Cast you mind back a few months, back before the Olympics and Le Tour. A tweet pops up announcing the Wiggo Foundation, it’s aim is to encourage the nation to get fitter. To raise money to help kids get up off the sofa and do sport, not just cycling but anything active. Brilliant I thought.
One of the events they had planned was a Ride with Brad Sportive. Ali and I entered when it opened. It’s only over the hill from us and for charity. I don’t mind a big event when the proceeds are being put to good use.
Then along comes le Tour. Ali was still not quite understanding my excitement, then as the three weeks passed Ali’s excitement grew too. We pedalled along outside, we pedalled along inside on the sofa watching, we cried and we cheered. Even the cats joined in….ok so I put that on Joss!
Then a Twitter competiton pops up to win a place on the sportive. It wasn’t that I needed to win a place, I just thought my answer was funny. The question was “Tell us where your water bottle was today?” I’d done the Bowland Badass the day before so replied with “It’s in the sink, it’s tired, it did 170 miles yesterday” however I’d won a place. Hmmm, I asked if I was allowed to transfer it, they said yes.
Which got me thinking, who to? It had to be someone who’d been as excited by the tour as me. It’s quite a special time for British Cycling. At the time Brad hadn’t won yet and there were still a few voices of doubt so it couldn’t be one of them. I’d noticed that our friend Brant had been getting rather animated about the tour. I know he comes from a long history of riding with his Dad as a kid. It was also close to his birthday. Perfect, apart from the fact that he’s a mountain biker who doesn’t “do” events! You can’t refuse a prezzie though, right?! 😉
Slightly scared and slightly excited, Brant has appeared on our doorstep with a selection of prototype bikes from where he works at Planet X, each one we were assured would be fasted then the last one. He’s been Retul fitted, got a new outfit, Tigger shoes and matching socks, we’ve even been over and done a TT. I’ll save you from a pic of the vintage purple skinsuit!
We registered the day before.
Early doors and we find ourselves at the startline.
Wiggins is on the mic, not reading the raffle this time but telling us a little of the work the foundation will do, Ali is transfixed. Quite a turn round and wonderful to see. This year has changed cycling for the better. There’s a great enthusiasm. In the park behind us all manner of events are happening for kids and families. A real day out for everyone. Wiggins rings the bell and we’re off!
Up and down and round we go, it’s quite hilly round the Lancashire lanes, we’d all agreed to go Ali’s pace round. She fell out with her bike a bit after all the training and doing the Fred Whitton. Whilst she has done rides they’ve all been a bit shorter so she wanted to be conservative and know she had the legs for the whole distance. We met up with some friends from the Lakes, Steph and Shelagh, they’ve recently done LEJOG for Alice Escapes http://teamaliceontour.blogspot.co.uk/ and this was their first sportive.
So the Ride with Brad turned into the Ride with Brant with his peloton of ladies! Steph and I chatted a little about how we were out numbered by men. Ali and I have spent ages pondering the same. We wrongly assumed that it was due to family commitments, but no, Steph rides loads and has two children who also have loads of hobbies. I wish I could think of a way to encourage more women.
Into the first feed we go. Bottles filled, snacks eaten. Just as we’re about to leave and there’s whoops of excitement behind us.The man himself is here! He rolls in inches infront of me, Ali is grinning with glee. She high-5’s him, grinning from ear to ear! “I’m never washing this glove” she exclaims.
On we pedal, a slight muddle of Garmins and signs causes us to stop for a moment. Along comes the Brad train, Brant realising it’s his one chance to actually ride with him pedals forward. After he tells us that he rode on the mudguarded wheel of the guy on Brad’s wheel, funny 🙂
The hills were not taking their toll. we’d now covered more distance in one go than the whole of Brant’s training! Still it hadn’t phased him (he has been super fit in the past with MTB races). All still smiling we pedalled on.
It was so nice to see folk out cheering on the roads, to see farmers decorating the fields with banners and bikes. A genuine excitement.
We came into the last feed stop to find the route had merged with the 100km. Gleefully bouning up to us was a friend from our running club, Todmorden Harriers. This was Mel’s furthest distance on a bike so far. She’d come along on her own, managed to get a photo with Brad and was delighted with herself. It’s moments like this that make me happy.
We passed Pendle Hill with it’s commemorative artwork marking 400 years since the Witch Trials.
A few snappy climbs and we sailed through the finishline.
What a fabulous day out. Well organised and a great route. What marks it out though is Brad Wiggins being a top bloke. So nice to see so many people inspired by his achievements and long may it continue 🙂
And three cheers for his good lady wife Cath who also rode the whole thing. Alas Ali didn’t get to high-5 her too. She’s as much of an inspiration as her man, managing to race herself, balance a family and organise the women’s races at the Saltaire circuit.