September and October were some of the busiest months ever for Andy Cook Cycling – with five major events to deliver, in five different countries, including TWO LEJoG rides.
Andy Cook Cycling were privileged to lead 10 HSBC Bank staff from Land’s End to John o’ Groats at the end of August and beginning of September. The ride was raising money for Macmillan’s Cancer Support, and Maggie’s Centres – two amazing and important charities which help victims of cancer and their loved ones. A highlight of the trip was visiting the wonderful Maggies Centre in Manchester, where the riders could see the vital work that was being aided by the money they were raising.
Along with the epic task of riding 950 in 10 days, Mother Nature threw all sorts of extra challenges at the determined team during the ride. Despite the heat wave for the majority of the UK on August Bank Holiday Monday, Cornwall and Devon didn’t have such amazing weather, which meant it was long sleeves for most on the first couple of days of the ride. The rain came down, the wind blew and, luckily, there were some sunny intervals over the next 10 days, culminating in 50-60mph gusts as the riders got closer to John o’ Groats.
The weather could do nothing to dampen the spirits of the inspirational riders however. An event of this nature requires everyone to pull together and support one another, as individuals often experience the highs and lows at different points throughout the journey. It was evident from day 1 that the HSBC LEJoG Team, supported by an experienced, kind and caring ACC team would excel at this skill, which meant that team spirit remained high from the bottom to the top of the country, and the bond formed between the entire group will be one that is never forgotten.
Another highlight of the trip was meeting Gethin Butler, who was the End-to-End record holder for 17 years, until last year when the record was taken by Michael Broadwith. Gethin’s record had been seen as unbeatable, but Michael took a whopping 39 minutes and seven seconds off in 2018, covering the 841 miles (a faster and much less scenic route than the HSBC team!) at an average speed of 19.4mph. Gethin is not a sore loser however, and was very happy to join the riders just north of Preston as they rode towards Scorton for lunch, where they met with many riders’ friends and family, before taking on the iconic long and steep climb of Shap Fell.
The tired and elated riders arrived at John o’ Groats on 4th September, having raised a huge amount of money (in excess of £70,000) for Macmillan and Maggies, and completed a challenge of epic proportions.
Several members of the ACC support crew on the HSBC trip had just one day to recover before heading back down to Land’s End to begin another ride up the country for the 10th edition of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain. They joined a team of 50 Andy Cook Cycling crew and chaperones responsible for the route and safety of the 850 participants of this popular, but tough, event.
The ride started in sunny Cornwall and passed through many counties using mostly quiet, scenic roads which afforded the participants some stunning views of the wide and varied landscape of the UK. The route took the riders from the coastline of Cornwall, through the Somerset levels and Cheddar Gorge to the Severn Bridge and Forest of Dean. It crossed the Cheshire plains towards the North West, climbed the iconic Shap Fell and headed towards Carlisle and the Scottish border. The Forth Road Bridge took the riders into Kinross and Perthshire before taking them up the ‘snow road’ over Glenshee to Braemar and Balmoral. The steep climb of the Lecht was a challenge for many of the riders, but the descent towards Grantown on Spey and Inverness brought with it stunning views of the Cromarty Forth and the Black Isle. The route then turned inland from Dingwall towards Bonar Bridge, and the last day of the ride journeyed through the wilderness beyond Lairg and Altnaharra, the tranquillity of Strathnaver, before the final push through Betty Hill and on eastwards, with views of the Orkneys, towards John o’ Groats.
Hundreds of thousands of pounds was raised for many important charities thanks to all the inspirational riders taking part, and, for the 10th year, Andy Cook Cycling were proud to support this event.
As the majority of the ACC team were starting the journey from Land’s End (for the second time in a fortnight) a small group of support crew and chaperones were heading from London to Paris for the Women V Cancer L2P 2019. Andy Cook Cycling have been involved in this event for two years now, and provide the route director, experienced chaperones, mechanics and support crew to assist 70 women riding from London to Paris in just three days.
The inspirational women who take part in this event each year are raising money for Women V Cancer, an entity made up of three female cancer charities – Ovarian Cancer Action, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, and Breast Cancer Now. This event is a huge challenge for most of the participants, as they have a large amount of money to fundraise before they can take part, as well as putting the training in, whilst juggling everyday life. A large proportion of them either have a cancer diagnoses themselves, have had cancer in the past, or are coping with the loss or diagnoses of a close friend or relative. These extra challenges make the event all that much harder, but they also serve to increase the amazing camaraderie and team spirit between everyone on the event.
Andy Cook Cycling are proud to look after these amazing women!
Whilst the RAB was heading into Scotland, another small ACC team provided the route signage and safety support for what is probably our favourite events of the year. The Tour de Test Valley is a ride in memory of snowboarder and keen cyclist Neslson Pratt, and raises money for the hugely important CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) Charity. Andy Cook Cycling have been supporting this event since it started 8 years ago, and this year was one of the best – with all riders safely in by 18.30, having spent a gorgeous day on their bikes on a choice of three picturesque routes.
You can find out more about how much was raised, the celebrity cyclists that joined the ride this year, and how important this charity is by reading this piece about the event here: Tour de Test Valley 2019