What a way to kick off the Tour of Berkshire – the temperature was already soaring into the twenties when we started gathering down by the lake on Arlington Business Park in Theale at 9 o’clock in the morning.
Having navigated site security, located a missing van (with all our tour kit on it) and been joined by our team who had cycled in from across the county we were set-up & ready by around 10.30.
It has to be said we were pretty pleased to have the new kit, flown into London Heathrow in the early hours of this morning ready for our riders to do a quick change in the van and head off for the rider briefing and the 11.00am ride.
The first ride of the day was a friendly little 13 mile spin, taking riders out through Theale, Pangbourne and Bradfield before returning back to base. As with all these rides they are open to members of the public and we had four guests who joined in with a variety of riding experience.
It was great to see two ‘born again bikers’ who were returning to cycling after 30 odd years away.
Whilst some of the route provided a bit of challenge especially as the heat was rising throughout the morning, everyone managed comfortably and there was plenty of chat as the ride progressed about road positioning; especially the tendency that some less confident riders to hug the kerb.
We had 17 people take part in our WattBike challenge, where participants ride has hard as they can for 30 seconds and see how much power they output. Top of the leaderboard was Paul Francis, who managed to average 734 Watts.
Paul is a keen cyclist who insisted on taking part in cycling shoes, having already been on a ride around West Berkshire. As this left others at a slightly unfair disadvantage, we had pointed this out by marking his power with a c. Therefore in a very good second position was Jonathan Morgan who managed to average 688 Watts.
All those who took part in the challenge did extremely well, and taken together all the riders we tested in West Berkshire managed to average 541 Watts. Can this be beaten by Wokingham tomorrow?
The afternoon ride rolled out just after one o’clock, this time for a slightly more challenging 26 miler that took in much of the morning route but extended it out to take in Yattendon & Bucklebury. Whilst there were no royal sightings, Bucklebury did provide on of the more interesting moments when all of the riders had to dismount and pull bikes up onto the grass verge to allow some agricultural vehicles to pass.
The afternoon contingent were definitely more confident and practised cyclists, who had largely participated in groups rides before. Inevitably this allowed the chatter on the ride to stray into good routes and riding holidays more than rudimentary road craft.
M.A.D. display team
Joe Maher from the M.A.D Display team put on a number of performances throughout the day, jumping between obstacles with incredible skill.
Joe has been performing for a number of years now, and has great control over thee bike that it seems to come with remarkable ease. The most impressive of his tricks was balancing from a beam, hanging some 2 metres above the ground, jumping off it onto a target (in this case a balloon), and popping it.
In one of the later attempts at this trick, they had roped in one of the audience to sit beneath the balancing beam, and to have the balloon sit between his legs. Joe performed the stunt flawlessly, without causing harm to himself or his volunteer.
Thanks to all the partners who took part
Todays festival was joined by Wiggle, who were offering free bike health checks to all those who turned up to the event. Their addition was greatly appreciated in adding to the full program of the festival.
Finally, a big thank you to AW Cycles for also joining us at today’s event. They brought with them a variety of bikes for people to view, and the chance to discuss purchasing a new bike, and finding the right fit.
The combination of all of those involved today, helped a little by the fantastic weather, meant that there was something for everyone and has been a great start to the week