August 20, 2016, by David Greenaway
Nottingham Life Cycle 6 – Day 1 Lizard Point to Victoria
In the beginning, the Nottingham Life Cycle was about eleven riders cycling from John O’Groats to Lands’ End.
Life Cycle 6 is about so much more now.
Over 600 cyclists of all ages on the Community Day; 100 walkers on the Robin Hood Way, organised by Professor Denise Kendrick; bake offs in numerous Schools and Departments (including Careers and Employability Services in the pic); Magic Shows from PVC Todd Landman at Nottingham Lakeside Arts in November; the ‘Boobie Ball’ in October and many more activities.
That is why a one off cycling challenge in 2011 became a series of inspiring events with endurance rides at the core, but with a heartbeat motored by community spirit and community engagement.
That says a lot about our community, and I am very proud of it.
But, back to today.
We have 13 riders on LC6: four who have completed every Life Cycle (me, Karen Cox, Nick Miles and Steve Wright); five who have completed one or more (Susan Anderson, Andy Noyes, Doug Thomson, Marion Walker, Steve Walton); and four newbies. They are: Sara Goodacre from the School of Life Sciences; Kerry Law, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer; Kate Radford from the School of Health Sciences; and John Robertson, a Clinical Professor who is an expert in breast cancer.
The team (minus Kerry who will join us later) flew from Birmingham to Newquay. Adverse weather meant we were an hour late. After a bumpy descent, we were met by Paul Barrett and Louise Shaw. Paul has been part of the Support Team for every Life Cycle, Louise is a newbie from the Campaign and Alumni Relations Office. 75 minutes later we were at the southernmost point of mainland Great Britain, ready to start our journey around the four points of the compass. Gary Walker and Ian Clifton, both Support Team veterans met us there with our bikes and kit.
Lizard Point was spectacular: bright, blue and blustery. After our pics, we finally got on the road to start our journey to Dunnet Head, a pink peloton snaking out of the narrow road which takes you to the Lizard.
Over the last two weeks, there has been a lot of chatter about the Olympics among the riders. Given this level of interest, we will have the first ever Life Cycle Decomnium running through LC6.
As in the decathlon, it will obviously feature ten disciplines. Like the less challenging Omnium, the rules are complicated (in fact even more complicated). Riders will need to ensure they understand them if they want to win, avoid penalties, and even disqualification.
There will be elimination races, a T4, hill challenges, a McKeirin, sprints, pursuits, a dressage-like event, and so on. There are points to be won on each. The first leg was completed today, and I will come back to that later.
But, back to today’s riding. Because we had to get to Lizard Point and did not set off until 1430, we only had 47 miles to ride. Our planners did a great job, plotting a route that took us towards Helston, then across to Penryn, through tough climbs and sharp descents, and some lovely villages (including one by the name of Brill). From Penryn we tracked the A39 to Truro, then up over the bottom end of Bodmin Moor to the Victoria Roche Travelodge.
Although only 47 miles, there was 3,500 feet of climbing, but fabulous views and an abundance of orange and red crocosmia in the verges. It was also very windy (mainly tailwinds) with occasional heavy rain. But everyone was back around 1930, safe and sound, and happy to have completed the first day.
The first discipline of the Decomnium was Truro Team Time Trial (or T4 for short). This started at Lizard Point and finished at the Caffè Nero in Truro.
I was part of a team with Karen, Marion and Susan. I am delighted to say we were first to the Caffè Nero and won this first discipline, which is worth 40 points. Now you might think that means 10 points for each of us, but it is not that simple. Points are moderated by the Barrett-Jagger formula. This is a bit like the Duckworth-Lewis formula in cricket, but a bit more opaque and certainly more complicated. It factors in age, wind assistance, terrain and so on.
To my surprise, the judges (chaired by Honest Paul) awarded me an additional 10 points because I am pushing 65, and another 10 because I was the only member of the team to have had a hip replacement in the last year. So, that gave me 20 points, with the remaining 20 divvied up between the other three.
But that created a problem: Decomnium rules state you cannot have fractional points. So, being the kind of person I am, to help out the judges, I gave back one of my points to ensure Karen, Marion and Susan received seven each.
That means, after the first Decomnium discipline, scores are: David, 19; Karen, 7; Marion, 7; Susan, 7; everyone else, nil points. A good start then.
As an aside, I had a tip off this evening that the judges were reviewing one of the riders (not I am pleased to say anyone on the victorious T4 team). We should have an outcome from the Stewards Enquiry in the morning.
Finally, we are undertaking this challenge for a purpose, to support breast cancer research. As John reminded us today, despite being more or less gender specific, this disease is the third highest cause of death in the UK. We are aiming to raise £1 million to support work on earlier detection, containing the spread of the disease, and more personalised treatment.
All of the riders have friends and family who have been touched by breast cancer. Susan came up with the idea of Life Cycle miles – calling for nominations of individuals we could ride the first miles of each day for. Today that was Susan’s Sister-in-Law Theresa, nominated by Susan herself; and Lana Schwarcz (nominated by Emma Oldham) who has used her experience to create a show for the Edinburgh Fringe.
The night before we departed, we passed £500,000. Thank you to everyone who has helped get us past halfway to that target.
That’s it. Day 1 complete with what looks like a terrific group of riders and superb Support Team, finished off with a carb loaded dinner at The Victoria, with guests Charlie Ricketts (a great supporter of John’s work) and Elizabeth Webster (who runs a charity supporting disadvantaged and excluded families in East London). Thank you both for joining us.
Tomorrow we head for Exeter and take a first big step towards the most easterly point, Lowestoft Ness; 90 miles in what is forecast to be stormy conditions.
Professor Sir David Greenaway