Archive for the ‘For a good cause’ Category

Sitting on my trusty steed, my NeilPryde Diablo

Towards the end of last year, my friend from work, Graham told me about this ride he was thinking of doing – the Amsterdam 300. It’s a two day ride from London to Amsterdam covering 300 miles.

The website sells it as:

Pedalling 300 miles across 4 countries, in less than 2 days is no ordinary cycling challenge. An exhilarating night cycling stage from London to Dover is followed by a 100 mile daylight dash along the French coast and into Belgium where a riders camp awaits. Rested and refuelled, the peloton departs camp at dawn and crosses into Holland, where the tempo rises across the coastal lowlands for the final push to Amsterdam, arriving in time to celebrate in style and for some belated ‘Dutch courage’! This epic road cycle across Europe will raise funds for the UK’s leading disability charity, Scope.

If you don’t know, Scope is a charity that supports disabled people and their families at every stage of their life. They work with disabled people to achieve a vision of a world where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. So very worthwhile cause if you ask me!

So aftersome careful deliberation, today I decided to take the plunge and go for it. I’m still trying to get my head round it and what it will take to do, both mentally and physically, but am feeling quite excited about the prospect.

Now to take part in the ride, other than train really hard for it, I need to raise £1200 in sponsorship money. With that, I have set up for myself a Virgin Money Giving fundraising page to help with the collection of the sponsorship money.

So dear readers, if you are feeling kind and generous and would like to help a worthwhile cause, please feel free to donate by clicking here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/CraigBrophy

Thanks in advance!

Craig

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For those of who have been keeping tabs on this blog would have seen that The Prostate Cancer Charity in the UK are trying to become the charity name behind cycling. Just the same as running is for breast cancer, they would like to make cycling the sport for prostate cancer. A natural association if you like.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and as a result, one man dies every hour from this horrid disease, not to mention the 35000 men that are diagnosed with it every year. So it’s not something to shy away from. But rather a disease that we need to fight against.

With that, the Charity has teamed up with The Tour of Britain to offer cyclists of all abilities the chance to ride a stage of The Tour, in The Tour Rides. Taking place in September, cyclists can try out the same routes that the pro’s get to race on in the Tour.

The same attention to detail and event planning is put into delivering a Tour Ride as staging The Tour of Britain. With extensive route signage, marshals, motorcycle support, official cars on route and neutral service, the Tour Rides offer a unique full-support experience.

Plus, there are carefully located and well stocked feed and drink stations along the route as well as hot drinks and sandwiches. I’ve been informed that this year’s Tour Rides will also incorporate timing splits and timed King of the Mountains sections (Pro Tour Ride).

The neutral service is being provided by the team at Saddleback Ltd who bring to the UK market those awesome racing machines, FELT – as currently used by the Garmin Transitions cycling team the Tour de France, as well as Lance’s groupset of choice, SRAM.

So on Tuesday 22 June, I was lucky enough to be invited by the Charity to go and try out the Stoke route of the Tour Ride. This route forms as Stage 2 of The 2010 Tour of Britain. It was a clear hot day – 22 degrees celcius. A perfect day to go out for the ride – as you will see from the pictures below. I had been looking forward to doing the ride for a whole week running up to it, especially as it was time out of the hectic schedule we were on for The Tour Series, plus I got to have my last ride on the Felt FC.

As it was a media ride, we weren’t going to do the full day’s worth of riding (ie. Pro Ride). We were only aiming to do 60+ km’s. However, we were going to take in the hilliest part of the route. Our day started off in Rocester, the home of JCB. From there we made our way to Leek taking in the stunning views of the Staffordshire Moorlands.  On the ride we took a short break in the village of Longnor, where we were welcomed with open arms by the owner of the local coffee shop called Cobbles. A true cycling fan, he offered us teas, coffees and sandwiches on the house. How could we say no to that? So if you ever in the village, make sure you stop by Cobbles.

From Longnor we made our way towards Leek, not before taking in plenty of 10% climbs and the well known, Gun Hill. I felt great at the start of the ride but the climbs were relentless and they began taking their toll. I have to say that Gun Hill was not easy at all and I can see why people gather along it when the Tour races over. There were some great downhills too (not too many of these unfortunately), but did manage to get up to speeds of 80km/h.

It was a great day out and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. If you’re on the fence about whether to take part, I would urge you to go for it. Sign up for The Tour Rides, you will not be sorry. And feel good in knowing that you are also putting money to a good cause.

I would also like to say a HUGE thanks to Andrew and team at Saddleback for providing me with the Felt FC to use on the ride! I loved riding it so much, I am now looking to buy it.

And last but not least, below are pictures taken on the day of our ride. These were taken by Joolze Dymond who is also the official photographer for The Tour of Britain and The Tour Series. If you get a chance, make sure you check out her website: www.joolzedymond.com

Remember, there are three routes to choose from and three rides at each, for the exception of London, which offers only one ride. For more details on all the Rides on offer (dates, distances, etc) in The Tour Rides, check out my previous posting on The Tour Rides.

Enjoy the pics and sign up!

Starting out in Rocester where our ride began

A beautiful day to be out riding the bike

Making the most of my last day on the Felt FC

The start of many many climbs to come

Easy for some, others not

The scenery was just spectacular

Riding on roads that were virtually clear of traffic. Made for a superb day out

You can almost see the heat come off the road

Some more uphills

Working the Felt. Plus, enjoyed the SRAM groupset. Definitely a convert to its style

How can you say no to that?

Peter and Liz helping us out on the ride, a day after the Chester round of The Tour Series

Some more ups

Peter trying the typical 'fan with water bottle' you see in the Tour de France

He was loving it

...and the fact that I was getting wet

Mind you, afterwards it did feel quite refreshing

Then just for the camera decided to do a typical rider 'response' to getting wet

Maybe over doing it a little 🙂

Watch out for the BIG hand! Getting a fresh bottle from Liz

Seriously enjoying my day out on the Felt. I think I should keep it!!

And there were some downhills too

But what goes down must go up

Liz and Peter enjoying their day out of the office

Quiet roads

Coffee stop in the village of Longnor. Check out Cobbles if you are ever there

Making our way towards Gun Hill

But before we get there, a few more clims to negotiate

Boy it was hot out there

There were loads of these too - 10 per cent climbs

Doing some close ups for the Charity

Taking the mick out of Joolze who's sitting in the boot of the CRV

Suffering on the first killer section of Gun Hill

Really thankful that Paul was there to encourage me along

My legs were hurting big time

Finished the second killer section

Enjoying the fact that Gun Hill levels out towards the top

Almost there

Joolze making us sprint for the top. She loves to see us suffer

Freewheeling into Leek

Enjoying the post ride chat with Paul...

...and laugh

The Great Tour route map

Late on Friday 7 May myself and a colleague from work, Kathryn and her boyfriend Gavin, made our way down from Weybridge in Surrey to Seaton in Devon.

Now Seaton is a small seaside town on the South West coastline of Devon England. It has also been described as the gateway to the 95-mile Jurassic Coast of the Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage Coastline.

However, the reason for our drive down to Seaton was  so that we could do a recce of the first two stages of The Great Tour. Not on our own of course, but with a group from our office that have put together this challenging event.

So what is The Great Tour? Well, in short, it’s a circumnavigation of the outer edge of the UK coastline by bicycle.

The Great Tour itself will take place on 3 July when a group of cyclists drawn from the world of sport, celebrity, charity, politics, science and the arts will gather in Seaton to embark on one of Britain’s last great sporting challenges. Keeping the sea to their right for 64 days, the riders will never lose the sight, smell or sound of the sea during their epic 6600km pedal for charity.

The ride will be hosted by well known athletes who will be joined by a wide variety of guests and charity riders to create a colourful and inspirational sporting celebration of the British coastline.

The 2010 event will be the inaugural Great Tour, which will become an annual charity bike ride. This is most probably the most important thing to remember about the event. Its purpose is to help raise money for a charity of your choice. You take on an incredible challenge while helping to raise money for a good cause.

So this ride we embarked upon took in the first two stages of The Great Tour. Stage 1 saw us riding from Seaton to Swanage. Expected total ride distance is 128km with 2483m of ascent.

Stage two took us from Swanage to Ryde with an expected total ride distance of 114km and 1236m of ascent.

On Saturday 8 May after a great fry up breakfast at our guest house, we made our way to the Seaton sea front to await the rest of our team that were going to join us on this ride. Also joining us on the ride was Alistair Cope, a Devon local who would guide us on our way. Alistair is also one of the main guides on The Great Tour itself and is himself raising money for The Prostate Cancer Charity while taking on this 64 day challenge.

Now the weather wasn’t great. It was not too cold, but it was damp and there was intermittent drizzle about. Not something I was looking forward to.

Here  are some pictures, taken by Gavin(or Kathryn) of our ride over the two days:

Gavin Morton (our photograher) and myself outside our guest house in Seaton

Getting the bikes and ourselves ready before we set off

Discussing the road ahead

The group before our depart on stage 1 of The Great Tour

On our way out of Seaton

Wating for the group to catch up after our first climb

Gavin joining us

Road bikes to continue left on the road. Hybrids to go straight along onto the gravel roads

Appreciating why they call it the jurrasic coastline

Loving the climb, but I really do need a new bikeLoving the climb, but I really do need a new bike
o

Alistair going up one the many many climbs on this stage

Graeme and Kevin, Great Tour route leaders

Graeme and Kevin

Graeme and Kevin with Mick Bennett, former Olympic medallist

Taking in the scenery

Enjoying myself

I'm lovin it!

The scenery is just beautiful

Riding with Alistair and admiring how the climb just keeps going up

Taking a mini break in one of the many villages along the way

For any would be bike sponsor - Your bike could be in the picture instead of the Trek. Think about it!

We visited some interesting roads and places

Spectacular views once again

I love this picture

Feeling the pain

Graeme, Kevin and myself glad that we're coming to the end of stage 1

Packing the cars before makin our way to our local accommodation

Now we didn’t quite make the full stage. After all the stops and starts, we managed only to get to Weymouth, just over half the distance we were expecting to do for that day. But that was the whole purpose of the recce – to find out what challenges could stand in  our way when the main event takes place.

It’s at this point where I have to say that The Great Tour is not the ideal challenge to take on with a road bike. The best bike for this challenge is a hybrid. With a relaxed frame geometry and slick MTB tyres makes it easier to ride over the varying terrain than what a road bike could handle. I did manage it on my road bike, but my tyres did take a huge hammering.

But more importantly, the hybrid offers you the aditional gears you would need to climb over some of the steep sections of this ride. I have to be honest and say that I did run out of gears and some of the road surfaces were so wet that I wasn’t able to stand going up the climbs. This really did test the strength in my legs and arms. However, the road bike was great for some of the descents as we reached up to 80km/h without pedalling. Not for the feint-hearted!

Oh, before I forget, stage 1 is the hardest stage of the entire Great Tour.

Stage 2: Swanage to Ryde

After a good night’s rest, we all made our way into Swanage for our early morning start of 8:00am. Not before getting in a good breakfast though.

Our early morning breakfast stop

Running through the details of the route

Our group photo

Maing our way along the Swanage coastline

A group of men on their way to Studland - haha!

Going to Foreland (or Handfast) Point

The Foreland (or Handfast) Point

Enjoying my way along Newto Heath to catch the short ferry to Sandbanks

On the ferry to Sandbanks

Doing our bit for Mulebar - well, trying to at least

Felt Bicycles taking full advantage of the sponsorship areas I posses. Just need to get a bike from them next 🙂

Making our way along the Bournemouth coastline

The group

and in black & white

Stopping for pies in Lymington

Lymington. Well, that’s as far as I got to on day two of the ride with another 60+ km’s in the bag.  It was at this point that I joined Kathryn and Gavin as they made their way back home to Surrey. From Lymington the rest of the group made their way onto the Isle of Wight to complete the rest of their journey for stage two.

From speaking to guys afterwards, I understand that it was quite hilly too once on the Isle of Wight. So I’m glad I didn’t go the whole way as my legs were competely knackered by the time I made it home that afternoon.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself over the two days we were out there. The riding was great, the scenery spectacular and the company was excellent.

In summary, The Great Tour offers 64 days of riding, 6600 km’s, 87,500m of ascent and 500 hours in the saddle. So if you feel like taking up a new challenge and want to see the beautiful coastline that the UK offers, then why not sign up for The Great Tour.

*All photographs thanks to Gavin Morton

The Tour of Britain and The Prostate Cancer Charity have today revealed three new amateur cycle rides for 2010 – The Prostate Cancer Charity Tour Rides.  According to the press release, cyclists of all levels will have the opportunity to measure themselves against the pro riders from The Tour of Britain, by taking on the same full stages from Britain’s national cycle tour event.

The events – scheduled to take place in September – are:

  • Sunday 5 Sep – South West: A brand new addition to The Tour Ride roster  will see riders take on a tough route from Minehead to the South Devon Coast covering a total of 150km.
  • Saturday 18 Sep – London: The second year this event is happening, will see cyclists ride a route that takes in some of the most iconic landmarks in the capital, just before the final stage of The Tour.
  • 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.

For the exception of London, both South West and Stoke events will also offer  challenge routes of 70km and family routes of 20km. This is great as now people of all ages and abilities can take part, allowing more people to spend their day out on the bicycle.

According to the Tour Ride website, the rides will cost £40 for the full stage distances, £30 for the 70km distances and £20 for a family of four to do the 20km Family Rides, in both Stoke-on-Trent and the South West.

Entries close on 1 September 2010 but as places are limited and expected to fill up fast, riders are being encouraged to sign up as soon as possible.

So, if this tickles your fancy and you’d like to spend a day out on the bike experiencing what life as a pro taking part in The Tour of Britain is like, then make sure to sign up for the event as soon as possible.

Last but not least, here are some pictures from the 2009 Tour Ride event in Stoke-on-Trent:

The Tour of Britain lead vehicle getting ready to lead out the riders for the Tour Ride

British Road Race Champion Kristian House and the team from Sharp4Prostate

Neutral service on The Tour Ride provided by Saddleback, distributors of SRAM, Felt and ZIPP

Free food and drinks at all the food stops on The Tour Ride

This past week saw an interesting new challenge come about in the world of cycling. The Fat Cyclist has always been one to set them up for his readers and always manages to raise heaps of cash for a charitable cause.

However, earlier this week he wrote a letter to Johan Bruyneel, team manager for the newly created Team Radioshack. In this letter he explains that after some careful consideration that he as decided to have a career change and become a professional cyclist. As such, part of this change would include him joining Team Radioshack and therefore would like Johan Bruyneel to carefully consider his CV (resume) and cover letter so that he can join the squad that includes Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloeden, to name but a few.

So, on Friday just gone by, Johan Bruyneel wrote a blog entry on his website in response to the open letter from Fatt. In is posting he said he would be willing to entertain Fatty’s request and let him join Team Radioshack at their first team training camp.

However, Johan wanting to make the most of this request has imposed two conditions/challenges that Fatty has to meet in order to join the team at the training camp. These two conditions include:

By Friday December 11, 12:00 PM US Mountain Standard/Tucson, AZ Time Fatty must have met the following criteria:-

– Raised a minimum of $10,000 for World Bicycle Relief

AND

– Raised a minimum of $10,000 for LIVESTRONG

If these two criteria are met by the stated deadline, Johan will fly Fatty out to Arizona and he will have the one opportunity to ride with Team RadioShack on Sunday, December 13. In addition to this, Johan has added an extra bonus for him:

– If you raise a minimum of $25,000 for World Bicycle Relief AND $25,000 for LIVESTRONG, you”ll get a brand new Trek Madone 6 Series bike powered by SRAM Red.

Now Johan’s a pretty good guy and got his friends at World Bicycle Relief and LIVESTRONG to create some easy fundraising pages for Fatty in order to help him achieve his objective. Here are the links to each:

World Bicycle Relief – http://grassroots.kintera.org/Creative/fatcyclist or http://bit.ly/8lbpeD

LIVESTRONG – http://www.livestrong.org/grassroots2009/sendfattytocamp or http://bit.ly/8CHHgi

Now the question that needs to be asked: “Will Fatty take up the Johan challenge?

I really hope so because already on these two sites that Johan has created for Fatty, people have been donating their hard earned cash and it looks like Fatty could be on his way to joining Team Radioshack next weekend. Without any acknowledgement on his website, he has managed to raise:

World Bicycle Relief -$2,513

LIVESTRONG – $4,331

So Fatty, let us know if you’re going to take on the challenge! Your supporters are already supporting you (as you can see from the money that’s already been raised).

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!

Rob Hayles taking line honours from Graham Briggs

Rob Hayles taking line honours from Graham Briggs - photo by Michelle Rudd

The brand-new city centre race series – The Tour Series – arrived in a rush of colour and high-tempo racing in Milton Keynes last night. Run-off at an average speed of 28 miles per hour, the race was won by Candi TV – Marshalls Pasta rider Graham Briggs in a controversial last few metres that saw the Doncaster rider tussle with Olympian Rob Hayles. The finishing positions of Hayles’ first and Briggs’ second were reversed by race judges after it was decided that the Halfords-Bikehut rider impeded Briggs in the last few metres.

Now being involved with The Tour Series it has been one awesome experience something that I am looking forward to over the coming weeks. The cool thing about it too is that I now get a chance to mingle with all the teams and riders. So bookmark this page and make sure to check in for rider pics and videos.

For now I can give you a podcast with Ned Boulting, the ITV presenter that we see travelling with the riders from the Tour de France, where he gives us a post race comment from the event in Milton Keynes, including the contraversial sprint finish, team tactics and the podium girls! He’ll be posting these on a regular basis, so will get them up here for you to listen to:  Ned’s podcast!

Also, don’t forget to catch the action on ITV4 on Wednesday and Friday evenings from 7pm-8pm.