18 adult riders and one 14 year-old boy have committed to take part in The Waterberg Trust Challenge Cycle Ride 2016. “One or two are having to juggle work and family commitments, but we have great expectations!”
Two brave volunteers – Sam Franklin and Charles Whitbread will be driving the support vehicles, keeping the riders fed and watered at the predetermined stoppage points spaced at roughly two-hour intervals. Only short stretches of the ride are not on a tar road. These are from Fen Ditton in North Cambridge to Ely. “It is a great delight to discover how lovely it can be cycling towards Ely Cathedral at 8.00am. It’s the only building you can see on the skyline.”
“So far, we have had four practice recce rides, which have helped to determine the route. The number of punctures on each ride has been alarming, but it is all part of the practice in keeping everybody going. Being equipped to mend a puncture rapidly or change an inner tube no matter where you are is important. It is like a motor-racing event with everybody helping out by providing the different bits of kit and expertise to speed the puncture repair. We have certainly become practiced at it.”
“Will used the puddle alongside the track to determine where the hole was. He had to do a puncture repair because he had used his spare inner tube already as this was his second puncture of the morning!”
“At this stage were are still about one hour’s ride from Ely, having just peddled across Wicken Fen. That was a marvellous experience if you are interested in birds and rare horse breads like me. On this occasion, we had breakfast in Ely and then cycled on to Littleport, half way to Downham Market.”
A previous outing had been another really fun ride from Ely to Downham Market (the second phase of the ride) across the Fens and the many bird sanctuaries. “We hardly saw a car and it felt very remote. Punctures were again a challenge for the racing bikes on this ride. My steel framed 25-year old tank of a bicycle has the distinction of not yet having suffered from punctures. The racers were much quicker though. I felt like the tortoise in the hare and the tortoise race of Aesop’s Fables because I did not have to stop.”
The practice ride last weekend explored the third phase of the ride from Downham Market to the Dabbling Duck pub in Gt Massingham for lunch along quiet country lanes, far from anywhere in particular.
The cyclists are raising funds to send to the Waterberg in South Africa. 50% will go to the Lapalala Wilderness School, with the aim of sending 100 dis-advantaged children on a residential week’s course on wildlife conservation. 50% will go to ‘Save the Waterberg Rhino’ and help them fight poaching.
If you are able to sponsor the riders, TWT has a Justgiving page here.
Nigel Hall, who is taking part, has a Justgiving.com page for the cycle ride here
William Orme has a Justgiving.com page here
Barry Burles, the leader, has a Justgiving.com page here
“The stop press bit of news is that I have been lucky enough to have been offered by my wonderful wife a new hybrid bicycle for my birthday present. In case you didn’t know, it’s as exciting being given a new bicycle as a grown man as it is when you are a young boy. The 84 miles might seem somewhat shorter for me now on the 12th March!”
There will be three more weekend practice rides between now and then.