Last week I was lucky enough to win a ‘ride with Cav’ run by London Olympics partners Holiday Inn, The ride took place up at the Redbridge Cycling Centre (also known as Hog Hill) which is a fantastic facility north of London. The centre has a 2km road loop & mountain bike trails all in a fenced off area, so no fighting with cars for space! The 2km loop was cleverly designed with a little bit of everything including a sharp climb to the finish & even alpine switchbacks.
I arrived slightly later than the sign-on time due to my country-boy lack of traffic factoring so it was a mad dash to put my bike together, shoes & helmet on and then a sprint to registration. As I ran into the building I almost collided with Mark Cavendish was on his way out the same door, after nearly taking the new World Champion out before either of us had even got on our bikes!
I pinned my number on and bolted onto the track to join the others who were patiently waiting to start. A quick round of applause for the Manx Missile and we were off. Over 100 entries had been handed out as prizes to those who were quick on facebook but due to the short notice only around 60 riders had managed to get there, most of which were Holiday Inn employees judging by their branded kit.
The first lap was a gentle pace to allow all the riders to ride with Mark, there were all shapes & sizes of bikes on the track, from top end Team Sky Pinarello bikes to retro ladies shoppers, it was great to see such a varied fan base for Britain’s top rider.
We climbed the small hill to the finish line and the cameras flashed all around us. Down the switchbacks we weaved and the group thinned out, I spotted an opening on the back straight where sand had drifted on to the track, as the front riders avoided the hazard I pedalled through the gap and found myself next to Cav.
His cadence was surprisingly high (I’d always thought he was a bit of a big ring churner!) and he looked very compact on his bike. Riders all around were showing the signs of effort they were putting in just to match Mark’s effortless momentum. As we hit the hill again the pace slowed and I found myself pushing too big a gear in an effort to avoid my hand going over the GoPro lens if I shifted! As it flattened out on the top Cav chose his line and glided through the switchbacks opening up a considerable gap on the rest of us. He then slowed up to let the other riders catch him.
I took a lap out to get some shots of him riding past then jumped back on to the rear of the bunch, a few laps later a loud hailer announced the end of the ride, Cavendish dropped back, allowing as many riders as possible to ‘cross the line before Cav’!
As his McLaren designed bike slowed to a halt, the fans rushed up for his signature on their jerseys and their photo with Cav.
Channel 4 news were there, Jon Snow donning Hi-Viz for a brief round the track interview with Mark answering questions about Britain’s Olympic hopes for 2012.
After a quick bite to eat & a freshen up, Cavendish returned to autograph duty and patiently stayed until every jersey, helmet & book was signed (he even signed a Pinarello bike frame for one lucky fan!).
Events like these make me proud to be a part of such an accessible sport like cycling. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to meet a few riders and even ride a bike with some of my heroes, something which I doubt many football, rugby or F1 fans ever get to do…
cheers for reading!
COMPETITION! (NOW CLOSED)
A few weeks ago we were luck enough to ride with the newly crowned World Champion Mark Cavendish who has kindly agreed to personally sign a limited edition HTC World Champion Jersey for one lucky Wiggle customer…
All you have to do is answer a question on the ‘Wiggle Rides with Mark Cavendish’ blog by posting a comment at the bottom of the page…
The question is… ‘in the video what is photographer stood on to get the best shot?‘ (clue: 1:11) ….just post your answer below (please note comments are moderated so may not appear straight away!) and you could be riding away with a World Champions jersey signed to YOU from Mark Cavendish! (don’t forget to include your name & email address!)
Competition ended 23:59(GMT) 20th Dec 2011