastic riding guys!) Either way, everyone was making progress.
The rest is a blur and the detail doesn’t really matter.
[caption id="attachment_6834" align="alignleft" width="300"] All together now, "Congratulations... "[/caption]
What does count, is that at 3.45pm the group rode in together, arriving at Rowan House to a warm reception, hearty cheers and a well needed curry! After some group photos the energy levels sagged, but the sense of satisfaction kicked in. We’d ridden 230 miles, made new friends, and along the way, raised thousands for good causes.
As I was packing my bike, our ride leader Andy Cooke, said, ’There really is something special about the Smiths News rides – of all the events we organise, they have the best spirit and the most friendly people – it’s been a pleasure.’
That seems as good a note to close on as any.
PS On behalf of all the riders I would like to thank: Andy Cooke Cycling for guiding us safely home; Claire Phillips-High for the background administration; Ludovic Lautussier for hosting us in Paris; Martin Beach and Eddie Griffin for van support; our sponsors for donating so generously; and everyone across the Company who has sent messages of support, read this blog and wished us well.
Now, who's for curry...