It’s February and the winter training season is well underway. You’ve spent more time bonding with your turbo than your best friend. Your bank balance is still recovering from the assault of paying for the events you are training so hard for. Perfect time for a winter cycling challenge, albeit one with a twist. It’s free to enter and there’s beer at the end.
I’m a 28 year old living in London with a penchant for testing my comfort zone. I cycle, swim, climb, ski, run and dabble in Ironman racing. There’s nothing I love more than to complete my next challenge and celebrate with beer and great friends.
Cycling and beer
A few months back, BrewDog, leaders of the global craft beer revolution, agreed to sponsor me and made one of my long-standing dreams become reality.
To celebrate this partnership, I organised a 145mile cycle challenge from London to Bristol, from bar to bar on Saturday 1st February. I spread the word via social media and the event was full within 3 hours.
Fast forward a lot of spreadsheets, phone calls, risk assessments, pulling favours and a few months later 35 cyclists gathered at 5am in BrewDog Shoreditch.
The challenge – cycle to Bristol and meet at the bar.
There’s a reason most cycling events are in the summer and it’s the same reason why I organised this one in the winter. We can always use weather as an excuse not to go out and ride, but I believe all we need is the right kit and attitude. I wanted this to be a challenge and something different to break up the winter training season. The first 60 miles were a treat with blue skies and calm winds. Everyone was chatting, I loved the buzz on the ride.
Then we hit the floods. They crossed the entire road and were 1ft deep. The floods created a spirit of adventure amongst the riders, no matter what obstacles we encountered, we were in this together until the end. At least it wasn’t raining, yet…
Lure of lunch
10miles before lunch our luck ran out. We were tired and hungry and found ourselves cycling up hill into wet and windy gales. Time to dig deep! Lunch was at a pub 90 miles into the ride. Warm food and a chance to dry our clothes by the fire was an absolute winner.
It was 4pm by the time my group hit the road again with 50 miles to go. By now, the cyclists had spread out into smaller groups. We didn’t know it at the time, but the fastest group were just arriving at BrewDog Bristol. On the other hand, we still had plenty of miles left before we earning our beer. At 8pm we finally hit Bath and after unsuccessfully trying to find the cyclepath in the dark of the night, we took the main roads into Bristol.
15 hours after leaving London we had all completed the challenge. The moment we laid eyes on the bar was one to savour. It was hugs and high fives all round, all the cyclists had made it in one piece and what an adventure we’d had. Everyone had that post cycle, rosy glow and was looking tired, yet happy. Time to celebrate!
The response from those taking part in the ride and following progress on social media was amazing. I had over 400 notifications on Twitter that day, giving me the motivation to plan the next Challenge Sophie and BrewDog Cycling Challenge. To get involved, connect with me on:
(Images: Riccardo Raspa)