The feelings of anticipation and excitement were palpable this morning as the team of 17 GM Fundraising riders and 3 support crew, prepared their bikes, kit and themselves, for the five day cycle ride to the Somme region in France. A very special ride to mark a very special occasion; the centenary of World War One, the team set off from The National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire on the first leg of the 337 mile journey, after the presentation of a cheque for £1,500 to the Arboretum to support their fundraising efforts.
In keeping with the theme of the ride, each rider was given dog tags, a rank and papers and each team assigned a Sergeant, Lance Corporal, MP and Medic.
Day one saw the first 77 mile cycle, along Watling Street (more commonly known as the A5) to take us to Milton Keynes.
The best laid plans… Day 1 of the Poppy Ride and despite thinking we had planned every last detail it’s the things you didn’t consider which bite you in the bum. Like the roadworks on the A5 in Hinckley which forced the riders into a mile long, single lane corridor of cones with only HGV’s for company. The riding is hard enough but you really notice how busy the roads are when you are cycling at 12mph.
And another thing, what is the story with the weather? When you plan a ride for late September you expect the day to start off cool but 8 degrees C is decidedly chilly. Then by lunchtime it is well over 20 degrees and everyone is having to top up their drinks bottles. Still as long as the hotel is where it should be at the end of the first day… Er ‘No’. Instead of being in the Holiday Inn Express Milton Keynes we arrive to find we are in the Holiday Inn. Still we’ll be able to get a slap up meal… Er ‘No’, they have two weddings on and the restaurant is closed.
Top Marks to Marion and the team at The Black Horse, Great Linford who moved heaven and earth to feed 19 Poppy Ride team members at 90 minutes notice on a Saturday night. Oh and the food was great!
Time now for some much needed rest and recuperation, ahead of another challenging day tomorrow.