Alex Partridge, bronze medal winner in the Men’s Eight at Dorney Lake and silver medallist in Beijing swaps his oar for a bike and rides the length of the country with Deloitte Ride Across Britain.
‘The Deloitte Ride Across Britain was quite simply one of the most incredible and enjoyable experiences of my life following competing at the Olympic Games in London 2012. The way the population created such a fantastic feeling of Britopia with such organisation, patriotism, and panache was unbelievable.
With my patriotism hat on, I set off on the Deloitte RAB with the idea that it would be such a great way to really see the rest of GREAT BRITAIN. The only other expectation being that I would have to cycle over 100 miles day and get used to sleeping in a tent. In the back of my head I imagined it almost as a post games training camp, but for once out of my own choice.
Well I couldn’t have imagined anything further from the truth. From the moment I got off the train in Penzance and arrived at base camp one I was blown away by the organisation and infrastructure of the nomadic village laid out before my eyes. Row upon row of an army of tents laid out with military precision, a fantastic food marquee where you could fulfil your culinary desires to your hearts content and for those as disorganised as myself spare bottles full of PowerAde for the next day. This was capped off by the two main concerns of anyone who taken part in a long cycling trip, the piece de résistance: luxurious portable toilets and most importantly powerful hot showers.
My first impression was only be surpassed time and time again over the next 10-days, riding some of the most beautiful roads in the country with the route sign posting in fantastic detail, leaving me only to worry about my stamina and the timing of my next feed. Every bend in the road, or crest of a Cornwall hill met me with breath taking views has given me memories that are just special and rewarding as the Olympic Games themselves. The more pain I was in, the better the reward was, that’s what made it special. This was where I learned so much about the greatness within people, from the smiling members of the Threshold team greeting you with a cup of warm soup, to the courage and tenacity of the other riders in the event.
I watched a mother of two young children, a whippet of woman, who had never undertaken a physical challenge of this scale before in her life, day after day leave the camp at the crack of dawn and roll in at dusk to the next base camp. I was amazed that she did not take off on one unusually windy day, let alone finish the ride. Yet every evening sat round the dining tables tucking into our 6000-calorie extravaganza she had a grin from ear to ear. She showed me how much this event can help an ordinary person like herself find so much more than they ever believed within themselves. That in itself has inspired to want to find more ways in which I can explore even deeper within my self what I am capable of, and what better way to do it than on a bike.
The views at Glen Coe, the Highlands of Scotland, the ascent up through cheddar gorge, reaching the top of Shap Fell in the pouring rain, and the great friendships I made along the ride I will take away with me forever. The Deloitte Ride Across Britain is one of the most incredible life changing experiences that have had the pleasure to be part and I can’t wait to be part of the next one.’