The 360 Mile Cycle.
It's done and dusted. The finish line is officially behind them and we're ready to tell you all about it...
After months of training, donations and cycling injuries, the boys are finally back in the office. If we were to say they strolled in looking as fresh as daisies, we'd be lying, sore from head to toe and a little (a lot) tired, we can't help but realise how hard the journey must have been, and how ridiculously proud we are of them smashing it.
Ajaz & Mike, how are you feeling?
M: Honestly, I’m still in a world of pain – 4 days after getting off the bike. The ride was one of the toughest, most rewarding experiences of my life and I feel privileged to have been a part of it.
A: 4 days straight on the bike is not for the faint hearted but it all worked out well in the end. A bit sore in places but it was definitely worth it, it’s something that I won’t be forgetting in a long time.
What was the best moment of the whole ride?
M: Hard to choose one as there were so many. Our first day cycling in France was amazing – blue skies and amazing views. The food stops: all of them. However when we arrived at the Trocadéro in Paris, with the Eiffel Tower just in front of us – the sense of accomplishment and realisation from each of us at what we had all achieved, as a group - that was pretty special.
A: Cycling through the New Forest was amazing with its twisty roads as well as beautiful scenery; there was also some wildlife roaming around, which added to the experience. This was echoed in France as we swept from village to village, taking in the sights en-route to Paris.
Did you find anything particularly difficult?
M: For me, going uphill is always a challenge. At the end of Day 1 we finished with a climb just south of Bath which felt like Everest. It was the only time during the course of the four days that I had to get off the bike and push it up. When we finally arrived at the hotel, the two other groups took great delight in telling us that we were meant to take a different route – which was as flat as my rendition of Cwm Rhondda! Ah well, in for a penny…
A: Hills, definitely, no doubts about it. Having the so-called ‘cyclists frame’ does nothing to make climbing hills easier, it was always a case of keep pedalling and hope that the hill finishes and the flat re-appears. I especially recall the fated hill in Bath that seemed never-ending with false summit after summit, every turn was welcomed with another hill which only got steeper and steeper! Unfortunately it got the better of me on the day but I look forward to coming up trumps on our next encounter!
Did you make it in good time?
M: Just about. We cycled 80 miles on the final day and finished at 3.30pm by the Eiffel Tower. However, due to the match traffic in the city centre, our transportation to the hotels then the stadium struggled. But with rapier-like washing and changing skills and a little jog (that was fun) to the ground, we made it just in time to watch the Old Men Aloud boys belt out the Welsh anthem.
A: I think a few of the crew underestimated the time it would take to cycle through Paris on a weekend and especially on a match day. The traffic was stop start and we were all shattered, so making it there for 3:30pm was good going but the feeling was amazing. It was a mad rush getting across Paris on the bus before a quick, very quick shower into new clothes in time for the game. We took our seats as our fellow riders Only Med Aloud finished singing the Welsh Anthem.
How was the game? Celebrations all round?
M: The effort from the Welsh seemed symbolic of what we had all put in over the previous 4 days. It was such a hard-fought, even contest but the class of Wales told, especially in the 2nd half and they came away with a tremendous victory. Celebrations carried on well into Sunday morning and, the pièce de résistance was watching Ireland batter England on Sunday afternoon.
A: To be honest, during the ride I didn’t think of the game much simply because most of my mind was pre-occupied with the cycling so when game day came around, it was a welcome surprise. The Stade de France is a great stadium and looked fantastic during the game which was jam-packed. Wales started well and kept up the pressure, the French weren’t the best on the day which resulted in Wales recording a well-deserved victory which provided an epic sweetener to our monumental achievement.
Any other crazy ideas on the horizon?
M: Not for the time being, although I would highly recommend to anyone that challenging yourself by doing an event like this, all the while raising money and awareness for a particular charity, is an unbelievable experience. Great for the soul.
A: Already thinking about next year which sees Ride to the Rugby cycle over to Dublin but in the short-term it would be great to just carry on cycling and improve my general fitness. I’ve heard there a Lands End to John o’Groats ride but I’m not sure I’m ready for that just yet!