Me (3rd from right) riding alongside Magnus Backstedt (4th from right)

Me (3rd from right) riding alongside Magnus Backstedt (4th from right)

One of the cool parts of my job is that I regularly get to meet pro riders. Not from a looking for signatures/pictures aspect, but more along the lines of how we can work together for something bigger. Most recently I got the chance to promote a mass participation ride – The Tour Rides – and part of this included a media preview ride. Here we would take a few members of the press along with us to try out the route of the ride. The end result would be that they write about the ride, give their experiences, and hopefully encourage fellow cyclists to take up the chance to ride a route that the pro riders will take in The Tour of Britain.

So back in mid May I arranged for a few journalists to join me on a ride of stage 5 of the 2009 Tour of Britain. This route also forms the basis for the etape-style 145km’s mass participation ride – The Prostate Cancer Charity Pro Tour Ride – that will take place on Saturday 6 May.  Now I was lucky enough to have Magnus Backstedt agree to join us on the ride. Who better to join us on the tough route other than former Paris-Roubaix winner and Tour de France stage winner.

So off we (the team at RoadCyclingUK – Richard and David, Men’s Fitness – Fitness Ed Matt Ray) went from our office in Weybridge and made our way up to Britannia Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent in our newly acquired Honda-sponsored vehicles. The day looked wet and gloomy as we made our way up, which didn’t help us for what we were about to tackle. On its own, we knew it was going to be a tough ride, but to add horrible weather was just adding to an experience that we were not looking forward to.

Once at Britannia Stadium we got changed into our gear, prepared our bikes and loaded them into our vehicles. We decided with the weather and the way it was, that we would start the ride 40km’s into the route. As we headed out, the route just rose and every turn we took, the road just went higher and higher. Not something to look forward to.

Well, there are our Hinda sponsored vehicles. That's me between the two cars talking to the remarkable Graham Jones

Well, there are our Honda sponsored vehicles. That's me between the two cars talking to the remarkable Graham Jones

We got to our drop location, got ourselves ready and before we set off, had a few final pics taken with our Honda-sponsored vehicles.

Then the pain started – the moment we made our way onto the route, my legs began to cry for help.  The route was totally unforgiving. Over the day, our group averaged about 15 km/h. Even though we weren’t pushing it, you could tell the route played its part.

Trying to make my way along the route

Trying to make my way along the route (yes, I have an old bike - any willing sponsors, please come forward 🙂 )

Magnus and David leading the pack

Magnus and David (from RCUK) leading the pack

I have to admit that just before reaching the all famous Gun Hill, I retired to the broom wagon. It was just too much and I didn’t have a gear any bigger than the 23-tooth chainring I had on the back to help me any further along the route.

Speaking to Backstedt following the ride on what he thinks of the route, he replied: “I think that the ‘not-a-metre-flat’ character of the course will take its toll on the pro riders by the end of Stage Five [of The Tour of Britain].”

I then preceded to ask him on what his strategy would be for this sportive in preparing for it. He responded, “Ride at your own pace. Don’t get carried away and overreact to a group pulling away from you by playing catch-up because it’s too expensive.”

“I find that three 20-minute intervals ridden as fast as you can with 30 minutes of rest in between really pushes up the strength endurance in your legs.” So there you have it, Magnus Maximus’s secret weapon.

Having our last picture taken following the ride. Magnus is holding up some of the new branding we created for the Tour Ride

Having our last picture taken following the ride. Magnus is holding up some of the new branding we created for the Tour Ride

So, ifyou want to experience what both Magnus and myself did, why not give his strategy a go and sign up for The Prostate Cancer Charity Pro Tour Ride taking place on 6 September in Stoke-on-Trent.

According to the Tour Rides’ website, the description for the route we rode is:

The 145km Pro Tour Ride takes in the complete Stoke-on-Trent stage of this year’s Tour of Britain, providing a unique chance for riders to test themselves over the same terrain as the professionals will do battle over during The Tour and experience the full Tour of Britain setup.

The route takes riders out of the city past Trentham Gardens and across the M6 motorway and south via Swynnerton to Eccleshall, then east towards Stone, over the same roads that featured during the closing miles of Stage Four of the 2008 Tour of Britain.

The attractive market town of Stone marks 30km into the Pro Tour Ride, which then follows the Trent Valley to Sandon before heading east and skirting Uttoxeter.

Here the route becomes more challenging, undulating constantly all the way back to Stoke-on-Trent, as it traverses the attractive countryside of the Staffordshire Moorlands and on to the main test of the route, Gun Hill, just after Tittesworth Reservoir.

It’s not quite all downhill back to the Britannia Stadium, but the main climbing is done so riders will be able to enjoy the scenery as they pass Rudyard Reservoir and cross the Churnet Valley near Cheddleton.

If you want further info and would like to check out the route and its profile, you can download it by clicking here.

I do hope you’ll sign up to take part in the ride. I’ll be there myself so drop me a note if you want to hook up. Cheers!

  1. […] Sunday 26 September – Stoke-on-Trent: The inaugural event in 2009 saw 1,300 plus cyclists take to the surrounding roads of Stoke. Included in that field was British Road Race Champion Kristian House (see pic below). This year sees the 145km event start and finish in Stoke (although exact route is still to be confirmed). For those who follow my blog will remember me going on a ride with 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt on this very route last year. Read more about that here. […]

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