10 Cyclists prepared to pit themselves against 160 miles of hilly terrain from the West coast of the UK, whatever weather got thrown at them in 2 days, and whatever challenges lay ahead. They returned back to the local village of Swanland on the East coast for a celebratory BBQ. This is a tale of fun, friendship, injury, Garmin GPS’s and a determination to find their way home.
Friday’s Top Gear Challenge
After packing our cars, strapping our “Jobes Cycles” serviced bikes on and saying goodbye to our loved ones in Swanland, we set off in the two support cars, one armed with a standard satnav and the other with the ever dependable Ashnav™. At some point near the A1 our two navigation systems went different directions leaving us with Team Green driven by Mother Hen Trevor “Captain Slow” Green, and Team Matteucci driven by “Clarkson” lookalike Paolo, we decided at that point to update Ashnav™ to a better system.
Team Green took the route up the A1and across the countryside using the scenic A roads, Team Matteucci got back onto the M62 after a little trip through the delights of Crossgates. It was neck and neck for a while, and at times it seemed “Captain Slow” was not living up to his name and was somehow in front. However the slower A roads route took its toll, and as we rolled into Morecambe it was Team Matteucci were the victors, and sent a Clarkson selfie to the losers.
After all the bikes had been secured in the hotel, it was decided we should go out for some food. The only 2 restaurants that seemed to be open were both Chinese, one was empty the other looked very busy (until we got in and found that the full mirror wall at the back had us all fooled). Anyway we carried on, and ordered almost everything on the menu and more, the food just kept on coming, not all of it looked edible, but as we knew it was a long ride the next day we persevered with the food, and settled back to the hotel for some sleep.
Day 1 Way of the Roses – Morecambe to Ripon 81.1 miles 6400 feet
The day started with all 10 cyclists and our 2 support driver dads dropping into the local pub for a big breakfast, pancakes with syrup and porridge seemed to be the popular choice. Morecambe Bay did not know what had hit them, seeing 10 lycra clad dads walking around the town in team kit with not a bike in sight, there were some strange stares! After breakfast it was time to get kitted out, and make our way to the start of the Way of the Roses on the seafront. This was the first time all 10 riders had been on the same piece of tarmac at the same time.
We set off on our way, routes entered into our bike computers and again these would have many an argument as to which way to go, Ashnav™ was back again but on bike this time. We didn’t have the best of starts, it took us quite a while and few wrong turns to get out of Morecambe and onto the open roads and bike paths that lay ahead. Now cruising and making up some valuable time, the weather was good, sun in the sky. However the sun casting shadows was going to become a downfall for one of our riders. Justin, when riding downhill into a sharp downhill left hand bend, slipped on wet shadowy ground and crashed full force into the side of the road. Instantly our contingent of surgeons and medical staff stepped into professional mode – everyone had a job to do, a visual check, secure his neck, secure the road above and below, to ensure no one else did the same, and to make sure no cars came down. Thankfully after a brief roadside checkup and consultation by James and Paolo, the consensus was that Justin was OK to carry on if he wanted to. As ever Justin was never going to give up that easily and got back on the bike and began to ride, he was clearly in pain but soldiered on in the knowledge he was not doing this just for personal pride but for a much more worthy cause. Sadly after a second consultation at the feed stop in Settle, he was advised to sit out the long steep and intense climb out of Settle and rejoin if he felt OK to do afterwards, which he did for the majority of the rest of the day, until treacherously wet conditions put paid to any more cycling for him.
After riding through open countryside in the middle of a massive thunderstorm, we arrived at a scheduled stop for some much needed coffee and to get warm, Ash decided to try the energy regenerating qualities of Scampi and Chips, while the rest nibbled on breakfast bars and bananas. We set off again to continue our journey, the rain had stopped for a while but then the heavens opened at the most treacherous descent of the whole weekend at Green How Hill. At times there were 25% descents and the back and front brakes were fully on and not doing much to slow us. A canoe may be been a better mode of transport. By the time we stopped the brake blocks were nearly worn out and we decided, wet and cold to shelter in the fuel station. We stood in the doorway cold, shivering and dripping and created a huge puddle on the floor waiting for the rain to slow to some semblance of normality, or possibly even stop, Ash who looked hyperthermic decided it was time to lie down in the aisle but was quickly ushered up by the staff! We swapped our stories on how we negotiated the wet downhills and how we had never seen rain come down like this whilst on a bike, “it felt like hailstones” Rich said. Once it had slowed to “just get wet” speed, the 9 of us set back off, leaving an injured Justin with the Mother Hens, there was no point in risking anymore injury for him in this weather. The next challenge was the climb out of Pately Bridge and off towards Brimham Rocks. The roads were damp and with our back wheels slipping under the pressure we inched our way
up the road, we were now getting warmer with our rain gear on and the sun decided to grace us again to make sure we were fully overheated. It wasn’t long after this point that Paolo made a ride changing decision to remove his rain coat and shove it up the back of his cycle shirt. For a while things were good and we carried on, taking turns at the front, not many miles to go now, we came into the Fountains Abbey country park. The road was now dry, we were dry, our bikes were dry, everything was good, but a little bit of flat road and a little bit of adrenaline was about to change all that. Mark had sped off down the road through the Abbey grounds; no cars as this was not open to vehicles, Paolo instantly accepted the challenge and tried to catch Mark, except his rain coat made a bid for freedom and deployed from his shirt to perform its second duty of the day – what was once a rain coat became Paolo’s stunt parachute and STOPPED the bike. The coat got caught up in the back wheel and instantly locked the wheel up, leaving the bike snaking around and burning through 3mm of rubber along the way, a massive inner tube blowout threw Paolo and the bike to the ground. Paolo’s arm, leg, back wheel and rear derailleur all had fights with the gravel and this rendered his back wheel unusable for anything other than making a nice clock someday. Paolo was more than happy to show off his “gravel rash” that would heal, but the bike wheel was a different story. It was gouged beyond repair at the roadside. Paolo’s cycling was done for the day 1.5 miles from our hotel. We called the Mother Hens, yet both went to answer phone, we tried to get some farmers to help us, and they came back after dropping off some machinery. Finally the Mother Hens found us, loaded Paolo’s injured bike onto the car and drove back to the hotel. A spare bike was sourced by our friend Jonathan Godber who thankfully drove to Ferrybridge and met Paolo to bring us his bike.
Day 2 Way of the Roses – Ripon to Swanland 80.2 miles 1500 feet
The 2nd day started at 4am with sweet undertones of Mother Hen Daverio’s snoring and with bright sunshine and the birds chirping outside. Paolo’s mobile bike fixing service was open for business in the market square of Ripon from 7am. After cleaning down all the bikes and re-greasing and oiling them we left them in the capable hands of the Mother Hens to keep guard whilst the riders got some fuel for the day. Pancakes and porridge again seemed to be the most popular choice. Justin after his 1st day incident would sadly play no more part on the cycles and would be travelling with the support cars, a decision which was not taken lightly and he was sadly missed among his peers during the ride.
The remainder of the ride thankfully went, without significant incident, although numerous unleashed dogs on the cycle paths provided a moving chicane to negotiate with which kept our wits about us. Stopping before what looked like the elderly attendants own private bridge (thinking we might have to pay) and then riding over it gingerly as it looked as if it could fall down any minute, was another first to chalk down in the cycling memoirs. An impromptu stop at a local stately
home (whose name no-one knew) and it was all plain sailing back to East Yorkshire – almost; a puncture slowed us a little, but we still had plenty of time to get back. Ash was now in his element leading at the front and setting the pace.
In York an eagle eyed Rich saw a Mclaren F1 car in a car park promoting Champagne, so it was a stop and chat with the crew and small tipple of Brut and Rose to help us on our way.
A stop in Pocklington bore fruit in the way of £10 donated by a lovely lady called Mary, we think she fancied Phil Green, but only got to get a photo with Rich instead. After a Costa Coffee and ice-cream everyone was refreshed and ready for the final part of the journey back to Swanland. We set off to find the last hills of the weekend, the first of these being Nunburnholme, a mile long hill with an average gradient of 8%. We all got to the bottom around the same time, Phil “The Engine” Garrod at the front followed by Mark, Phil Green and the rest. It was at the start of this climb when we had our last incident, Rich was pushing to catch “The Engine” when “PING” one of his rear spokes made it’s own bid for freedom and had clearly had enough, there would be no more climbing for Rich and his bike up this hill. Paolo’s mobile bike fixing service was on hand to man handle the spoke out of the way of the wheel. Unfortunately the wheel was now buckled due to the pressure of losing a spoke, causing us to have to disable the back brake. This final 20 miles would be a challenge to ride without a back brake and also without being able to put any power into pedalling, it would be slow uphill now. Again more good Samaritans came to our help, they came and put the bike in their boot, sadly as Rich’s seat is usually in orbit due to his long legs, there was no room for him. He had to therefore run up the hill in his cycling shoes…!, Rich is no marathon runner, he only eats them!
In much need of a cold drink we stopped at the Costcutter in South Cave and few phone calls to tell our families we were coming back, we then met Tony and Jo Goldstone who would be flying a drone ahead to capture us coming back into Swanland. Steady as she goes up Swanland Hill, no mechanical issues for once, and Gregs chain managed to stay on also, it had been trying to free itself from the bike up each and every incline, this time it was happy to stay on knowing it was the last hill.
The Return to Swanland
We rolled around the corner into Main Street with our support escort Trevor Green at the Front and Daverio Matteucci at the back sounding the horns. Turning that corner and seeing everyone outside waiting for our return was an overwhelming sight and very emotional and moving for us as team. I don’t think any of us had dry eyes at that moment. It was a great shame that Justin was not there to share that moment with us, (however he did himself proud and was an awesome MC/Raffle crier/auctioneer and compere on the evening). We were tired, hot and sweaty (with some of us bruised and battered), this was no longer just a simple bike ride, but a symbol of unity from our village and at that moment it seemed so much more than we had imagined, it was something for us all to be proud of. We dipped our wheels in the pond to signify the last act of the ride, and were met by Graham, Jenny and our families. Bailey had organised getting some special medals made to mark the occasion with Jamie’s logo on and surprised us all as Graham and Jenny handed them out to us.
Graham, Jenny and Ross and above all Jamie have been our inspiration throughout this journey, not just the weekend ride and we hope we have maybe inspired other parents/children and anyone else to do something they love and do it for a worthy cause. It was another very emotional moment as we were all called up to the front to present Graham and Ross with their own “Ugly Ducklings” Cycle shirts and Jenny with some personalised Jamie logo coasters and place mat.
The Ugly Ducklings have raised around £5500 over the course of the last couple of months and the weekend.
What a fantastic reception and atmosphere we got when getting back into Swanland. I am immensely proud to be able to say I was part of this and bring much needed awareness for Jamie’s fund and the Charity CRY. It just shows what can be done when we put our collective minds together.
The BBQ, raffles, auctions and other events raised over £2000.
The Total Warrior Challenge – Jamie’s Warriors
Not forgetting another Team was on their way back from the Total Warrior in Leeds, and also raising money and awareness for the same cause. Ruth and her band of Warriors came in later after getting cleaned up, they put themselves through pain, electrocution, mud, and more of the same, they did get a little muddy. All in all we had a fantastic and meaningful weekend with a great bunch of people, topped off in style with a raffle and auction to raise more money, even the sun blessed us with its presence. With all donations yet to come in between the 3 events of the Cycle Ride, Total Warrior and BBQ we should be totalling over £10,000 for Jamies’ fund, plus gift aid for CRY. Graham has said that amount will fund 2 separate heart screening sessions for 200 young people outright, what a RESULT. I would just like to thank everyone who has sponsored, donated money or prizes, or time to help us achieve this massive amount of money, and to everyone who showed their support on the day and along the way.
The Weekend Casualty List
Ashnav – replaced with a working model later Friday evening
Bike computers – a number of arguments about which way to go
Justin – some cracked ribs, bruised and battered
Paolo – lost some skin on his arm and leg, his top quality bike kit stood up to the test though
Paolo – his bike shoe now has extra air hole in it
Paolo – Rear wheel rim scratched beyond repair
Phil Green – 1 puncture
Rich Foster – 1 broken rear wheel spoke (fixed by Jobes under sponsor agreement)
Greg Robinson – needs new chain, cassette and front gear cable (not done on the ride)
The Warriors – 5 bruised and battered ladies
Jamie’s Ugly Ducklings are:
Rich Foster, Phil Green, Phil Garrod, Ian Suddaby, Mark Billam, Greg Robinson, Paolo Matteucci, James Haeney, Ash Kotwal, Justin Fielder, Mother Hen Trevor Green, Mother Hen Daverio Matteucci
Jamie’s Total Warriors are:
Ruth Ciuffetelli, Lisa Marie Bursell, Claire Milner, Sam Stathers, Nicola Johnston
Drone Footage: Tony Goldstone
Ugly Ducklings Kit Sponsors: Services
Jobes Cycles (serviced bikes pre-ride, spare tyres/tubes, chain links)
Vive Le Velo (provision of free drinks bottles, loan of spare chains, tyres, tubes etc)
Balloon Bliss – Provision of Balloon models for childrens raffle (too late for shirt)
Ugly Ducklings kit sponsors: Cash sponsors
Arco – Cash match to Phil Garrods fund raising (too late for shirt)
Autovison, B&Q, 360 Chartered Accountants, Campbells Laser products (Also provision of finishing medals), FG Adamson (too late for Shirt), Giacom Worldwide networks, Greencore Grocery (provision of cakes for raffle also), Harris Lacey and Swain Accountants, Matthew Limb, N&P Group, Shield Security, 65 Cars, Tapasya and Voujon restaurants, Karl Smith (Garden Maintenance), Poppy Mae Green (1st child sponsor)
Thanks for Paul Gray for the kind donation of auction items, thanks to Ruth Ciufetelli and Faye Alden for sourcing the majority of the raffle prizes.
Thanks to Rob and Fraser at the Swan and Cygnet for hosting the BBQ event and the loan of the Bouncy Castle.