Old hands and newbies enjoyed a day in the Chilterns this month with Club Peloton. This was the annual Autumn Ride, laid on for riders training for Cycle to MAPIC, just over a month away; for next March's Cycle to MIPIM; and for Club Peloton members looking for networking opportunities.
"The best thing about the ride was meeting people from across the development industry," said Alan Dempsey, director at architect Nex and a newcomer to Club Peloton. "I gained insight from others' perspectives on what’s happening in different boroughs in London and in a few sectors. I also met new people from a couple of our existing clients."
Dempsey is training for the 700km, four day Cycle to MAPIC. "I enjoyed riding with a peloton for the first time," he said. "Prior to this recent few months, my last time on a bike was to commute to school in 1991."
Ben Grose, head of national leasing at British Land, is training for the same epic ride. “Being new to cycling, and having never cycled in a peloton over such distance before, I was overwhelmed by the support and friendliness of Club Peloton, the ride captains and my fellow riders," he said. "It was a wonderful experience and I can now look forward to the Cycle to MAPIC with confidence and eager anticipation.”
By comparison, AHR director David de Sousa doesn't have a training target. "I just wanted to get out in fantastic weather and good company," he said. De Sousa took part in the six-day, 1,500km Cycle to MIPIM in March but is taking a year off in 2019. "I'll go again in 2020 but I have young kids so, doing it every year, I might end up a single parent!
"So for me this was more of a social ride. It was also good to see old faces from the MIPIM ride and catch up without having to ride for six days to see them."
Barratt London head of planning Martin Scholar was also making the most of the networking - that was the main attraction, given that he is not taking part in either Cycle to MAPIC or Cycle to MIPIM. "It was helpful for business," he said afterwards. "At the various stops, it was useful to speak to various new people and reconnect with people I’d not seen for a while. I imagine on the longer rides, there are many more opportunities for networking."
In all 23 property people took part in the Autumn Ride this year, five of them new to cycling - including one who had bought his first road bike only 13 days earlier.
The route took in just over 90km and three climbs west and south of High Wycombe, with breakfast, a coffee and cake stop and lunch during about four hours of riding, averaging 22km/h or so. It was carefully plotted by Club Peloton event manager Rhian Fletcher.
Less than a week later, Fletcher was already reconnoitring the next Club Peloton ride, which will head south from Hever in Kent, through the High Weald, on 7 December. She took the time to tell Velocity how she goes about the task.
"I try to find a suitable start location as it’s pointless plotting when there isn’t a nice pub, happy to take a cycling group, close to a train station whilst having car parking and a nice country feel," she said. She spends hours on Google Maps beforehand, looking for roads that might make for good cycling, before going on location and driving them. "Things can drive very differently to what you see on Street View, but this [the Chilterns route] was a lovely recce to do and came together nicely."
Club Peloton one-day routes tend to cover 80 to 100km: good preparation for the 150km or so minimum daily distance on the rides to MAPIC and MIPIM. "I look into climbs in the area and on this occasion I found too many and took at least one big climb out," Fletcher recalled. "I want the route to be enjoyable whilst challenging for strong riders, when taking climbs at their own pace, but not too difficult for less experienced riders. On top of this I need to route via a toilet stop and a coffee stop.
"In this part of the Chilterns there's a selection of nice country roads to choose from, without big towns and A roads to route around. I really liked the quiet roads we found, in particular the one that took us to the South Stoke coffee stop. On every route I find a road that I love and do my utmost to make sure I can route around it… that was my fave on this ride."