The idea had seemed simple enough and eminently achievable nine months ago when it was first discussed over a postride beer with colleagues, writes Presales Consultancy team lead Richard Crump.
Take the longest day of the year, watch sunrise from the beach in Bournemouth, get on our bikes and ride 140 miles to a beach on the north coast of Cornwall, in time to catch a beautiful sunset into the Atlantic Ocean.
Twenty-three of my colleagues liked the idea enough to sign up to ride or provide support.
Nine months of planning quickly passed by and come Monday morning, 18 riders, a support van and car awaited the start.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, for a start it was raining. A lot. Much to my surprise, everywhere I looked I saw stiff upper lips. In fact, everyone looked genuinely happy to be part of this big adventure. A quick group photo was taken at 4.54am and we set off into the rain.
Four stops were planned along the route at 30 mile intervals. The first stretch to Poundbury saw the worst of the conditions with relentless rain. All attempts to stay dry were quickly abandoned. At Poundbury we found brief respite in the Waitrose café. Eighteen very wet cyclists in lycra and hi-vis made quite a sight and also quite a mess.
From about 10.00am, the rain started to ease off as we approached the hills of the Dorset and Devon. The rhythm for the remainder of the ride more or less followed suit – climb a hill, descend a hill – with the occasional pit stop and puncture.
At 6.30pm, the first group arrived at Widemouth Bay, with the remaining two groups arriving by 8.00pm.
Our finish line was a hotel overlooking the beach and a well earned pint. Despite this being the furthest distance most riders had ever attempted, not a single person had withdrawn.
At 9.35pm, the weary, but elated cyclists assembled on the beach for our sunset photo. It wasn’t quite the dramatic sunset we had hoped for, but I think by then, no one really cared!
I would like to thank all of the people at OS who helped me prepare for this event. A special thank you to the four support crew of Claire Pook, Alan Rolfe, John Hope and James Wardroper. They all willingly volunteered to get up at 4.00am to drive the support vehicles, organise the rest stops, pitch the tents and generally provide encouragement. You were amazing!
Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who has contributed to our fundraising. We have exceeded our goal of raising £2,000 for Solent Mind, which is a great achievement. You can still donate via the Justgiving page I’ve been asked already whether we plan to do this event or something similar next year. Well, the sunset wasn’t quite perfect, so yes there is a great reason to go again. Only this time we’ll have to go further west in search of the sun!.