September 4, 2011, by Andrew Burden
The VC’s blog: JoGLE Day 9: Retford to Sutton Bonington
What a special day. We knew in advance large numbers has signed up for the Retford leg and Community Ride from University Park and many more for the BBQ. But we were not prepared for the welcome we received at Sutton Bonington. To see so many family members, friends, colleagues and University supporters cheering us in was emotional and uplifting.
We rode in to the Campus at 15:00 once we were confident all leg and Community Riders had arrived. In fact we applauded through quite a number in Kingston village where we were waiting, including Kate’s two children Luke and Noah. We stayed until everything was wrapped up at around 1730. The interest in where we had been, how we felt, where we were going was tremendous. Support like this makes all the effort worthwhile.
We did of course complete a leg ahead of this wonderful welcome. It began in the car park of Retford Leisure Centre, which was where the 20+ leg riders were leaving from. I enjoyed the fact that there were so many people I knew well from across the University, including some I had worked closely with for many years.
Three of our team set off early – not the Flying Squad, but Kate, Karen and Chris J, to ensure they were in Sutton Bonington on time. (They obviously thought an hour and a half start was not enough since they were spotted going through a red light at a temporary traffic control).
The rest of us set off just before the leg riders at around 10:00. It did not take long for the leaders of that group to catch and overtake us however. There were some impressive looking cyclists among them.
In the meantime, we were beginning to break up in to smaller groups, in my case with Andy and Nick. It was not too long before the last of the leg riders overtook us, because Nick had puncture number eight. Andy sorted it. (He does it so quickly you expect a F1 pit stop timer to be running). Whilst we were doing our repairs a man approached us and asked lots of questions. He seemed very well informed. It turned out he was a retired technician from our Vet School (John Crosland) who lived locally, asked if he could ride with us and did so until Southwell.
It was an odd ride in some respects, familiar terrain in unfamiliar circumstances, as we wound our way through Wellow (where the support team were told off for playing football around the Maypole) and Eakring to Southwell. At Southwell we were joined by Neville and went to the Minster café for lunch.
After lunch we just ploughed on to ensure we were all at Sutton Bonington in good time, past familiar road signs and landmarks (including taking in Trent Embankment) until we regrouped in Kingston.
And back to that welcome. Everyone was bowled over by it and buoyed by the enthusiasm and support expressed; everyone was also pleased to see their family and friends. For Karen it was extra special, her daughter Emma was celebrating her 13th birthday at the BBQ.
So tomorrow we need to remind ourselves we have not finished! It will be time to move on and start the final five days after a night’s accommodation at one of the new Halls at Sutton Bonington.
Today’s leg added 50 miles, making a total of 662. Tomorrow is a long day, 88 miles to Bourton-on-the Water. But, I have been re-supplied with bags of Very Berry Jellies (which have been running out more quickly that I expected because so many others are fed up of Jelly Babies) so they will help keep us going.
September 3rd 2011