You may have read in our last newsletter that Nathan, who is our apprentice, has been selected to help support the Deloittle Ride Across Britain.
This is a great opportunity for him and he is sending us regular reports and pictures to keep us updated on where they are and what's been happening. So here is the first:
I have been given the honour of supporting the Ride Across Britain as a mechanic. This involves 10 glorious days of traveling from Lands end all the way up to John O’groats, 960 miles of British roads on a bicycle.
I began my journey on, Wednesday 7th September, with a train journey from Sheffield to London (to meet with fellow support staff) I decided to go the night before to stay in a hotel as I new this would be my last opportunity to get a good night sleep, because after this its tents in the middle of a windy field in typical British weather.
Thursday morning arrives quickly, eat my cooked breakfast then off to meet my soon to be colleagues, as all mechanics are they were very friendly and put the kettle on straight away which was the exact thing needed after a hectic taxi ride in London.
We load up the vans and begin a 300 mile car journey to lands end (by the end of this journey we were already brain dead and could sleep anywhere, a tent to us was deluxe) we left all our gear to set up for the morning and went for our dinner and met all the threshold crew who setup the whole event, who again were extremely welcoming. Last but not least bed, that's all that needs to be said.
6am arrives too quickly but work started on Friday morning, we unload the van and painfully putting up 3 gazebos, which in the gale force winds with rain pellets of the coast wasn't easy. But we did it, just in time to start helping the many 600 riders with their bikes who started to arrive.
As most of these bikes had just come off a truck, the riders obviously wanted to get there bikes checked over, and if there was a world record for the number of handlebars repositioned in a day I think we got it.
There were various bikes coming to us, most makes and models you could think of, including a bike thats just been realised on this day, specialized roubiax with headset suspension. The cost of each bike varied from £500 all the way up too £8000! So we had some seriously technical bikes to deal with.
We worked flat out till 12 to get all the bikes ready for the start of the race the next day.
So the real journey begins... at the end (Lands end)
Day 1, we wake up to ‘the eye of the tiger’ blasting through the speakers at 5.30am to wake everyone up for breakfast and 7am start times.
All the riders are nervous for the start, getting there tyres pumped up and having last minute checks so the first hour was manic but by 7 most riders were ready for the start line.
I was in the support vehicle for today and already after just 50 metres, a puncture, this set the tone for the day. We got called out to several punctures/tyre blows. By the end we were almost out of tyres. We recon that tyres were expanding because of the cold night and hot sunny morning.
The hills were steep and long on route, which took its toll on a few chains that couldn't hack it. The profile for the first day was a hard one, many riders tiring from going out too hard, even some of the experienced chaparone’s were short of the timings.
As all the riders were at different levels of fitness it was rare that you find more than 2-3 riders together so this made it easier to jump passed riders to move up the field in the support car. As we passed through the pack we always tried cheer them on and made sure everything was ok. But we never saw the front as they were finished in no time.
One person captured our heart, a quite dude who its fair to say not your typical cycling figure, but he always had a smile on his face, waved to us and even managed to say “I love hills” while he was huffing up a climb using his body very efficiently on the bike.
This showed us it doesn't matter what size you are, you can still enjoy cycling. After racing to pit stops in the vehicle to help with minor repairs there were no other calls so we could just enjoy the beautiful scenery and help egg on the inspirational riders riding for various charities for various reasons.
The night was hectic however, with hundreds of bikes needing servicing as this was the first ride out for the bikes for a while, many bottom brackets, chainset changes, broken mechs, we were repairing untill 12 midnight in the pouring rain. Sleep was much needed even though it was wet it was easy just to fall asleep.
Day 2, the morning came and it was a bitterly cold one. Everyone just wanting to stay warm with drinks and do there vital warm ups. Most people this morning just wanting lube after a wet night they wanted their drivetrain to be working perfectly. We also had to finish a few repairs from the night before but nothing major.
After picking up our lunch we were ready to set of for another day in the support vehicle. On route we had a few gear adjustments to make as their chains kept falling off between the cassette and frame but again no major issues. Until we got a call 20 miles up the road of a brand new SRAM etap system stop working, so we rush off up the road. When we get to him his rear mech was completely twisted and front derailleur not moving, after spending 30mins trying to fix we couldn't, so one of our loan bikes had to be taken off the roof and out onto the road, this time with cable shifting.