I have to start by saying, ‘what a fantastic day.’
During the Giro di Toscana Bath Rugby Foundation offers two rides on each day, one of between 50-60 miles and one in the region of 80-90 miles. Surprisingly there are still lots of people opting for the longer rides with the shorter option taken up predominantly by people who have only been cycling for a few months. I’m so impressed by the number of people who decided to take on this challenge earlier in the year and either hadn’t cycled since childhood or in the case of a few, had never cycled. Having started by cycling a few miles over relatively flat terrain, they’re now taking on courses of 50+ miles and a few thousand feet of climbing (uphill cycling).
It’s not fair to give any names but here are two genuine quotes from people talking to me today.
One person aged 56 said, ‘I honestly think this is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life,’ another said ‘they could not believe how supportive all the people in their team were.’ These comments made me realise something, I’d not previously thought about.
Throughout my life I’ve had an involvement in sport, predominantly team sports ranging from football and cricket, through to athletics and rugby. So the concept of ‘team’ had been with me from an early age. What dawned on me is many people have not necessary had a life full of sport and certainly not team sport. So when they join our cycling challenges and are placed in groups with people of a similar ability, within just a few hours the team dynamic starts to form and I’ll guarantee there will be some strong bonds formed between team members during the course of this Bath Rugby Foundation Giro Di Toscana, and no doubt a few sad faces as people depart on Sunday.
We have nine groups of differing abilities and nine ‘lead riders’ who take charge of the respective groups each with 8-12 riders. From the feedback I’ve received all lead riders have done an outstanding job. However, there’s one group I wish to ‘single out’…our volunteers. They have been amazing, believe me when you arrive at a pitstop after a massive hill climb, or perhaps 30 miles of non stop cycling, the enthusiastic smiley faces of our volunteers are so welcoming. It’s as if nothing is too much trouble, and they just want everyone to succeed in reaching the end of each day having completed their personal cycling challenge. HUGE THANKS from all the participants, so many of them have made reference to how great you all are.
After two days our cyclists have completed circa 12,000 miles (halfway around the word!) in order to raise money for the Foundation, with the longest day of cycling to come tomorrow!
There will be many aching limbs, sore backsides and tired bodies tomorrow night but I know everyone will feel that wonderful feeling when you’ve shared some pain and shared an achievement. Our cyclists, volunteers and support staff will know they’ve experienced something special.