Bristol to London for Action 100 – Sunday 24th August
5 September 2014
The Action 100 Bristol to London cycle ride started the day before when six of us travelled to Bristol to take in the sights and lunched in the shadow of the suspension bridge at Clifton. The night was spent in an architectural/planning masterpiece – a hostel/night club with the loudest bass and even louder clientele…
Needless to say, we didn’t sleep well – more a form of torture and experiment into the available permutations of using an undersized pillow as a pair of earmuffs. Given the circumstances, however, we were all in good spirits the next day for the brief cycle to the start line on the outskirts of Bristol. It was a chilly yet sublime Sunday morning. The roads were ours and the sun had begun to optimistically rise in the East – towards home. We rode freely as a pack with the anticipation of that which lay ahead; a great day in the saddle.
After registration, we set off around 8am with the ‘simple’ task of getting home. The morning was spent pushing hard to get miles under our belt, while settling into our rhythm. Two early hills tested our legs, but thankfully we all made it, in respectable times too! Pre-ride preparation varied between 60-100 miles the weekend before to a colleague’s casual confession of disbelief in training and his late bike service the night before we left. Thankfully, this performance banished the spectre of trepidation that had hung over the team prior to the event and we strove forth!
Having made it to the first feed station together for welcome coffee and Jaffa cakes, yet an unwelcome puncture, we pressed on to Marlborough at 40 miles in. By this point we were a group of four, with a rear guard of two an unknown distance behind. Eager to press on, fearless and full of flapjack, we turned the first corner out of town and BOOM, a surprise wall of hill! With laughs abound, we saw the hill and raised it by at least three jokes and an impersonation. Hill? What hill?! At the top it was a simple hook left and we were back on our way. Eight miles and a straight road with no turns or junctions later, we were at the Swindon roundabout of the M4… how did that happen?
After our minor detour and the same achingly undulating eight miles back, we eventually found out… We missed a sign at the foot of the hill, tucked away behind a building on the inside of the corner. Our bravado had cost us over an hour and the other two were now an unknown distance in front! Our morale and speed dipped, as we now had to complete 130 miles, were still 26 miles from lunch, and it was lunchtime!
Once back in the saddle, our well earned break, the rolling countryside and picturesque villages took our mind off the time and we began to enjoy the ride once more. Crossing five counties on the way, our speed increased as we went and the finish line drew closer with each revolution. So much so, we even began to catch other riders, though never our colleagues…
A pro-looking group departing the final feed stop, 20 miles out, told us; “see you at the finish line”. Challenge accepted. Spurred on by this and the possibility of catching our leaders, we set a mean pace on the final leg back to London. Much to their disappointment and gesticulation, we caught them and many others, cycling off into the proverbial and now nearing sunset. Although we maintained a strong pace to the end we could not catch our front group who had finished an impressive 45 minutes earlier. Given our earlier difficulties we still posted a decent time and the entire BGY team averaged a very respectable 9h 35m with all breaks included. A good day out.
Finally, what this was all for. An office sweepstake on our average time and a very masculine cake sale coupled with individual efforts raised over £1600 for Action Medical Research, who research difficulties and illness in early childhood – all a good cause.
‘Til next time – John O’Groats to Lands End anyone?