The Great Yorkshire Bike Ride was first ridden in 1983 when 40 cyclists rode from Tockwith to Scarbrough to raise money for Tockwith Youth Club. After that it became an open sponsored event attracting more and more riders each year, raising lots of money for local charities. It is a very popular bike event, now attracting almost 2000 cyclists of all abilities. The Bike Ride is held on the same day every year, the 3rd Saturday after Spring Bank Holiday Monday.
Me and my wife, along with another 7 friends signed up to do the 2012 ride and had lot's of fun, whilst getting fit and raising money for Yorkshire charities at the same time.
The start is staggered so that small groups of riders set off with a couple of minutes between each group.
Although I used to be a keen cyclist in my youth and early 20's, since getting married and the arrival of children, my bike riding days had become none existent, as 'me' time with young children is an impossibility! Unfortunately during that time, middle age spread had slowly enveloped me and didn't my wife like me to know about it! My better half doesn't need to cycle to lose the weight, but my cunning plan was to get her interested in the sport so that I could bring cycling and all its benefits back into our lives, and this was the cycle challenge to act as the goal for our training!
I know how competitive my wife can be, so it wasn't long before we were out and about on our bikes at least 2 or 3 times a week. We were regularly cycling 15-20 miles each ride - hills and all! If I went out training on my bike, she would go out on hers with her friends later! We rarely get out training together, even now, as one of us usually has to look after the kids, work or do school runs; - but this is sometimes a blessing as my wife complains bitterly about my riding style!
We each tried to ensure we went out with a group of our cycling buddies for 3 reasons;
Our training consisted of at least 2 rides each week (work schedules permitting) riding locally. In the GYBR event pack we were told that the route was arround 70 miles long with 2 major climbs; Terrington Bank and Settrington Bank and some other minor climbs, the rest being a rolling route through the Yorkshire Wolds. With this in mind we tried to incorporate some local climbs into our training rides with some success.
We all learnt the benefits of keeping hydrated, one way or another, buying extra water bottles or using wearable water carriers such as the Camelbak backpacks that hold 3 or more Litres of fluid for longer rides. In hindsight we should also have done some longer distance rides too - all dayers to match the GYBR distance, unfortunately we all struggled with time so that didn't happen!
There are 2 main ways of fundraising; you can use the paper based forms you receive in your GYBR information pack. Press gang friends, family and co-workers into sponsoring. Or you can open a an internet sponsorship campaign as per the instructions in the pack. We did a combination of both. If you open the internet campaign you can be creative how you encourage sponsorship without spending too much time on it, why not promote it using Facebook or Twitter for example?
Well 2012 was not exactly renowned for its good weather in the UK! So in the weeks before the cycle challenge there had been heavy rain and lots of localised flooding. The GYBR organisers were sending out updates ready to cut the route or put on a diversion - luckily that wasn't needed on the day, but the weather made its presence felt all the same! High gusty winds and sometimes heavy showers peppered with bright and sunny spells, we'd all taken waterproofs but it was a far cry from the sunny summer day I had envisioned when we booked our places earlier in the year. The 74 miles I clocked on my trusty Cateye cycle computer were hard-won, headwinds and the 2 steep climbs at Settrington and Terrington Bank made it quite a challenge. But it was a big achievement.
The organisers ran a professional operation, regular drinks stations, a very well stocked lunch stop with fresh sandwiches, hot pasta, chocolate bars, cakes, fruit and drinks, and mechanical backup in the form of repair vans for assisting with minor repairs and pickup if you or your bike gave out before the finish. The volunteer marshalls were excellent and the route took in some of Yorkshire's best rolling countryside views.
The Sun made a few brief attempts to shine on the day.
After the event don't forget to collect any outstanding sponsorship and send it off as per the instructions in the GYBR event pack!
I really enjoyed completing the GYBR in 2012, we've kept up with the training and I was looking forward to a rematch in 2013 - the 30th anniversary year; unfortunately I had committed to being the other side of the country on the same day. Oh well, there's always next year - it gives me chance to lose more of the now dwindling middle age spread!
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