In a series dedicated to our Dedicated Few – riders who’ve made the annual pilgrimage with us every year since day 1 – Steve shares some of his favourite war stories.
Back in 1984 I started working for Andy & Rod and worked for them for nearly 6 years. We’ve always remained in touch and back in 2009 Rod told me that I had to join him on a charity bike ride which turned out to Egypt in 2010. Sort of difficult to say no to Rod and I’ve done all the overseas rides except Cuba.
When Rod & Alex started the Heavy Metal Truants, they want a few, shall we say, experienced hands to help along the way and I was delighted to be invited. In truth, I think they looked at me and decided I’d make them both look like good cyclists!! Again, how could I refuse Lord Rod?!!
I take a great pride in being an ever-present Heavy Metal Truant and at 62, I’m delighted I can still complete this very challenging ride. In the end though, you just have to think about what you’re doing for those fantastic charities we support and that’s why I keep coming back for more. It is a challenge with a very long middle day and some serious hills. A tendency to think it’s all over when you reach Leicester and “only” another 30 miles the next morning. However, Leicestershire has some serious hills and that 30-mile slog is no picnic.
I think the worst moments for me are leading up to the ride and wondering if I’ve done enough training plus, once you get to know the route, thinking of the next bloody hill that’s just around the corner. Especially that long difficult hill just before lunch on the Thursday!! However, I always head straight to the bar when I reach Leicester and have one (or maybe three!!) pints of Guinness as my reward before sinking into a hot bath.
The really good feeling is the last slow cycle up to Donnington and riding in to what is usually a fantastic reception. Knowing you’ve achieved something special, always with some new faces plus lots old friends resulting in a very, very special camaraderie. But the real buzz – knowing you’ve done something to help those less fortunate than you. That’s what really keeps us peddling!!