Ride For a Roof – Alasdair’s Story – Part 1

Alasdair was a key member of the Ride For a Roof team, he was Bally's physiotherapist and was a real leg saver to Ben and Steve on the ride! This is his story... It's not too late to donate to this amazing challenge, click here to make you donation. Thank you. "I am struggling to verbalise the admiration I have for both Steve and Ben, who selflessly devoted enormous amounts of time over the last 9 months to a challenge with sufficient enormity to engage a worldwide broadcaster (CNN) and a Wimbledon champion (Pat Cash) to spend nearly three hours with them, filming and talking about the Elena Baltasha Foundation. The sense of anticipation and apprehension was palpable as I arrived at the Rushmere Sports ground of Ipswich School  on Friday morning. I saw the team all looking resplendent in their official Ride for a Roof jerseys and the butterflies started!  To see Nino there too was both emotional and inspiring.  The spirit, and the force of nature that was Bally and Nino (united with their single minded cause) was going to be needed on this ride.  Three days of pushing to the very limit of what the guys were capable of, with very little room for contingency. The strength of the team was going to be essential to help push them through. The first hour was smooth, exiting Ipswich and feeding through the countryside to Colchester and onto Tiptree.  The first significant stop was at a small pub car park just outside Tiptree, and we were able to get a feel for how the riders were doing.  They were coping well, settling into a rhythm and gradually getting used to their saddles that they would have to be in for nearly 30 hours over three days, ouch! This first stop also gave the support drivers, Heidi, Nino and Richard the chance to chat tactics, we decided that there was room for a little politeness on the road, but not much. Light massage, plenty of hydration, a little more fuel, and we were off again, heading towards Maldon, and then into East London. Picture: The Support Team. From Left to right, Heidi, Alasdair and Richard. photo (23) We knew it was going to be tricky, coming through the busier roads as we neared London, but the differing pace of cars versus bikes was far greater than we anticipated. By the time we reached the A13, it was clear that Ben and Steve were a long way in front, and while we can offer soothing words over the telephone, support vehicles being a long way behind kind of negates our effectiveness!  A change of tack was needed, so the support vehicles went off plan to try and race into town on the only bit of dual carriageway that seemed to move faster than the proverbial snail. "We're just coming past Upton Park...can you stop Steve singing please?" came the plaintive cry from Ben...we suspect Steve kept his position behind Ben for two main reasons at this point.  One to revel in the hole punched in the air by the powerful Haining frame, and secondly to make sure he could be heard with his various renditions from Shania Twain to the West Ham faithful! By the time we reached Tower Bridge, the car had outrun the bikes, and we set ourselves up opposite the Tower of London to await their arrival.  Longing looks down the road revealed nothing for 10, maybe 15 minutes.  With the sheer volume of traffic, it was pretty nerve wracking for us on the ground, but for the cyclists, it must have been pretty terrifying.  You either have to be adrenaline hungry or slightly unhinged to really enjoy riding in the centre of London, on Friday afternoon, at rush hour! Finally they came at us from an entirely unexpected direction, having stopped to ask a local where to go, narrowly avoiding a massive shunt with a U-turning car, and a petrified pedestrian who didn't know which way to turn! There was definitely relief on everyone's faces as they appeared, swiftly replaced by concern for the traffic enforcement cameras that seemed to abound on Tower Hill, and the realisation that we still had the rest of London to navigate.  However, the run along the Embankment (as Richard had suggested) was relatively trouble free logistically, but certainly not physically.  The start stop nature of the ride through London changed the requirements from the cyclists, and placed a massive demand on their mental acuity.  The only real frustration for the support vehicles was being 30 yards too far behind the boys when going past major landmarks to get good photos, and there was no way we were stopping for tourist pics.  We knew we were on a tight schedule for getting to The Queens Club, as they had offered us such wonderful hospitality the last thing we wanted was to be late. Reaching Queens - destination end of day one, was a slightly unusual emotion of job done, and job only 30% done.  The guys still looked pretty fresh, which was testament to their dedication to training, but we still had a bit of a mission to get back to the hotel. Picture: Ben and Steve at The Queens Club, London Queens Nino said farewell at this point, to get back to the kids at the Academy on Saturday morning, but had successfully stuck with the crew throughout a really tough portion of the challenge, and given us extra motivation to push in the darker moments of the next few days. The Queens Club gave us bags of ice for the obligatory cool baths, and as we pulled up to the hotel  it was as if there was someone looking after us, as a yawning parking space opened up in front of us just yards from the front door! It was late by this point, so we cracked open the gift from UK Sports Products - the Recovery Boots - and set to work on some pretty tired legs. Picture: Steve in his pressure boots. 9d5e0b4b6db2763b2eac5c7f550241da (1) After treatment we got out to eat pretty late, and although the guys had re-fueled to some extent, there was still the need for proper loading.  This is often where the schedule gets difficult, you want to celebrate the small victories of the day, and talk through some of the highs and lows, but you know you should be getting your head down to sleep.  There is always compromise. Alasdair will be sharing his story from day two and tree over the coming weeks. It's not too late to donate to this amazing challenge, click here to make you donation. Thank you.  

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