A summer of cycling
With the Tour de France starting in Yorkshire in July, this will certainly be a summer of cycling.
If you know me outside of work, you will be aware that I’m a keen cyclist. Before my family commitments grew I was a member of the Kingston Wheelers cycling club when it only had about 30 members (it now has several hundred). I rode with the club every Sunday morning and took part in the occasional time trial or road race. I still wear their kit, although it is getting rather threadbare now.
In recent years the only cycling I have managed is my commute to work. This all changed recently when my colleague Andrew Hill invited me to ride the first stage of the Tour de France with him.
The first stage of the Grand Départ of Le Tour takes riders through fantastic Yorkshire countryside on a 128 mile ride through the Dales from Leeds to Harrogate on 5th July. Seeing a British rider in yellow (the previous winner of Le Tour – Chris Froome – wears the yellow jersey on stage 1) riding the largest cycle race on earth at the end of our road in Ripon will be a truly memorable occasion.
As part of the cultural festival being held in Ripon in the run-up to the Grand Départ, the Ripon Choral Society are giving a concert on Saturday 21st June. As chairman of the Choral Society, Andrew thought it would be fun to ride the first stage of Le Tour on the day of the concert and arrive back in Ripon in time to sing at 7.30pm that evening. This will require a 6am start in Leeds and an anticipated 12 hours of riding to finish in Harrogate with enough time to return to Ripon and prepare for the concert.
I agreed to join the small peloton of riders he’s gathering to support him on the ride. We’ve got a couple of good rouleurs who will help on the flatter sections and I’m aiming to help set the pace on the climbs. It will certainly be a gruelling ride. I’ve never ridden more than 120 miles in a day and the last time I did that was many years ago. So if you’re on the route on 21st June, please give us a shout of encouragement!
I’m using this ride as training for the NPSCC Tour of Yorkshire charity bike ride on 19-20th July. This is a fully-supported ride through North Yorkshire which covers 180 miles over the two days. If I’ve still got anything left in my legs, there’s a 30-minute race on the York Cycle Circuit next to the University of York afterwards!
As well as hopefully having a bit of fun, I’m hoping to raise some money for NSPCC along the way. If you’re able to spare a few pounds, please consider making a donation at virginmoneygiving.com/MartinWebber1.