5 June 2016
A huge 8,000 riders took to closed roads on 5 June and toured Cambridgeshire on a circuit which began and ended at Peterborough, and took in the beautiful countryside around Woodwalton and Upwood along the way.
Personally, I’m very much a utility cyclist, although I do love the times when I can spend a day, or even a week, on a bike. But racing, well, it’s not something that’s ever really done it for me. I love to watch the Tour de France (especially when it was here in Cambridge) and enjoy the thrill of the racers showing off just how efficiently human and machine can combine to create power. I’d love to imagine I could ride as well as them, but I know the reality is something rather different.
Even so, when I saw that there was going to be a ‘Tour of Cambridgeshire’, as part of the Union Cycliste Internationale programme this year, which would accommodate amateurs as well as professionals, on closed roads, I was seriously tempted. I’ve never had the chance to ride on closed roads. Nonetheless, I might just not have got around to registering had I not seen that Alzheimer’s Research UK, a fantastic organisation I’ve worked with before, was one of the charities associated with the race – so I could do something to help them out. I was sold.
On the day, it was gloriously sunny as we drove to Peterborough for the start. The showground there had turned into a bike convention: thousands of cyclists, and stalls selling the latest wheels and clothing as well as, reassuringly, coffee and burgers.
As we finally started, behind the serious racers, there was an amazing sense of unity. Thousands of us covering the roads, in a lovely multi-coloured smear. And it was lovely not to have to worry about cars coming nearby and doing silly things – although fast-moving bikes can also be a bit scary (and very quiet). Most of the villages we went through had really engaged with the experience, with hundreds of people sitting by the side of the road, drinking, relaxing, and cheering us on. It was amazing to be part of such a wonderful event.
At the end, my girlfriend and I flew through the finishing line after 4:20:56, tired and happy. More importantly, thanks to the generosity of so many people, we raised over £4,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK. So overall, a great day, a great cause, and a great experience. Now please excuse me, I need to train for next year.