On Sunday 7th June 2015 a record breaking 2,071 cyclists entered the Mix96 Tour de Vale in support of WheelPower, a national charity for wheelchair sport, earning itself the title of the biggest bike ride in Buckinghamshire. In its twelfth year now, the Tour De Vale has grown in supporters year on year, adding new and exciting cycle routes of 25km, 60km and 100km to suit all ages and abilities with a free massage to every rider, medal, certificate and an afternoon of music, BBQ and celebrations after crossing the finish line. This is my second year at the Tour De Vale, as I completed the 25km route last year and the 60km this weekend.
I’ve set myself a bucket list challenge to raise £10,000 for ten charities before my 28th birthday in October this year because I wanted to do something to help others. WheelPower is the first charity on my list and completing the 60km cycle in 4hrs filled me with so much love, pride and happiness for the young people I was invited to meet at the stadium recently, as I saw first hand how the donations help to change lives. I am truly honoured to have fundraised for such a wonderful cause, and it was a delight to be a part of the thousands of cheerful, energetic people taking part. The Tour De Vale is brimming with community spirit and a wonderful event to enter as an individual, with friends or as a whole family too if you wish.
Seeing as I have very little cycling experience, I began training a couple of months ago at DW Gym in Aylesbury which took me around 2hrs40mins at a time to do 60km at medium resistance on the gym bike every Monday. I didn’t know what finish time to expect for the event, as last year when I did the 25km cycle I hadn’t trained in the gym beforehand and had tonsillitis on the day so took a slow and steady pace. This year I was thankfully fighting fit and hoping to come in at about 3hrs taking into account other riders, traffic and hills, however my finish time of 4hrs was an hour over what I had hoped, but I am very happy with the result as I gave it my all and did a fair amount of multitasking.
Throughout the cycle I held a handheld camera in my right hand to capture the action of the other riders and the fond memories of such a scenic and testing route. I packed a couple of bananas to nibble on the way as an energy boost and had a bottle of water to keep me hydrated. Being rather awful at directions I was a little worried about taking a wrong turn and ending up in the middle of nowhere, but coloured flags marked the route at every turn, roundabout and signpost, with people standing at crossings waving you on in the right direction and letting you know how far you have left to go. There were many pubs along the way to stop for the toilet or a spot of lunch, as well as WheelPower water stops too. Despite setting off from Stoke Mandeville Stadium in waves of people across the morning, the riders are expected to arrive back before 5pm so can take the route at their own pace, or complete it in the quickest time if they wish thanks to the personal timing chips allocated to each rider to record the results.
I kept a steady pace throughout and enjoyed taking in the scenery, chatting to the other riders and topping up my tan on such a gloriously sunny day, as both times I’ve taken part the weather has been spectacular. Arriving back at the stadium I collected my medal and certificate which now take pride of place on my mantlepiece, such a wonderful day for an incredible charity and a wonderful way to keep fit. Roll on Sunday 12th June for the WheelPower Tour De Vale 2016 where I hope you’ll join me at the finish line!