So we did it….we challenged Graeme Obree’s 20Year old hour record. We all survived, ok so we didn’t come that close and averaging 58km/hr for the whole hour was a bit optimistic, but in the tradition of all the best british competitions/talent shows/quiz contestants “We all had a great day, and we were ALL Winners on the day”!
Seriously though, this event was something of a test event, to see how a fundraising event at the Velodrome (www.nationalcyclingcentre.com) would work and whether it would prove a good vehicle for helping raise funds an awareness for the best charity in the land (www.cyclistsfc.org.uk) . The answer to both questions was a resounding ‘YES!’ so we are already hatching cunning plans for how to make it bigger and better next time round.
The day started with everyone arriving and getting together in the Velodrome cafe, where spirits were high and levels of trepidation amongst those who hadn’t ridden the track before was somewhat akin to what Felix Baumgartner must have felt like before he jumped out of that massive helium balloon. Nerves were calmed slightly as people concentrated on getting their bikes from the hire fleet, adjusting them to suit and getting the right size of shoes sorted out from Jason on the front desk, thanks!
Then there was a chance for those new to the track to have a short ‘taster-session’ with guidance from one of the centres experienced coaches. This is usually a full session in itself, but for our riders today, this was just a taste of what was to come. Quicker than the coach could shout “DON’T SLOW DOWN ON THE BANKING”, our riders all looked like they were old pros, holding a good line around the red sprinters line and moving out to overtake slower riders.
Then it was time for the action to begin. The first raft of riders got a rolling start and the whistle blew, we were off!
After some initial techinical difficulties with the PA system resulting in what can only be described as Machine-Gun fire coming out of the speakers at 1000decibels (it may have got us into trouble with the handball players in the centre of the track, sorry folks!), we got the music going to motivate the riders and get the crowd singing along. With the help of some razor-sharp wit from the commentary box from my wife Zoe and Rory giving us a glimpse of what would happen if Alan Partridge and Terry Wogan ever managed to pro-create, everyone was having a ball!
The coach was on hand again to give the first set of riders a 2 minute warning so they could put in a few last blistering laps if they still had anything left in their legs, and then it was time to swap the transponders and get the second man out. The action was frantic and the laps were piling ontop of each other.
There were clear rivalries at work with team-mates gunning for each others fastest lap times or the number of laps they managed to complete in 15mins, they say that Kierin racing is the most bet on sport in the world, and I think we may have come close!
In the end though, even Father and Son rivalries were met with a hug at the end of their ‘stint’ and the effort expended was clear for all to see.
The lapcounter kept going up, as did the speed. We had continental professional riders going flat out in aid of the charity, and even a Junior British National Champion getting in on the action!
I for one started off a little slower than I’d have liked, I used the excuse that I didn’t get to warm up, instead was dashing around organising other things till seconds before my turn….that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! In the end though I got into my rhythm and put in a respectable lap count and even made a decent effort of one last ‘sprint’ effort before the whistle to post a decent lap time, just to make sure I didn’t show myself up too much since I am at the velodrome every day for work!
After all the racing was done, the youth team that had kindly joined us to show us how it was done, from Sports City Velo race team, had covered the most distance by some margin. However, this event was never just about the riding, and the trophies in the end, went to the Airwaves team who had raised over £2000 for the charity, an incredible effort even greater than the sweat they left on the track that day, thank you so much!
The buffet was devoured by all the riders. I think this is a good opportunity to say a massive thank-you to all the staff at the Velodrome, in particular the duty managers, coaches, catering staff and centre manager for all their help. Without their input I wouldn’t have been able to run this fledgling event and it certainly wouldn’t have been as slick as it was on the day!
There was one last order of business, and it really brought home the reasons why we were all there, making ourselves feel a little bit sick riding round in circles as fast as we could. The reason is so that more children who have been through the horrors of Chemo or Radio-Therapy or any of the other nightmares associated with cancer treatment, can find joy in riding a bike.
And we were honoured to have one such hero there at the event. It was time to give Harry his new bike so that he could get out and feel the wind in his face. I won’t go into what Harry is going through, but he is an incredibly deserving gent and it was a pleasure for us all to get to hand over his bike. In the end, this duty fell to our other guest of honour, and what a guy, Great Britain world class cyclist Matt Crampton was on hand to give Harry his bike and even gave him some tips on how to use the bike. A massive thanks to Matt for giving up his time.
Whilst all this was going on, we also had an amazing exhibition of cycling photographs by Paul Davey. Paul was kind enough to donate some prints as raffle-prizes which enabled us to raise even more funds, and was on hand to take all the great photos you can see in this blog. If you want to see more of this or all his others, head for his flickr feed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/pdavy/sets/
Well, what else is there to say. Thanks to everyone who came and made it such a great event. Keep your eyes peeled for information on the next one, as it’s going to get bigger, better and even more competetive next time!
With Christmas around the corner, there will be some more bikes out there making very worthy children very happy!