August 20, 2013, by David Greenaway

The VC’s Life Cycle 3 Blog: Day 1 – Nottingham to York

At breakfast we were discussing weather forecasts.

After Chris had reported, he said ‘By the way Nick, I’ve checked your horoscope; you’re going to have lots of punctures over the next two weeks’. How prophetic was that. Within three miles of departing we had our first puncture. But it wasn’t Nick, it was Chris! (And he had another shortly after).

Eight of us stayed at The Orchard Hotel last night and enjoyed a leisurely warm up ride through University Park to our start point at Jubilee Campus.

Jubilee Campus historyI remember visiting Raleigh in 1996 when we were considering acquiring the site, so we could grow without compromising the integrity of University Park. I questioned the purchase; I did not have the imagination to anticipate what Sir Michael Hopkins and Ken Shuttleworth would create.

Its history, and the special environment they masterminded made this an ideal place to start Life Cycle 3 and the first picture today is a frieze we recovered from the last of the factories before demolition. It stands on Jubilee Campus as a reminder of its history.

Despite our early departure, quite a number of colleagues and friends turned out to see us off. We enjoyed that and thanks to all of you.

Motivational signWe have riders joining us on a number of legs; today it was Steve Davenport who was keen to support our cause. All 12 of us left together, broke up into various groups and re-formed at the first eating stop, Café Neo in Worksop, where the board pictured welcomed us. Second breakfasts for most, a first lunch for me.

Once we cleared Nottingham, we had a speedy ride through north Notts. This is an underrated part of the UK, perhaps because it tends to be associated with the spoils of former coalfields. Yet it hosts a number of impressive country parks and estates (like Rufford, Clumber, Welbeck and Hodstock); Sherwood Forest is an outstanding nature reserve; there are some delightful towns and villages; (and if you are a golfer, four of England’s top 100 courses are clustered there).

After Worksop, I rode the remaining 60 miles to York on my own, not by choice; I was abandoned by all of the riders bar one. Stefano had no part to play; he went off to see his mother (or ‘Madre’ as he has taken to calling her). The rest just disappeared, they had obviously decided on a VC free day. So I reverted to my mental maps and rode out a route through Blyth, Bawtry, Thorne and Selby. (I did try and pick them up at the second feed stop in Snaith, but they had hidden their bikes behind the café to deceive me into thinking they had moved on).

The Support Team were not as heartless. Simon had me on a GPS tracker and knew exactly where I was, so he and Sebastian joined me when I had my second feed stop in Selby; while Paul and Ian were on hand with resupplies of fluids between Selby and York.

Some team awards for Day 1:

Dastardly deed of the day must go to Karen, Chris, Nick, Marion, Neville, Kate, Penelope, Andy, Steve W and Penelope for abandoning me (Steve D gets off because he was obviously led on, as does Stefano who was con la famiglia in Worksop).

Accomplishment of the day goes to Marion for riding in more than 80 miles for the first time ever.

Quote of the day has been a bit of a struggle: there is what Neville said about Kate; and the advice Kate gave to Steve W, but both are unprintable. So let’s settle for another Kate one, a motorist in York described her as a ‘stupid cow’ for being on the road. Thank you for your support.

Neville with headcamMystery of the day was the device on Lord Neville’s helmet. It took me a while to work this out. Readers of the Life Cycle 1 blog will recall the noble Lord was cautioned in Edinburgh for jumping a red light. Since then, despite all evidence to the contrary, he has protested his innocence. So this device automatically starts recording as he approaches traffic lights. He is determined to have his day in court and is prepared to appeal all the way to the Lords.

Today’s ride was longer than the 82 miles posted. Distances ranged from 84 to 93 miles. Most completed 88 or more. Our route seemed to involve a lot of fast roads. We did not have any serious accidents, but three falls: me and Steve W for the same reason – we could not get out of our cleats quickly enough and keeled over (unfortunately Andrew Burden was on hand with his camera when it happened); and Karen who just fell over (and had a puncture).

I almost forgot the yellow jersey. That would have been an unforgiveable oversight, today’s is the second most coveted by the riders (the number one being that awarded on the final day). Well, today’s went to me. I was first in, followed by Chris, Marion, Stefano, Penelope, Neville and Steve D in one group; Andy, Karen, Nick, Kate and Steve W in the other group. Having won today’s yellow jersey, I will now concentrate on winning the final leg and let others fight out those in between.

So the first 88 miles completed. Tomorrow is York to Slaley.

Professor David Greenaway

Posted in Life Cycle 3