The phone rings and a lone voice cries out: ‘Where are the bacon butties?’
“Where are you” I respond from the seat of the Broom Wagon some 50m behind the last rider.
“35 miles in and hungry”
“Keep sniffing you’re nearly there”
35 miles is just two miles short of the half way point on last Friday’s epic Lockton bike ride. And at the half way point we’ve arranged for the local land lady to throw a spread of bacon butties and as much tea and coffee as our riders can possibly consume. Thirty five miles is also the point at which one might look over one’s shoulder and observe the long ascent up which every rider has just climbed.
From this vantage point there is space to observe it’s creeping gradient, the Tudor mansion and that rare and beautiful thing that only the sound of your beating heart brakes the silence of this place.
While, at points, the pain of a long hill climb may have been excruciating and even bewildering (why would you give up a Friday at the desk to do this?); what every participant knows is that such a struggle is as nothing compared to the thousands of people currently fighting a Brain Tumour and it’s that knowledge and a commitment to take one tiny incremental step towards a better place which has motivated every aching revolution.
Company rides somehow become that rare combination of professional team building joined with significant fund raising all rolled together in what is actually a great day out.
Some say that amongst professionals cycling is the new golf. I would never undermine cycling in that way.
At the lunch point pain is replaced with laughter as riders recollect their avoidance of the local muck spreader, the truth that nice gear doesn’t actually make you faster and the breath taking wonder of a bacon butty with four rashes of Danish goodness!
As lunch draws to an end riders regroup for the home stretch. They’re heading north along beautiful Worcestershire roads, they’re refueled and ready for more; or at least that’s what they thought to be true until about nine miles in where a sharp left hand bend gives way to reveal the sight of a red triangle declaring that the road ahead runs at 20% gradient. While my writing style is liberal it may be wise that I do not repeat verbatim the audible cries of that particular moment. It is a fine line between pain and pleasure which is most accurately described with words of one syllable and four letters.
Our team have been out since the early hours and so each rider continues confident in the knowledge that every turn will be clearly signed and that should everything go horribly wrong the broom wagon is only a short distance behind them.
Of course these riders are human beings with families, hopes and dreams, stories ofthe promotions they gained and the one’s they missed out on for reasons they still do not fully understand. These are riders who know that like life, the art of cycling is simply to keep going, digging deep and mysteriously believing that even the struggle makes us better.
As the ride returns to Birmingham’s suburbs the route joins route 5 and a more leisurely pace ensues. Before a long shower a well deserved pint and a return to the chores of life there are a few miles simply to enjoy all that has been. As children play in the adjacent park land there is time to take stock, regroup and maintain focus. What will the future hold? Will it require of me what I do not know I have? How will I act when the tank feels empty? When others struggle how will I be in the land of the open road? When the beauty of a long descent opens ahead will I dare to smile and receive every inch of goodness?
These are questions about cycling but they are also questions about life, family, business. Maybe this is why so many professionals choose to cycle to work; because in some strange unquantifiable manner cycling is part of what makes them the grafters they are.
As I park up the Broom wagon and head home I am assured of one thing. It’s been a good day. Folks enjoyed their ride. We inched closer to understanding how best we live in a world where too many are robbed by the horrors of illness. Teams got stronger and individuals were reminded they are almost certainly capable of way more than they can currently comprehend. Not a bad way to spend the day.
Thanks Lockton. Well done riders. See you all again soon.
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