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Tour de Mace: the ride and arrival

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Tour de Mace: the ride and arrival

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Tour de Mace

October 16th, 2015

On 24th September the Tour de Mace, a 250 mile fundraising ride from Manchester to London, finished at the Lee Valley velodrome in Stratford. Over 40 cyclists made their way through rain and shine (but mainly rain) and, while the event didn’t receive the nationwide fanfare and TV coverage of its French cousin, their sense of accomplishment and grins of achievement were equally as strong and well earned.

Arrival collage

Determined faces, a fist bump, and wobbly legs at the finish

The group arrived in the iconic velodrome to applause and a champagne reception. Bikes were respectfully put aside, hugs and high-fives were exchanged, and a group photo was taken to begin the post-ride celebrations. Nico Roche – two-time national champion and with numerous top ten finishes in Grand Tour stages – was there to greet riders and joined the photo-shoot.

The crowd

Ride25 team with RocheThe Mace team and the Ride25 guys each had a pic with Nico

Mark Reynolds, Mace’s Chief Executive, gave a speech congratulating the riders and thanking them for their fundraising efforts: through the ride and associated fundraising, over £75,000 was raised for the Mace Foundation – a charitable fund that campaigns and supports charities and organisations in four main areas: “education and employment; communities; health and wellbeing; and culture, heritage and sport”.

The speech also offered the chance for a well-earned sit down, and afterwards, when the buffet was then unveiled (the bit everyone was secretly waiting for), energy reserves were restored and leg muscles began their route to recovery. Shot glass sized desserts were a particular favourite: bite-sized portions of lemon meringue, tiramisu, chocolate cake and other treats.
Sweet cuppin' cakes

Presumably as soon as the photo was taken,
he put the fruit down and stocked up on cake

16 riders were then let loose on the velodrome track – one of the most stylish victory laps we’ve seen for a long time! This is where Bradley Wiggins broke the UCI Hour Record back in June; riding the same track is an especially prestigious accolade for the keen cyclists among us.

If you’re not familiar, the bikes take a bit of getting used to. They’re fixed speed, so if you stop pedalling at any point you’ll be thrown over the handlebar, and there are no brakes. Among the Tour de Mace riders not on the track there were murmurs of the inevitability of someone taking a tumble, but the 16 on the track managed to avoid it!

After getting off the track, one of the riders described it, succinctly but aptly, as “excellent”.

Velodrome trackVelodrome cyclist 23 velodrome cyclists

We asked Team Fantastic, a group of five lads who rode together, what they thought of the ride:

Absolutely fantastic. A bit of a struggle on the first day when the weather wasn’t kind, but it just got better and better. We formed a team to help each other out, we bonded. Team Fantastic: that’s us.

A chorus of ‘nopes’ when we asked if they knew each other beforehand: Mace operate from over 65 offices around the globe, so many people on the ride were new to each other. “We only knew Dave,” they told us, “but he’s not even a number in the company so we weren’t really interested in cycling with him. We thought we were going to be going around with some big hitters!”

Then they reeled off their highlights of the ride: Anthony wore the wrong t-shirt for two days so everyone thought he was called Andrew, Tim’s was a woman with unusual amounts of road rage, and Dave’s was the hassle of trying to check in with a bike box. Someone taking a cleats-related tumble at the top of a hill made the list too, as did finishing day 3 with a couple of beers and watching the rugby.

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