This Thursday, the Legal & General Real Assets pedElle 2019 will set off from Siena for Rome over three days and 400km. We talk to Ride Captain Helen Gray from Core Five LLP about her involvement in the ride, and what she’s looking forward to this year. You can follow pedElle 2019 from Thursday 20th to Saturday 22nd June on our Twitter and Instagram channels.
Firstly tell us about you, who you work for and your role there?
I’m an Associate in the commercial team at Core Five LLP, a quantity surveying firm with offices in London and Birmingham.
Tell us about your involvement with pedElle
I first rode pedElle in 2017 – the ‘hot one’ – and absolutely loved it: the camaraderie, the laughter and the challenge, all in the knowledge that we were raising money for a great cause. In 2018 I signed up for pedElle again and was invited to be a Ride Captain. It’s a great role to be asked to do and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Training and encouraging people into a sport I love and am passionate about is great fun. I organise training rides and try to offer advice and support to anyone who has concerns or queries in the run up to the event. During the event, you liaise with the lead cars and support crew to ensure the peloton is moving together, on time and in the right direction. We also look out for anyone who might be finding things a bit tough or need a bit of support… or just a few jelly babies!
This year I signed up to Cycle to MIPIM and was asked to be a Ride Captain for that too… this was a bit more daunting as I had never ridden it before and had only heard things about how tough it was! It was tough indeed but another epic experience. I had an amazing co-captain with years of MIPIM experience and thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Undertaking such an incredible journey with people quickly creates bonds and I felt humbled by the great cyclists and industry specialists I was surrounded by.
What are you most looking forward to about this year’s pedElle?
This year pedElle takes on the hills of Tuscany – Siena to Rome! I like riding hills and I am pretty excited by the challenge as we are covering 5,200km of climbing and approximately 460km. I am also looking forward to the scenery, and of course, I am hoping that there might be some good cycling recovery food along the way.
What advice would you give riders who are new to a Club Peloton event?
My top tip would be preparation – in terms of training, making sure you are comfortable on your bike, have all the necessary kit, and knowing what works for you (in terms of kit, nutrition etc.).
How do you think the ride encourages women to get involved in cycling?
I think pedElle offers a truly enjoyable and supportive environment for women to become involved in cycling. Whilst there are always exceptions, the physicality of cycling means it’s harder for women to join a mixed group as a relative beginner in the sport and feel confident and, most importantly, enjoy the experience. It’s not impossible by any means, as Cycle to MIPIM has shown, but it is a challenge and I think pedElle can offer that ‘stepping stone’ while also being an amazing experience in itself. It’s an opportunity to enjoy cycling in a non-competitive, yet challenging environment. As a Ride Captain, it’s excellent to see people go from pedElle and their first rides on a bike to go on to ride for a club, Cycle to MIPIM or happily return back to pedElle year on year!
How does pedElle help with networking and mentoring?
I’ve always been a firm believer that the bonds you create by doing and achieving things together are the strongest. PedElle and Cycle to MIPIM both provide opportunities get to know people quickly and thoroughly, and it’s always great to walk into a meeting with or pick up the phone to someone you have shared experience with. A lot of what we do on our projects is about listening and understanding people, projects and challenges, and being a Ride Captain is no different! When the light is fading, and you are 100km into a ride with another 30km to go and you’ve got half an hour of climbing ahead of you, the knowledge that you can rely on the person next to you and help each other is pretty enduring. You also have an immediate bond and connection with the communities of Cycle MIPIM and pedElle: people who rode it not in ‘your’ year, necessarily, but who have in previous years, giving you a sense of shared history and purpose raising money for Coram. I’ve made some excellent contacts and more than that, I’ve met men and women who I seek advice and mentoring from and to whom I hope I offer similar support to in return. Most importantly, I have met a wide range of amazing people who I now count as friends.
What’s your motto or good luck charm for pedElle?
Be prepared… and keep smiling!