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Team Hope cross the finishing line at the Prudential London – Surrey cycle challenge!

Our three dedicated fundraisers Stephen Bawtree, Laura Carter (was Roberts) and Mark Carter who took on the mammoth 100 mile bike ride from London to Surrey have completed their challenge and have been kind enough to share with us their experience (along with some photos of them in their HfT branded sports gear!) We would like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to all three – it’s an incredible achievement and we are so grateful for your support.

Stephen Bawtree says of the challenge:

“I ramped up my training before the event covering ever greater distances, additional climbs and managed my fluid intakes to cope with hot weather! (You might guess that in the event I only drank one and a bit of my bottled drinks!)

The day started leaving the hotel at 5:15am and riding across London joining up with ever more cyclists. The instructions advised leaving an hour to cross the Olympic Park and they were spot on. There are two photos in the assembly area just before the rain started. We then inched our way to the start and the excitement mounted for my 7:20 am ride out with, as you can see, quite a few friends! Riding out through London on closed roads was a huge thrill. The rain had set in and following riders closely meant a face of cold wet spray but the excitement meant this didn’t matter. Passing Wimbledon Common and Crossing Richmond Park and Hampton Court Park It was raining quite hard but I was into my rhythm and overtaking lots of riders. I stopped at the latter for a brief snack bar before setting off south. There were a huge number of punctures, possibly 300 or more on the day, probably accentuated by the amount of debris on the roads. Unfortunately there were also some five accidents I saw.

The first of the hills (5%) at Newlands Corner seemed a breeze compared to my practice run, then off to the big one at Leith Hill. Again having tackled it once before it was much less intimidating and I was pleased to be on the right passing many riders, but with the occasional super rider zooming past us all. At the summit we were in misty cloud. Box Hill was fun being 5% and super smooth tarmac but again with cloud at the top and really strong gusts of wind (35mph!) After that, apart from Wimbledon all the climbs were done and it was a thirty mile ride to the finish.

The organisation was superb and the event supported by an army of helpful marshals.

The crowds provided really inspiring help. I shall always remember the poster down in Surrey at the half way point when I was cold, wet and the wind was gusting, the poster said “fit man, there are only eight bikes ahead” It made me laugh since there were some 27,000 of us .Then there was the general rallying cry as we past “Well done, if you can do this you can do anything” It gives me goose bumps even now! Riding back through Dorking we were greeted by the Town Crier and a steel band and a really big crowd. As we came back into London the crowds got bigger and ever more enthusiastic. The two girls shouting encouragement on the Wimbledon Hill really helped when I had lost my rhythm and strength on the Hill, they shouted “come on it’s the last hill you’ve nearly done it ,downhill now and Prince Charles is waiting for you” That really picked me up .

When I got back to the embankment and knew I was going to do it I had tears in my eyes, so I told myself to focus and redoubled my efforts to ramp up my speed and then positioned myself for my sprint down the Mall.

Thank you to all at Hope for Tomorrow and involved in Prudential Ride London. It was a privilege to ride and complete the course. I hope to have raised, including last year’s ride, in excess of £8,000 for a very important charity and would hope to continue to help in any way I can. My photo attached here shows a very proud 66 year old who achieved an average speed of just over 18 mph for the 100 miles”

Stephen Bawtree with his medal at the finish line of the Prudential London - Surrey bike ride   
Keep checking for further stories and photos from the cycling trio…

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