The week leading up to Richmond24 was an interesting one. It was nervy with a massive tapering week. Riding was down to a minimum with the aim to just keep the legs spinning over, keeping the heart rate low. I actually got food poisoning for a day or so, meaning I was completely out of action for a while. This obviously got the nerves high and the heart rate rocketing worrying if I would be ok to actually do the challenge. Luckily by about Friday I was starting to feel much more alive, but I definitely was not quite 100% on the big day itself..
Preparation for the day itself was (obviously) long. The night before my friend who I train with, Ant came up to London to cook me the largest carb heavy dinner imaginable. It proved to be a pretty sleepless night, roughly 3 or 4 hours, waking up at around 5 to try and get everything ready and the car loaded. Myself, Elvis and the film crew with our amazing support crew (Ronnie and Greengrass) arrived in the park at 7:00am to get ourselves psyched up and ready to start at 8am sharp. Slowly as we got closer and closer to this deadline more friends, family and fellow cyclists were there to help us start up and joined us for a lap, or two, or three.
As the day continued we were joined by riders throughout the day and into the night. I rode one of those 54 laps on my own, which still amazes me. The support we had was unbelievable, it’s something I will never forget; the conversations, the well wishes, laughs, songs and banter which anyone who cycles will completely understand. The toughest hours for me personally I thought would be the night, but this became a point where the most interesting conversations came out in the twilight. Sean Cornell and Ele Suggett both deserve a special mention for riding with us in the darkest hours and keeping motivation high. Sean ended up riding roughly 100 miles with us with Ele clocking up over 200! As the sun started to ride I found things a lot easier. More and more people turned up again to do the early shift with us, providing fresh legs and chat and I found these hours ticking down to the 8am finish the most enjoyable. The hard work was done, the last 4 hours were almost a celebratory period.
Yes there was a target distance in mind. Collectively we wanted to hit 500km as a minimum but as this was for charity (The PACE Centre) it was much more about making as much money as possible. People arrived with their children, so obviously we wanted to ride with them. As doing this kind of challenge over this length of time was something I have never done before, it was about pacing, keeping the legs spinning and ticking off those minutes and seconds. We agreed that over the full 24 hours there would always be one of us (Elvis and myself) riding. If one needed to stop to change kit, eat or take a toilet brake the other would keep going. I had maybe 3 brake laps. In these periods I would be straight onto the turbo to keep the legs moving and spinning.
I thought that the psychological aspect of this challenge would be one of it’s toughest elements. Going round, and round, and round over 24 hours, seeing the same tree stump or the same piece of road could create a huge moral crusher, but having so many people to talk to for a lap or two definitely helped with this, it meant that you didn’t have to think so much about where you were riding and it meant that going around in circles was not as bad. This obviously wouldn’t have happened without our club and so many other riders pedalling for a lap or two.
Yes Richmond24 was and still is about fundraising for the PACE Centre. At the end of the challenge we were sitting on roughly £7,000. Ripcor’s target this year is £20,000, a huge amount so the fundraising we have received so far is a massive boost towards this, so thank you to everyone who has backed our hard work! PACE have a huge target that they need to fundraise each year so every penny really does help to transform the lives of the children who go there.
There are simply way too many people to thank. Of course I’d love to thank all of our sponsors for backing us all the way: Paria, Hunt Wheels, SBC Cycles, Buckley Performance Coaching, Pedal Bites, Verve Cycling, Le Col, Workshop Coffee, Proviz, OTE, Turnbull Ripley and Let’s Talk Films for capturing every moment, the good the bad and the ugly. Another key one to mention of course is our club, Ripcor. We really are the best cycling team in the whole world.
Lastly special mentions have to go to Veronica Cucuiat for supporting us and cheering us for the full 24 hours, Ele Suggett for keeping us going and riding so much with us, Sean Cornell for bringing the music for the night stint, Greengrass for being our surrogate father/ grandfather and checking up on us and supporting Ronnie and Treve Ripley for always being a great supporter, cyclist and friend through the highs and lows.
What’s next.. There’s a few very exciting things on the cards.. The most exciting and fastest approaching is the Gran Fondo World Championship Finals in Perth. There is also rumours of some other mad challenges happening.. Watch this space!
Photo Credit: Let’s Talk Films