Steve was one of our Ride For a Roof Cyclists, he is also an EBAT parent and a great friend to the foundation, this is his story...It's not too late do donate to Ride For a Roof, click here to show your support: Well where do I start with this one as I met up with a few people that I either hardly knew or have never met in Richards case however we were all there for one reason to raise money for a roof at the EBAT Academy. The morning started for me taking a early morning call from Mark Matthews at BBC Radio Suffolk asking questions about our challenge, and what was in store for us over the next 3 days. Soon after, I said goodbye to my loved ones and cycled up to Rushmere Sports Centre to meet the RFAR Team. Day 1 Ipswich - Queens We all arrived at Rushmere and the conversation was loose, photographs were taken and the route discussed, before I knew it we were on our way. We headed out of Ipswich heading towards Manningtree where we hit hill number one and it was a monster! After 2 hours riding we were going along well, our first stop of the day was somewhere near Tiptree we grabbed some vital sustenance and a had a quick session with Alasdair's (our RFAR physio and leg saver!) magic hands. It was then onwards and upwards to Chelmsford...
After our second stop the roads began to get more hilly and the traffic heavier and faster we needed to keep our wits about us as we headed towards the outskirts of London. As London traffic is always crazy ad we had managed to get split up from the support vehicle we headed into the City, I lead us to Towerbridge where we knew the team were waiting after a quick pit stop and a drink we were on our way to our final stop of the day, Queens.
We arrived at around 7pm for some photos and a quick look around as food and sleep was on our minds. This is where we said goodbye to Nino as he had other commitments to fulfil back in Ipswich the following day however we were all so happy to have had him with us for the first day. By the time we arrived at the hotel it was getting late but we needed Alasdair more than ever and this man was amazing as he pulled Ben and I around with the help of the compression boots and his magic hands!
Picture: Steve in his compression boots!
Day 2 Queens to Eastbourne
We woke up exhausted, except for Alasdair who was already up and out taking care of some business he had lined up. Heidi drove us back to Queens where we had another Heidi waiting for us from CNN to take our first interview!
Getting out of London was a challenge as we had no clue to where we were going, so keeping up with the van was essential and having Richard (Ben's Dad) behind us was also a massive help! We soon hit a hill heading out of London that made that Wherstead hill look like a bump in the road as it must have gone on up for 2 miles and with aching legs this was no treat, however we pushed hard and made it up and out of London.
As we got further out of the City the hills kept coming and it seemed like we rode up only to head back down to start the next hill and believe me this was hard work. The Biggest hill was yet to come as we rode up the South Downs, it took us nearly an hour to complete and must have been at least 5-6 miles up it was brutal but never the less well worth doing just to know you can do it and the view was amazing too.
We then set off again and headed to the coast taking in one more stop along the way 20 miles out of Eastbourne. As we rode the roads into Eastbourne the our minds were started to think about the finish, we powered ahead and made it to the beach front and then on to Devonshire Park Lawn tennis Club. Heidi had booked us in to a fantastic hotel where, on arrival we were welcomed by the owner Jane. We had some more treatment by Alasdair and then headed out for some grub before climbing out tired bodies in to bed for some much needed sleep.
When we all woke up after a good nights sleep we headed upstairs to breakfast and bless Jane as she had a lovely breakfast waiting for us, she was great lady with lots of energy and was full of enthusiasm for our cause. After packing up the van and myself and Ben dressing into our biking gear ready for another day on the road Heidi went to settle our bill and again bless Jane as she would not take anything for it, thank you for your lovely donation and for making us so welcome!Picture: Jane and the gang in Eastbourne! The third and final day: Eastbourne to Wimbledon We left Eastbourne to a damp morning with thoughts of some of those nasty hills ahead but we had decided the night before to go a more direct route back to London and how glad were we that Alasdair and Richard had worked this one out! We still had some hills to climb but nothing like the day before. Most of our ride once we were out of Eastbourne was on the A22 which was more direct.
Ben and I had a good chat and reflected on our few days in the saddle and what we had planned ahead when all this was over before we jumped on the bikes for that last little stretch heading through the town and down Wimbledon hill where the CNN cameras were waiting for us and loads of people for the tennis not two crazy guys on bikes! However a few heads were turned to see what was going on and what all the fuss was about. It was a case of the filming of us entering Wimbledon and a few photo's and after that it was clear we had finished our ride and how fitting it was that our team was there to share that with us.
Picture: Ben and Steve cycling in to Wimbledon
This was truly an amazing experience and I feel I have made some friends for life, thank you to everyone who has donated so far and of course to the RFAR team for their support throughout the ride, we really couldn't have done it without you.
It's not too late do donate to Ride For a Roof, click here to show your support.
To see the full gallery of pictures from the ride please visit the Ride For A Roof website here: http://www.rideforaroof.com/uncategorized/rfar-they-did-it/