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Bristol to Dublin blog: The calm before the storm

Sutikki’s Stephen Gould is our man on the spot, reporting on each leg of the 325-mile journey.

The first blog of the Bristol to Dublin Light Fund Cycle Tour 2018 comes to you strangely enough from Bristol. A vibrant city that is the world’s biggest manufacturer of hot air balloons, where Ribena was invented, where the first bungee jump took place off the Clifton Suspension Bridge on April 1 1979 and also the home to the legendary pirate Blackbeard.

After nearly two years of planning, this was the first time that our intrepid group of licensing industry cyclists had all gathered together as one. Spirits were high and the banter abundant as a foil no doubt to the underlying nerves and apprehension being felt by the majority. Have I trained enough? Have I trained too much? What is the ability level of other riders? Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Do I have the latest gear? Is my bike good enough? Well… it’s all too late now and as there is no short-cut to a place worth going, the next four days will undeniably be the judge and jury.

Be under no illusion, cycling 325 miles (520km) over four days while also climbing in excess of 17,500 feet is not for the faint hearted… this is a serious physical and mental challenge for an elite athlete never mind 65 more usual than not desk bound licensing executives. In this instance, the latter come in all shapes and sizes and I think it is fair to say that for the majority few are designed to be perched precariously on two wheels.

The day started with a number of The Light Fund Committee visiting the studios of Aardman Animation on Gas Ferry Road in Bristol to present a cheque for £5,000 to Anna Shepherd from The Grand Appeal. This PR event also necessitated the first erection of our wonderful sponsor’s flags… a challenging logistical puzzler in its own right!

Then it was on to the Holiday Inn in Filton just outside Bristol where riders checked-in for the first night’s stay and found out who their roomy is for the week ahead – always another moment of exciting anticipation and much relief when the dice rolls a six!

During the afternoon all riders received their goody bags stuffed with essential tour kit and accessories. This bespoke branded merchandise included a grey fleece hoodie, two cycling shirts and cycling rain top emblazoned with our generous sponsors logos, a t-shirt, a cap and two water bottles. Charity definitely does begin at home! It’s actually amazing how many of the group needed to upsize their shirts – rumour has it that there is still some lingering water retention from Licensing Expo in Las Vegas…

With rooms allocated, bikes placed into storage and day bags prepped for the first ride, it was down to the hotel lobby function room for a much needed hearty supper of lasagne and curry with fries followed by scrumptious cheese cake and profiteroles – and of course the welcome brief from trip organiser Classic Tours. The address from tour manager, Gideon Seligman, covered all aspects of the ride including signage, peloton tactics, road safety, nutrition, hygiene, support vehicles and support crew.

For the latter we have two luton vans, a transit van and a car, plus eight members of the team from Classic Tours including Dr Richard Emms our personal trip GP and Paul Wheeler our ‘Master Mechanic’. Hopefully, we will require neither, however, better to be safe than sorry.

Most of the group retired to their rooms circa. 9.30pm as breakfast and room check-out is at the sobering hour of 5am in the morning with a punctual departure of 6am to beat Bristol’s rush hour traffic. It was now time to reflect and absorb the enormity of the task ahead all in the name of the greater and collective good.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said: “In a gentle way we can shake the world. In doing so, the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. Whatever you do will be insignificant, but, it is still very important that you do it.”

You can support The Light Fund and our industry cyclists by clicking here to visit the JustGiving page. Alternatively, you can donate by text – simply text 70070 with BDUB32 and your donation amount – for example BDUB32 £10.

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