September 1, 2013, by David Greenaway
The VC’s Life Cycle 3 Blog: Day 14 – Nevill Holt to Nottingham
We knew finishing in Nottingham would be something special, but none of us anticipated just how special.
It was a cold start, overcast with northerly winds. Those of us staying in various places in Medbourne had a one and a half mile climb to Nevill Holt, our start point for the final leg.
Nevill Holt Hall dates back to 1300. It was bought and restored by Nottingham Law alumnus, and University Council Member, David Ross, in 2000. It is a very fine building in a truly stunning setting on high ground in the Leicestershire Wolds. David graciously allowed us to use it to start our final leg. And what an iconic start to our finish.
The Life Cycle 3 team were there by 0830 to meet the leg riders. Around 0900, the first coaches arrived from Nottingham and suddenly the place was buzzing with a mixture of cyclists who had seen the terrain on the trip over and were excited by it, and others who were subdued by it. I rode this route as a training run a couple of months ago and remember thinking what a challenge it would be for casual cyclists. That day was benign; today there were powerful headwinds.
The team set off in drips and drabs: Penelope to ride with her husband and daughter; Stefano to ride with his moglie; the flying squad in case Manchester City were on TV again, and so on. That left Kate, Marion, Karen, Nick and I. The bikers that brunch rode almost all of the leg together.
We pulled off at the first official feed station between Empingham and Cottesmore and it was great to catch up with many of the leg riders, including Ellie and Dasha ,our new Students’ Union President and Education Officer. We had 150 leg riders, which was just phenomenal. Taking this leg on is no mean feat, so well done and thanks to all.
This is a lovely part of the country and we passed through Cottesmore, Wymondam, Waltham on the Wolds, and other delightful villages. To ensure we got something to eat, we stopped at the Good Grub Company Farm Shop and Tea Rooms between Waltham and Harby. I have used this on training runs; very highly recommended.
Then for us it was a sprint finish to get back to University Park by 1430. It was hard work in the headwinds, but all eleven riders were at the muster point by 1500. So, led by the Support Team, we rode in to Lakeside to complete our Life Cycle 3 challenge. 57 miles today took the total to 1,108 miles. (As Andy pointed out, if we had cycled for three more miles, we could have had 1,111. But no one was minded to go riding around University Park for the sake of a nice number).
We received a wonderful welcome from family, friends and colleagues. What a lift that was. All of the Community Ride cyclists were in, as were most of the Leg Riders. The atmosphere was warm, celebratory and invigorating. I just could not believe the level of interest in what we had done, and I was genuinely proud of the fact that we had so many members of the University community here in one way or another.
This is my final blog of Life Cycle 3. No more awards of the day (except to note that Marion and I crossed the finishing line together, so we share the final yellow jersey). So, all that remains are some final reflections.
This was a really tough challenge. Nine of the days were 80 miles plus (five of those were over 90, two over 100). Day after day, that is wearing. Having stopped and sitting at home now, I can feel its effects on various parts of my anatomy.
But, the job has been done and I feel privileged to have been part of it again. The people at the heart of this are wonderful. Simon, Paul, Ian and Sebastian / Gavin not only kept our bikes roadworthy, even more important, they helped keep us roadworthy. Their capacity to spring up out of nowhere when we were close to running on empty was uncanny.
For the riders I have nothing but respect and affection. I do not recall a single moan, expression of regret about doing this, or an unwillingness to help out. They just ground out the miles, but in a way that pulled on others and helped get us to the end of each day.
A special mention must go to our families. They accommodate training sessions which disrupt weekends, they live with having to spend time in bike shops when they would rather be somewhere else, and quite a number of them have joined us on the ride at various points to support us.
My adjustment to normality had already begun: I have no kit to wash tonight; I no longer need to cram myself with chocolate bars every couple of hours; my blog is written so I will not fall asleep over my laptop tonight; and I know that tomorrow is Monday, not Day 15.
Normality also means a meeting with the President of Council at 0800 (my marching orders for getting him on a tandem for a 57 mile ride?); an Executive Board meeting at 0900; and sadly, a farewell event for Kate who is moving on to the University of Adelaide. We will miss you, Kate.
Thank you to everyone who has taken an interest in and supported Life Cycle 3. Thank you for reading this blog and posting your comments, they have helped us get the job done more than you realise.
Thank you also for your support for our cause. We are approaching a quarter of a million pounds raised. That will help make a real difference to the lives of those who have suffered from stroke.
I have very heavy legs, but a light heart. A nice way to close another Life Cycle chapter.
Thank you and good night.
Professor David Greenaway