Stuart Wilks - My 1500 Challenge
Well, this is all lasting a lot longer than anyone imagined. Dark, gloomy days of rain, ice and snow merge into one, and still we find ourselves locked in, unable to leave the house for anything beyond essential work, food and exercise. Or, as may have happened today, an emergency crème egg…
Who would have thought, 12 months ago when the Brighton super-spreader arrived back from his travels, we would still be faced with weeks of lockdown in February 2021? Where the most exciting activity of the week is the trip to the click and collect point to see what you ordered. And highlights include finding imaginative ways to vary the daily exercise or planning the coming week’s meals leading up to takeaway day (Thursday in this house).
The pandemic has changed the way we work, the way we travel and even the way we think about each other. It’s brought about changes we are unlikely to ever forget or easily give up.
Of course, it’s also changed cycle to MIPIM, too. After the cancellation of the ride in 2020, the epic ride won’t be back to normal anytime soon. Hopefully this isn’t permanent, but who would happily share a room with a stranger this spring? Who of us would be keen to jump on a coach full of wet cycling kit and sweating bodies? Who even fancies heading into the sea of people at Ma Nolan’s again?
But the people who needed our help in 2019 and before that are still in need of our help today. Charities have suffered, with one in ten expecting to be unable to survive and over 80% suffering a drop in income. We can’t group ride, we can’t organise marathons. Sportives are off and even the great British coffee morning is cancelled. So, there’s no money for the people who need help or the people who help them.
As a result, Club Peloton have asked us to step up and help out Coram and their other charity partners, Cyclists Fighting Cancer, MSA Trust and Tom’s Trust. Anyone who’s attended those dinners with Carol Homden (CEO of Coram) on the way to Cannes, can’t help but be moved by the impact of the charity’s work upon children far less lucky than most of us. They need our help now, more than ever before.
However: this gives us an opportunity!
Usually at this time of year, Club Peloton would be weeks from riding from London to Cannes on Cycle to MIPIM. As a rider, you’d have to give up 6 days of work (or beg the boss if you can). Then you fork out a small fortune in kit, entry and other costs, even before you started training... As an alternative, Club Peloton have created ‘The 1500’ - a spectacularly imaginative initiative, allowing anyone to come up with their own challenge around the numbers in the title. And you don’t have to be loaded or particularly super-fit to get involved. This could be the most inclusive and welcoming challenge ever organised by the team at Club Peloton.
Me? I’m hoping to ride 150 laps of the ‘church hill circuit’ near Basildon – the toughest Hill Climb loop in Essex (I think). Granted, that’s a bit like saying ‘the toughest walk in Regents Park’ but it’ll test me nonetheless.
For the nerds: the hill reaches a peak gradient of 19.4% - albeit for about 2 metres, but it’s there! And lasts 0.9 miles in total. My fastest average speed was 8.4mph – the fastest overall is around 15mph. The whole loop is about 3 miles. So – 150 loops, over the course of three months, gives me a very reasonable 450 miles and 40,500 feet. Not too bad.
At the moment, the plan is to do it all on my old Merida Scultura. I might not always wear my best denim, but who knows! If we’re allowed, we might even be able to see each other on a ride for the 1500 some time in Essex, and I’ll show you the hill. Good luck!
Stuart Wilks, Limeslade