Chilli chips! Sunshine! Lovely country lanes! This was "Ride with the Pros", the third annual event arranged by building consultancy Hilson Moran from its Farnborough offices this week. Its USP was allowing mere members of the built environment professions to ride alongside those who cycle for a living.
Velocity's David Taylor and Toby Fox were thankful to be invited along this year on the 100km ride, a lovely loop through rolling countryside, passing picturesque villages such as Odiham and Bentley, accompanied by elite men and women professional riders from the men's UCI Continental team Canyon dhb powered by Bloor Homes and UCI Women's Team, Canyon/SRAM Racing.
Hilson Moran's Hugh McManus gave a detailed description of the route before directeur sportif Tim Elverson provided a run-down of the team's prowess in races thus far this year, and ambitions for the upcoming Tour de Yorkshire. Then riders including Jacob Hennessy and Dani Christmas accompanied groups of nine or 10 property people as they hit the roads, answering their questions on anything from nutrition to booze, helmet and saddle preferences to the hectic nature of their all-consuming sport, podium finishes and their ultimate Tour ambitions. And yes, pro riders do take the mickey out of riders in teams with lesser-known bike suppliers. (Oh and apparently some professionals look like they have distinct paunches because of their "big lungs". As in, "I'm not fat, I just have big lungs". We'll take that.)
Finally, wrapping up a great day with colleagues from across the industry including friend of V Chris Atkins, a mobile restaurant in the sunny Hilson Moran car park dispensed restorative chips with chilli, pulled pork or egg and rarebit. And then, another of the pros, 20-year old Charles Page, set off to take part in a road race near his home that evening. For us, this was a solid day's riding. For him, it was a warm-up.