So, they did it.
The Club Peloton riders descended on Cannes last week from the UK and Italy, having raised over £400,000 for charity Coram.
Here we present (above) some of the drawings on the Legal and General-sponsored rides produced by rider Sandy Morrison - which he hopes to auction off to raise more cash - a reflection from the Bari ride's Matt Thornley, and a further personal account by Velocity co-founder Toby Fox.
So, Matt Thornley's piece:
Bari to Cannes Complete
'The post-cycling comedown has kicked in, which is a good time to reflect on the last week.
We climbed, descended and rolled our way across beautiful Italy. I think that the trip has been what a cycling journey should be. Seeing a country slowly, eating great food and drinking good drinks. And these trips are important. You make new friends and broaden your horizons. You see people at their best, and you become better yourself. I consider all of the riders and crew as real friends and that means a lot to me.
When we first started planning the ride, we thought of it a an extended club run. We worked out what we wanted it to be like and build the ride around that vision. We wanted a new challenge, we wanted to eat well, and to feel the sun on our backs. We always wanted to make the ride loose enough to allow flexibility and it worked. We could ad-lib to make it work for all, which drives real inclusivity.
You can to make a ride too. People will help. Things will drop into place. Ideas over a drink become real. Have a go. DIY.'
Finally, V's very own Toby Fox:
'Sitting at the screen in London, even MIPIM seems an age ago – never mind the ride there. But a quick flick through Strava brings it all back – I really did cycle just under 1,100km (of the total 1,500km) in six days; we really did raise over £400k for orphaned children and their adoptive families. And it’s still rising.
We worked hard for it. And not just the riders. Day three was the second of three 300km-plus days, leaving plenty of cyclists with aching limbs, backs, shoulders and necks. By the end of that day, the physios had each completed 100 15-minute sessions. “What was the best thing about today?” one said. “I managed to have a nap!”
Day four, the previous year, was marked by biblical rain: it started five minutes after we set off at 6am and finished hours later, causing even the most seasoned riders to break down and claim a resting place on the coach. This year was in dull-but-dry contrast. “The best thing about today is that it’s not raining,” said one of the mechanics. “On this day last year, we had to stay up to 2.30am fixing and cleaning bikes, it rained so much.” Just the hammering cross-wind to contend with, stronger riders lining up on the right of the road, protecting the others from the constant blast.
The last two days were glorious: the hills of Provence, first south from Valence and then east from Aix. The wind was, at last, mainly behind us. But there were new challenges: for some, it was the long, steep descents that terrified. Ride captains rode as close to them as possible, either leading them into the hairpins or, from just behind, talking them through the bends and braking points. For others, the huge climbs looked impossible, so that we rode side by side, talking and occasionally gently pushing them up to the triumphal peak – from where the reward was usually a panoramic view of the south of France. Stunning.
Everyone made it, no one gave up. “The best thing about the ride this year has been the peloton,” said one rider. “This year it has been so nice – everyone has been supporting each other. The way the teams have been organised, so that one is leading each stage, has made everything much less stressful and better managed.”
Drawings by Sandy Morrison. Pics by Matt Alexander and Joozle Dymond