Andrew and Sean raised a tremendous £2,768 for Mitrofanoff Support by completing the epic Ride London 100 cycling event on Sunday 4 August 2019. In an exclusive interview they reveal the inside story of their 100 miles of pain:
1) What do you like about cycling?
Andrew: It literally gets you out of the house. Tactically, this can be a good move if the family has voted to watch another episode of Downtown Abbey. It is also a genuinely fun way to exercise that means you can get a far wider range of scenery than going to the gym or out running.
Sean: I like cycling because you can cheat in that you can sit behind a big person like Andrew and do 30% less effort for the same distance!
2) What other events have you taken part in? Was RL100 the most demanding?
Sean: Andrew and I have done a number of self-determined challenges (Coast to Coast, Bristol to Reading on the Kennet & Avon towpath, Tour de Isle of Wight, etc) and some sportives but never anything as big as RL100
Andrew: Quite a few as Sean says, but nothing that combined that degree of hills and distance.
3) How did the training go?
Andrew: As always with these things, there could have been more of it. Trying to fit it in round busy home and work schedules meant only once had I done more than 50 miles as a training ride, and so leaving a certain degree of jeopardy for the day itself.
Sean: Training was the worst bit. I started too late and then needed to find the time and make sacrifices that I struggled to make, so getting in at midnight after a few beers to get up at 6am to ride 50 miles in the rain was not great. Also nearly hitting a tractor and giant crane head-on along quiet country lanes wasn't what I bargained for - I don't think Team Sky had that to deal with in their Majorca training camp!
4) What was the atmosphere like on the day?
Sean: The crowds were great - even at 6am and considering the event took over all their local roads, they were very forgiving. Although I didn't see Neil at the 5am start to wish us on our way - probably just missed him. (Editor’s note: I was there in spirit!)
Andrew: I was surprised by the number of people who were prepared to stand on the roadside and cheer on thousands of cyclists they didn’t know! The encouragement really helped. The continual buzzing of my phone as Neil frequently posted updates of our progress on the WhatsApp group provided a source of virtual “encouragement”.
5) Tell us a little about the route
Sean: The route was amazing! We had the opportunity to cycle through central London on a sightseeing trip of all the famous landmarks with no traffic, and skip all the traffic lights! Then it was out to the Surrey hills - everyone talks about the 2012 Olympics and how Box Hill was the "big one", but actually Leith Hill before that was much harder.
Andrew: The two big hills that Sean mentioned loomed large on the route, especially given you had to cycle over 60 miles to get to them. But there is always the reward coming off the back of those hills, getting up some speed, and sweeping down the other side. Cycling through to the finish past the Houses of Parliament, Horse Guards Parade and into the Mall with those big crowds was pretty special too.
6) Were you pleased with your time?
Andrew: Very pleased with the time. Cycling for 5.5 hrs averaging 18 mph over that course was far faster than we were expecting.
Sean: So pleased with the time, we did it much quicker than we expected. However, we could have gone faster if Andrew had not been obsessed by the amount and variety of free food at the food stations. I imagine he still has a RL100 sponsored energy bar in his packed lunch every day.
7) Anything you'd have done differently?
Andrew: A start time that didn’t involve getting up at 3.30am would have been good.
(Editor’s note: I happen to know that the early start time was their fault – the two accountants managed to mix up miles and kilometres when calculating their estimated time and got sent out early with the elite riders!)
8) What did you enjoy most about the event?
Sean: The most enjoyable part was cycling in a big group and getting the buzz of being in a "peloton". We were cycling over 20 mph consistently for hours - something you cannot do on your own.
Andrew: The sense of achievement, both that my 48 year old knees had survived that far and that we had raised a significant amount of sponsorship for the charity.
9) Why did you choose to raise money for Mitrofanoff Support?
Andrew: I have known the Lightning family for longer than they would almost certainly care to remember, and have therefore been aware of the difference the charity has made to their lives. To be able to help out in this way was not a difficult decision.
Sean: I have only known about the charity for a few years, but having been to the Summer Ball and heard the amazing stories of those affected, it felt right to support a smaller charity where the cash can make a difference.
10) What's next? Tour de France 2020?
Sean: No events planned as I hate the training, but I would love to do RL100 again and beat this year's time. I reckon the novelty of food stations would have worn off for Andrew by then.
Andrew: No sooner had we finished than Sean’s competitive nature was working out how we could shave minutes off our time - mainly through me eating less. So I think another attempt at RL100 might be somewhere out there. As a cyclist of sorts, at some point I would like to have a go at the ultimate British challenge of Lands End to John O’Groats, but just need someone to organise that ... Neil?