Julian Mack, Founder of Threshold Sports reflects on this year’s Ride.
We need a training plan for the Deloitte Ride Across Britain come down. Rudely jettisoned back in to real life, continuing to point at road ruts, bellowing ‘car down’ on the school run, squinting for white out of blue arrows, bamboozled by even the simplest task in the kitchen, I’m missing the ride vibe and, of course, Lulu. Worst of all, like a returning gap year student, people are interested in your first two stories but not the third. You had to be there right? How do you capture even a fragment of the life-affirming journey that was the 2016 Deloitte Ride Across Britain bubble?
Let’s start with a new acronym (no, not FIGJAM), but HPWB, High Pressure Weather Bubble. Needless to say, I’ve given rider number 15, Priest Matt Anscombe of the St Bernadette Parish, a free pass for the next 30 years. Not only does the sun make the act of cycling comfortable, it presents the 23 counties in majestic colour; breathless sightseeing at its finest. You only have to look at these videos to see what I mean – England / Scotland. Even Ben Nevis came out to play.
Each will have their own highlight. Mine was riding the Deloitte three peaks: Col de Cothelstone, Shap & Borlum. The descent off the Borlum zenith was biblical, riding through and over to the wide expanse of glorious, godly Scottish wonder. I realised at that moment, Threshold’s purpose in life, the thing we know something about that might not happen unless we take responsibility for it, is to take people through this kind of scenery as safely as we can, and to stretch their physical and mental aspirations. I know it worked because a significant quantum of people told me Deloitte Ride Across Britain had been the best experience of their life. Finishing line euphoria? Maybe. But what a buzz to hug a rider in tears, telling you it meant the world to them.
Then, the characters emerging slowly like a rhododendron in May. Keith Stewart of the Deloitte Newcastle parish forsaking his own performance goals on one day to help in Rosabel Kilgour a gutsy 19 year old (hybrid/trainers) who is raising money for a Raleigh International. On the strength of her character, I’m in for a donation, maybe you are too?
The slightly bewildered Team Dimension Data riders, Johann and Jay, fresh from the Tour of Britain win, who had totally grasped it by the Chepstow pit stop and, at the other end of the peloton, Iain Whyte, with his relentless cheerfulness despite the physical toll the ride was taking on him. The standing ovation he received for the ‘more is in you’ award will live with me for a long time.
It’s impossible to capture all the small acts of kindness from a white van man pulling over a rider for what he thought would be the usual rant, instead to be handed a tenner for his sweaty endeavour, or the mystery ‘Roger’ in the Lake District who drove home to grab a cleat for Michael Baker to keep his dream alive. Who will ever forget Kat and her Dad? Supporting his daughter every inch of the way as she rode to raise over five thousand pounds for Macmillian in memory of her sister. Kat of the, “I haven’t come this far to come this far’ trumping me in the quote stakes in one marvellous intervention. Or, Mark Bullock, of the Balfour Beatty parish (£160k raised), who gave us all a lesson in optimism, grit and humility. We wish you well Mark with your fight against throat cancer. I know you’ll win – your wife has signed you up for 2017 by the way!
Some light-hearted folks say Deloitte Ride Across Britain is a fund raising (£700k and counting) eatathon punctuated by some cool cycling. Jolted from the ordinary rut, it’s a chance, free from the tyranny of technology to reconnect with some of the most precious things in life; selflessness, companionship, banter, savouring the moment free from past regret and future anxiety, the sheer simple beauty of self-propulsion pushing on when strength has deserted you. It’s human nature at its most affirming.
Thank you Deloitte, the BPA, all our sponsors, partners, suppliers, the crew and most of all you the riders, the actors in this most marvellous of two wheeled dramas.
Do get in touch with me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are considering a corporate challenge or a fund raising endeavour in 2017. We’d love to help.
Julian Mack, Threshold Founder, proud finisher of Deloitte Ride Across Britain 2012 & the Deloitte 3 Peaks, 2016
Entries are open for 2017, check out our brand new packages here www.rideacrossbritain.com