On 18 March, I was very excited to be invited to join my Son Ben in the first stage of a cycling challenge my Son, Ben had arranged for Ipswich School. The school is aiming to run, swim and cycle 4000 miles (the distance from Ipswich to Ghana) to raise funds for Sports Relief 2014. Ben decided to arrange a cycling event comprising of two 50 mile rides this week to Felixstowe and back. This would be the furthest he has ridden this year and would be the first formal event in my training for Finally Seen Sense 2.
I finished off my final work calls of the day from home, with business attire from the waist up and lycra below and headed down to Ipswich to meet the team as soon as I could. The weather seemed to have forgotten it’s promises of an early spring and had skipped straight to Autumn with an overcast sky, threats of rain and strong winds, not ideal conditions but not the worst I have cycled in this year.
The team comprised of 10 students supported by two of the Grounds Staff who were experienced cyclists and the Padre driving the sweeper wagon. After the obligatory photo call, we set off around 1400hrs, with pretty much every genre of cycle being represented from full Carbon road machines, through hybrid and Mountain Bikes to one mini MTB / BMX mish mash. There was a similar spread of experience amongst the students too with very few having ever ridden 50 miles before, let alone having trained this year.
Ben led us off at a decent pace to battle through the traffic in the Ipswich suburbs. Humour was good pretty soon we were in the gorgeous Suffolk countryside. If there had been a little more Sun and a lot less headwind, it would have been ideal but at least we would have the wind behind us on the way home, right?
Groundsman Will was the first (and for that matter the second) to get a puncture but we were soon on our way. The guys did extremely well and kept the pace down for those on less agile machines. However, poor Sam did end up working much harder than the rest of us on his mini bike. After a couple of hours we arrived at Landguard Fort and Ben again led the way with a dash to take a dip in the Channel! Unfortunately we were 15 mins late for the cafe and so after refilling bottles we set off home.
Sam, was unfortunately forced to retire and kept the Padre company in the minibus and the rest pushed on. The weather conspired against us again, with the wind changing so we had an even stronger headwind on the way back too. This combined with time constraints, also took its toll and we had another couple of folk join the Padre in the van. However, everyone continued to give there all and worked together to encourage those remaining not on road bikes.
We rolled back into Ipswich school past the beautifully maintained Cricket Pitch and Real Tennis Courts at around 1830hrs, having spent just over 4hrs in the saddle to complete day one of the challenge.
I am certain that several of the guys had not appreciated the challenge of a 50 mile ride without training. However, I know they appreciated the sausage rolls, Sandwiches and quite superb Millionaire Shortbread that the Padre had laid on! I was really impressed with how well they had worked together as a team, at the humour and especially the grit shown, especially by those who finished on MTBs. I suspect that numbers may be a little depleted on Day 2 on the 20th but even this jaunt had more than doubled the total covered by the School in their challenge to date
Chapeau to the guys who took part!
Thanks again to Ipswich School for letting me support them and well done to Ben for laying on a well planned event. You can check out the route on Strava
I wish the guys all the very best for day 2 and wish I could join them (Ben will also be doing another 50 miles with me this Sunday from the Olympic Stadium)
I will leave you with some lessons learned:
- Suffolk may be flat but it’s oh so windy
- The Cafe at the fort in Felixstowe shuts at 1600hrs
- Groundsman Will needs to get a new tyre (5 punctures in 3 days!)
- and finally, Sam is one scary dude with huge kahunas, trying to cycle 50 miles on a comedy bike !!!
Afternote: Huge Congratulations to Ben for completing part two today and taking well over an hour off the time!! http://
Ian & Ben at Landguard Fort Felixstowe