I had the bare bones of this idea back in early 2013, to fly into Geneva and ride over every major pass possible before flying home from Nice. I had a generous friend of mine, Dave Eckersall, create a website with the idea everyone signing up would raise sponsorship money.
Unfortunately a few things happened that put a stop to it, or at least put it on hold.
Fast forward to August 2014, I was busily hunting for co-sponsors for Team Chronomaster, emailing local businesses and businessmen who I knew had an interest in cycling. One of the replies I got wanted to talk about more than sponsorship, as I would learn over the next 10 months, he likes to talk a lot!! Welcome on board Ste Pritchard and his company, Matrix 247.
Ste, team boss Neil and myself had a few meetings to talk about sponsorship, but also to discuss how we could incorporate fundraising for Bolton Lads and Girls Club, the largest Youth Club in the UK.
I had outlined plans for a team charity ride based on my original 2013 idea in my mail-drop to potential sponsors and this was clearly what Ste was keen to be involved in, as a patron of BLGC he’s always thinking how to help raise the £7000.00 per day needed to keep their door open.
By September BLGC had given us their full backing, Ste was busy raising the profile of the event, now called “Out of this World Challenge” and I had the route completed in detail.
Over the next nine and a half months I realised I had seriously underestimated the work required to get to the start in Geneva, it became a mammoth task but one that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I had estimated we could manage 15-20 charity riders whilst out there, taking into account one vehicle, bike space on the plane, hotel beds etc. Each of the riders from Team Chronomaster was assigned 4 charity riders to mentor and advise over the coming winter and leading up to the departure, help with nutrition and equipment and ride with the charity riders where possible. By June, with Ste’s promotional skills the numbers had grown to 27 charity riders and 7 team riders!
So that’s how it started, the guys all trained hard through winter joining us on our Saturday morning training rides on many occasions, we organised a fully supported ‘test-ride’ to Hebden Bridge and Neil started a Tuesday evening ride once the light nights arrived which happily continues post trip!
June 15th: http://app.strava.com/routes/1151366
Departure from Liverpool airport! Everyone arrived at Liverpool on time (apart from Neil who’d forgotten the sat-nav for one of the support vehicles!), all smiles and excited we boarded the plane, some of us in our custom “Out of this World Challenge / BLGC” cycling kit!
We landed in Geneva at 4:30pm, I’d informed the first nights hotel we’d be arriving at 9pm and evening meal was set for 9.30pm. That might sound like plenty of time to ride the 27 miles but with 34 cyclist’s unpacking their bikes and building them back up, two mini-buses and a box trailer to collect, 34 bike bags/boxes to be packed away into a separate vehicle for storage before meeting us in Nice and a major city to navigate, I figured we’d be right on the limit, if we got lost in Geneva it may be dark by the time we arrive.
Fortunately everything went exactly to plan and we arrived at the hotel at 8:50pm! Both buses arrived shortly afterwards having been stuck in traffic from the airport, unfortunately Ste had to jump in the bus for this ride, he mistakenly left his headset spacers at home when packing his bike, easily solved the following day and he was fine for the rest of the trip.
There’ll be more reports from the team on the next 7 days to Nice to come, I’ve said it already but huge thanks to Jim Hall for helping the support guys – Neil Wood, Neil Higgins, Tony Lowe and Paul Beech – thanks to all of you! Also massive well done to all the charity riders, I know the Alps, Dolomites and Pyrenees pretty well and can honestly say you won’t find a harder 8 days riding! Well, maybe not until the next one 😉
Thanks for reading!