Most of us have gears we never use. Well, today was certainly the day to crank through them all…
Hello Manchester and here we go with the very first day of the Northern Flyer. Last night the riders were briefed on what lay ahead whilst getting to know each other including the four Help for Heroes Band of Brothers members who are on the ride alongside them, every pedal of the way. They were also introduced to Colin the (soft toy) Cockerel. Colin has chosen to take part in Hero Ride 2014 with the simple task of accompanying one specially chosen rider every day who he thought best deserved his company as a forfeit for any slight transgressions. Certainly something that the riders were very keen to avoid!
Waking up to grey weather at the crack of dawn wasn’t enough to dampen spirits for the challenge that lay ahead; 73 miles of unforgiving, gloriously beautiful Peak District roads. Everyone woke up focussed and fully aware that today was going to be the most testing of the 4 day ride, with a total ascent/decent of over 4000 ft. hills, gorgeous views and well… more hills… bring it on!
The day began at the home of British Cycling in Manchester. The riders went on an amazing tour of the velodrome followed by the opportunity to meet H4H ambassador and triple silver Paralympic medallist, Jon-Allan Butterworth, who gave the riders a few tips for the road. Also there to set the riders off was none other than Coronation Street’s lovely Catherine Tyldesley who wished the riders the very best of luck, and following a few photographs off we went… Our mission: Burton-on-Trent by dusk.
Colin the Cockerel update: Colin was ceremonially presented to one lucky rider who had forgotten her helmet! Whoops! Colin takes safety very seriously and spent a lovely day with Helen (see picture below).
The first 30 miles was intersected with a water stop and a chance for a drink, jelly baby (or 50) and a banana at The Rams Head in Buxton. We felt great to finally get the cogs in motion and all the riders were quickly dancing on their pedals, happy to have left the big city and out into pastures new.
The route quickly changed into mile upon mile of undulating smooth tarmac of the Peak District where the view was simply breath taking - that was probably the incline! However, what goes up must come down and as the miles rolled on the riders got to enjoy the wonderful surroundings freewheeling through the fresh air of the gorgeous national park and on to a massively deserved carb fix for lunch by the church in the charming village of Ellastone.
Refuelled and ready to crack on thanks to the brilliant catering at the village hall we were on to the final 20 mile stint of day 1 heading out of the Peak District through to Burton-on-Trent. The feeling was of immense accomplishment that day 1 was nearly complete. The riders had dealt with the day amazingly and made themselves proud. Just a few straightforward miles with a water stop at Broughton Heath Golf Course remained and we all arrived at our final destination for the day in Burton, with two of the Band of Brothers leading the way after a tough but hugely inspirational day.
Day 1 DONE.
Another 77 miles through to Northampton on the cards for tomorrow. Watch this space for the next chapter of this EPIC challenge!!
Phrase of the day: Hills? What hills?!
You can support our Northern Flyer riders by sending a text message to 70900 to donate £5. You will be charged £5 plus your standard network rate. £5 goes directly to Help for Heroes. Telephone help line number is 01494 750 500.
Find out more about Hero Ride at www.heroride.org.uk