Last weekend I joined the Alpecin Cycling team for a bit of a leisurely ride in London. On arrival we were given a bag full of official Katusha Alpecin team kit a sized up for our rides for the weekend. I was incredibly lucky as I’m a short arse! It meant I got the Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Aero with upgraded Zipp wheelset and SRAM Etap shifting, probably costing 3 times the amount my bike did! My pro shot came out ok!
We headed out of London, along the river to Putney Bridge where we turned off and headed down to Richmond Park. We rode with an ex-pro, Jörg Ludewig, who rode all the grand tours in his pro career as well as De Ronde 7 times and Paris Roubaix 6 times…
…..so he knew what he was on about!
Our pro photographer accompanied us on a rather wonderful PedalMe bike and some of the shots he got of us were brilliant.
I managed to stay upright in Richmond Park this time so that was a bonus! The bike was an absolute dream. I’d never used SRAM Etap before so I took it easy first off, however I found the system completely intuitive and very easy to use and I was soon changing gears without thinking. The biggest change for me was the wind impact on the deep rim back wheel, I was taken by surprise a couple of times particularly in the narrow London streets where the wind is funnelled at high speed. We had completed 72km by the time got back to the hotel.
The next morning we headed up to Trafalgar Square for the main event, joining in with the closed road cycling event on the route of the final stage of the Tour of Britain. While the others in the group flew off up the road, I took it a bit easy. I hadn’t cycled with other cyclists since the Ride London and the fall had made me nervous of the people on the route (many of them kids) who weren’t experienced in riding in these numbers of cyclists. It soon opened up though and we had a great time on the route, it was bloody tiring but a thrill to fly round the streets while bemused tourists looked on waiting for the main event
After a quick change back at the hotel, it was back to the VIP hospitality on the start finish straight to watch the final stage erupt with Caleb Ewan taking the win. I’d been tipping Ewan all weekend so I was delighted he came through! I also popped in the Pinarello shop to see G’s Tour de France bike and Froome’s Giro bike – the Giro trophy is the most beautiful sports trophy in my opinion, it is simply stunning and the history that it holds is mesmerising.
It was an absolutely phenomenal weekend, a money can’t buy experience that I will treasure. It makes me more determined to be the best cyclist I can be, to be ready in case another opportunity like this comes along!