On Sunday July 26, I completed the well-known London-Cambridge cycle ride together with nearly 30 brave men and women from Cambridge Assessment to raise money for Breast Cancer Research.
This 60 mile route takes you through the beautiful countryside of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. Starting from Pickett's Lock in north London, the ride winds through beautiful countryside to the finish at Midsummer Common in the heart of Cambridge.
As soon as I heard Cambridge Assessment will be pulling a team together, I signed up for the challenge and before I knew it, the big day was there.
I am not new to cycling, but I have picked up road riding only recently. Being more of a free spirit who sticks to natural trails and woods, I find road riding rather challenging. It requires discipline (scarce by nature), planning and, essentially, a lot more time in the saddle.
To eliminate any errors on my side, I carefully prepared my cycling kit for the ride the night before (listed and pictured at the bottom of this blog). Packing light for a road ride is a true challenge and so is a healthy breakfast that will keep you fuelled on longer rides.
At a rather unsociable hour of 5.30am I met the rest of the Cambridge Assessment team and other keen cyclists on Midsummer Common to be taken by a coach to the start of the ride in London. Bicycles were carefully tucked in bubble wrap (pictured) travelling in a convoy of lorries and, whilst stunning sunrise gave us all a ray of hope against grim weather forecast, I could think of only two things that must have been on every rider’s mind: Am I going to see my bike again? How will I survive the rain?
We arrived to London at 8am. Having done the ride seven years ago, I somewhat missed the creative souls in their bright costumes and a sparse crowd at the start didn’t look inviting either. The only excuse I could think of was the 70% likelihood of rain on my weather app.
It was nice to get the Cambridge Assessment team together for a group photo (pictured top). This was probably the only time we all could show off our matching jerseys which got covered by rain jackets within the first hour of the ride. And off we went.
It is extremely challenging to ride with a group of people that you may have never shared a ride before especially when trying to navigate your way out of London. I was fortunate to have a reliable ‘partner in crime’ who has taught me one thing very well: ‘choosing your wheel carefully’. So I did. The two of us pedalled together till the finish line.
It rained for the most of the ride and we didn’t really make time to stop and enjoy the local treats at dedicated rest points. If this was my first ride, I would think again whether I’d be willing to get on my bike again. What made it for me was having someone to laugh with when your thighs are seizing up and when you’re desperately trying to stay positive as the rain and dirt from the riders in the front of you is constantly ‘refreshing’ your face.
We finished the ride in a very respectable 03:25 and the cheering crowd at Midsummer Common did put a smile on my tired face. Cold and wet do not go well together and, sadly, we left for a warm cuppa and cake before the rest of the brave women and men from Cambridge Assessment crossed the finish line. I do, however, know they ALL made it, so here’s to the fast and the furious of Cambridge Assessment!
Communications and Events Manager, Cambridge Assessment Network
What to pack for a day long ride...
- Cycling shorts
- A jersey with pockets
- Cycling gloves
- Lightweight waterproof jacket
- Cycling cap (a luxury that stopped the rain dripping from the helmet)
- Glasses (a useful shield from midges)
- Puncture repair kit (spare inner tube, a small pump, tire leavers)
- 1-2 water bottles
- Cycling shoes (a bonus)
- A working bicycle
- ..and lots of positive energy