Le Tour Diary – Getting ready for riding
As we draw ever closer to the biggest cycling event coming to Leeds, join us as we follow a team of intrepid cycling enthusiasts attempting the first leg of the Tour. This is a fantastic opportunity for the young people involved to have a shared positive experience as well as raisingmoney for Martin House children’s hospice.
Steve Maw; operational manager, Leeds City Council youth offending service, said:
‘The first stage is a massive 190 km, we plan to complete this in a relay. We have a committed group of young people who are up for the challenge!’’
The group have met up several times over the past couple of months to practice safe riding and build up their fitness levels. The young people have also done a first aid course and are learning about basic cycle maintenance.
The staff and young people used the fantastic facilities at Lineham and Herd Farm to prepare for the trip.
Let’s find out what they have been up to so far …
Friday 11 April
Introducing mountain biking at Lineham Farm: A great day for the staff and young people learning how to mountain bike. The instructors treated us to a jaw dropping demonstration of unconventional cycling – wheelies and dramatic back wheel skids suggested there was no shortage of natural cycling flare in the group.
We then headed off down to Harewood House via back roads and bridle paths. The ride showed the importance of road safety awareness.
Steve said: ‘’It was great fun and offered quite a challenge to members of the group who had not done much cycling. This included a few of the staff who found themselves pushing their bikes up the hill!’’
Thursday 14 April
The first of many planning meetings with the young people was focused around making sure the group are safe on busy roads. We spent time brainstorming tactics for managing the ride in a safe and fun way, and thinking about the involvement of experienced cyclists, the Seacroft Wheelers.
Thursday 1 May
We took the bikes down to Herd Farm to check they were safe to ride – we checked that brakes were working and tyres were pumped up.
Sunday 4 May
Aldi sale, very opportune! Cycling gear going at a fraction of the usual cost. Our group should now at least look like we know what we’re doing!
Thursday 8 May
Down came the rain, in buckets. This was supposed to be the first day on the road bikes, we’d planned a training ride around Herd Farm/Eccup reservoir area however it was an easy decision to make –‘ rain stopped play’ – ride rearranged for the following Thursday.
Monday 12 May
As part of the project we gave the young people the opportunity to do some first aid training. The group learnt some new skills including the recovery position, emergency resuscitation techniques and bandaging.
Tuesday 13 May
We purchased a number of spare inner tubes, puncture repair kit and other essential tools for the activity from Edinburgh Bicycle Corporative using a £100 voucher they kindly donated.
Thursday 15 May
The group and a member of Seacroft Wheelers met at Herd Farm for our first ride on the newly serviced road bikes. Our group leader from Seacroft Wheelers commented on how the young people excelled themselves and he was most worried about two members of staff who kept veering out from the side of the road!
On the way back we had a short break for a ‘wheelie’ competition. After showing so much concentration and discipline it was only fair to allow the group to let off a bit of steam.
Tuesday 20 May
Sarah Tarpey, community fundraiser at Martin House is delighted that they are our chosen charity. We are going to cycle over to their office during our training ride on 12 June so Sarah can speak to the group about the work Martin House does and organise some promotional T-shirts!
Thursday 22 May
Rain, rain and more rain. We reluctantly decided to cancel the session today and the BBC forecast showed it wasn’t due to stop, but get heavier!
Thursday 5 June
The group and two Seacroft Wheelers set out on a 15 mile circular route to Thorner. As we have previously learnt about the group’s unconventional cycling skills, stern words were required as a couple of the young people sped through Shadwell ‘no hands’. As we hit some heavy traffic the group adopted a much more sensible approach and we had a highly professional single file pelaton of 11 cyclists – if we’d of all been wearing black you could have mistaken us for the Sky team on a training run.
Friday 6 June
In preparation for the next planning meeting I decided to drive the 120 mile first leg of the Tour. A good job I did so, as I identified some seriously challenging areas – to describe the dales as a rolling countryside would be something of an understatement. Parts of the route were so steep cyclists had to push their bikes up the hills!
Sunday 8 June
Two of the group joined the Seacroft Wheelers on their club ride around the stage 1 route. Challenging is not the word. We are now under no illusion about how challenging this is going to be and have decided to now complete the relay with a mix of young people and staff. The Seacroft Wheelers were so supportive and great company to ride with.
Monday 9 June
As we draw closer to the big day, now only two weeks away, we are getting down to the detail in our planning meeting. Yesterday’s experience was invaluable and we are now able to be more realistic in our planning. If we plan the relay changes carefully we should be able to keep the bikes rolling for all but lunch breaks, 12-13 hours in total.
Thursday 12 June
Today is our training ride over to Martin House in Boston Spa to chat to Sarah Tarpey about the work of Martin House. This was the group’s longest ride yet, 23 miles, but they did it noproblem, with the exception of one staff member who got lost on the way home! Fortunately our support vehicle found the wandering cyclist half an hour later on the A1 roundabout!
Thursday 19 June
Herd Farm – final practice ride. The group set off for a time trial route near Thornton used by the Seacroft Wheelers. The route includes a couple of sharp climbs which we thought would be good practice for what we’ll find in the Dales. Plenty of heavy breathing and a bit of moaning but every body made it ok.
Tuesday 24 June
Final planning meeting. The big day is almost upon us so we met to finalise the details. High priority attached to the supply of food and drink, our team of chefs have planned an all day menu of bananas, flap jack, jam sandwiches and sugary sweets
Wedneday 25 June
Received a request from Capital radio to do an interview for tomorrow’s breakfast show. A quick ring round and one of the young people agreed to go with me. It was a bit nerve racking for both of us but the radio presenter made us feel at ease and I think we both did a good job in conveying what the project was about.